Review: Hotel Grande Bretagne Athens, Marriott Luxury Collection

Review: Hotel Grande Bretagne Athens, Marriott Luxury Collection

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NAME: Hotel Grande Bretagne Athens, Marriott Luxury Collection
LOCATION: Athens, Greece
DATE: June 2022
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: Hotel Grande Bretagne is an incredible old world hotel with an ideal location, top notch amenities, and plenty of food & beverage outlets. If you can swing it, I'd definitely recommend a stay.
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EXTRA PERKS AVAILABLE Enjoy breakfast, upgrades, & more

Want to take advantage of Marriott STARS benefits, including a space available room upgrade, complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, and more? Contact Ford ([email protected]) for more details. He may even be able to help if you already have a stay booked. This is valid for paid stays at BVLGARI, EDITION, Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve, and St. Regis.

During our recent trip to Greece, I was able to check out both of the Marriott Luxury Collection properties in Athens. In the last installment I reviewed King George, and in this installment I wanted to review Hotel Grande Bretagne.

Let me say upfront that Hotel Grande Bretagne is a spectacular city hotel that’s historic and well maintained. The hotel has ample amenities, including a large spa, a rooftop pool, excellent food & beverage outlets, and more. I think the only downside to this hotel is that it has 320 rooms, so it definitely doesn’t have a boutique feel.

Booking Hotel Grande Bretagne

I redeemed 69,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for our one night stay at Hotel Grande Bretagne. For context, I value Bonvoy points at 0.7 cents each, meaning that’s the equivalent of ~$483 worth of points.

The cash rate for our date in late June was over 1,100 Euro for a base room. So it was a great redemption value, though I have to mention that I booked this fairly last minute, and rates in Greece are incredibly high this summer. So while Hotel Grande Bretagne is consistently more expensive than King George, it’s usually not that expensive.

If you do book a cash stay at Hotel Grande Bretagne, I’d recommend booking through the Marriott STARS program, so you can take advantage of additional perks, like a $100 property credit, complimentary breakfast, a room upgrade subject to availability, and more. If you’d like help with a Marriott STARS booking, Ford is happy to help, and can be reached at [email protected]

Hotel Grande Bretagne history

Hotel Grande Bretagne has so much history, and that’s reflected in just about all parts of the hotel. The hotel is in a structure that was first built in 1842 as a private house, and it became a hotel in 1874. During the Greco-Italian War, the hotel was the headquarters for British forces, and during the Greek Civil War, the hotel housed the Prime Minister at the time.

So while the hotel has undergone some costly renovations, the owners did an amazing job preserving the essence of this property.

Hotel Grande Bretagne location

Hotel Grande Bretagne has an ideal location if you’re looking to sightsee in Athens. The hotel is within walking distance of the Acropolis, Agora, Plaka, Thission, etc. The immediate area around the hotel also has lots of great restaurants and shops. This is where you want to stay if you’re visiting Athens, plan and simple.

Hotel Grande Bretagne exterior

If you’re flying into or out of Athens Airport (ATH), you can expect it to take around 30 minutes between the airport and hotel.

Hotel Grande Bretagne lobby & check-in

Hotel Grande Bretagne has a huge, elegant lobby with plenty of seating and high ceilings. Even though the hotel has 320 rooms, there was never a long line at the front desk, and check-in was pretty efficient.

The associate checking us in thanked me for being a Bonvoy Titanium member, and offered a welcome amenity, for which I chose breakfast. I had used a suite night award to confirm an upgrade in advance, and that booked into a one bedroom city view Grand Suite.

Hotel Grande Bretagne lobby
Hotel Grande Bretagne lobby
Hotel Grande Bretagne reception
Hotel Grande Bretagne lobby seating

Hotel Grande Bretagne one bedroom suite

We were assigned room 370, located on the third floor (the hotel has eight floors). The public spaces of the hotel are so well maintained, as I think you can see in the below pictures.

Hotel Grande Bretagne elevators
Hotel Grande Bretagne staircase
Hotel Grande Bretagne hallway

Finding your room at this hotel can be a bit of a challenge, as there are hallways going in seemingly all directions.

Hotel Grande Bretagne room exterior

The room featured an entryway, and beyond that was the living room.

