The Greek capital of Athens is an incredible city, but if it has one flaw, it’s that it gets hot. Incredibly hot. Peak season for visiting Athens is during the summer when the mercury can easily rise to 40°C (104°F). Combine that with the crowds as well as the unsheltered nature of the historic attractions, and sightseeing can quickly become a fatiguing ordeal.
The best way to combat this is to stay in a hotel located in the center of the city close to all the attractions – that way you can easily head out early in the morning to sightsee before the crowds and the heat set in, pop back to your hotel to cool off and/or nap during the blazing afternoons, then go out again in the evening, refreshed and rejuvenated.
When I visited Athens this summer, I stayed at the Herodion Hotel in the leafy Makrigianni area, which turned out to be a great base for the kind of sightseeing/relaxing/sightseeing routine I described above. The location was extremely central (the New Acropolis Museum was literally next door and the Acropolis was a very short walk) and a lot less noisy than the Plaka where many tourists typically stay (I spent a few nights in the Plaka too, and found myself being woken up really early every morning by the sounds of traffic and construction). Also great is the pedestrian street right by the hotel, which is lined with outdoor cafes that seem to be frequented mostly by locals, which means both the food and prices are good.
The rooms at the Herodion are fairly typical of a 3-4 star hotel, although I was quite impressed by the blackout curtains and the heavy shutters on the window (why don’t more hotels have these, seriously?) — they did a great job of blocking out the strong summer sun so you could sleep beyond daybreak or take an afternoon cat nap. However, what really make the hotel noteworthy are its amazing outdoor spaces.
First, there’s the Herodion’s greenhouse-style bar & restaurant built around trees that penetrate right through the structure. There’s also the olive garden where you can curl up with a book. Then there are the rooftop jacuzzis where you can soak with a glass of champagne and a view of the Acropolis. And finally, there’s the rooftop deck.
Ah, the rooftop deck. I was definitely enamored by this beautiful outdoor space and there are two main reasons why. Firstly, there’s the views – both the Acropolis, perched high on the cliff, and the New Acropolis Museum, are clearly visible from the deck. Lit up at night, they are even more spectacular. Secondly, I like that you don’t have to buy anything to enjoy the space (many rooftops in Athens are occupied by bars or restaurants, meaning you have to consume something to use the space). At the Herodion, you can order food or drink from the restaurant and have it brought up, or you can simply bring your own iced coffee and gaze at several-thousand year old structures as you sip away. It’s a surprisingly peaceful oasis right in the middle of Athens, and that amazing view never gets old.
*I was a guest of the Herodion Hotel.