In the same way each of the Grecian gods had their thing (Dionysus, wine; Artemis, hunting; Zeus…umm), each of Perianth Hotel’s three sibling owners brings something new to this thoroughly modern, design-led stay in Athens. The practicing Zen monk runs the meditation and martial arts space, the arts advocate ensures contemporary culture is represented throughout this Art Moderne building, and the finger-on-the-pulse DJ has refined the service and well-informed the concierge. After all, you’re on one of Athens’ liveliest squares. And, one of Athens’ most-wanted design studios have taken the reins on Bauhaus-leaning interiors in rooms and suites, many of which overlook the Acropolis but signpost to a blazing future in Greek hospitality.
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Free two-course meal (excluding drinks) and a bottle of wine in your room on arrival
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £223.35 (€264), including tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €4.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates usually include a hearty buffet breakfast with pastries, granola, breads, Greek yoghurt, eggs every way, avo on toast, cookies, pancakes with various toppings and more.
The hotel is on a mission to introduce guests to contemporary Greek culture, and its Athenian-modernist design by in-demand native interiors experts K-Studios is just the start of it. The art displayed throughout (Rallou Panagiotou’s sculptural topologies, Aliki Panagiotopoulou’s mixed-media installations, Juliano Kaglis’ mysterious oils and more) has all been sourced locally. The concierge is an oracle of the most on-trend local hang-outs too – and may have a premonition about where you’ll be spending your evening. Make an early start of it by requesting that your minibar be filled with pre-mixed cocktails from famed Athens drinkery the Clumsies. And, even the staff are a walking advert for Greece’s mod mindset, with their svelte Sophia Kokosalaki-designed uniforms.
Due to Covid-19, breakfast will be served à la carte. Staff have undergone extensive health and safety training and are strictly advised to stay at home if they feel unwell. The temperature of all team members will be taken at the beginning of their shift and staff will wear face masks and gloves. Sanitising stations will be placed throughout the hotel and social-distancing measures will be in place; rooms will be steam-cleaned. Payments can only be made by credit card, only one guest can ride in the lift at any time and luggage will be sanitised before it’s delivered to your room. Guests will need to request that their minibar be fully stocked. The restaurant will have digital menus and limited room service will be available, plus there’ll be grab-and-go bags.
At the hotel
Zen center, lobby lounge, concierge, laundry service, porterage. In rooms: TV, Nespresso coffee machine, workspace, bathrobes and slippers, minibar, free WiFi. The Penthouse Suite also has a private pool, Jacuzzi and bar.
Our favourite rooms
Not to cast shade on the other rooms and suites in the hotel – all of which are model-beautiful as far as four walls go – but the Penthouse has a huge terrace, with a private pool, Jacuzzi, bar and a god’s-eye view of the Acropolis. Olympic-level hosting, in our humble opinion. But, K-Studio’s considered design has bestowed something special on all rooms, be it styling with black and grey terrazzo; stormy marbles; custom walnut-wood cabinetry; curved brass and metal piping for an industrial feel; and velvet sofas in powder-puff pink, coral, olive and mustard – hell, even the plants look grown-to-order – or higher ceilings in lower-floor rooms to compensate for less space. And, you needn’t get the top suite for iconic city views – the Superior Acropolis has a balcony overlooking the skyline.
If your body is a temple, then the hotel’s mindful martial arts’ space, the Zen Center, will make you feel like the Parthenon in its hey-day. Run by co-owner Konstantinos Sgoumpopoulos, who is a practicing Zen monk and taekwondo master – this non-profit organisation arranges meditation in the Socratic method (apparently he was a big fan), yoga sessions and a range of martial arts classes. Choose from aikido (the grappling one), iaido (the one with swords) or taekwondo (the one with spinning kicks): either way you’ll come back with some kick-ass moves.
Something resembling a ‘himation’ (the Grecian version of a toga) may come in handy, with all the street-food stops you’ll likely be making – for all their cultural gifts, comfort dressing might be the best thing the ancients devised.
The hotel has one accessible room with a large bathroom, and there’s a lift to all floors.
Park yourself by the café’s windows to pick up street-style tips and watch Athenian daily life unfold.
Bauhaus geometry translated to your body.
The hotel’s casual diner, Perianth Café, is best suited to breakfasting, brunching and lunching, but window walls overlooking the hive of activity in Agias Eirinis Square ups the energy levels and allows guests to be discreetly nosy. The menu takes the Mediterranean’s ‘our sun-blessed produce speaks for itself, so we don’t need to shout about it’ attitude with simple pastas, salads, sandwiches and pizzas – say a spinach, prosciutto and pear salad with a honey-lime dressing, linguine Amatriciana, or a chicken club sandwich gooey with gruyère.
