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Athens, Greece, is an incredible city to introduce your family to, with ancient mythology, culture, cuisine and history wrapped all into one. Take a lap around the track at the Panathenaic Stadium, where the first Olympic Games were held; indulge in a private guided tour of the Acropolis and hear stories of Greek gods, their pursuits and parallels to the ever-popular Percy Jackson series (young fans will go gaga); watch the elaborate Changing of the Guard ceremony at Syntagma Square; and much more.
It’s imperative to stay in the right location for easy access to all the activities that make Athens so special. We recommend the independently owned St. George Lycabettus Lifestyle Hotel, a 5-star family-friendly hotel in the heart of Kolonaki, an upscale neighborhood in Athens full of great dining, shopping and beautiful Acropolis views. The St. George Lycabettus stands out not only because of its unrivaled location and spectacular amenities, but also in the warm way it welcomes and cares for families.
Not only is St. George Lycabettus located in one of the most beautiful parts of Athens, with Lycabettus Hill — the tallest in town — at its doorstep, it is also within easy walking distance to all of the prime attractions in the Greek capital. During a four-day stay in Athens, my 9-year-old daughter and I easily navigated on foot to the Acropolis and Ancient Agora, the Botanical Gardens, the beautiful old streets of Plaka and its kid-friendly museums, the Panathenaic Stadium, Syntagma Square (home to the Hellenic Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier), the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and great shopping and dining all over the city, not only in Kolonaki but also in Plaka, Psiri and Omonia Square. The Port of Piraeus, from which ferries to many of the Greek islands depart, is a 30-minute drive from the hotel.
Where the property adds an extra-special touch is its approach to families. Home to a pool that stays open into mid-fall (such a luxury), a screening room with plenty of movies to choose from, a Sunday family brunch complete with a chocolate fountain and special gifts for children, an art gallery that offers workshops for kids in the winter months, a hospitable staff that will arrange the best activities and dining in town, and spacious family rooms, the “lifestyle” part of the name is apt — it is a luxurious family respite in the buzzing city center of Athens.
Athenians know the best views of the Acropolis are found in Kolonaki; there is a reason why the Prime Minister has chosen to live in this neighborhood. St. George Lycabettus’ location is extremely privileged, and the hotel knows just how to make use of it.
The hotel’s Panoramic Acropolis View Rooms boast absolutely spectacular views of the Acropolis, the sea and the Saronic islands beyond. You can watch the beautiful morning light rise over the city and the ancient ruins while sitting on your balcony having breakfast, or enjoy the beautifully lit Acropolis in the evening after the sun sets. You almost don’t want to leave your room because you have a front- row seat for the best show in town at all times from the comfort of your bed. The view is nothing short of magical, and never gets old.
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My daughter and I stayed in a Panoramic Acropolis View Twin Room, which very comfortably slept the two of us. If you are looking for more space, choose the Premier Room, which offers a bedroom and a living room, or a suite. The hotel will provide an additional child’s bed upon request. Room interiors feature neutral tones and a modern design, crisp clean whites, and fine Coco-Mat bed linens and towels. The hotel also offers a brand-new Eco-Chic Room, in which all furniture is made from 100 percent natural materials; guests who stay there can choose from a pillow menu and a Green Day Out itinerary that gives specific suggestions for hikes, bike rides and more outdoor activities in Athens.
Something that really stands out about the interior of St. George Lycabettus is the way the hotel has chosen a theme for each floor, showcasing Greek culture, art, photography and design. As you walk the halls of the hotel, you begin to realize it is much more than just a place to stay. It is a museum, a place to discover and appreciate Greek art, history and tradition.
Continuing to make use of its superb location, St. George Lycabettus’ restaurant, La Suite Lounge, is an indoor/outdoor space on the hotel’s sixth floor with stunning panoramic views of the Athens skyline, the Acropolis and the Mediterranean. The restaurant was recently awarded “Best View in Europe,” and for good reason. This all-day fine dining venue serves breakfast, brunch, light lunches, drinks and dinner.
Breakfast at the top floor is a memorable way to start your day, sipping coffee, tea or fresh juice and sampling an array of traditional Greek specialties from selected local producers while watching the city wake up. My daughter and I also caught unreal sunsets at La Suite Lounge over a glass of champagne (for me) and soda (for her).
Gastronomy at La Suite Lounge enjoys the highest priority, with French Michelin star chef, Geoffrey Rembert and Executive Chef, Vassilis Milios, working together to create Greek-French fusion cuisine. The menu combines French specialties, such as St. Jacques scallops with caviar and grilled Camembert, with traditional Greek flavors like feta and ouzo.
Don’t miss the Sunday family brunch, which offers an awesome array of alluring sweets, a chocolate fountain and a buffet of savory dishes and salads. La Suite Lounge is festively decorated for the occasion with balloons, and each child receives a small bag of gifts from the hotel.
St. George Lycabettus supports a vast range of lifestyle aspects in one space. For outdoor enthusiasts, it has a large open-air rooftop swimming pool (with views to die for, of course) that’s open through October. Furthermore, Lycabettus Hill is right out the hotel’s back door. My daughter and I easily hiked to the top of the hill and visited St. Agios Georgios Church, a stunning whitewashed structure dating to 1870. The hike is covered with beautiful pine-forested trails. We saw many tortoises along the way, which kept my daughter thoroughly entertained. We also saw Athens from its highest point, and the views are incredible.
For those who appreciate the arts, the property has a 30-person screening room on the first floor where guests can watch can watch classics in the evenings and kids can enjoy cartoons and children’s movies on the weekends. The room is also available for private screenings. In the basement of the hotel is an art gallery, which offers workshops for kids in the winter months. There’s also a designer boutique with a collection of fantastic locally inspired gifts that you can bring home to friends and family.
Other onsite amenities include a spa, gym, health club, hair salon and a supervised Kids’ Corner playroom (note, the playroom is currently not in use due to COVID restrictions).
Editor’s Note: Loren was hosted by St. George Lycabettus Lifestyle Hotel in order to review the property for families. As always, our opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by Loren Braunohler.
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This is a challenging time for our clients given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, particularly for those with near-term travel plans in impacted areas. We’re working with our suppliers on being flexible with their booking conditions, and enabling families to postpone travel to a later date without a penalty, when possible. Likewise, given the unpredictability around destinations that may be impacted in the future, we’re helping clients planning new trips and understand ways that they can protect themselves until the situation improves. We are ready to help our clients work through questions and concerns.