With a spectacular view of the Acropolis, the stately, long-suffering Syntagma Square and Parliament House, the wooded slopes of Lycabettus and the Old Olympic Stadium, the award-winning Grande Bretagne is the most iconic hotel in Athens.
Thanks to its unique location, time-honoured, classic luxury and long and legendary history, the Grande Bretagne has managed to hold onto its prestige and to stand out above all the other hotels in the Greek capital.
From 1842, when Antonis Dimitrios, a wealthy Greek from Trieste, erected an enormous 90-room mansion opposite the palace of King Otto to 1874, when Eustathios Lampsas and Savvas Kendros built the hotel Grande Bretagne in its place, and 1888, when the hotel was one of the first buildings in the city to obtain electricity, nearly two centuries have gone by and there is still no other hotel in Greece that can boast of having hosted such a roster of distinguished personalities. Crowned heads, presidents, prime ministers and political leaders, writers, artists and celebrities – including Winston Churchill, Jacques Delors, Indira Gandhi, Laurence Olivier, Jeanne Moreau, Herbert von Karajan, Margot Fonteyn, Gary Cooper, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield, Isadora Duncan and many, many others all passed through this hotel, while countless historical events have taken place within its walls.
Today the Grande Bretagne, after undergoing a complete renovation in 2003 in view of the Olympic Games of 2004, has 320 rooms, including the Royal Suite, which measures 400 sq. m. It belongs to Lampsas Greek Hotels, S.A. and is under the management of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
One of the hotel’s most significant pluses is the GB Roof Garden Restaurant and Bar, which has been cited for three years running by the Wine Spectator. From the seventh floor the view of Athens by night, all lit up, is breath taking. Sotiris Evangelou is Executive Chef at the hotel and Asterios Koustoudis is Chef de Cuisine of the GB Roof Garden Restaurant.
We tried three of his characteristic dishes: Grilled shrimp with fennel and star anise, spinach, dill and bottarga; orzo with lobster and garden herbs; sea bass confit in olive oil with yellow tomato syrup and summer herbs.
It was a surprise to learn that the Roof Garden actually has its own rooftop herbarium where 15 herbs have been planted, from rose geranium and dill to basil and mint!