As the name in this review suggests, this property is nothing short of “Grande.” Elegance and opulence reign supreme in this cornerstone of Greek grandeur. Since it’s opening in 1874, the Grande Bretagne has been the center of luxury in Athens. Whether it be American celebrities or dignitaries from around the world, anyone who’s anyone traveling to Greece has spent at least a few nights at this classic, old-world hotel. From the marble lobby (with a 15-foot ceiling) to the sweeping views over the Hellenic Parliament and Acropolis, this five-star oasis in the city is a must-stop for any visit to Athens.
The suite we had, known as the “Executive Deluxe Suite” is incomparable in the entire city of Athens – perhaps beaten only by the Grande Bretagne’s Presidential and Royal suites. At nearly 100 meters-squared it was large enough to sleep three, between it’s massive living space and separate bedroom. There was also a beautiful walk-in closet off the master bedroom, adjacent to the over-sized marble bathroom. Featuring a double-vanity and (full-sized!) Aqua di Parma bath products, the washroom was as elegant as the room and the rest of the hotel. It also boasted a separated soaking tub and a fantastic steam-enabled shower – marble bench and all! But without a doubt, the winning feature of the room was the balcony. It spanned the entire length of the suite, which was approximately 20 feet, and was accented by a small table with two chairs. Directly below and in front were the Parliament building and main square, and off to the right in the distance were unobstructed views of the Acropolis (and the Parthenon at the forefront) in all its glory. The sprawl of the city, the bustle of it’s citizens and the rich sense of history you felt with every breath, made this view and suite was unforgettable as the city itself.
The treatment menus at the Spa were out-of-this-world amazing, and the pool area itself – free for all guests – was elegant and relaxing. The “public” spa area was equipped with a traditional sauna as well as three steam rooms, each infused with a variety of essential oils: One, with eucalyptus oil, to assist with headaches and congestion; one with cinnamon and other spices to stir the senses and revitalize; and the third with lavender, to calm and sooth the soul. This was a fantastic concept, and one that was done tastefully to match the setting of the spa and the hotel at large.
Bar & Restaurants
The Grande Bretagne has two main dining options and two bars. The more casual of the two dining options – and I use the word “casual” very loosely – is the Winter Garden City Lounge, located on the ground floor just past the lobby. There, you can eat an a-la-carte breakfast, or dine in for lunch or dinner from the “all day” menu. The also offer high-tea service from 14:00 to 20:00 each day. The second is the GB Rooftop, located (as you’d expect) at the roof-top. Here, guests entitled to complimentary breakfast can enjoy a morning buffet with views unlike any others in the city. Our suite was directly under the restaurant, so we knew the views well and still never tired of them. At dinner, the restaurant transforms into a beautiful fine-dining establishment with a rich menu and impeccable service. While we sampled several menu items – and each was better than the last – be sure to try the mushroom truffle risotto if it’s on the menu; it’s absolutely to-die-for. The hotel also features two bars: A cigar lounge in the atrium just above the lobby, where you can smoke your cigars, drink your scotch and snack on some lite bites – the lounge also features insanely comfortable leather chairs. The focal point of this hotel however, at least as far as drinks are concerned, is the world-famous Alexander’s bar (located just beside the Winter Garden City Lounge). Beside the beautiful hand-woven, over-sized, 18th-centruy tapestry hung behind the bar, it’s the drink selection that brought Forbes to rate it as the best hotel bar in the world. The most expensive drink? A 50ml glass of 1940 Macallan Whiskey, costing over 1,500 Euro. Talk about liquid gold!
This property is alluring on so many levels. It’s location, impossible to beat; it’s views, impossible to beat; it’s level of class and elegance, on par with the best hotels and resorts anywhere else in the world; food and drinks? Why go anywhere else. And if that wasn’t enough of a reason to visit, it’s also a “Luxury Collection” property within the Starwood hotel chain – that means you can earn and/or redeem SPG Starpoints for any upcoming stays! Coming to Greece? You cannot pass up a chance to stay at the Grand Bretagne… Simple as that.
Disclosure: Our property, service and product reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own and are in no way influenced by the sponsor.