With its recent influx of creatives, Greece’s capital is leaning into its ‘hipstorical’ reputation and the Modernist Athens reflects this artsy dynamism while instilling a true sense of place. The former Candian embassy has been given a sultry paint job and its interiors sleekened with anthracite timber, black marble, brass and polished concrete, plus simple-yet-striking Scandi furnishings. Throughout, modern Athenian artists and makers have their wares (ceramics, handcrafted stationery, custom tea blends) displayed, mixologist Nikos Bakoulis from renowned bar the Clumsies has conceived the cocktails, and Grecian DJ Palov sets the tone with curated playlists. Admire the Acropolis from the rooftop terrace or one of the balconies (most of the size-order-arranged rooms have one) and enjoy a city pad that won’t deplete your Euros. It may eschew the style of the ancients, but it’s a stay set to become a future classic.
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Two cocktails served on the hotel’s roof terrace and 20 per cent off food and drink in the restaurant
11am, but flexible, subject to availability (may be charged for 50 per cent of the room rate). Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £159.48 (€184), including tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional government tax of €3.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates usually include the breakfast buffet (otherwise €20 a person) with local, organic treats: fresh breads and pastries, cold cuts, spanakopita, eggs cooked to order, fresh juices and Peruvian single-origin arabica coffee.
Modern galleries abound in Kolonaki, but you could just as easily shuffle around the hotel in your PJs – works by the likes of Georgia Sagri and Philippos Theodorides enliven the walls here. The hotel may be true to Greece at heart, but they’ve taken some style tips from the Danes, flying in furnishings by Hay and Little Bird sculptures from Normann Copenhagen, among others. And, if you've forgotten to pack some reading material, the hotel's small library has a selection of modern classics to flick through.
At the hotel
City-view roof terrace, gym, curated concept store, small library, concierge, laundry service, free high-speed WiFi. In rooms: 43-inch flatscreen TV; Marshall speaker; minibar with free water; selection of books; espresso machine; tea-making kit; air-conditioning; and Physis Laboratory toiletries. Medium rooms upwards have a furnished balcony, and the Extra Large room has a private hot tub, record player and vinyl, drinks cart with free spirits and a Polaroid camera to use during your stay.
Our favourite rooms
The higher the floor you choose here, the better the view (and with many cradle-of-civilization marvels to behold from your balcony, it’s worth splashing out). The Extra Large rooms stand out for the private hot tub on their terrace, from which you can soak and sightsee, and its host of extras: a turntable and vinyl, a cart full of spirits and cocktail-making kit – all free to drink – and a Polaroid camera (perhaps best used before you get stuck into the bar cart). Rooms on the lower floors are cosy and coolly dressed, but overlook the road and tend to be smaller, so are best for those who have simply come to explore. And parents and kids can spread out in an interconnected Small and Large room specially for families.
It may be on the small side and tucked into the basement, but the hotel’s design nous didn’t run short at the open-all-hours gym, which has aesthetically pleasing wooden NOHrD equipment (treadmill, bike, weights) in keeping with the Scandi look, plus a punching bag. There’s no spa onsite, but the hotel can recommend ones nearby to provide some pampering.
The hotel is passionate about connecting with the local community and involving makers and artisans from the city in their day-to-day. And, you’ll want to follow suit after a peek at their boutique – so save space for toiletries from a third-generation pharmacy, custom totes, boxes of Rhoeco’s custom ginger and lemongrass tea blend (with seeds that you can plant at home), one-off ceramics from Open Studio, luxe stationery and more. If you find yourself without reading material, don’t fret – the hotel has excellent taste in periodicals and has a rack packed with cool readables, such as Monocle, 032c magazine, The Architectural Review and more.
There are some adapted rooms for vision-impaired guests and those with mobility or hearing issues.
Calm four-legged friends are welcome at the hotel (one a room) for €25 a night, and they’ll be provided with a comfy bed, bowl and a goodie bag filled with treats. There may be a charge for cleaning and they're not allowed in the dining room. See more pet-friendly hotels in Athens.
All ages are welcome; there’s little for kids to do onsite, but Athens will entertain them. The hotel can arrange for a local sitter if needed and they'll leave a Bauhaus-themed colouring book and small popcorn machine in the room for them.
