Fodor's Expert Review Exarchion
55 Themistokleous st., Athens, 10683 See on Map
Off the beaten track, this is an alternative budget accommodation choice which can work well for individuals and families alike. Guest rooms are plain and slightly worn, but the bathrooms are clean, and the fact that the National Archaeological Museum is just around the corner makes this a good value for younger travelers. A basic breakfast buffet is available at an additional charge of 4 euros per person per day.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Exarchia square is a lively hangout for Athens' anarchists, students, and intellectuals, who gather there most nights. It is generally safe to roam around the area day and night but try not to stick out. Street fashion dress code is preferable. If you have problems with noise, then this is probably not the right choice for you.
The rooms in this six-floor establishment are basic, and in need of a touch up, as some of the details are worn and shabby, but they are clean (room cleaning is daily). There is no real sound-proofing, so not only will you get noise from the surrounding bars at night, but also from guests coming and going near your room. Each room has a little flat screen TV, Wi-Fi and a well-functioning A/C. Connecting family rooms are available at a budget price.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The higher the floor you are staying on the lesser the noise, but if you are a light sleeper, bring ear plugs, as the square remains lively till at least 3 a.m. nightly.
The bathrooms are small, lacklustre and could definitely do with a makeover. Even so they too are well cleaned and with properly functioning showers. Decent toiletries are supplied and you even get a fresh pack of slippers to shuffle around in.
The lobby is simple, a little oasis from the busy and noisy streets outside. With a cool white marble floor and large pictures of old Athens covering the walls, the slate and oak check-in desk is maybe a little small for a 50 room hotel. The back of the lobby has two elevators, while the front opens out to the bar and restaurant.
Breakfast is served on the first floor. If you do opt for it as not included in the price, it’s a standard budget buffet deal: cheap processed cheese and meat slices, boiled eggs, cakes, and French coffee. Worry not however, the excellent location means that you can find a tasty and good value breakfast right outside, whether it’s fresh pastry from a bakery or a satisfying brunch at one of the neighboring cafes.
There is a hotel bar but since you are smack bang in the centre of the trendy and artsy Exarchia quarter, with some of the best bars in Athens, there is little reason to hang around this somewhat underwhelming spot.
The nearest metro station is the very central Omonia (5 minutes taxi, 10 minutes by foot) which has direct trains to and from the airport (40 min). Last train from the airport leaves at 11:35 p.m. If you prefer to take a taxi from the airport, it will take about 35 minutes and it will cost around 35 euros during the day and around 55 euros at night (12 a.m.-5:30 a.m.). There is easy access to taxis at the square outside the hotel. The airport bus leaves from Syntagma Square and takes 45 min (6 euros one way).
There are a great many top quality restaurants and traditional tavernas and mezethopolia (the Greek version of tapas bars) right on your doorstep. Few can beat than the popular Greek food joint Atitamos (5-minute walk) for quality and price (also offers vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options). For meat lovers the new, very trendy and ultra-affordable bistro The Salty Pig, is another favourite with a growing reputation (5-minute walk). The old favourite Rozalia, serving scrumptious Greek fare like fresh and crunchy kalamari, has diners flocking from all over Athens (3-minute walk).
Fancy a beer head to the 5 Dromoi (3-minute walk) for a choice of Greek craft beer and a lively atmosphere. Right on the square on the ground floor of an historic building is Blue Bear cafe bar (1-minute walk), great for people watching while sipping a colorful cocktail or cool beer. Chartes (5-minute walk) is another local hangout for all day and long into the night socializing. For something more up-market, try Alexandrino (3-minute walk) where they serve up excellent cocktails in an ambience more commonly found in Paris rather than Athens.
WHY WE LIKE IT
This probably shouldn’t be a first choice accommodation if it’s your first visit to Athens, unless you’ve got a really specific POV (like wanting to explore the local student or anarchist scene or go hunting for street art and graffiti, for which the area is famed). It is certainly a reliable budget choice, however, where most of the bare necessities are well catered for.
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