A tale of two hotels in Athens – Who won us over?

By Lakshmi:

We at Paupers want to feel enriched by our travels without draining our wallet.  Price and location drive our lodging choices and when faced with a choice of one more experience or indulging in a hotel, we always chose the former.

Due to differences in the economy/the exchange rates over several years, we experienced two hotels, separated a world apart in Athens.

We were pretty excited when we snagged a deal at one of Athens’ premier addresses, Hotel Grande Bretagne.  Situated smack in the middle of Syntagma Square, history oozing through its every pore, the hotel is an elegant old world property that has played host to heroes and villains in history.  Winston Churchill has been a guest as have the leaders from the third Reich!  The staff was efficient, the rooms formal but tastefully done, the doorman always greeting us and yet what appealed to us most about this property was not the hotel, but what lay outside.  We had to just step outside to see the changing of the guard, we looked forward to the elderly couple selling us sesame coated bagels, our to-go-veggie sandwiches from Everest, walking to the restaurants in Plaka and of course shopping along Ermou Street.    The hotel was a lovely place to come back to each night, but to us, there was nothing they did to make our Athenian visit special.

Fast forward a few years, and the strength of the Euro made us go further out and select the Art Hotel near Omonia Square.  While the hotel looked pretty good on the web and cost us more than what the Grand Bretagne did, it was a modest property with a small room and an even tinier bathroom.  We would live in pretty cramped quarters for a week!  And the busy thoroughfare location ensured us a constant sound of cars and bikes!  And yet, from the word go, the lady at the front desk seemed to care about us.  She wanted to make sure we got enough to eat at breakfast, told us how to get around on the metro that was a few blocks away, wanted to know our plans and gave us tips to do things more effectively with kids and a senior in tow!  Of course, the most touching aspect was when two days later, they had a vacancy in the adjacent room and gave it to my father so he would have enough space….without charging us a dime for the extra room for the duration of our stay.  Every night, we would be asked about our day, our plans for the following day and of course what the kids’ reaction was to all the events of the day.

Sure the Grand Bretagne had a dedicated concierge if you wanted one, but our friend at the Art Hotel made it her business to be one and served us in the true spirit of “philoxenia” – translated as taking care of a foreigner.

To learn more about The Grand Bretagne, click here:

http://www.grandebretagne.gr/

To learn more about The Art Hotel, click here:

http://www.arthotelathens.gr/

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