Just a leisurely ten-minute stroll from the heart of the action in Athen’s Syntagma plaza lies the unassuming entrance of NEW Hotel, a YES! Hotels location. Passing from the cold and windy street into the warm, eclectic lobby truly sets the tone of the stay. Repurposed wood from the previous hotel design sticks out from the wall, a multitude of textures and colors leaping out in a cohesive and welcoming way. You can’t help but be drawn to the dresser drawers, table legs, and knobs under the warm orange light. Glossy ottomans like giant jellybeans perch on a fluffy and springy rug, the perfect gentle textile accompaniment to the rough wood edges. This hotel’s got style, the lobby says.
The efficient and friendly doorman helps us with our bags to the room, Front Desk staff offer us a vegan cookie and glass of water upon welcome. So refreshing that they are using flatware and crystal glasses, no plastic in sight. Our room is on the second floor, and the waiting area next to the elevator shows a commercial for the YES! Hotels chain followed by information about the hotel’s location. Only a six-minute walk to the Acropolis museum. 10 minutes on foot to the parliament building for the famous changing of the guards. The botanical gardens are only 2 streets away, and we make mental calculations for our afternoon plans.
Though it’s only a four-hour flight from Madrid, we got up at 5 am today and are ready for a little siesta. Our room overlooks a quaint typical Athenian church whose tolling bells mercifully don’t make it through the thick modern windows. One can’t help but focus on the upcycled ladder serving as a chair which wouldn’t be out of place at the tea table of the Mad Hatter. The blackout blinds work perfectly and the bed is one of the most luxurious, welcoming, and well-sheeted we’ve ever slept on in our lives — and that’s saying something.
At first, I was taken aback by the design, but we quickly accustom ourselves to the jagged edges of the curvaceous mirror. By the end of the trip, it had actually grown on us, though I’d not want to bring a child here; that corner could be a problem for little ones. The hammered sink was also a nice touch and reminded us of tin shops in the narrow alleys and dusty souks of Morocco. As the room was cozy, the option for turning on music in the bathroom was not lost on us, we are both thankful for these details which make full-time travel as a couple more graceful.
After a very satisfying siesta, we walked the Monastiraki neighborhood, inhaled the views of the Acropolis from the flea market below (I’m here to report we even bought chintzy gold leaf crowns which we later wore in the hotel room) and dined on falafel from Falafel House for dinner. It’s our fave guilty pleasure no-fuss food in Athens — second only to Jordanian falafel — and is excellent to eat while lounging outside people watching.
Breakfast at the hotel was a bit challenging; while there was a plentiful spread for Omni guests, including a chef-manned custom omelet station, vegans are limited to simple carbs: granola or bread. After asking the waiter what could be done, she brought us a tapa plate of roasted vegetables. We couldn’t help but feel this was an afterthought and that more satisfying and plentiful options could have been planned. However, I did see a review to this effect on TripAdvisor, so was not completely surprised. It turned out to be a blessing in surprise though, as we sought out an early lunch downtown where I finally (!!) tried Moussaka at Vegan Nation. I think the dish would have best been served straight from the oven, but it was filling and perhaps only lacking salt and pepper. That said, the dark chocolate studded brownie made up for it, and we took half of it for the ferry ride to Evia island, where we’ll stay til March!
If you’re in Athens you can drop by during Rooftop Bar Hours from 18:00 to midnight, daily. Find them at 16 Filellinon St, Syntagma, Athens, Attiki, 105 57, Greece or make hotel reservations in advance directly via the NEW Hotel website.