In ancient Greek mythology, women have always played an important role. The magnificent sculptures of Venus de Milo, Aphrodite, and Afhaia are with us still. Maybe that’s why the elegant, stunning Hotel Grande Bretagne seems to mirror the feminine aspect.
The history and evolution of this, one of Europe’s most beautiful hotels, is interesting in itself. There is something distinctly regal about the hotel as we find it today evoking images of the ancient forms of Greek art in its grace and beauty.
At one time, only the rich and famous would stay at the Grand Bretagne. It hosted heads of state and outstanding personalities of its time. It still does.
The opulence and splendor of the décor, both in the public rooms and in the magnificent suites provide a stay worthy of the most sophisticated and discriminating guest. The food is magnificent in both its presentation and its content. Immaculate attention is paid to every detail, both in the furnishings and the service. The bathrooms are splendiforous. The bedding is sublime. And, guess what? You don’t have to be a movie star, a figure in high society or a head of state to be able to stay here.
From the standard rooms, affordable to many travelers, to some of the special, inviting packages offering substantial discounts, there is an accommodation for many different kinds of travelers, including those with families. Whatever accommodation appears right for your needs, the guest will find that they are treated equally, with gracious welcome and, of course, full use of all the facilities.
The location couldn’t be more perfect, situated directly facing Syntagma Square, the very center of Athens. Many of the rooms look out at this famous square and at the right time, you can even see the changing of the guards, similar to what takes in front of Buckingham Palace in London. As a matter of fact at one time, in 1994, the newly formed government of a free, independent, and democratic Greece, established the temporary government there.
Within walking distance are several of the city’s outstanding museums as well as the famous Plaka district located at the foot of the Acropolis. From the rooftop dining areas, you can see the spectacular sight of the ancient Parthenon, spectacularly illuminated at night. Here, too, is the new Acropolis Museum, breathtaking in its presentation of the murals found on the walls of the original Parthenon as well as some of the most well preserved of ancient Greek art, with larger than life statues of the fine marble from the Greek islands, including the well known quarry on the island of Pabros.
Keeping up with the 21st century expectations of what services are of importance to the contemporary guest, this legendary hotel has added their wonderful GB Spa. Here, along with the Fitness Studio and the Spa Hair Salon, you will find luxurious treatments, for both men and women. Numerous treatments and signature massage are available as well as the opportunity to spend time in the swimming pool and Thermal Suite beforehand.
Through all its expansions and renovations, the hotel has upheld its presence of one of Europe’s top luxury hotels and continues to host many important events including many of the capital’s important social events as well as weddings, fashion shows and receptions.
The restaurant has an appealing and extremely varied menu, with an extensive and fine wine list. But, if you’re staying for a few days, you’re going to want to also check out the dining at the King George, the small, elegant sister hotel, right next door to the Grand Bretagne.
Since not everyone will be there for a banquet, as we were, I’ll take this opportunity to describe some of the wonderful offerings that we enjoyed. Starting off with an Aegean seabass tartare with smoked white eggplant, continuing on to homemade hilopites, pasta with Symi small shrimp, scallop and graviera cheese, we were then presented with a delicate cod prepared with beetroot puree, white fish-roe-tarama and sweet garlic before moving on to a sophisticated version of traditional mousaka and then gyros, of slowly roasted tender pork, ending up (almost) with mini veal fillet with vinegar, parsley and garlic. Dessert was a decadent chocolate creation with lemon and a refreshing thyme and cocoa sherbet. Of course, there was a selection of coffee and tea. The wines included Moschofilero, Assyrtiko, Mavrotagano and Xinomavro, Krassato and Stavroto.
Not only was the dining superb, but the food was a beautiful compliment to the Grande Bretagne. Unlike the splendor and extensive history of the larger hotel, this elegant boutique hotel opened its doors at the end of the 1930’s and has a distinct atmosphere, evoking images of a grand mansion. The stately, central lobby with its ionic style columns, the mosaic floor, the grand piano and the imposing chandelier of clear Murano crystal provides a magnificent gallery setting to show off the various art shows they feature.
Both the Grande Bretagne and the King George in Athens, Greece are landmark hotels. They are not only 5 star European hotels with the kind of traditional service and superb décor one would expect to find, but provide the very finest of attention to all of their guests so that, you too, can be king or queen for a day or a week or more.
If You Go
The Athenian Riviera is an easy one-day side trip from Athens
Papagiannakos Winery, Markopoulo area
Cape Souniu Resort