Science, Philosophy and Art• a modern ‘Academy for the Senses’!

Dec 24, 2019 575
Published in MR. POSH

Academia of Athens hotel combines the heritage of the city with a bold and modern exterior.

This is the ideal setting for harmonious interplay between intellectual creativity and a handful of leisure and business activities in the Greek capital.

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General information - let’s start the journey!

But before we fasten our seat belts, let me first drop a line by the Owner, Mr Ralph Yazbeck: "OUR FIRST ORNAMENT IN GREECE, ACADEMIA ATHENS OF ATHENS HOTEL, AYTOGRAPH COLLECTION MEMBER, OPEN AFTER 24 MONTHS OF STUDY".

Drawing inspiration from time-honored Athenian wisdom, Academia of Athens, Autograph Collection offers a one-of-a-kind backdrop for your visit to Greece's capital city. Perfectly situated in the heart of Athens' most renowned shopping district, we're within walking distance of the Acropolis and other legendary destinations. This boutique hotel offers a modern interpretation of Plato’s Academy, designed to awaken the senses. You'll find yourself entranced by the elegant decor, which echoes ancient Greek architecture, in addition to the stunning contemporary design elements that exist throughout this luxury hotel. The recently opened hotel is well-positioned to be the posh talk of the town, and as a cute boutique hotel manages to be a true paradise for budding philosophers and those who love dialogue, poetry, and persuasion. Inspired by the Classical philosophers of words and wisdom, Plato and Aristotle, the hotel is situated at the corner of -and gets its namesake from- the Academy of Athens, a magnificent neoclassical landmark founded by Plato and currently the highest research establishment in the country.

 

Location ~ location ~ location / above and beyond the touristic hectic spots!

Academia of Athens hotel is located at the heart of the historic quarter, just a short walk away from Ancient Greek sites including the Theatre of Dionysus, Temple of Hephaestus or the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The hotel is a mere 600 meters from the large and very popular center of Syntagma Square and a little over 1 mile by foot from the Acropolis. The nearest metro stop is less than 1/4 mile away (300 meters) and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants in the nearby vicinity as well. Notes: the ambience of the area is so fresh and vibrant due to the students strolling around at the intellectual cafes and alternative bars.

 

First Impression - from where the journey of the senses truly begins!

The lobby's elegant glass doors open onto the vibrant city. Balanced geometry is featured throughout the lobby space, and eyes are drawn to an embossed brass Socrates quote with a marble back drop: "I am not Athenian or Greek, but a citizen of the world". Notes: the staff is very friendly and helpful doing its best to make you feel like home! The scent of the lobby is very refreshing and elegant that makes you stay a little bit more there than rushing up to your room.

 

Interior Design ~ we are always in love with a posh design statement!

The Academia of Athens has all the appeal of a modern hotel - the Instagrammble bathroom, luxe colour scheme and cloud-like beds - but the thing that makes it stand out is the sleek design.

The interior color palette of dark green, black and gold offers a counterpoint to the stone, brass, wood and leather materials used throughout the property.

HOK, the global design and architecture firm, designed the luxurious Academia of Athens Hotel to capture the allure and intrigue of the Greek capital. Public spaces feature deep green and warm gray color palette, combined with gold and black tones, while the hotel beautifully highlights design objects by renowned design houses such as Maxalto - B&B Italia, but also with Greek editions of books evoking the feeling of a library.

 

Check-in Experience / a more than friendly and cosy welcome!

A carved marble reception desk greets guests.

Designer HOK has effortlessly weaved a sophisticated feel throughout the hotel's décor.

Every guest is given ‘The Elixir of Life’ at check in –  this refreshing house-special concoction with lemons, soda, cinnamon, and honey is the perfect antidote to stress, airplane fatigue or jet lag!

A #posh addition: i was given a hard copy card with my surname printed on it that invited us to the Roof Top Bar for a Prosecco under the Acropolis and Lycabettus hill extraordinary views from both sides.

 

Rooms/ Suites ~ if we could only stay in forever!

The guestrooms and suites have been reimagined as private libraries, with custom desks that encourage travellers to discover their inner philosopher. Brass light fixtures and tufted upholstered furniture evoke the luxury of a private library and tempt visitors to relax.

