I never need an excuse to go to Greece, but when an opportunity presents itself, I don’t hesitate to take it.
Greece is one of the countries I’ve visited the most in the last couple of years since the pandemic struck in March 2020.
I spent my 30th birthday with 2 of my best friends in Athens and then headed to Santorini for the first time for a couple of nights and completely fell in love with the place.
Everything from the food and the culture to the weather and the language (which I’m now learning), just makes me want to keep going back for more.
For this visit, I stayed in Athens at the Academias Hotel, Autograph Collection.
The Academias Hotel, Autograph Collection was in the perfect location for me.
I wanted to be central enough that I wouldn’t have to take public transportation to work from cafes during the day or when heading out for dinner at night.
When traveling to and from airports, I always recommend taking public transportation (buses, trains, or subways) where possible rather than taxi or Uber.
Not only is it usually far more cost-effective, but it helps in some way to reduce my carbon footprint when traveling.
I took the Athens Metro from the airport to Syntagma Station and walked less than 10 minutes to the hotel. The journey cost me €18 (~$19) for a round-trip ticket and took around 50 minutes from getting on the Metro at the airport.
Unless it’s for a good reason, I always book direct with hotels to make sure I get the status benefits linked with my profile.
However, this trip is an example of one of the only reasons I can think of to not book directly with the hotel.
I booked my flight and hotel as a package through ba.com as the airline was offering double Tier Points on flight and hotel or flight and car packages of 5 nights or more through October 2022.
Why was that such a good deal? Because the more Tier Points you earn, the more you climb through the elite ranks of the British Airways Executive Club frequent flyer program.
I’d been coasting along at Silver for a few years, so with the rebound of travel acting as a tailwind, I set myself a target of reaching Gold by the time my earning year ended on March 7, 2022.
There’s an added bonus about flying to Greece with British Airways from London. Because of the larger distance flown, all Greek destinations are awarded double the amount of Tier Points than to other European city destinations.
The table below compares the Tier Points (TPs) earned for a one-way flight to Athens (ATH) versus to Barcelona (BCN).
|Economy* ||Economy (With Offer)*||Club (Business)||Club (With Offer)|
|Athens (ATH)||10 to 40 TPs||20 to 80 TPs||80 TPs||160 TPs|
|Barcelona (BCN)||5 to 20 TPs||10 to 40 TPs||40 TPs||80 TPs|
* The number of Tier Points you will earn varies depending on the booking class of your ticket. It’s worth noting that earning more Tier Points also means you’ll have paid for a more expensive ticket.
That means in total for the one round-trip booking I’d earn a hefty 320 Tier Points.
I could have picked from several hotels as part of my package. However, as I’m climbing through the ranks of the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program and I have a soft spot for Autograph Collection properties, choosing the Academias Hotel was a no-brainer.
The 5-night stay plus return flights in business class cost me £1,069 (~$1,299). I would by no means class that as cheap, but I personally view the 320 Tier Points, business class flights, and 5-nights in a luxury hotel for that price as value for the money.
I booked this stay using my British Airways American Express® Premium Plus Card, which earned me 3x Avios per £1 spent.
If you’re booking a stay at the hotel alone, then I’d recommend using one of the many cards that earn bonus points for booking Marriott stays, such as the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card which can earn you up 17x per $1 spent on your stay!
Wow. I was blown away by the staff at this hotel from the second I arrived.
I landed in Athens (ATH) around 1 p.m. and was already being checked in at reception at 2:30 p.m. thanks to the combination of no lines in the airport and the easy-to-navigate, efficient Athens Metro.
The reception desk is located down a flight of stairs on the far side of the lobby.
Within minutes of arriving, I was checking in and sipping on a non-alcoholic welcome cocktail made with ginger, cucumber, and a few other ingredients that I forgot to note.
I emailed before I arrived to check to see if I could add my Marriott Bonvoy number. I was told that unfortunately, as per the policy that I was aware of, I would not receive the benefits, but that they had added my membership number for me anyway.
It turns out that they did indeed honor my Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status and I was awarded 500 points as a welcome gift. However, they weren’t able to honor the upgrade on availability that I had become accustomed used to with my (then) Marriott Gold Elite status (I have since moved up the ranks and am now a Platinum Elite member).
I guess sometimes you have to compromise in the points and miles game. My priority here was to earn bonus BA Tier Points which meant forgoing some of the perks of my Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status.
Once I was handed my key, I was escorted to my room by a bellman who opened my door for me and ushered me inside.
