The Crowne Plaza Athens City Centre is a business-oriented hotel, member of the respected IHG Hotels chain. On the site of the former Holiday Inn, it reopened its doors after a refurb in 2007, with its new brand identity as Crowne Plaza. Even though it is slightly off the tourist trail, everything is easily accessible by public transport (the metro is 5-10 minutes away on foot) or even a short taxi ride. Technologically sound, the hotel offers comfortable, modern rooms, many conference halls, hotel-wide wireless printing, a Club lounge, a small pool and a convenient gym, at excellent prices for the range and quality of services on offer. Another plus is lots of in-house food, including light meals at the rooftop bar with Lycabettus views and at the Ambrosia gourmet restaurant.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The nearest metro station is Megaron concert hall and is a very leisurely 10 minute walk, if that. There are some very exciting music and dance performances at the Megaron almost on a daily basis, as well as seasonal exhibitions, so if you are there, be sure to explore, pick up a brochure and why not book your tickets.
The tasteful, slightly austere rooms are outfitted with large flat-screen TVs with satellite channels, a media hub for digital cameras, PlayStation games, and iPods—there's even a laptop safe that opens with your own credit card. The focus is on functionality but the interiors are also fairly attractive, in tones of dark mahogany and blue or reddish brown bed linen. There are family rooms, which offer two double beds, as well as smoking rooms. Coffee making facilities, super snug beds due to the Simons anatomic mattresses, and a pillow menu work well to improve one's level of comfort.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The 22 Club rooms and 6 suites have access to the Club lounge with free beverages and snacks, 2 computer work stations, more high tech facilities and an exclusive breakfast area. Each hotel client can also welcome one additional guest free of charge.
Bathrooms are clean and modern, with tile mosaics and large white marble slabs. Luxury toiletries (Yves Rocher or Carven for the more expensive rooms) are on offer, as well as bathrobes, and a hair dryer.
YOU SHOULD KNOW There is even a speaker in there so you can hear your TV or music playing in the room.
The lobby is gleaming and large, with high ceilings and modern artworks as centerpieces. The color scheme, in tones of red, black and grey, gives the space an '80s retro look. But even if the hotel is not going to win any top marks for decor, the staff behind the reception are friendly and helpful. Which is exactly what you need when you have just arrived from a long journey, along with a coffee or a refreshing drink from the Nectar lobby bar and coffee shop opposite the reception.
There is a small dipping pool on the rooftop with a decked area with sun loungers, tables and a bar. The whole setup promises hours of relaxation and comfort.
YOU SHOULD KNOW This area is open in the summer months, or weather allowing, usually from May to October. It closes at 7pm.
Even though there is no full-time working spa at the hotel, there is a fully equipped massage room inside the gym, where massage and spa treatments are available by appointment with qualified visiting therapists. Beauty therapies like manicures, facials etc. are also available in the same space by appointment.
If you are feeling stressed why don't you try the 90 minute hot stone massage.
The gym and dry sauna are free and available to hotel guests only. The gym has Technogym treadmills and elliptical trainers though it is somewhat lacking in free weights.
Dining needs are met to a high standard by the Ambrosia gourmet restaurant on the 7th floor, where breakfast is also served in the morning. The decor is of discreet elegance in the same colorway as the lobby, with red being the dominant color. The food served for lunch and dinner is traditional Greek, with some French and Mediterranean accents. The breakfast buffet is ample with a good selection of traditional Greek savory and sweet pastries as well as the buffet staples such as cold meats, hot plates, scrambled eggs, fruits and cereals that you would expect from a high-caliber establishment. A highlight is the freshly squeezed orange juice.
You will head to the Nectar bar in the lobby for a refreshing beer in a frosted glass, and other hot and cold beverages and snacks. In the summer months the pool bar is open on the hotel's rooftop, with an urban view and the all-green Lycabettus hill in the background. The Club Lounge which is accessible only to Club room and suite guests offers round the clock complimentary snacks and drinks, including beer and other alcoholic beverages.
The Crowne Plaza is located in a not particularly attractive neighborhood but a very short taxi or metro ride will bring you to all the main attractions. The nearest metro station (Megaron) is a relaxed 10-minute walk, and the posh Kolonaki neighborhood is a leisurely 15-minute stroll away. The very central Syntagma square is just two stops away, and Monastiraki three stops on the metro. You are on the Blue Line, which means a direct connection with the airport via metro as well. The airport is also easily accessible by taxi, if you would rather not walk to the metro stop carrying luggage. The taxi ride to the airport costs 35 euros during the day and 55 euros between 12-5.30 am.
There are some excellent dining options in the vicinity - if you know where to look. Kitrinos Skiouros (10-minute walk) is a cozy Brazilian restaurant set on a very leafy pedestrianized street, with excellent margaritas and smiling staff. Even closer to home and ideal for a filling lunch is Vlassis (3-minute walk), just across the avenue, on the Jose Marti square opposite to the hotel (named in honor of the Cuban national hero). Traditional Greek fare in on offer here; the clientele is mostly comprised of lawyers, doctors and professionals on a short break from work, or after work. Walk down Michalakopoulou avenue and you will find a small but vibrant cluster of bars and restaurants. Among them Cookoovaya (10-minute walk) really stands out, a restaurant with an open kitchen, an emphasis on quality ingredients and a creative take on age-old Greek dishes.
Michalakopoulou avenue where the Crowne Plaza is located might not be the most attractive in Athens, but if you walk center-bound for about 10 minutes a small oasis of bars and nightclubs awaits you. At CV distiller you will find a dizzying variety of whiskies, a cool cellar and knowledgeable bartenders (10-minute walk). Sui Generis is an all-time classic in the Athens night scene (12-minute walk), while at Tapas Bar you will combine food and drink, with the One for all platter being the perfect accompaniment for a refreshing beer. This is a smoking-friendly joint (12-minute walk).
WHY WE LIKE IT
The Crowne Plaza Athens City Hotel manages to offer some top notch amenities at a very attractive price level. The staff is friendly and professional, the food is high-quality and the rooftop bar and pool offer a welcome respite whether you are a leisure or business traveler. Family needs are catered for, smokers get smoking rooms, and the service gets more personalized with the Club Lounge and a wide range of massage and beauty therapies. Some decorative details might seem bit dated, but the level of cleanliness and comfort more than outweighs this. Add to the fact that all the main sites are two or three stops away on the metro means that your Athens stay is nicely sorted.