The hotel recycles and encourages guests to reuse their towels. And they signpost the work of creatives in the local community by displaying Athenian art and handicrafts throughout and partnering with resident artists and makers.
This is a spy-on-the-world kinda spot, so you’ll want to sit by a window in the café, or at the edge of the roof terrace.
Something sculptural and boldly printed by Mary Katrantzou or Tina Kalivas will fly in this ode to contemporary Greek culture.
To the right of the lobby lies Modernist Café, a stylish dark-wood-lined spot for fuelling up before a day of exploring or a catch-up lunch at one of the marble-top tables. Many ingredients have been sourced from Ergon Deli (the tasty ladder of fellow Smith stay Ergon House) and healthful bowls are the order of the day, say saganaki shrimp with harissa and feta, beef niçoise or a Very Black Forest bowl (a deconstructed take on the gateau). Wash down with coffee from Athens-based Taf Roasters (the hotel has a custom blend) and wines from across the country.
Drinks are taken on the hotel rooftop, which has city-wide panoramic views and with the Acropolis front and centre. There’s a row of stools facing stylishly pruned greenery, too, but city-facing is really the way to go. Mixologist Nikos Bakoulis, who heads up hipster-beloved Athens bar the Clumsies, has overseen the cocktail list – a range of sippers with gin and bergamot, whiskey and honey, rum and carob – which can be ordered via a retro phone.
Breakfast is served from 7am to 10.30am, then the menu runs all day until last orders at 11.30pm. Drinks flow at the bar until 11.30pm.
Dishes can be delivered to your door from 11:30am to 11.30pm.
The Modernist Athens sits at the foot of Mount Lycabettus in the lively upscale neighborhood of Kolonaki, surrounded by the most important ancient Greek monuments.
Athens International is the closest travel hub, just a 40-minute drive from the hotel and the landing point for direct flights from major cities across Europe and further afield. The hotel can help to arrange transfers through their partner Welcome Pickups for €45 one way.
You can ride right from Athens Airport to the Evangelismos station via Metro Line 3; the stop is just a five-minute walk from the Modernist and the journey should take around 40 minutes. It’s also a handy jumping on and off point for sightseeing and it’s worth investing in an Ath.ena Card (which you can top-up for multiple journeys) for use during your stay. If you’re pairing your stay with a spell at sister stay the Modernist Thessaloniki, you can ride there direct from Athens Station, a 15-minute drive away. The hotel can arrange a pick-up for €10 one way.
Good Metro links and the hotel’s fabulously central location (all the city’s colonnaded masterpieces are within a 30-minute walk) make having a car somewhat redundant, and ensures that you needn’t experience the sometimes hair-raising traffic. But, if you’re planning some beach time (the nearest is a 15-minute drive, but not easily walkable) or plan to take a road trip further inland, some wheels may be useful. The hotel can help with parking, which is a 10-minute walk away and costs €21 for 24 hours (ask for a voucher at reception on arrival).
If you’ve been island-hopping, there’s a range of good ferry links from most adrift hotspots to the ports at Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrion.
Worth getting out of bed for
Greek entrepreneur and owner of the Modernist hotels, Kostis Karatzas, personally chose the Kolonaki neighbourhood because must-see sights are clustered around it and it’s a hotspot for urbane hangouts, yet it remains peaceful and pleasantly green (there’s a park just across the street from the hotel). Here you’re slap bang in the middle of the crucible of culture, where history and myth collide, and you’d be remiss not to pay your respects to the pantheon of the Acropolis, whose temples from way back in the BCs still stand, pick up ancient philosophical debates in the Lyceum and do a lap of the impressive marble Panathenaic Stadium, where the precursor to the Olympics was held. Plays and operas are still shown at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and if you ride the funicular to the top of Mount Lycabettus, just next door to the hotel, you’ll understand how Zeus and his fellow gods felt, having the city laid out at your feet. And you can school yourself in Greek arts, from storytelling amphorae, marble reliefs and terracotta statuettes of old (in the Museum of Cycladic Art and Benaki Museum) to challenging and conversational work by modern creatives in the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the Breeder Gallery and Deste Foundation. Get lungfuls of fresh air and see more Corinthian columns with a stroll through the National Garden or see which open-air exhibition is on show in the expansive grounds of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center. And save some time for browsing indie boutiques such as Graffito Concept Store for expertly curated homewares, A Future Perfect for clothes in eye-catching prints and quirky prints, Ianos for reading material, and covetable ceramics from Val Goutsi Workshop. Then end your day with drinks and a front-row seat for the night-lit Acropolis on the hotel’s roof terrace.