Hotel Grande Bretagne suite entryway

The living room was pretty cozy, and had a loveseat with a coffee table, as well as a desk and chair. Across from the loveseat was a TV, along with an additional chair, presumably in case two people wanted to enjoy room service together.

Hotel Grande Bretagne suite living room
Hotel Grande Bretagne suite living room
Hotel Grande Bretagne suite living room

There was a bowl of Wether’s Original candies on the living room table, which seemed… random.

Hotel Grande Bretagne suite sweets

Also in the living room was the minibar, as well as the coffee machine and kettle.

Hotel Grande Bretagne suite minibar
Hotel Grande Bretagne suite minibar

There was a double doorway separating the bedroom from the living room, with sliding doors providing privacy between the rooms. The bedroom had a king size bed, plus a cushioned seat in the corner.

Hotel Grande Bretagne suite bedroom
Hotel Grande Bretagne suite bedroom

The bathroom was off the bedroom, and had double sinks, a walk-in shower, a soaking tub, and a toilet.

Hotel Grande Bretagne suite bathroom
Hotel Grande Bretagne suite bathroom

Toiletries were from Molton Brown.

Hotel Grande Bretagne suite toiletries

The room had views of the nearby streets, which I appreciated, since the hotel is in a charming area.

Hotel Grande Bretagne suite view
Hotel Grande Bretagne suite view

A couple of hours after checking in we were brought a welcome amenity, consisting of some chocolates, some liquor, and a bottle of water. That was generous, especially since we were on a one night stay with points.

Hotel Grande Bretagne suite welcome amenity

Wi-Fi in the room was fast & free, and there was also turndown service with chocolates.

Hotel Grande Bretagne spa & gym

Hotel Grande Bretagne has an impressive spa on the basement level, which also has the gym and an indoor pool. The spa is open daily from 9AM until 9PM, while the gym can be accessed 24/7 with your key card.

While we didn’t get any spa treatments, the entire space was beautiful, with all the typical amenities, from relaxation rooms, to steam rooms, to a juice bar.

Hotel Grande Bretagne spa
Hotel Grande Bretagne spa
Hotel Grande Bretagne spa

We did use the gym, which was modern but on the small side for a hotel of this size.

Hotel Grande Bretagne gym
Hotel Grande Bretagne gym
Hotel Grande Bretagne gym
Hotel Grande Bretagne gym
Hotel Grande Bretagne gym

Then there was also an indoor pool, which was pretty nice, for those who are into that.

Hotel Grande Bretagne indoor pool
Hotel Grande Bretagne indoor pool

Hotel Grande Bretagne pool

Hotel Grande Bretagne has a rooftop pool on the seventh floor, which is open daily from 10AM until 8PM. While the pool is great, it does tend to get crowded, given the number of rooms this hotel has.

Hotel Grande Bretagne outdoor pool
Hotel Grande Bretagne outdoor pool

While I didn’t have anything there, the pool also has the GB Pool Bar, serving drinks and light snacks daily from 12PM until 5PM.

Hotel Grande Bretagne outdoor pool deck
Hotel Grande Bretagne outdoor pool deck
Hotel Grande Bretagne outdoor pool deck

Hotel Grande Bretagne GB Roof Garden Restaurant

GB Roof Garden is Hotel Grande Bretagne’s main restaurant, and it’s gorgeous. It’s on the eighth floor, and it’s totally open air. Here you can have breakfast daily from 6:30AM until 11AM, lunch from 1PM until 6PM, and dinner from 6PM until 2AM.

Hotel Grande Bretagne GB Roof Garden Restaurant
Hotel Grande Bretagne GB Roof Garden Restaurant
Hotel Grande Bretagne GB Roof Garden Restaurant
Hotel Grande Bretagne GB Roof Garden Restaurant
Hotel Grande Bretagne GB Roof Garden Restaurant

The restaurant boasts views over the city and the Acropolis.

Hotel Grande Bretagne GB Roof Garden Restaurant view

The hotel offers a buffet breakfast, with the option to supplement that with some items from the menu at no additional cost (you can find the a la carte selection here). The breakfast buffet included cereal, bread and pastries, yogurt, fresh fruit, cold cuts, veggies, pancakes, eggs, sausage, and more.