He set my suitcase aside and asked me if I needed any instructions about the room. What a welcome indeed.
Down 1 floor in the basement was where the gym, pool, spa, and sauna of the Pnoe Wellness Center could be found.
I was a fan of the luxurious changing facilities for before and after a gym, swim, sauna, or spa session.
Towels, robes, and slippers were provided.
Unfortunately, the gym itself was a letdown.
To get the blood pumping, there was only an old-school-looking treadmill and an antiquated pedal machine.
Other equipment included a couple of exercise balls, a solitary workout bench (at least it was adjustable), and a set of weights that only went up to around 10 kilograms (22 pounds).
Needless to say, I was glad I packed my trusty resistance bands.
Pool and Sauna
The pool and sauna seriously made up for the useless gym.
A towel was laid on each of the 4 beds.
The pool wasn’t huge, but still long enough to do a few lengths. You’ll notice here the first of the hotel’s many quotes by famous Greeks of times gone by.
Like all good Greek indoor pools, there was a projector playing a black and white film with Portuguese subtitles.
The entrance to the sauna was at the end of the row of 4 beds.
Once inside, it was spacious, clean, and hot.
I am an absolute sucker for a spa treatment, so I indulged in a massage after a long, hard week of working in Athens.
The treatment room was immaculately clean and echoed the modern and luxurious design of the rest of Pnoe.
As I’m a bit of a softy when it comes to pain, I decided on the 55-minute relaxing massage for €60 (~$64).
It was clear that my masseuse was highly skilled in his practice. He knew immediately where the tension points in my body were and recommended that I have more frequent sports massages to help my body recover properly from my workouts.
COVID-19 rules were still quite strict in Athens at the time, so I was required to wear a mask during the massage, which was a weird experience.
Other treatments available included a neuromuscular massage, sports massage, reflexology, and lymphatic drainage.
The room I booked with my BA package deal was a Deluxe, Guest room, 1 King, City view. It was more than adequate for what I needed for my 5-night stay.
This room epitomizes everything I love about Autograph Collection hotels. The unique design and décor specific to the Academias Hotel allows for that cozy boutique luxury that you just don’t get in cookie-cutter hotels.
Hot Tip: To read more about why I love Autograph Collection hotels so much, check out another recent stay of mine at The Dixon, Tower Bridge, Autograph Collection property in London.
The king bed had no less than 6 pillows for maximum comfort.
There was even a pillow menu.
I really liked the headboard and wall light ensemble. The more I stay in Autograph Collection hotels, the more likely my apartment will look like one very soon.
At one side of the bed was a nightstand/storage unit.
And on the other side of the bed atop a nightstand was a phone, antiseptic wipe, notepad and pen, and a (very strategically placed) massage menu.
On the same side were 3 labeled light switches to save bumbling around trying to turn the right light off when going to sleep.
On the wall opposite the bed was an industrial-style TV and desk unit which was also home to the coffee station and a small selection of minibar items.
I was happy to see an Illy espresso machine and espresso pods rather than the Nespresso equivalent you typically find in hotels. Illy coffee just tastes so much better.
I particularly enjoyed the attention to detail on the coffee and espresso cups.
I thoroughly enjoyed starting each day sipping on an Illy espresso from my bed while staring out over the Athenian rooftops.
Here’s the full view.
The small selection of minibar items for purchase included a couple of sweet and savory snacks, as well as wine and (I think) ouzo.
Ample storage for clothes, belongings, and my carry-on-sized suitcase could be found behind a sliding mirrored door.
In the storage unit, there was a hair dryer, safety box, and laundry bag. To the right, you’ll see a set of slippers along with a shoe horn and brush.
My furrowed brow at the slippers unnecessarily packaged in plastic relaxed slightly when I saw it was eco-friendly plastic (though I’m not exactly sure how that’s really possible — it’s still throw-away plastic).
It’s always a pleasure to find complimentary water (and not just a tiny bottle) in a hotel room. It’s even better when the water is accompanied by snacks, too. The cherry on top would have been if the bottle wasn’t made out of plastic.
The snacks were devilishly sweet sesame bars in 3 flavors: black, pistachio, and cranberry. I annihilated each one in a couple of bites.
The room was full of cultural and homely pieces of art and decor that added to the unique and boutique feel of the hotel, such as this framed photo captioned with, of course, a quote from Plato.
As an avid wisher for more time to read, having books available in the room was appreciated.
Before moving on to the bathroom, I should mention a few more points about the bedroom.