Elegant notes continue in all 60 rooms and 3 suites of the Academia of Athens Hotel, with marble bathrooms, special attention to mattress quality, multi-dimensional in-room amenities and state-of-the-art equipment. The beds are large and so comfortable (perhaps the comfiest beds in the city*) it means a lie-in is necessary and the bathroom, with its rainfall shower and deep soak tub, is a modern classic. The wardrobe is spacious and hidden by a floor-to-ceiling mirror, and there is also a couch to lie on, if you can make it off the bed. I noticed also the top (i mean really top) quality of all the linens, monogrammed towels and bath robe -that was much softer than my own signatured back home! Notes: the bath toiletries are Molton Brown one of my favorite and exclusive beauty brands from England. Especially i am in love with the Mandarin&Clary Sage series as fabulously found here. Another posh feature that distinguishes the Academia of Athens hotel from many other! *The mattresses are Simmons, the world leader in sleep technology with scientific innovations according to human needs is ranked among the world's top preference. 

Did you know? Mindful of the importance of restful sleep, Simmons offers the best of its know-how to developing the most advanced technologies and working with the most noble materials. All 100% Made in France!

 

Symposium Restaurant / where comfort gastronomy meets art-de-table and bistro atmosphere! 

Here there is nothing to hide: Symposium Restaurant embraces the open kitchen.

In the past, restaurant customers may have preferred food to magically appear out from behind closed doors, but modern fine dining seems to want transparency rather than mystery.

For maximum transparency, Symposium restaurant turned to the open kitchen.

Did you know? The open kitchen trend seems to have been born in big cities such as New York, where chefs cooked within view of diners largely due to space constraints. Getting in the habit of watching chefs do their thing on TV has obviously boosted the fascination with what goes on in restaurant kitchens. As diners grew obsessed with celebrity chefs and the creative ways fresh and exotic ingredients were being combined, consumers increasingly came to view the flames and steam and clattering in the kitchen as part of the “show” of dining out.

Green and gold accents underscore the neutral colour palette of Academia of Athens' bistronomic restaurant, Symposium Restaurant, blending fine dining with casual sophistication. The menu has been expertly curated by a Michelin awarded winning team -with Mr Alexandros Kossivakis as Executive Chef- to include ingredients and delicacies traced back to ancient Greece. The Symposium Restaurant menu moves to the bistronomy trend, combining high-end cuisine with a relaxed, bistrot atmosphere, with Mediterranean influences, using Greek ingredients. Some special dishes really excited our senses though: the red lentil fava beans, the cod bean & chorizo fillet, as well as the handmade gnocchi. The original version of Ceasar's salad, "Caesar meets Plato", is definitely an option for guests to enjoy while the ice cream slice that accompanies the Greek Symposium salad will satisfy even the most demanding.

The rich wine list includes labels from Greek and international vineyards taking off the delicious creations. Last but not least, the sweet treats are a standout, as well as the delicious handmade homemade ice creams that complete the Symposium's delicious journey. Did you know? It is noteworthy that the Hotel Academia of Athens was ranked first in the F&B service category of all Marriott hotels in Greece! (kudos to Mr Alexandros Diamantis, the F&B Manager of the hotel). Notes: although I mentioned so many gastronomic dishes, it may sound silly to you, but I would really like to emphasize the great variety of handmade bread• just delicious!

 

Breakfast at Symposium - if you really have to get out of the bed and leave your room!

For breakfast lovers, the Symposium has a rich menu of delightful options like baked eggs, delicious benedict eggs, fluffy pancakes and fresh (i mean really fresh) croissants, a wide range of delicious omelets and healthy smoothies for a full breakfast experience that you may order a-la-carte, and that means that are ultra fresh as they are cooked right here, right now! Notes: if you have to leave early to catch a flight or ferry, the hotel can make a breakfast box for you with pastries, fruit, biscuits, water and a sandwich. If you are a greek coffee lover, then you will adore it here as it is prepared traditionally at the ember. Did you know? The preparation of Greek coffee is probably rooted in the habits of the ancient Arabs, who poured coffee on a roasting pan, that is, on the sand that covered the coals.

 

Plato Lounge Bar - a drink or a cocktail never really bothered anyone, right?

It is open all day for those looking to both socialise and unwind. Specialising in Gins from around the world and cocktails with a twist, Plato's expert mixology team use natural Greek herbs, citrus and fruits in its imaginative creations. Notes: There you may meet Mr Konstantinos Papadopoulos, the Bar Supervisor, that is super friendly and talkative, and while he confessed me that his favorite drink is Negroni, don’t miss to try out his twisted mixed spirits!

 

Facilities - the 360 degrees experience!

There are abundant ways Academia of Athens stands out: a dimly lit, Zen-like indoor heated pool, a sauna and massage chamber, a rooftop terrace with views of the Acropolis, and a truly pampering pillow menu (the latest luxury hotel trend worldwide) with options from soft to hard. I must admit that despite i didn’t pick up or order any, they were some of the most comfortable pillows that I have had in a hotel!