Hop onto a stool at the swoop of black marble counter in the café to watch the world go by, or nestle into the crook of one of the lobby’s mustard velvet sofas to sip as you read a book. There’s a short and sweet (dry, fruity, oaky…) edit of Grecian wines and some local brews, or fresh juices, milkshakes and all shades and sorts of coffee.
Breakfast runs from 7am to 11am, brunch from 11am to 2pm, and lunch from 12 noon to 4pm. Dinner is from 6pm to 10.30pm.
Yes, the menu can be privately enjoyed 24 hours a day (breakfast from 7–11am and a night menu from 10pm–7am). Our choices for curling up on the sofa with: linguine with smoked salmon and mascarpone and the turkey, asiago and pepper brioche.
Perianth is luckily located in the rarely-a-dull-moment hotspot of Agias Eirinis Square, which buzzes with the comings and goings of shoppers, diners and bar-hoppers. The Acropolis is just a 15-minute walk away.
Athens International is the closest airport, a 50-minute drive from the hotel. Flights arrive here direct from most major European cities and a few further afield. The hotel can arrange taxi transfers on request (from €42 to €62 one-way, depending on the time of travel).
Less than 10 minutes’ walk away, Monastiraki Metro station will open up the city for you. And handily, it’s on blue line three, which ferries people between the city and the airport. It’s worth splurging on the ‘tourist ticket’, which lasts for three days and includes all public transport around Athens, plus a return trip to the airport.
Attempting to drive in Athens will give you the disconsolate look of a Greek tragedy mask, and the related drama. Motorcyclists bob and weave through the fray, many seem colourblind to traffic lights and you run the risk of being rear-ended by impatient drivers at a yellow light. Metro links are good and the city is made for walking, so you’ll get along fine without a car, but if you do need to hire wheels, you can do so at the airport; parking is 400 metres from the hotel and costs €27 for 24 hours (the car park closes in the early hours).
If you’ve been island hopping, your ferry will likely drift back into Athens’ main port at Piraeus, which is a 30-minute drive from the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Even one of the world’s oldest cities can learn a few new tricks, and Athens has been defibrillated by a cultural and social scene that’s still gaining momentum. Agias Eirinis Square is where you can see this in action, as groups gather for coffee, wine or cocktails, hop from shop to shop, compare notes about souvlaki joints, or simply stroll by grand neoclassical buildings in the sunshine. But, even in the midst of gentrified glamourisation, there are vestiges of the past left: a few flower stalls hungover from its time as the floral market, a quaint as-it-was haberdashery store to the north side, and the Byzantine Church which once acted as Athens cathedral. And, each Sunday, you can dig around for first-edition books, vintage vinyl and antique religious icons – alongside modern pieces from local artisans and items of more dubious origin – at the Monastiraki flea market. Ermou Street (two blocks from the hotel) runs from Syntagma Square to Thission – an expensive walk due to the many high-street and indie shops along that stretch, plus the Hondos Centre, a paean to all things beauty. Head blindly any which way south and you’ll hit something historic: the ancient Agora, Roman Forum, and the Acropolis citadel. To reach the latter you’ll cross through the charmingly cobbled Plaka neighbourhood, which is home to the romantically named Tower of the Winds, and the Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments (any tsampouna players in the house?), and Athens’ oldest still-standing residence: Benizelos Mansion, which was built in the 18th century. And, the tiny community of Anafiotika – a ‘secret’ neighbourhood built illegally by Cycladic immigrants – which is notable for its island-style cubic architecture and bougainvillea-lined alleys. After worshipping at the altars of the various gods represented in the Acropolis, stop by the workshop of Stavros Mellissinos – the late poet-shoemaker of Athens – his son has since taken over, but Stavros’ legacy lives on in beautifully crafted footwear and silver-tongued words. Within 20 minutes’ walk east of the hotel lies the Benaki Museum and Museum of Cycladic Art – both of which show the richness of Greece’s cultural heritage, while the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) shows its ongoing legacy. Come evening, roll up at one of Athens’ many outdoor cinemas: Thision or Cine Paris, both of which have the Acropolis in the background; or Zephyros (35 Troon), which has a less formal, arthouse café feel. Or seek out a truly spectacular sundowner with a drive out to Cape Sounion (around an hour’s journey); the Aegean panorama from the headland is made all the dreamier with the ruins of a temple to Poseidon.