I liked that a button next to the door replaced the usual physical do not disturb sign. This was located next to a button that would turn the shower glass from translucent to opaque. More on that later.
It’s nothing out of the ordinary to find a thermostat for controlling the temperature of the room. However, it was out of the ordinary that I couldn’t lower the temperature any more than 19 degrees Celsius (~66 degrees Fahrenheit).
When I went to reception to explain that my room was too hot and that I couldn’t cool it down, I was told that in winter months, rooms can only be heated. Air conditioning is only available in summer months.
I couldn’t quite believe it and I hope I never stay in any more hotels with the same illogical temperature settings.
A little something that always makes me smile in most of the Marriott properties I stay in is that guests are given the opportunity to separate their regular trash from recycling.
While getting some snaps of the room, I noticed the desk area was very dusty — so much so you can see the squiggly line drawn by my finger.
Other than this minor blip, I didn’t notice any further issues with cleanliness.
Let’s move on to the bathroom, which you could see right into from the bedroom.
With a flick of the switch that I mentioned earlier, the glass would turn opaque if you’d be more comfortable showering out of sight of your roommate.
Can we just take a minute to appreciate the armchair?
Similar to the wardrobe, the entrance to the bathroom was concealed by a sliding mirrored door.
The centerpiece was a beautiful marble-effect (or maybe even real marble?) sink unit.
To the left was the shower in all its transparent glory.
And to the right of the sink was the toilet closet.
So you can see just how effective the magic glass is, compare these pictures of when it’s transparent and opaque.
The shower was plenty spacious and powerful.
The gold shower heads and fittings contrasted nicely with the main color scheme of whites and blacks.
The black marble effect floor tiles flowed from the bathroom into the shower.
Bathroom amenities were by Molton Brown London and included the usual suspects: shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion.
There was also a nail file and sewing kit.
A Molton Brown vanity kit was comprised of cotton buds and cotton pads.
To some, a hair dryer is just a hair dryer.
To others, an entire spectrum of good to bad hair dryers exists. I’d describe the power and heat from the hair dryer at Academias Hotel to be insufficient when taking into consideration how amazing everything else was.
Another little attention to detail I enjoyed was the “A” branded towels.
Honestly, I could have moved into this room. I loved it.
Food and Beverage
I had nothing but excellent culinary experiences during my stay at the Academias Hotel.
I usually prefer to eat out as much as possible when staying in a hotel. On this trip, I was busy with work (it wasn’t a vacation as many may believe it to be). I only left the hotel a few mornings to head to Dope Roasting Co. — my favorite café and remote working spot in the city — so I had most of my meals in the hotel.
Nyx Japanese Rooftop Gastrobar — Bar and Restaurant
Opening hours: 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Let me start by saying that Nyx should be on every sushi lover’s visit list when visiting Athens. Even if you’re not a huge fan of sushi, still pop in for a cocktail around sunset.
I was blown away by the service, food, and most of all, the stunning views over Athens and the Acropolis:
Diners can choose between 2 main areas to eat: inside around the bar area or on a terrace with a retractable roof.
You’re never too far from a quote at the Academias Hotel.
I sat up at the bar late one afternoon to finish off my day with that stunning backdrop.
I can’t wait to go back and experience this place in the summer with the roof pulled back and the sun beating down.
This is where you should sit if you’re partial to a sunset.
To the left of the main bar and restaurant area is a separate space with seating more suitable for relaxing.
It doubles up as a cozy spot for an apéritif.
You can head out a door from here onto a smaller terrace that looks out onto Mount Lycabettus.
The sun had already set, so I pitched up at a high table opposite the bar. As I was dining alone, the other 3 place settings were cleared immediately.
To start with, I had melt-in-your-mouth salmon sashimi.
Next up was a serving of salmon and avo rolls. They were equally as excellent as the sashimi.
As soon as I’d finished, the waiter crumbed down my table. It speaks a lot about the level of hospitality when this happens. I clearly don’t eat at high-class establishments often enough as I can’t remember experiencing a crumbing down before this.
Now, I bet you’re thinking this cost a fair whack. Wrong.
My total, including the sashimi, California rolls, and a (double) Roku gin and tonic, came to €32 (~$33.60). I found that to be an incredible value — especially as I know I’ve paid more for worse sushi in the past.
Part of the reason the sushi is so good is that it’s rolled fresh and to order right in front of everyone.
Next time, I’ll make sure to order one of these platters for myself.
Menus for dining, cocktails, and wine can be found on the restaurant’s website.
Plato — Lounge Bar
Opening hours: 8 a.m. to 12 a.m.
