“ Address: 46 Vassilissis Sofias Avenue / Athens / 11528 / Greece / Tel: +0030 (0) 0210 7281000 „
I have stayed in this Hilton 3 times over the last couple of years. First in late July 2009, again in early July 2010 and finally early September this year. My July visits have been with the girlies and September was a birthday present from my mum.
Getting to the hotel from the airport is simple, the first time we had to get the bus as the metro was off, this was hot and uncomfortable, and smelly (the temp was around 40C however) but really cheap at around 3 euros. It took around 45 mins. You get the bus from outside the airport arrivals. The Metro station is reached by a lift & a walkway, all air conditioned and the metro train itself is also has air conditioning. The single fare is 5 euros, and takes around 35 mins to Evangelismos Metros station and from there it is a few minutes walk to the hotel.
You actually can't miss this hotel, it is a huge monstrous 1960's building that sits on a really busy corner, the traffic here is like nothing I've ever experienced and crossing the road can be a little tense! After negotiating the traffic you sweep through the revolving door and into a spacious, cool lobby. Here is reception, a very exclusive boutique, the hotel shop for books and bits you've forgotten.
Checking in is simple and painless, the reception staff speak excellent English and explain everything you need to know about the hotel. Painless apart from the price however! Looking now at a night in November, the cheapest rate seems to be 160 euros, this is booking ahead and is non refundable. You need to add breakfast at 32 euro and if you want to be able to cancel and get a refund you can add another 40 euros to that. Obviously this is a standard rate, so shop around and I'm sure you can get better.
I've had access to 5 different rooms on my 3 trips (my girlfriends had a different room to me). On the first trip our view was across the street at Lycabettus Hill, the highest point in Athens. On top of this steep, rocky hill is a lovely Church to St George. It is a popular tourist spot, you can either climb it or get a lift up. As darkness falls we could see the hill light up with pretty lights to the top and St George itself is beautifully lit too.
On the second trip we had an adjoining room, but had to compromise on the view. This time we were facing north, it was a boring view of the banking district, and the northernmost suburbs of Athens.
On my last trip with my mum we pestered reception for an Acropolis view, they complied and while we were only on the 4th floor we certainly did have a pretty view of the Acropolis and Parthenon. The view gets better the further up you are. A word of warning though - yes you can see the Acropolis and even the bay beyond, but Athens in the heat is hazy (possibly even a bit smoggy) and this hotel is a few miles from the Acropolis, the view is not outstanding, and the Acropolis looks fairly small from the hotel. But the sun sets on this side of the hotel so you can also sit in the evening sunshine after a hard day at the pool.
All the rooms I have seen are clean and spacious (at least 33m2). The floor is a combination of marble and wood. There is a large lighted closet, with drawer space and room for your suitcase. The bathroom is a good size and well equipped, a separate shower with 2 heads being a personal favourite. Mum likes the bath too and felt like she was swimming! (she is only little) The bathroom is marble clad and lovely and cool. The king size bed or twin beds are really comfortable and it is tough to get out of them. Every room has a balcony, large enough for at least 3 girlies to sit drinking sangria as the sun goes down.
There is also a smallish flat screen TV, and what looks like internet access points. We didn't use these at all, but I've read that the internet access is really expensive at 5 euros for 10 minutes! eek. No dooyooing in Athens.
The hotel boasts four restaurants & main bar areas;
This is a mixture of Mediterranean buffet and international food. We didn't eat here - except that it is where breakfast is held too. Breakfast is a huge buffet, consisting of all sorts! Fresh fruit, honey, yoghurt... cereals, bread/toast, pastries... bacon, sausage, beans... waffles & pancakes... salad & cheese & cold meats... There is also the Hilton Breakfast Chef. He will fry or poach you an egg, or make you an omelette. Coffee, tea and freshly squeezed orange juice finish it off perfectly. Sadly the staff here seem to be super busy... too busy to take the time to smile, or ensure that you are properly looked after. The buffet is speedily cleared away, with some items having run out and not been replenished. My friend asked for ketchup one day as there wasn't any in the usual place... her request was met with a blunt 'its gone' and a shoulder shrug. She eventually threatened to go in the kitchen herself to get it... suddenly a small pot of Heinz appeared!
Galaxy Bar & Restaurant
Again we didn't eat here, but I did look over the menu. It is quite a small menu, maybe 5 dishes for each course. We decided not to eat here partly because although there was one vegetarian option, it didn't appeal to my veggie friend - but partly because there is much cheaper options in the city itself, and you can sit down to dinner at midnight in the city of you like. The prices were around 25-35 euros for a main course, they have a char grill up here which did smell delicious though!
The main reason for visiting the Galaxy though is a cocktail & the view! The bar & restaurant is on the roof of the hotel, and is almost entirely open air, though they can roll out a roof over the restaurant if need be. There is a good view of the Acropolis (although still a bit small) and the rest of the city. The bar has won European awards for its cocktails and the have a huge drinks menu. I like a Royal Mojito it is a classic Mojito but with the addition of Champagne, these are seriously strong drinks. My friends and I were quite squiffy after the second one. The price is fairly squiffy too - a Champagne cocktail will set you back around 25 euros. A regular long cocktail around 19 euros. Draught beer is around 8 euros (I think, I didn't have any!) Their cheapest bottle of Champagne comes in at 130 euros. Athens Hilton says that famous actors and sports stars and politicians hang out here. We wouldn't recognise them if they did though!
Again I didn't eat here, but I can say that it is on the ground floor though it has a terrace I would suspect the terrace was very loud since it is right next to the road. You can get a modern Aegean meal here on the set menu for around 30 euros, a la carte is also offered, mains around 20 euros I think.
Oasis Bar & Grill
This is the pool bar and another place we frequented often! My friends and I have to admit that we did very little sightseeing and actually spent everyday sizzling out by the pool. There is a seating area undercover beside the bar and then all around the pool (the largest outside pool in Athens apparently about 12mx24m by my reckoning) there are sun loungers. If you are staying in the hotel you don't have to pay extra for the outside pool, although I have read that the indoor pool carries are 15 euro charge. The cocktails here are rubbish so I'd recommend you stick to the wine, a glass of rose is 9 euros. The Freddo Cappuccino is also delicious (cold capp, with ice cubes not crushed ice) at 7 euros. The menu is fairly basic, Hilton burger is 21-24 euros, pasta dish is 18 euros, Caesar salad around the same. I enjoyed the traditional Cretean dish Dacos. This is a brown bread rolls, toasted with feta and tomatoes, with herbs and oil. Simple but yum. The sharing platter they do is great too - I tried cold octopus! There was plenty of pitta bread and different olives and dips, we couldn't finish it between the two of us. I think it was around 20 euros.
The pool itself is great. Most of the people there are hotel guests, there are a few locals that I got to recognise! The weekend is the busiest time, although we have always managed to find a sunbed. During the week it is quieter and I prefer this as I tend to find other people annoying! The staff here are really lovely and can't do enough to help you and look after you.
All in all I really like this hotel. I would recommend that you ask for an Acropolis view, failing that a St George view. Ignore the breakfast staff's bad attitude and get to the pool as quickly as possible! Follow that by sitting on the balcony of your room for a couple of hours, then press R for Galaxy Bar (stands for Rooftop on the lift buttons) for an exceedingly excellent cocktail.
Don't get a cab from outside the hotel lobby - they will charge you about 5 euros more. Go through the hotel car park, outside to the back of the hotel and flag down a yellow cab with a lit sign. It will cost you around 3 euros to get into the city center.