Hippocrates – the father of modern medicine – said ‘Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food’; we say, ‘no’. Live in the now for Athens’ dining scene, which is reliably good, from the most unassuming hole in the wall to Michelin-starred heavyweights. Start off with a traditional feast at Taverna Saita (21 Kidathineon), a surprisingly authentic eatery in Plaka, where decent eats can be harder to hunt down. Here, classics such as pastitsio, aubergine with feta and lemony lamb chops are served in old-school surrounds – in summer tables set outside let you admire Plaka’s picturesqueness. A more modern option in the neighbourhood – albeit only open at lunchtime – is Nolan, a stripped-back eatery with Japanese-Greek fusion fare. Mash-ups such as prawn and bonito in rice paper with yuzu, a cod bao burger, or octopus salad spiked with rice vinegar. And, yes, it is named after the Inception director. Botrini’s bridges the gap between Athens’ back-in-the-day dining and fast-forward culinary thinking; its menu and methods may be modern, but dishes are heavily inspired by chef Ettore Botrini’s Corfiot childhood and use generation-to-generation ingredients. So, you’ll try wild-mushroom macarons with five-spice, milk-fed lamb with a miso-fig pie, and peach and hibiscus pastries.
Sure, the Greeks gave the world democracy, geometry, philosophy and a bunch of other stuff – but, they also brought us Kostas souvlaki (2 Agias Irinis). This hole in the wall only operates from 8am to 3.30pm and only peddles cartons of pita-wrapped meat and vegetables, but it’s flavourful, grilled to juicy perfection and only costs €2; Kostas is the sole employee manning the grill for quality management and works to his grandfather’s recipe. Follow that with an equally hand-holdable koulouri (a sort of savoury, sesame-covered doughnut) from carb-master Koulouri of Psirri (23 Karaiskaki), or dessert of sticky-sweet loukoumades (honey- and-cinnamon-dipped dough balls) at Krinos (87 Aiolou), a café set in a beautiful antique building that was Athens’ first pharmacy.
As with eateries, nightlife ranges from the ‘have an ouzo with a handful of old-timers’ to ‘design-led drinking with Athens’ young and beautiful’ – both have their appeal. For the former, try Diporto (9 Socratous), one of Athens’ oldest taverns, where the entrance is a bit of a misdirect (there’s no sign), full wine barrels line the walls, and you may be encouraged to share your table with strangers. And on the other end of the spectrum is 6 D.o.g.s, a cultural centre, bar and nightclub whose secret bohemian garden has swing chairs, sandy floors and candles in mason jars.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this neo-modernist marvel of a hotel in cosmopolitan Agias Eirinis Square and unpacked their heritage leather sandals from poet and shoemaker Melissinos and shown off their new aikido moves, a full account of their spiritually-centered-in-the-city-centre break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Perianth Hotel in Athens…
You’ve read Homer, you’ve learnt the lyre, and you’ve sacrificed a wild deer at Artemis’ altar – I mean, who hasn’t? Now, get ready to fall in love with Greece’s modern side. Perianth Hotel, in super-cool Athens hangout spot Agias Eirinis Square, brings visitors into the city’s present at maximum warp, introducing them to the city’s contemporary art scene by hanging work by exciting native creatives (a coup considering there’s only one major modern art gallery in Athens); its sense of style via staff uniforms custom made by the late-great fashion designer Sophia Kokosolaki; and its not-a-column-in-sight decor, with a retro-futurist look from in-demand interiors stylists K-Studio. It’s housed in a 1930s Art Moderne building whose wanton curves and deco flourishes have been co-opted in the all-new rooms and suites, decked out in brass, black marble shot through with white lightning streaks, throwback walnut wood cabinetry and sultry terrazzo flooring, with soft throws in pastel hues and velvet-upholstered chairs in Seventies album-cover colours to soften up the look. And changes aren’t just cosmetic: the building’s trapezoidal shape means rooms are arranged in a radial shape, allowing more space and no nightmares about The Shining’s ominous corridors; glass-block walls let light flow through central areas; and all rooms benefit from a balcony – hell, the Penthouse even has a private pool and Jacuzzi. And, the building and concept aren’t the only things the owners have wrangled into the 21st century: the Zen Center teaches the age-old practices of meditation and martial arts in crisp modern surrounds, bringing a little sword-wielding, ass-kicking action to your break. And, with a triumvirate of owners that includes a Zen monk, arts expert and DJ, with some dynamic ideas for Perianth, it's no myth that this might be Athens’ most forward-thinking stay.