The Art Gallery Hotel, Athens

We stayed at The Art Gallery Hotel for five nights whilst researching our Athens City Guide. Here are a few observations and photographs that we made during our time there, and at the bottom of this review is a video that’ll give you a further idea of the hotel. 

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Location - The Art Gallery Hotel is at 5 Erecthiou Street, a quiet residential street lined with orange trees. It’s a five minute walk from the Syngrou Metro Station, a fifteen minute walk from The Temple of Zeus and a twenty minute walk to the entrance to the Acropolis site, and nearby are lots of restaurants and bars (including the excellent Mystic Pizza and Bock Beer) that cater mostly for locals. Here’s a location map –http://www.artgalleryhotel.gr/site/location.php

The Plaka, Athens’ old town, is all around, although it’s main (noisier and more touristy) centre is around the other side of the Acropolis hill, a pleasant 20 minute walk away through narrow streets. The new Acropolis Museum, which houses sculptures from the Parthenon and is well worth a visit, is very near to the hotel, the entrance is ten minutes walk away. And most importantly, if you are in town for the yearly classic marathon race, the hotel is well placed for attending the race itself (buses to the start leave from Syntagma Square, a twenty minute walk away, and the finish line is about a twenty five minute walk from the hotel).

The hills to the west of the Acropolis are an easy twenty five minutes walk from the hotel. They offer great views of the ruins and sunset.

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The ancient Odeon of Herod Atticus is visible at the top of the street, a five minute walk away. If you need a supermarket the Spar is just around the corner on Parthenonos Street. The bus stop to Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon is a 5 minute walk from the hotel, next to the Syngrou Metro Station. It’s worth making the trip, the sunsets there are incredible.

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Check In/Reception - Check in is after 2pm; the receptionist (one of the owners, this is a family run hotel) couldn’t find our reservation but no matter, we were checked in within five minutes. The owners/staff speak perfect English (and French, I learnt that as they dealt with the guests before us). The reception area is a nice introduction to the style of the hotel; there are several pieces of art on the walls, all painted by the owners’ auntie (Dora Bouki) who lived and worked in the building for many years.

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Arti, the hotel’s cat was also there as we checked in; he’s a dark, friendly beauty who can more often than not be found hanging around the front door and reception area.

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There are paintings and art posters on the way to the left and stairs (and throughout the hotel).

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The marble stairs are enclosed with a metal handrail..

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The Room - Our room was fitted out with three single beds, a TV with sixteen satellite channels (including BBC world service), air condition, a wooden chair and desk, a fridge, ambient low level lighting, wooden floorboards and ample wardrobe and luggage storage space. There was also a very good signal for Wi-Fi, which was free in the room.

The beds were firm, comfortable and gave us a pleasant nights sleep (and were made up every day whilst we were out sightseeing) and above them was another one of Dora Bouki’s excellent seascape paintings.

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There was very little noise in the room; the hotel is in a residential area so doesn’t get much passing traffic. The most common sound I heard was during the late afternoon and early evening when Arti the hotel cat would be most active and his bell would tinkle as he moved, meowing, between floors.

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The bathroom was clean and provided with towels and a good standard of toiletries. The hot water came through immediately and the shower had good pressure. The cold water out of the tap was fresh and good to drink.

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Everything was as we would have wanted it, apart from two things. There wasn’t a safe and also, there was the smell of cigarettes lingering. Not surprising, the hotel is very smoker friendly. Apart from that though the room had the great character that older rooms develop, combined with everything working as well as it should do.

Breakfast - Breakfast was included in the room rate and was available from 8am until 10am every day. The food was very traditionally Greek; yoghurt, honey, cheese, olives, boiled eggs, fresh fruit, jams, breads and juice.

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Basically, in line with the homely feel of the hotel, this was a breakfast that you could expect to eat if you visited a Greek friend who cared for the quality of their food (and for you!).

It was mostly served at the table although on occasion, when the hotel had more guests (at the weekend in our case), it was buffet style.

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Overall, I was very happy with the breakfast at the Art Gallery Hotel. It’s very local in character, tasty and the ingredients tasted fresh. The environment was lovely too (see the room description below) and the staff always ready to have a friendly chat.

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The view above shows me waiting for breakfast. The table was shady enough when it was sunny – the veranda gets the morning sun – but also warm. Below are two views taken from our breakfast table, of a roof terrace down below and the Parthenon above.

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The Lounge - On the 4th Floor is the lounge, bar and breakfast room. It’s tastefully decorated. Walking in there is like walking into the home of a cultured, slightly minimalist relative. On my first visit I looked around and thought yes, this is creative and understated, I like it.

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This is where you can have breakfast, inside or on the terrace, but where you can also relax at other times of the day, looking at the view of the Acropolis.

It’s a fine place to chill out and read, or catch the breeze on hot evenings. There’s not a lot of street noise and the rattan seats on the veranda are very comfy. At night, when the bar opens between 8 and midnight, the lighting is soft and the rooms develop a delicate beauty.

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In Summary - The Art Gallery Hotel has a good location for both general sightseeing and for attending the Athens Marathon race, and if you want to do any training runs before the marathon race (or just take a walk with fine views) there’s several nice routes nearby, including one that starts at the hotel and loops around the National Gardens, Zappeion Exhibition Hall, Panathenaic Stadium and Temple of Zeus.

The owners and staff are very welcoming, individual and helpful (nobody is bland international here, it’s very Greek, opinionated and friendly), our room was tastefully decorated and very comfortable and the breakfast offered a good standard of food. Add to this mix the lovely resident cat and you have a hotel with a very homely atmosphere.

Here’s a short video that we made during our stay. It’s not meant to be a glossy promo film, more an honest look at what you might experience yourself if you stayed at the hotel.

For more information on the Art Gallery Hotel, please email artgalleryhotel@gmail.com or click www.artgalleryhotel.gr

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