Hotel Grande Bretagne breakfast buffet
Hotel Grande Bretagne breakfast buffet
Hotel Grande Bretagne breakfast buffet
Hotel Grande Bretagne breakfast buffet
Hotel Grande Bretagne breakfast buffet
Hotel Grande Bretagne breakfast buffet
Hotel Grande Bretagne breakfast buffet
Hotel Grande Bretagne breakfast buffet

In addition to self serve freshly squeezed juices, servers also came around to offer other drinks. We had filter coffee and some freddo cappuccinos.

Hotel Grande Bretagne breakfast drinks
Hotel Grande Bretagne breakfast drinks

To eat, we had strapatsada and a veggie omelet, just like at King George. Yum.

Hotel Grande Bretagne breakfast
Hotel Grande Bretagne breakfast

Breakfast does tend to get a bit chaotic if you show up later, given how big the restaurant is, and the number of rooms. In that sense, I somewhat preferred the breakfast at King George, simply because the hotel has fewer guests.

Hotel Grande Bretagne Alexander’s Bar & Winter Garden City Lounge

On the lobby level, Hotel Grande Bretagne has Winter Garden City Lounge and Alexander’s Bar, both of which are open daily from 8AM until 12AM.

Winter Garden City Lounge is like a grand lobby cafe, and serves light breakfast and lunch, afternoon tea, and drinks all day. It’s a lovely setting, and also a nice place to sit if you arrive before check-in time and are waiting for your room to be ready.

Hotel Grande Bretagne Winter Garden City Lounge
Hotel Grande Bretagne Winter Garden City Lounge
Hotel Grande Bretagne Winter Garden City Lounge
Hotel Grande Bretagne Winter Garden City Lounge

Alexander’s Bar is right next to that, and has an 18th century tapestry of Alexander the Great. This was allegedly voted as the best hotel bar in the world by Forbes, though I didn’t have the chance to have a drink here.

Hotel Grande Bretagne Alexander’s Bar
Hotel Grande Bretagne Alexander’s Bar

Hotel Grande Bretagne Alexander’s Lounge

In addition to Alexander’s Bar, Hotel Grande Bretagne also has Alexander’s Lounge. This is essentially a cigar bar that has all kinds of drinks, light snacks, etc. It’s in the courtyard of the hotel on the first floor (one level up from the lobby), and has both indoor and outdoor seating.

Hotel Grande Bretagne Alexander’s Lounge
Hotel Grande Bretagne Alexander’s Lounge
Hotel Grande Bretagne Alexander’s Lounge
Hotel Grande Bretagne Alexander’s Lounge
Hotel Grande Bretagne Alexander’s Lounge

Hotel Grande Bretagne service

Much like at King George, Hotel Grande Bretagne had perfect service. Even though this is a big hotel, every employee was friendly and eager to please. In general I feel like the service culture in Greece has come such a long way in recent years, to the point that I find Greece to have among the best service in the west nowadays.

Bottom line

Hotel Grande Bretagne is a phenomenal city hotel. Even though this is a historic property, it’s updated to be current, and has no shortage of amenities and outlets. The hotel has both an indoor and outdoor pool, several excellent food & beverage outlets, and more.

If you’re headed to Athens and want to stay at the best city hotel, Hotel Grande Bretagne is definitely for you. Just don’t expect it to be cheap. Fortunately that’s where points come in.

If you’ve stayed at Hotel Grande Bretagne, what was your experience like?

Conversations (13)
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  1. Rob in Miami Guest

    Gosh. 2008 days before the world market crash... stayed here for stupid over the top speculation architecture with Kempinski Hotels...
    I remember that amazing rooftop view at the sunset bar Happy Hour (your pic was a breakfast set-up).
    My room was an amazing King with views onto that beautiful square.

  2. Steven E Guest

    I remember when it was an HRI- Leading hotels of the World property - it’s always been elegant and after it’s Euro112 million renovation it became even more so ..the random “American” candy seems like a typical Marriott addition which is weird to me - otherwise the property still looks great. I can almost hear the “Oh my god’s “ in the lobby

  3. Robert D Guest

    There does appear to be sliding doors between the living area and the bedroom. Were they not functional, or did you just not notice them?

    1. Brendanjoseph New Member

      Plus one for this. I literally had to zoom in to double check my initial impression there were pocket doors, but on the LHS there’s definitely a brown door with a fold handle.

  4. Carlos Guest

    Exactly as I remember. But pretty sure I paid a small fraction of that cash price.. The night view of Acropolis is gorgeous!