 

Pnoe Wellness Center - can you imagine watching a movie while swimming?

The hotel spa invites its guests to enjoy the private treatment rooms, sauna and fitness centre. A dramatically lit pool anchors the space, complemented by a blank wall that serves as a display for cinematic projections to add a sense of movement and fluidity. Notes: the spa was absolutely clean and -despite a steam bath missing- the sauna session and the massage treatment were very nice!

 

Highlight - the reason why i am returning back soon, for sure!

The hotel’s trademark “Dialogue Soirées” every week. Surrounded by breasts of famous Classical philosophers, the hotel invites a scholar of philosophy to lead dialogues with guests in the lobby, accompanied by handouts and suggested readings that span from Plato’s era to modern day events. These intellectually stimulating and playful series will give guests the opportunity to exchange ideas, connect and discuss universal notions like friendship, ethics or love. Discussion currently is curated by Prof. Yannis Vogiatzis, M.Phil, University of Warwick. Let’s not forget that my Bachelor level studies regarding the Ancient Greek Language, as well as my Master Degree in Classics, can make these evenings ideal for me!

 

Conclusion - the posh choice downtown!

A sleek addition to the already heaving hotel scene in Athens.

The hotel may be based on the values of Greek hospitality however I cannot fail to mention the exquisite luxury it exudes and can only have its origins in the Lebanese origin of the property.

For me the hotel is best for travelers looking for a high-end hotel with modern facilities!

 

During my stay, i had the opportunity to chat with executive members of the hotel in order to learn more about the DNA of the hotel.

 

To begin with, we had a very interesting conversation with Mr Yiorgos Peroutseas, General Manager of Academia of Athens hotel:

-After 17 years of experience in England, what would you say are our differences with that market?

-If we talk about London, it has a relative seasonality, but not as big as Athens. However, it is a metropolis that almost never take a break. But Athens has begun and is dynamically on the map for small city breaks, and if we go further in the field of gastronomy and shopping, then we can say that the city will have a very good future. We have to look at this issue in more dimensions, such as with restaurants, and the good news is that Greek cuisine has begun to get creative, as we were pretty much left behind in this piece. The solution is not only high-end travelers, but we should target all, as competition is huge. The effort should be collective: not just hotels, but infrastructure, transport, and even the behavior of each one of us towards the tourists should be upgraded.

 

-A hotel is a living organism. How do you feel about joining the region, and how do you differentiate yourself from the competition?

-Initially, we have brought a new impetus to our magnificent architecture both externally and internally in an area that has unfortunately experienced a turning point for many years. The neighborhood has really embraced us because we have greatly helped bring the area back to the heart of the Athens map. Our differentiation from other luxury hotels in the center is the brand itself, which has been inspired by Plato's Academy, the world's first renowned university, and the ancient Greek culture that has inspired and honored the modern Western Culture. In every corner of our hotel we will see explicitly excerpts from ancient Greek philosophers. Space invites you in and challenges you to think and search. Finally, it is our approach to the customer: while it is a classically modern and luxurious hotel with warm colors and elegance, we remain absolutely friendly and discreet.

 

-What is the vision of the hotel and yours?

-It's about to become a hotel of choice for people who want something different, who want to live a unique experience and seek to build honest and sincere relationships. Personally, I would like our guest to feel the warmth of Greek hospitality and create pleasant memories that he will take with him.

 

-What went unexpectedly well quickly?

-The way people embraced us from the beginning by placing us in the top ten of the Autograph Collection's hotels in Europe in terms of customer satisfaction, and now we're in the first place! Our team has done a great job, even though we opened in May amidst high season, and the success is really due to it! I would say that we are amateurs - professionals, in the ancient sense of the term, the true love of what we do!

 

-What is your personal goal?

-To give my team the weapons and the freedom to do their best. It is not just a matter of studying but giving the field to people to make mistakes, because through them we grow. I am not in favor of standardization and strict guidelines, but in favor of personal expression and authenticity, and I am happy to see this being recognized in major brands worldwide.

 

 

In addition, i had the chance to talk to Mrs Mara Katsandou, Sales and Marketing Manager of Academia of Athens hotel:

 

-How do you see traditional marketing evolving into the new digital age of social media?

-It's awesome that the image has invaded our daily lives, and now what is pictured is not just a dish, but the transfer of the aromas of a dish. In essence, social media can convey the whole experience of a hotel. Much of our visitors are from the corporate arena, as Athens has risen significantly to this level of business, and these people make great use of digital capabilities. Of course, there is a small percentage of the audience that is not yet familiar with the new technologies, and that is where the importance of traditional marketing lies.

