“ Address: Acharnon 15 / Vathis Square / 10438 Athens / Greece „
Earlier this year, I found out that my fiancé would be going to a conference in Athens in June. I immediately decided that whether he wanted me to or not, I was going to be coming along. I'd never been and did a bit of Greek history and archaeology at Uni, so I leapt at the chance. Although the conference organisers did suggest some hotels based on their local knowledge, it was also possible to just choose your own, and then the organisers would reimburse you for your accommodation after. Looking through Hotelclub.com, I came across the Aristoteles hotel. A quick perusal of reviews threw up the normal range of complaining Americans, whiny Brits, and obnoxious Aussies, but I've learnt to filter out any review that starts with "I have never been so disgusted in all my life...." And the general consensus seemed to be that it was OK.
THE HOTEL-AN OVERVIEW:
Aristoteles is a C-class (Which seems to equate to a 3 star) hotel in the Omonia part of Athens. It's been reasonably recently renovated (Prior to the 2004 Olympics), and has 60 rooms, all with air-conditioning, ensuite bathrooms, TVs and phones. There's a bar and restaurant on the ground floor, free Wifi and the multi-lingual reception is open all night. The website is very comprehensive and can be found at www.aristoteleshotel.gr/profile-en.php
The hotel is located amongst the maze of streets that constitutes the area of Athens known as Omonia, which is in turn the area around Omonia square. The hotel is not easy to find if you don't have a map with you, you wouldn't, for example, just tell someone how to get there, you'd have to start drawing a map. I have a good sense of direction and soon found it easy to get to without a map, but any guidebook will have a decent map of the Omonia area in it, as there are lots of other budget hotels nearby.
The hotel is probably about 5-10 minutes stroll from Omonia square, which in turn is about 25-30 minutes from any of the tourist areas you'd want to go to (The Plaka (Old Town), the Acropolis, and Syntagma square) There is also a subway station at Omonia, and the subway is extensive, and awesome. The National Archaeological Museum is only 3 minutes from the hotel, and well worth a look.
Omonia is not the nicest of areas in Athens. It's very unlike, say, the Plaka; it's run down and not tarted up for tourists. There are some dodgy characters hanging around, however there are also plenty of normal people just getting on with their lives. Walking there both in daylight and at night I felt perfectly safe. I'm used to big cities though and they don't scare me, so I'm just mentioning this in case a very safe location is very important to you. You'll pay through the nose if it is, though.
Are lovely. It's hard to know who is the manager but there were a couple of old Greek men often on reception who seemed to know what was what. At night times, there tended to be a couple of American guys on duty; perhaps they got free accommodation in exchange for doing the graveyard shift. They both spoke Greek, and the Greek men both spoke perfect English. When leaving the hotel you left your key at reception and picked it up when you came in again and the old man would always greet you with a genuine smile. They were truly lovely and very relaxed about leaving you bags behind if you checked out in the day but weren't flying till the night, as happened with us. The housekeepers (who also helped with breakfast in the morning) spoke basic English and would probably be cool about it if you needed to ask for more towels, or something like that. The hotel will also arrange tours and excursions, so they've very used to the sort of questions and requests that visitors make.
You enter the room with an old-fashioned key (Not a keycard). The key was attached to a metal tag that you inserted into a slot just inside the room which activated all the electricity. Immediately inside was a small vestibule with the bathroom leading off to the left, and the beds straight ahead through another door.
The bathroom was pretty small, and contained a corner shower with a shower curtain, a toilet and a sink. There was the obligatory plastic stool sitting in the shower recess, which made a good stand for toiletries, as there were no shelves in the bathroom, and limited space around the sink itself. Plenty of towels were provided, and there were enough hooks to hang them all up. It was cleaned each day, the bin was emptied and the towels removed and replaced. Unfortunately the cleaners didn't seem to follow the "if you want them changed, leave them on the floor otherwise please reuse the towels" practice found in many hotels. We certainly would have been happy to reuse our towels.
The bedroom was attractive and a good size. Although I could have sworn we asked for a double room, we had two single beds instead, each with a sheet, pillow and blanket and bedcover. Each bed had a reading lamp and a bedside table. Upon one of the tables was a telephone. There was also a freestanding cupboard, chair, vanity table with mirror and a square footstool. There was a TV mounted on the wall above the beds, and a bar fridge in the cupboard. Now, you'd think that having a fridge in a hotel room would be an awesome idea, especially in a place like Athens. EXCEPT, that because all of the power in the room was controlled by that little metal tag you put in the slot, each time you left the room all lights and appliances were turned off. Including the fridge. I am nitpicking really, but it was weird and the hotel could have just saved money by not buying all these mini-fridges in the first place.
The room also had a balcony with a couple of plastic chair out there. The view was nothing extraordinary (Just more buildings) and it was very hot outside, but it was nice to have the option to go out if you wanted. I don't know if rooms on the other side of the corridor would have also had balconies. I fear not, because it seemed like the hotel backed onto the back of another building, but I can't be sure. Sorry.
Upon entering the hotel on the ground floor, there was a relaxing area with a number of sofas, a wall mounted TV and a computer in the corner with internet access. This was free to use whenever you wanted, although it was often in use. The hotel has free wi-fi everywhere. On the ground floor is also a bar-cum-restaurant. This is where breakfast is served. As the rate included breakfast, we felt that it would be churlish not to participate and to cart away as many handfuls of cake and crackers as we could possibly get away with. Breakfast consisted of a basket of bread, 2 slices of cheese and ham each, slices of pound cake, a boiled egg and a table in the corner loaded with cornflakes, milk and orange drink. There were a few women working there who would offer tea or coffee and clear up and set the tables. If the breakfast doesn't sound to appealing to you, that's because it wasn't. I hate eggs and don't much like cheese, so that left me with ham on bread, pound cake and jam and cornflakes. Ever the optimist, I'm going to say that it was tolerable, and at least it gave you the chance to fill your belly. I believe that you could also order food and drink at various times of the day there, but we never did.
We booked through HotelClub, and used some of their member dollars on the booking. The room, prior to any discounts, was Euro55 a night, and we stayed for 6 nights. But because we redeemed some of our member dollars, the total for the stay was Euro300 which, in any case, was reimbursed by the conference organisers so it was a free stay for us. But at the price of Euro55 a night, I thought it was money well-spent. Like most of Europe, prices will change throughout the year.
This hotel was convenient for what we wanted, and I enjoyed my time there. It was close to the conference venue, although a bit further from the usual tourist haunts. That didn't bother me, though. It was surprisingly comfortable with a nice tidy room, friendly staff and a free breakfast. There are many other similar hotels in Omonia but I can confidently recommend this one.
HOTEL ARISTOTELES - Acharnon 15 - Vathis Square - 10438 ATHENS - GREECE Tel. 0030 210 5228126, 5228127, 5241904
Fax 0030 210 5231138