A summer weekend break in Athens

by Lucie Brown
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The breathtaking views from the Royal Olympic would be reason alone to choose this hotel, regardless of its many other attractions – and there are indeed many.

We arrived hot and tired from Athens airport and were immediately greeted in the cool air-conditioned lobby by reception staff, who swiftly showed us to our room (and our much-needed complimentary welcome drinks).

And what a room – this was more an apartment-sized bedroom, with a whole glass wall framing the views of the ancient Temple of Zeus, and behind it, the pine-clad Lycabettus Hill. If you are going to visit the delights of Athens, this is the way to do it – you could almost do all your sightseeing from the comfort of your room!

When we finally managed to tear ourselves away from the view, we had a look around the hotel. A peaceful courtyard with a swimming pool, loungers and a bar provides respite from the city heat. The rooftop bar and restaurant maximises on the stunning views – you can also see the Acropolis from here, a breathtaking backdrop to your evening cocktail or romantic meal. After a busy day taking in the sights of this fascinating city, we headed to the rooftop bar for a couple of cocktails and to watch the sunset.

This was followed by a delicious dinner in the Ioannis Rooftop Restaurant, which serves updated versions of traditional Greek dishes, accompanied by some excellent local wines.

The views of the Parthenon, Lycabettus Hill, Temple of Zeus and Kalimarmaro Stadium all vied for our attention in the moonlight, while the soft summer breeze carried the scent of over 200 specially chosen fragrant plants. This was a magical evening spent in a magical city. Athens is a great weekend destination, and the Royal Olympic’s unbeatable location means you won’t miss a thing. Just a short walk from the hotel is the new Acropolis Museum, which gives an overview of the history of the city and its most famous landmark. From here you can walk through Plaka and up the marble steps to the Parthenon, which also gives you wonderful panoramic views of Athens.

Plaka has some lovely traditional family-run tavernas and ouzeries – hotel staff can recommend the best options and steer you clear of the tourist traps. A stroll through the winding streets down to Monastiraki, with its permanent flea market, is a pleasant afternoon jaunt – and there are some interesting shops.

Then head back up to Syntagma Square to watch the changing of the guard outside the parliament building. If you fancy some upmarket shopping, Kolonaki is the place to go. It’s full of chic boutiques, cafes, bars and restaurants. Do as the locals do – order a frappé (iced coffee), sit back and indulge in some good old-fashioned people-watching.

Don’t miss
  • The Acropolis, the new Acropolis Museum and the National Gardens (all a brief walk from the hotel)
  • Historical area of Plaka (old town), Monastiraki, Thissio, with its winding streets, traditional tavernas, ouzeries and delightful bars
  • Shopping in Kolonaki
  • Nightlife in Gazi/Psyrri
  • Day trips to nearby islands (Aigina, Poros, Hydra, Spetses) Syntagma Square, Parliament
  • Beaches – Vouliagmeni, Glyfada
  • The Ioannis Roof Garden Restaurant and Bar serves a modern take on traditional Greek cuisine. The spacious terrace is the ideal choice for dining during the summer, surrounded by breathtaking views and dotted with 200 fragrant plants chosen from all over Greece
  • Cocktails, fine wines and aperitifs are served on the terrace and at the rooftop bar. There is also a relaxing library where you can enjoy drinks
  • Outdoor pool with sunloungers; gym
  • Wireless internet access available throughout

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