 

-There has recently been a new trend, that of digital detox, with people seeking privacy. Do you see that in your customers?

-We not only see it, but also enhance it by placing books in all rooms and encouraging them to shut down their mobiles for 1 hour a day and relax while reading, watching the movie we watch daily at the spa or attending the “Dialogue Nights”. ”That we hold every Thursday at the Plato bar, something that has received feedback from both internal and external customers.

 

-The truth is that Athens has gone through - and is going through - a phase in which visitors simply used it as a stopover before going to the islands, something we are trying to change. Do you see any positive steps in this regard?

-What I get as feedback from our customers is that Athens has again become an interesting city, both through art and through events taking place. Athens has begun to resonate again, making people travel here even for concerts, such as the recent Florence & The Machine. In fact, our hotel had the great pleasure of hosting its band!

 

-Staying in the hotel these days, what I learned is that it exudes Greek hospitality and culture, but there is also a distinctive luxury that reminds me of other countries, such as Lebanon. Do you see this marketing mix?

-We stick to the fact that we have used very good materials and high quality furniture, and the fact that those who choose an Autograph Collection hotel will choose it for specific reasons. For example, the Scandinavian public, despite being financially robust, does not want to be associated with luxury, as opposed to Middle Eastern customers looking for it. In any case, however, people who choose an Autograph Collection want something that is not standardized but has its own identity and offers a unique experience, as the word itself says. Here, then, we have built our brand on ancient Greek philosophy. For our part, we are promoting Autograph Collection as a concept proposal in Greece, creating gentle competition with other hoteliers.

 

-What are the advantages and challenges of being under the umbrella of Marriott? Are there any restrictions on creativity?

-First of all one challenge is Marriott's association with Starwood, two highly successful international chains, which already have awesome training and marketing tools but are in the process of finding and shaping new trends, so there is a great deal of help in both sales and operation. The challenge is, of course, to be able to keep up to date with all the changes that are constantly taking place. As for the freedom offered, especially in the Autograph Collection, you can be as creative as you want, even in partnership with other players. Of course, it is up to each professional to develop all this on their own.

 

-In addition to the events every Thursday, is there anything else that will fit into the hotel concept?

-What is planned and will be inaugurated by the beginning of 2020 is wine tasting in our open kitchen, as well as excursions to the winery itself, so as to have the overall production experience. Later on we will also include cooking lessons. Finally, as we are at a hub between Syntagma and Kolonaki, we will inaugurate the institution of personal shopper, which offers a 100% holistic and customized shopping experience for customers who choose a tailor-made and private day, after all will take place during non-opening hours of the stores.

 

-I would like to talk a little bit about the Roof Top, which has the particularity of being seen on both sides of Athens. How do you plan to use it to make a difference?

-For us this will be the most lively part of the hotel, where we want to function daily as a place for after office relaxation. We also want to make a happy place with music nights whether live or dj, for both our customers and the neighborhood, as there are no spaces in Kolonaki. That is why there is great interest and high demand for its opening, as well as for organizing events by operators.

 

-One issue that is often found in new hotels is the team's recommendation and how it can be tied up. How did you do that?

-The climate here is amazing and I personally as a professional for 20 years feel really fortunate because our team is made up of professionals with special education and experience in five star hotels here or abroad, who have a great willingness to cooperate, but also humor that no matter how much pressure there is, our day always ends very nicely! What we want to build here is our relationships with our customers, and this is of the greatest value both to us and to the great investment that has been made here. That is to say, we want the great excitement that we already have in the future!

 

Last but not least, the unique branding of the hotel was curated by the greek company ‘So Fine’. So, i had the chance to meet the Founder & Managing Director of the company, Mrs Tonia Fouseki, who stated about this new gem in town: “every hotel of the Autograph collection of Marriott chain is totally unique and has its own concept. Our inspiration for Academia of Athens Hotel was by the Athenian wisdom and intellect, it portrays a contemporary interpretation of Plato’s Academy blending the old with the new, reflecting the 3 principles of the Academy -Science, Art & Philosophy that we tried to depict them throughout various spaces within the hotel. During your visit you can see famous quotes from Ancient Greek philosophers discretely placed in various spots. In particular the Dialogue Soirees every Thursday are what set us apart from other luxury hotels, a unique experience of open discussions & exchanging ideas drawn by notions from Ancient Greek Philosophy”.

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