Greece, Best Of Athens, Athens, Kolonaki, Four Seasons Astir Palace, Grande Bretagne, Acropolis, Athens Riviera, Vouliagmeni

Greece, Best Of Athens

The Best Of Athens According To Greece Insiders

The best of Athens:

8/2/2021 11:08:00 PM

The best of Athens:

More than just a quick stopover to Mykonos or Santorini, Athens is having a major comeback with some of the world's finest new hotels and restaurants.

Set on a lush pine-clad peninsula just outside of Athens, Astir is located in the Vouliagmeni area and an easy 30-minute drive from the airport or city center. Known as the Athens Riviera, this has historically been the ultimate destination for the world’s rich and famous. The sparkling new Four Seasons property offers up three private beaches, eight restaurants, riviera style lounges and bars, and an enormous Spa.

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Sea-view bungalow suite with pool at Four Seasons Astir PalaceJim Dobson for ForbesUnder the astute leadership of General Manager Philippe Roux-Dessarps, the young, enthusiastic staff goes out of their way to ensure all guests are well cared for. There is even a Guest Experience department offering butler service for the hotel's signature suite guests. They will arrange everything from limo services, catamaran charters, or helicopter transfers (I noticed a large number of guests arriving from neighboring islands and landing directly at the resort's helipad.) Next season the resort will be offering guests a Four Seasons luxury charter aboard a branded Pardo Yacht for day trips and island hopping.

Bungalow Suite with PoolFour SeasonsI sat down with Philippe, and he explained what his favorite rooms are at Astir Palace, “I think staying in the bungalow suite with pool while having the sea right in front of you is pretty great. Some of our terrace suites in Nafsika have really comfortable seating areas and feel like your own private home. My favorite room is the Ambassador Suite which is the top floor of the Nafsika building, with a large terrace, bbq, private pool, and a direct sunset view. Our top suite is the three-story 4,850sf Riviera Suite in the Arion building with a dedicated chef, butler, personal assistant, rooftop garden, pool, and gym (rates up to $20,000 per night).”

(R to L) General Manager Philippe Roux-Dessarps, Guest Experience Manager Fanni Katsouki, F&B... [+]Assistant Director Konstantinos Kagias, Hotel Manager Jann Kaiser, Executive Chef Bertrand Valegeas.Jim Dobson for ForbesThe construction of the original Astir Palace began in 1961 with the sea bungalows, followed by the hotel building, Arion, in 1964 and the more resort-styled Nafsika in 1979. In 2019, Four Seasons Astir Palace combined the three original resorts Astir Palace, Arion, and Nafsika.

There are 303 rooms spread across The Arion and The Nafsika, all with dramatic views overlooking the bay, and all maintain the original 60’s aesthetic that continues to attract the jet set. With airy interiors, modern design, and spectacular views, it is no wonder even the local Athenians continue to celebrate special occasions here.

Sea-view bungalows at Four Seasons Astir PalaceJim Dobson for ForbesOf all the rooms I toured at the property, the sea-view bungalow suite with a private pool is my favorite. While not the most expensive option at the resort, having the privacy and luxury of your private retreat away from the main hotel buildings make it priceless. Quiet, exclusive, and with your own beach, the bungalows were masterfully renovated to retain a feeling of glamour from their heyday in the ’60s.

In its early years, Astir Palace welcomed Jackie Onassis, Brigitte Bardot, Nelson Mandela, Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, and even Vladimir Putin. More recently, you might have spotted Lady Gaga or former President Obama, most of who have stayed in the storied, exclusive bungalows.

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Restaurant Manager Cedric Vinckier (far left), and Chef Luca Piscazzi (far right) with the amazing... [+]staff at Pelagos at the Four Seasons Astir Palace.Jim Dobson for ForbesThere are numerous dining options at the resort, from authentic Greek cuisine at the waterfront 

Taverna 37, fresh seafood at the fine dining yacht-inspired Pelagos, upscale Italian cuisine at the trattoria-style Mercato, Argentinian steaks at the poolside Helios. There is also a Matsuhisa on the property for sushi lovers. The restaurants are designed with extensive outdoor dining terraces for social distancing and fresh breezes from the sea.

Executive Chef Bertrand Valegeas oversees the dining experience at the resort, and the selection is endless, all crafted with the highest quality raw ingredients, especially the huge amount of fresh fish sourced directly from the Aegean. For a special occasion, make sure to book a private dinner at the hidden Zolotas Beach, a unique, lantern-lit location right on the water with the ultimate in privacy.

The Dreamers Suite at Shila HotelShila HotelShila HotelLocated in Kolonaki, one of Athens’ most trendy neighborhoods, in a quiet area situated off a marbled side street, the intimate 1920’s Shila Hotel is a stunning mixture of antiques and modern design. The hotel feels more like a private neoclassical mansion with its original terrazzo floors, high ceilings, and expansive living spaces with only six suites. I felt instantly at home with the warm welcome by the staff and the ethereal, relaxed atmosphere of the interiors.

Dreamers Suite bedroomShila HotelEach themed suite at the boutique hotel is unique, filled with vintage velvet furniture, patina walls, flowing fabrics, and mood lighting. What I found most remarkable is that the suites are enormous, with two bathrooms in some and separate privacy doors for converting the space into two bedrooms. Beds are designed to look like they are floating, and there is even a swing in one of the suite bathrooms. You may not spend too much time in the room as you venture to the rooftop where hipsters gather weekly for cocktails and a DJ.

Stunning lobby at the Shila HotelJim Dobson for ForbesThe complimentary breakfast is magical at Shila as you indulge in a gorgeous basket of goodies delivered to your room or the roof garden. If your time is limited, make sure to explore the surrounding pedestrian streets and walk to the nearby 

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restaurant, a small, popular cafe with outdoor tables scattered under trees for a delicious bowl of pasta created by its charming rock star Chef Andreas Soures.  Read more: Forbes »

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