  5. Sue Guest

    You are right about the service in Greece. We stayed at the King George and it was impeccable. We had a suite with a view of the acropolis and overlooked the square. There were protests from time to time, but I thought it was very interesting to watch. The police have complete control while these are happening. The great thing about overlooking the square is you can watch the changing of the guards at the...

    You are right about the service in Greece. We stayed at the King George and it was impeccable. We had a suite with a view of the acropolis and overlooked the square. There were protests from time to time, but I thought it was very interesting to watch. The police have complete control while these are happening. The great thing about overlooking the square is you can watch the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was spectacular. There is one day a week where they close that street off and have an entire parade for the changing of the guards. Not to be missed.

    1. Jon Guest

      "The police have complete control" is such an interesting viewpoint from an American.
      In reality, "the people are allowed their right to protest without the police pepper-spraying them" would be a more accurate sentiment.

  6. JetSetFly Guest

    I guess this place has not changed much since I stayed there over a decade ago. View from rooftop restaurant was amazing. Food was very good too. My room had a view of the presidential palace which was nice. Gone were the day when I literally watched protestors march to palace from my window during financial meltdown in Greece. Hotel was pretty empty then with stray dogs on hotel entry steps.

  7. Sarah Guest

    What a special place. I stayed there with my mother in 1995. We woke up in the middle of the night to hear the water in the toilet sloshing back and forth...it was an earthquake! (not serious, fortunately)

  8. Guest Guest

    The cold foods were set up at room temperature?

  9. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

    FYI. The hotel's name literally translates into English as Great Britain.

    Was there a pre-arrival email? What about a concierge? How about a butler or porter? Did they provide newspapers? Those are the things a discerning customer pays attention to in reviews.

    It is difficult to find a difference between the average Autograph Collection property and the average Luxury Collection property.

    In general, many of the Autograph Collection properties are more modern whereas many...

    FYI. The hotel's name literally translates into English as Great Britain.

    Was there a pre-arrival email? What about a concierge? How about a butler or porter? Did they provide newspapers? Those are the things a discerning customer pays attention to in reviews.

    It is difficult to find a difference between the average Autograph Collection property and the average Luxury Collection property.

    In general, many of the Autograph Collection properties are more modern whereas many of the Luxury Collection properties are older and more vintage in terms of decor — but necessarily in a luxurious shabby chic kind of way.

    I think there are some legitimate luxury Luxury Collection-branded properties in Europe and Asia that rival the best St Regis or Ritz-Carlton properties, but in North America the brand is seldom nicer than a better than average JW Marriott.

    To me, this looks like what an older Luxury Collection property in Europe should look like. It's what I expect. It's nice to see a property that fits the brand.

    1. LMT Guest

      Stayed there a few years ago with a balcony overlooking the changing of the Guards The hotel is lovely and had an excellent concierge that I worked with to book some tours and made restaurant recommendations in advance. I don’t recall if they had newspapers but honestly don’t recall the last time I saw a daily newspaper at a hotel (besides Bellagio in LV).

  10. Daniel from Finland Guest

    While it looks like a great hotel, it is way overpriced if the rooms are in the $1000 league. I wonder what their usual summer prices are like if you book in advance and it's a normal summer.

    The bed looks a bit narrow for two. Did you find it wide enough in practice?

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Sue Guest

You are right about the service in Greece. We stayed at the King George and it was impeccable. We had a suite with a view of the acropolis and overlooked the square. There were protests from time to time, but I thought it was very interesting to watch. The police have complete control while these are happening. The great thing about overlooking the square is you can watch the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was spectacular. There is one day a week where they close that street off and have an entire parade for the changing of the guards. Not to be missed.

2
LMT Guest

Stayed there a few years ago with a balcony overlooking the changing of the Guards The hotel is lovely and had an excellent concierge that I worked with to book some tours and made restaurant recommendations in advance. I don’t recall if they had newspapers but honestly don’t recall the last time I saw a daily newspaper at a hotel (besides Bellagio in LV).

2
Steven E Guest

I remember when it was an HRI- Leading hotels of the World property - it’s always been elegant and after it’s Euro112 million renovation it became even more so ..the random “American” candy seems like a typical Marriott addition which is weird to me - otherwise the property still looks great. I can almost hear the “Oh my god’s “ in the lobby

1
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