The hotel’s café is all set for casual catch-ups with its healthy bowls and artisanal treats from Ergon Deli, although you should venture out to experience Ergon House’s whole agora, a truly unique and sociable dining experience where you pick and choose dishes made using produce from the onsite butchers, fishmongers, bakers and vertical orchard and wash it down with fine Grecian wines. Just down the road from the hotel, Simul is run by chef Nikos Thomas, a former drummer and grill cook at Hooters, who’s turned his attention to more elegant menus with dishes such as shrimp tartare with cuttlefish lasagna, grilled squid with chorizo and fermented leeks and fermented-parsnip ice-cream with espresso gel and praline foam. Set in a neoclassical building on Ironda Street, Alficon is a speakeasy-style eatery where the chefs craft impeccably plated modern fare, such as chicken with zucchini and apricot, strawberry salad and goat with mizithra cheese. And Vezené is a bistro bedecked with flowers that serves both romance and tasty traditional dishes: goat-neck fricassee, braised lamb cheeks and pastitsio.
Elvis’ souvlaki (29 Plateon) is like no other you’ll try in Athens – for one, it’s served with simply fried potatoes, lemon and bread. This unassuming eatery has built a reputation on the meaty dish alone, but the super-friendly staff and the fact that it’s open after bars have called time doesn’t hurt. And for more alleged ‘bests’, head to hipster joint Colibri for much-buzzed about pizza pies – especially the one topped with paprika and yoghurt.
Raise your balloon glasses to Frater & Soror, a bright modern ‘ginteria’ where tonics flow freely. As do negronis, spritzes and natural wines. If you’ve drained many a cocktail at the hotel, then seek out more of mixologist extraordinaire Nikos Bakoulis’ thirst-quenchers at the Clumsies, where talented slingers pour at a vintage-style wooden bar, birdhouses hang from the ceiling and menus can only be read under UV light. It’s where you’ll find Athens’ cool crowd.
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 temple to minimalism a lightning strike away from the Acropolis and unpacked the piece of Athenian art that turned their head and some sleek local stoneware (on sale in the hotel’s boutique), a full account of their hit-and-myth break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Modernist Athens…
The ancient Greeks may have believed that you can never have too many columns or caryatids, but nowadays Athenians err towards a less-is-more look. The Modernist Athens puts this design switch into sharp relief with its clean-lined minimalism that takes a cue from Scandi simplicity and industrial sultriness. From the set-for-symposia roof terrace – with its panorama of past masterpieces – to the convivial street-level café and basement gym, it’s stylishly composed of black marble, anthracite timber, brass, steel, polished concrete and ash-blonde wood, with bounceable beds and people-watching balconies. But, just because it has a foot firmly in the present doesn’t mean it’s lacking in history. This was once the Canadian embassy, as evidenced by a Maple Leaf Flag (that once belonged to renowned historian George FG Stanley) hanging alongside colourful abstract works by contemporary Greek artists, and during construction the hoteliers stumbled upon secret passageways and panic rooms. The stay is also orbited by the ancient Greeks’ greatest accomplishments: the still-mighty temples of the Acropolis, Panathenaic Stadium, Temple of Olympian Zeus and other national treasures commingle with the cosmopolitan shops and contemporary galleries around the hotel’s upmarket Kolonaki neighbourhood. Much like the hotel’s sister stay in Thessaloniki, there’s a strong sense of identity here too – a boutique showcases handcrafted stationery sets, ceramics and tea blends made by live-next-door artisans; bath products come from a third-generation pharmacy; staff wear uniforms made by on-trend label 2WO+1NE=2; native DJ Palov curated the soundtrack to your stay, and the bar’s cocktails were born of a collaboration with Nikos Bakoulis of Athens’ super-cool Clumsies bar. It may not tell a story in heroic marbles and chiton-clad statuary, but the hotel offers a succinct lesson in Greek modernism and mindfulness.