Caroline’s Athens Experience

Caroline’s hit list of where to stay, where to shop, and where to eat while in the Greek capital city

Caroline’s love of travel is part of her DNA. She is born of a Greek-Lebanese father and a Midwestern American mother and was raised in the international city of Montréal​, which means worldliness is second nature to her. Through it all, Greece is the place where Caroline considers her soul’s home. It’s where she spent summers strolling the markets with her grandmother or exploring the islands with her parents and brother.
We asked her for her local’s take on Athens for the perfect stay, and she shared her favorite places to eat, stay and shop in the City of the Violet Crown.

Located in the buzzy and stylish neighborhood of Kokolaki, this jewel box hotel of only 6 suites is a romantic interpretation of Greek references, industrial touches, and 1920s glamour executed through an understated yet elevated lens. The residence, as it is called, is born of the french concept of hôtel particulier, or a grand townhouse, and as such it carries within its walls feelings of calm, home, playfulness and mystery.

Through a palette of dusty rose, muted olives, and sandy neutrals which are met with aged, metal bed frames, rare and custom antiques, and raw textures and materials, Shila’s interior design is almost born of an artist’s wide and whimsical brushstrokes. This is because the sense of detail at the Shila is abstract, as its concept was born of a story rather than directly of design.

The founders imagined it as the home of an enigmatic inhabitant called Shila who kept an open house and used the 6 rooms in her home to host her equally eccentric, yet elegant, friends. The founders of the hotel imagined those friends imbued the rooms with their own individual charm which were woven into the social and communal fabric that was created by the imaginary hostess’s hospitality.

Equipped with two areas within which to lounge--the rich and enveloping library and the peaceful roof garden--Shila also aims to envelop guests in hospitality through its bountiful farm to table breakfast service as well as its optional 24-hour concierge service. Given it’s in the heart of such a vibrant neighborhood, Shila makes for a great stay during the fall and winter months where everything is within walking distance of the hotel.

Although what makes this property special is its eye towards contemporary art as Shila features the work of local and international artists at the hotel. This touch adds a delicious contemporary experience to the property and also gives guests the opportunity to bring home unique works as souvenirs.

Photos courtesy of Shila

Four Seasons Athens Astir Palace
When the Four Seasons Athens Astir Palace opened in 2019 it became an instant Athens hotspot. With its prime location on the Athens Riviera in a chic area known as Vouliagmeni, the Four Season Astir Palace overlooks the Aegean Sea at every angle, even in the spa, and boasts 3 private beaches as part of this 75-acre property
As one would expect of The Fours Seasons, the interiors are a melding of classic meets contemporary, but as its Greece, the feeling of island serenity lives within all the hotel’s spaces.

In addition to the wood details seen in elements like sliding shutter doors and geometrically designed headboards, cool and soothing tones make up much of this hotel’s interior design seen in the use of the palest shade of aquamarine, the most delicate mint color, chalk white soaking tubs, and bathrooms outfitted in floors and walls of cool pale grey stone.

Situated 30 minutes from central Athens and only 5 minutes away from the charming shops and thermal lake of Vouliagmeni, the Four Seasons is perfectly situated for quick access to the exploration of Athens while simultaneously being a soothing retreat from the bustle of the city. Because it’s on the water and has a Mediterranean vibe, but still in town, this is a great spot to visit in the summer months to get the island feel without actually going to the islands.

As it’s so famous for its views, it’s become the go-to spot for meetups which makes it a very desirable lure for friends to come visit you on the days you’re all toristoed out.
Photos courtesy of the Four Seasons

Hotel Grande Bretagne

There are many different ways to experience monumental landmarks in an historic city. There is the traditional way which is to hire a guide and take an educational tour. There are also non-traditional ways, like renting a scooter and zipping around the sights for an out-of-the-box experience. Then there’s the local’s way, and in the case of Athens, this way is to perch oneself at the perfect vantage by pulling up a chair at the bar and enjoying a magical view with a cocktail in hand. In Athens, that place is the Hotel Grande Bretagne.

Located within ten minutes (or less) walking distance to the city’s major spots such as Plaka, Monastiraki Flea Market, and the Acropolis Museum, the hotel is perfectly situated for a spellbinding close to a day of sightseeing with its breathtaking views of the Acropolis. The view is like none other in Athens and is sure to make for an unforgettable Athens moment.

Once at the Hotel Grande Bretagne, head straight to the Roof Garden where the magic of Athen’s most famous landmark awaits. And not to worry, in case the desire arises to linger longer than the time it takes to have a cocktail or two, the Roof Garden is also host to a restaurant where a delicious meal can be enjoyed to make the moment last.

Photos courtesy of the Hotel Grande Bretagne

Haute cuisine is Spondi’s speciality, which is why many foodies consider it the best restaurant in Greece. Situated over three chandelier-clad levels of a 19th century townhouse with stone walls inside and out that surround a serene courtyard, Spondi is the most award-winning restaurant in Greece and the first ever in the country to receive 2-Michelin stars.

The menu is befitting of its two-stars with creativity at its core, which means guests should come with their palates ready for delight and surprise. For example, some starters are simply called “The Potato” or “The Tomato.”

Spondi is helmed by Chef Angelos Lantos whose perspective on the menu is to meld tradition, classicism and modernity through the lens of high French cuisine and artful presentation. The signature dishes to try are the langoustine (lemon, Petrossian Daurenki Caviar, grapefruit, gentian, and celery), the crab (turnip, acacia honey, tarragon, passionfruit), and the milk fed lamb (eggplant, black olives tart, oregano juice, middle neck with herb and mustard).

Photos courtesy of Spondi

For fine-dining with a super-fun vibe and a great place to celebrity-sight, Malconi is the place to see and be seen in Athens while enjoying a world-class meal. The beauty of Malconi is that they strive not to separate a joyful environment from fine dining and instead aim to create an entertaining experience where music is pumping from midday to midnight but at the same time, the standards of cuisine are no less than haute.

Known for their contemporary Mediterranean cuisine and creative cocktail selections, the interior design of this restaurant exudes the same imagination as its food. Clad in an eclectic mash-up of colors, textures and materials like cement gray walls, an exposed electric meter framed in pink neon, and sections created entirely with its own motif (think a seductive corner done in tip-to-toe red from the banquettes, to the cushions, and to the wall behind it), it’s almost impossible to define the define the decor of this place, but that is also part of the fun.

Located in the stylish Kolonaki area of Athens, Malconi has established itself as an anchor to the vibrant scene of this fabulous Athens neighborhood.

Photos courtesy of Malconi
Luisa is the definitive place to shop in Athens. With 3 locations around the city (including at the Four Seasons Astir Palace), the hyper-chic boutique makes it easy to pick up a piece from whichever neighborhood you might be in town at the moment. Edited with an eye towards the bright and fresh, Luisa hosts the best of the best in designer clothes and accessories from the likes of Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, and Valentino.

The curation is designed to add perfect pick-me-ups to your Greek holiday wardrobe, so expect to find an ample selection of summer-ready silhouettes such as breezy dresses or the perfect slides for Plaka promenades, or woven handbags to carry when meeting friends for sundowners. If something more sharp is what you desire, Luisa carries a plethora of the modern classics such as an Alexander McQueen 4 ring clutch or a sexy pair of Gianvito Rossi stiletto sandals.

Photos courtesy of Luisa