Think of Athens, think of the Acropolis. And in the Greek capital, there is no end of places to see this ancient site. The Dolli hotel is one of the best.
As a resident of Athens, Greece, I’ve seen the Acropolis a hundred – probably many more – times. It flashes through trees as I drive into the city centre, it pops up out of nowhere as I spend time shopping, and it’s a favourite selling point of many of the city’s hotels, restaurants and bars.
But there’s a new view of this ancient site in town and – not only does it offer a change of perspective on it – it slips right into any list of top places to gawp at it, too.
WHAT TO PACK
The famous, ancient view isn’t the first thing that will impress you when you check in here – that’s the job of the lobby. Or, depending on your interest in neoclassical architecture, the building itself.
The Dolli is set in a 1925, listed, classical building that started life as a private mansion before operating as a fabric store. The building was originally designed by Andreas Kriezis, the same architect trusted to transform the former Athenian Palace into the Greek Parliament building at Syntagma Square, which is still one of the city’s top sights. The high ceilings are the first giveaway of its former guise, they reach up to an impressive seven metres in the grand lobby.
Set on a busy, central street, the general hustle and bustle – and in summer, the heat – of Athens outside The Dolli’s doors can sometimes be overwhelming. But, one step inside this glamorous hotel, a space teeming with carefully-curated art and design including famous artworks and fun, funky modern sculptures, and the outside world is forgotten. It helps that the AC is cranked right up on long, hot summer days, too.
Each of the 46 rooms here echo the grandiose of the lobby, with ceilings standing at three and a half-metres tall, and windows large enough to match them – no matter which category of room you book. The golden-hued light flowing from the outside into your room is calming, and illuminates the cream-coloured rooms creating a peaceful atmosphere across a space that continues to be studded with design details.
Bathrooms, kitted out with elegant marble, a rain shower and Gurlain products, are finished off with an equally swanky, hi-tech toilet straight from the Japanese playbook: it opens automatically as you approach and has plenty of buttons prompting washing and drying functions you never knew you needed. Who needs toilet paper anyway. (Though yes, they do have that too).
Depending on which room you’re staying in, none of this may catch your eye at first glance. That might be saved for the imposing view of the Acropolis which, at around one kilometre away, is so close you feel you might be able to reach out and touch it. Book the Acropolis Junior Suite or the Acropolis Luxury Junior Suite for the best views. If photography is your thing, you can spend hours here utilising the iconic sight and great light for shot after shot. If it’s not, simply sit back and take in the thousands of years of history, quite literally on your doorstep.
The Food + Drink
If you’re booked into a room without an Acropolis view, don’t despair: the stunning roof terrace serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with an equally-impressive view. Breakfast offers all the usual buffet suspects – freshly-cut fruit, cold cuts, croissants, nuts, yoghurts and smoothies – but it’s the à la carte menu that stands out, with all manner of eggs, cooked to preference and order.
Dinner is also served on the impressive rooftop and, since the hotel’s opening eight months ago, has quickly become a destination in its own right. Expect a well-heeled crowd savouring everything from sushi, carpaccio and ceviche to Wagyu beef burgers, lobster pappardelle textured with bisque and black truffle, and crispy duck pancakes. Lunch is a somewhat more relaxed affair and can be taken on the terrace or inside the ground floor’s elegant library, and is punctuated with salads and Greek mezze, sandwiches and souvlaki.
The Little Extras
If you opt for lunch on the terrace, there’s no better end to it than to slip into your swimsuit and wander the few steps towards the rooftop pool for an afternoon of downtime. Trust us when we say you’ll want your camera handy (again): this is the most impressive Acropolis view in the hotel. From here the entire Parthenon and the hillside it sits atop, one peppered with terracotta-roofed buildings, are perfectly framed and burst out of the swimming pool waters, reflecting into them and screaming to be seen. This is a truly special vantage point: one that feels like there is you, it, and nothing in between.
In the hotel’s public spaces, keep your eyes peeled for artwork dotting the property. It boasts pieces from Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau and Alexander Calder, to name just a few, alongside displays of ancient Greek ceramics. Even something (usually) as standard as a reception desk is, in this property, custom made by Pierre Augustin Rose. It seems those Acropolis views are not the only thing to be treasured during a stay at The Dolli.
Attention to detail and design throughout the hotel is thorough, and demonstrated in small and big ways. The neoclassical architecture, the Picasso, and the careful renovation of a historical building might stand out, but look for the little details too. Curtains are made using cloth from the textile company that once called this building home, for example. Or, cast your eyes on the small piece of decor – part modern art, part light installation – found immediately after exiting the lift. It illuminates tiny figures of people, the number of which will tell you which floor you’re on. We stayed on the fourth floor so were met with four figures each time we returned.
There is no spa at The Dolli, but a small gym is scheduled to open soon.
The To-Do List
If you want to get even more close, and even more personal with the Acropolis, start early. It opens at 8AM and is best visited at this time to avoid the crowds. The neighbouring Acropolis Museum is also well worth a browse – its modern architectural design the antithesis of the ancient artefacts it houses within.
Next, head for lunch and a cooling Freddo Espresso in nearby Plaka. Yiasemi, though surrounded by restaurants aimed at tourists, is a good option and comes with a rooftop that boasts – you guessed it – views of the Acropolis. If you’re Acropolis-ed out, take a seat on one of the ground floor steps outside, and watch as the crowds go by.
Athens is a haven for shopping unique pieces from local designers and boutiques. Kolonaki is a good area to start, but you’ll find interesting places to shop across the city. Likewise there are plenty of independent restaurants dotting the city too. Nolan (closed for refurbishment until mid-September 2023) serves a contemporary menu of Greek-Asian fusion and is just a few minutes’ walk from The Dolli. It also boasts a Bib Gourmand. For brunch, lunch or dinner nearby look to Ergon House, a hotel with a unique food hall concept on its ground floor, echoing the traditional Greek agora, or public meeting space.
For a city so closely associated with its history, there’s a surprisingly modern, and achingly cool side to Athens too. A form mirrored at The Dolli. Yes, the hotel building has a place in Greek history – the views from it even more so – but here, the essence of an ancient city is so closely interwoven with a modern, contemporary outlook, that you may start to wonder where one ends and the other begins.
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