Hotel Grande Bretagne, A Luxury Collection Hotel is a quiet and elegant haven right off Syntagma Square, the beating heart of Athens. High ceilings and intricate marble floors absorb the sound and heat of the street, giving the large lobby a welcoming sense of calmness.
We arrived after a long journey including off-roading, ferry, bus, and taxi from the breezy island of Evia where we’d just left our six-week housesit. It was high time for rest and relaxation!
Check-in was fast and easy, and we were given a room on the fifth floor, with a slight glimpse towards the House of Parliament.
Checking Out the Room
As soon as we opened the door a whiff of fresh linen welcomed us. Though our room was on the small side, there was enough space for a mini bar, working desk, and closet. The oversized marble bathroom featured a waterfall showerhead, double sinks, and high-end toiletries from vegan-friendly Gilchrist & Soames. We love their Zero Collection as it includes zero sulfates, zero parabens, zero phthalates, zero artificial colors and zero animal testing! We hope more hotels choose to support this cruelty-free and decadent beauty line, too.
Shortly there was a knock on the door with a welcome plate of fresh fruit along with the hotel’s press kit, delivered via pen drive. It’s always appreciated when brands choose to go eco-friendly when it comes to promotion, and it’s no surprise the Hotel Grande Bretagne is leading the way.
Since we were only in town for the day, I planned to take full advantage of the spa facilities which I’d read so much about, while Maddy started exploring the gift shop, the GB Corner. The pastries on display were gorgeous, though sadly (or perhaps, luckily?) we didn’t try any as there were no vegan selections on offer! Maybe next time…
Pampered by the Pool, Sweat in the Sauna
On the spa floor, there’s a large indoor swimming pool which shimmers in the gentle light. After showering off, I slip into the water and step into the mindset of relaxation. From here I enter the herbal steam room where the hot water jets out over dried herbs and infuses the room with a woody, earthy smell that rejuvenates all my senses. Fifteen minutes later and I am dripping sweat; luckily there’s a water station where I rehydrate before trying the Amethyst Grotto. Lastly, the Sauna. I turn the timer to keep track of my ten minutes, splash a scoop of water on the scorching hot rocks and let myself melt into the wooden boards.
Fifteen minutes later and I am dripping sweat; luckily there’s a water station where I rehydrate before trying the Amethyst Grotto. Lastly, the Sauna. I turn the timer to keep track of my ten minutes, splash a scoop of water on the scorching hot rocks and let myself melt into the wooden boards.
Stepping out of the sauna, I’m a little lightheaded, so I drink some more water while enjoying the hydrotherapy treatment for feet. Rested and ready for my spa treatment, I wrap the bathrobe around me and wait to be called for my turn. Maddy is getting the full body massage while I opted for the GB Prickly Pear Luxury Facial. My therapist calls my name and leads me into room five. The room is lit in a gentle amber light, smells of fresh blossoms and the massage table is plush and comfy. I’m instantly relaxed before the facial even begins.
My therapist shows me all the products and explains that she will be using an ancient Japanese style of massage, Kobido. It involves an alternation of quick and slow hand movements to improve circulation in the face and neck, boost collagen production, and destroy dead cells to pave the way for new ones. Yes, please!
She cleanses my skin with featherlight finger strokes, massaging in circles, and working the pads of her fingers against the pores of my nose. Next, a chilled mask which she paints on with a gentle brush. It’s made from apricot seeds and smells faintly of fresh pound cake. The hot towel she uses to remove the mask rejuvenates me and pulls me from the brink of sleep. Ahhhh.
The neck and shoulder massage are incredible, and I am at the mercy of her skilled and strong hands. As her fingers glide along the occipital ridge of my skull, I slip into a deep ecstasy, wondering if I should move to Athens just to repeat this experience. Deep breaths come easily now, and before I know it the treatment has come to an end. Still in my bathrobe, I join Maddy in the interior terrace for a mint tea where he’s just as pleasantly wilted as I am.
Breakfast With a View
After a very comfortable and restful night, we awake to the sun reflecting off the nearby building. Luckily there’s not much to re-pack before our flight to Madrid, so we take the stairs to the eighth floor. I’m so ready for a coffee! Breakfast was served with an unforgettable view.
There were plenty of vegan items to keep us satiated: whole sauteed baby button mushrooms, roasted potatoes, crusty bread with marmalade, bagels, and fresh fruit. The grapefruit juice was freshly squeezed, tart, and the perfect touch of acid to round out the sweetness of the pistachio pastry squares. Luckily for me, they had soy milk to round out the strength of the coffee — and after a leisurely breakfast, it was time to zip up our suitcase and hit the airport — back to Spain.
Since 1842 the Hotel Grande Bretagne, A Luxury Collection Hotel has been a landmark luxurious retreat in Greece’s capital, and it’s clear that tradition is still going strong. We’re so thankful for their warm and generous hospitality on our whirlwind stopover in Athens! Want to try for yourself? Visit them online, here, or in person at 1 Vasileos Georgiou A’ str., Syntagma Square, Athens.