Luxury stay in Athens Greece: Hotel Grande Bretagne

Athens is a sprawling, hot, and bustling city, and if you want to be pampered when you make your way to your accommodations after each long day of sightseeing, make your home the Hotel Grande Bretagne. A Marriott Luxury Collection property, the Bretagne is ideally located in the heart of Syntagma Square, right next to the Parliament. You’ll be wowed the moment you step inside the historic lobby with its high ceilings and elegant decor (this hotel opened in 1874, and oozes that old-style luxury travel experience). I experienced some of the best service I’ve ever had at the Bretagne, from impeccable housekeeping to a very helpful concierge and valet staff.

Standard rooms are on the small side, but they’re luxury all the way, with great views of the city, more high ceilings (only to be found in historic hotels these days) and bathrooms with deep baths as well as shower options. There are 320 rooms and suites, so you have your options. There’s a fully-stocked mini-bar, but I still found room for my bottle of water to keep it cool, and families can ask that the mini-bar be emptied if they’d prefer more space. You also get espresso each morning via a Nespresso machine and bottled water delivered daily, as well as turn-down service.

The landmark hotel has several restaurants on-site, including Winter Garden downstairs (which has a fabulous afternoon tea, if you need a mid-day break) and the Roof Garden Restaurant on the top floor, with open-air seating on the rooftop with stunning views of the Acropolis. Even if you don’t dine here at night, be sure to stop at the rooftop bar for a cocktail. The Roof Garden Restaurant is also the location for their fabulous breakfast buffet (opt for a room rate that includes this, or it will seriously set you back). The full-service buffet includes more continental and hot items than anyone could possibly try in several mornings, and there’s a menu of options as well.

The outdoor pool is located one floor down, with more great views and another bar with small plates and drinks (though I found that it tended to close earlier than its 8 pm posted time during my visit). There’s a large exercise facility and indoor pool on the bottom level of the hotel, which also houses the full spa and salon. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to try the spa.

The benefits of staying at the Bretagne went beyond the comfort of terry bathrobes and slippers laid out each evening: the location was convenient to everything in the city center, and the valet staff makes it so easy to get a cab and get directions to anywhere. The lobby makes for an instant respite each time you enter it, and a cool dip in the pool is exactly what’s needed after touring antiquities.

Room rates: Room rates hover at about 600EU per night, so this is definitely a luxury splurge stay. See below for additional options for other budgets.

Address: 1 Vasimeos Georgiou A, Syntagma Square

Other good hotels centrally-located for families:

Wyndham Grand: located about a 10-minute cab ride from Syntagma Square, further from the Acropolis but still with great views, and usually around 150-180 EU.

Royal Olympic: Directly across from the Temple of Zeus, in a very convenient downtown location, around 250 EU.

Both of these options have lovely rooftop restaurants with views of the Acropolis (and the Olympic also has great views of the Temple of Zeus, as well).