Every once in a while, staying at a luxury hotel is (as Martha Stewart would say) "a good thing". Do I need to coax myself to kick it up a notch? Naaaaahh! So, when one of the hotel choices provided to us by our cruise line was the Grande Bretagne Athens, I welcomed the opportunity to indulge myself. I’ll justify it to my husband later … after he falls in love with the services. This was our first visit to Athens, Greece and due to some of the unrest we had heard about in the news, I wanted to be at a secure and capable location. That many other amenities came with it was more than icing on the cake. I also learned that the Grande Bretagne is part of the Starwood family of hotels, which happens to be the loyalty program to which I belong. After the many hassles that traveling can throw at passengers, it’s nice to indulge for compensation.
From the moment the guest walks into their impressive lobby, he/she is warmly welcomed and attended to with a level of professionalism that is really refreshing. Their bell staff secured our bags as soon as we exited our taxi and accurately directed them to our room, while we checked in at the front desk. Their staff exuded just the right balance of decorum, displaying friendliness but not too much familiarity. Our questions were answered courteously and accurately without hesitation.
The rooms are elegantly appointed with quality linens on the bed and in the bathroom. It is such a pleasure to have thick, large bath towels, which is usually not the standard in the mid-level hotels in which we normally stay. If I can wrap the towel fully around me and have it cover nearly to my knees, I know I’ve chosen well. The Grande Bretagne’s bathrooms provide both a shower stall and a deep soaking tub that are separate. The tub is a feature that I relish when traveling, as it is the first thing I turn to after a long airline flight as well as being the perfect antidote to a long day of walking and touring. The guestrooms are outfitted with wireless connections and we had no issues using our Apple MacBook Air.
One of the most important features that I crave when traveling is a really good swimming pool. I don’t mean one of those oversized bathtub types, but one long enough in which to do proper laps. It should be well-maintained (i.e. clean not murky) and the proper temperature. If it is beautiful, then that is icing on the cake. The indoor pool at the Grande Bretagne not only met, but exceeded my expectations. It is one of the most beautiful pools in which I have ever swam. It is constructed of shimmering aqua glass tiles which just glow from the underwater lighting. The lounge area surrounding the pool is kept immaculate as well as the adjacent dressing rooms that are outfitted with steam, sauna, showers and necessary dressing area and with private, secure lockers. It is truly a haven for relaxation and rejuvenation.
After my refreshing swim, my husband and I readied ourselves for a delicious dinner in the hotel’s rooftop garden restaurant. The pièce de résistance was the view of the Acropolis from our table. At night the Parthenon is lit up and glows against the night sky. It was simply breathtaking. We enjoyed a wonderful light dinner of fresh fish accompanied by a marvelous red wine, that the French diner next to our table was nice enough to recommend.
We retired to our comfortable room for a perfect night of sleep to wake refreshed the next day for our tour of the city.