On the day I arrived, I
dumped unpacked my suitcase and headed down to Plato for a bite to eat.
A few minutes after ordering, I was taken aback by the amuse-bouche that I was served.
Firstly, because I wasn’t expecting it, and secondly, because I’ve only ever been served an amuse-bouche in a fine dining or Michelin-starred restaurant — never before in a hotel lobby bar.
My first impressions of this hotel couldn’t have been any better at this point.
I rarely order salads, but I try to stick to healthy eating as much as possible when I’m traveling abroad. Needless to say, this chicken, feta, and fig salad was both flavorsome and filling. What more could you ask for from a salad?
The dish — Plato’s Green Salad — was only €9 (~$9.50). Once again, incredible value in my book.
On one of the days that I was too busy to leave the hotel, I ate for a second time at Plato. This time I went for the chicken breast fillet with veggies.
As previously, my entrée was preceded by an amuse-bouche plus a side of bread and oil. Not to mention the meal itself was just as stunningly delicious. It was €12 ($12.60) very well spent, yet again.
The setting was ideal for both informal and formal dining or drinks meetings.
Here are the dining, cocktail, and wine menus for your perusal.
I was happy to find that I could order from Plato’s delicious menu for room service, too.
I tried it out one evening when I was feeling lazy after a busy day.
On the phone, I was told that the food would arrive in 20 to 30 minutes, which it did.
Also during the phone call, the staffer went hard on the upsell: I felt a little pressured by the person on the other end of the phone to order a drink and a dessert. I had to reiterate twice that all I wanted was the grilled octopus starter and spaghetti main course that I’d ordered.
What was revealed from under the cloches was equally as delicious looking as what I was served in Plato.
The grilled octopus and fava were a perfect pair. If you haven’t tried fava, it’s usually served as a side dish or an accompaniment and basically consists of smushed-up broad beans.
It’s one of my favorite things to snack on when I’m in Greece. Move over, tzatziki.
Opening hours: 6:30 a.m. — 10:30 a.m.
Symposium restaurant is reserved for breakfast only.
Here you can digest yet more thought-provoking quotes and the meaning of life while you sip on your morning coffee.
It’s located up 1 level from the lobby, reception, and Plato. The elevator brings you out to a lower level, which I’m guessing serves as an overflow area of the restaurant during busy times. I never saw anybody eating here.
The restaurant is made up of mainly tables of 2 and 4.
The breakfast buffet is set out in front of the open kitchen.
Being able to see the chefs in action always adds an extra something to any dining experience for me.
Each morning, I pitched up at the same table by the window.
The view was of the busy main street which wasn’t so picturesque but ideal for watching the world go by nonetheless.
For €35 (~$36.60), you could eat as much as you want from the buffet breakfast and choose 1 item from the à la carte menu below.
After a quick scan of the buffet, I decided I’d stick with ordering a single item from the à la carte menu. The buffet included all the usual suspects: cold cuts, sweet treats, cereals, fruit, and yogurt. It certainly wasn’t worth the €35 price tag.
If you’re booking a stay here, I’d opt out of the breakfast included rate if I were you. You can get far more value for money from the à la carte breakfast. Failing that, the hotel is a short walk from so many cafés and restaurants.
I tried a couple of options: the American breakfast was lighter than I’d have expected.
And the Eggs Royale was exquisite.
Mainly owing to the perfectly poached eggs.
I felt so appreciated and welcome during my stay at the Academias Hotel.
One of the things that I like so much about Autograph Collection properties is that they’re smaller thanks to their boutique nature.
This acts as a catalyst for the building of relationships and rapport between staff and guests. On several occasions, staff referred to me by my name when passing by the reception desk or in the corridor. As a solo traveler, personal touches like this make me feel so welcome and valued as an individual.
Another small touch that I appreciated was the housekeeping staff leaving a note if my “Do Not Disturb” sign was illuminated.
Would I stay here again? In a heartbeat.
I loved everything about the Academias Hotel, Autograph Collection, from the beautifully designed rooms and rooftop sunset views to the incredible food at Nyx and Plato, and even the random war film with Portuguese subtitles showing at the pool.
Seriously, though, if you’re planning a trip to Athens, please try this place out — even if it’s just 1 night.
I think the Academias Hotel may be missing some small touches like a turndown service for it to be officially awarded 5 stars. However, in my eyes, the Academias Hotel should absolutely be awarded 5-star status.
Until next time, Academias Hotel.
The information regarding the British Airways American Express® Premium Plus Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.