WHAT’S IT LIKE? A member of the Worldhotels Deluxe Collection, the Royal Olympic is a grand property in central Athens, and although not officially five-star, offers services and standards comparable to one of that distinction. Since opening in 1969 it underwent a full refurbishment in 2007, and although much of the décor and furniture is traditional (think gold, marble, Chesterfield sofas, Chinese vases, patterned carpets and heavy drapes) it’s fresh not fusty.
The 264-room property is privately owned, and well-tailored, friendly doormen are on hand at the entrance to call taxis and carry luggage. Upon entering the lobby, guests will find reception tucked away to the right. The lifts are to both the left and right, with the lobby lounge straight ahead and an outdoor pool in a courtyard just beyond.
WHERE IS IT? Opposite the Temple of Zeus on Athanasiou Diakou Str in the centre of Athens. It’s a 40-minute drive to the airport but the old town area of Plaka, the Acropolis, the New Acropolis Museum and Constitution Square are all within ten to 15 minutes’ walking distance.
ROOM FACILITIES The hotel has six floors, although in one wing there are only five. Standard Executive rooms have balconies and are all inward facing, overlooking an attractive courtyard, the swimming pool, trees and an adjacent roof garden. Rooms all come with minibars, LG flatscreen TVs with pay-per-view channels, air conditioning, free wired and wifi, and blue and gold décor.
Guests staying in the lowest category rooms are served breakfast (7am-10am) downstairs in the medieval-style Abbey, whereas all other guests eat at the top-floor Ioannis restaurant and terrace. Only the Athenian Panorama rooms have both baths and separate walk-in showers, and bathing products range from Royal Olympic- to Bulgari- branded in the higher category rooms.
I was staying in a magnificent Athenian Panorama room with huge floor-to-ceiling windows looking on to the Temple of Zeus and the main road below. The windows were double-glazed so noise wasn’t a problem and controls by the side of the bed lowered and raised blackout blinds.
There was a good amount of space (about 50 sqm) with a sofa, armchairs, marble coffee table, potted plants and a small workdesk. The bathroom was large with a long bath, plus a walk-in shower and toilet in a separate room off of it. There was no iron-ironing board or shaving mirror in the bathroom.
One thing that did annoy me slightly was that the bed was made up of two singles pushed together, which tends to be fairly common in European hotels for some reason. It was also made up with sheets and a yellow Pierre Cardin blanket instead of a duvet.
The minibar had a good selection of drinks and snacks, although prices were high. For example, a 250ml Coca Cola was €5.50, a miniature Gordon’s gin was €9, a 330ml Heineken beer was €7 and a 100g bag or peanuts was €4.50. Room service is available 24 hours a day.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 264 rooms including 135 Executive rooms (25 sqm), 75 Deluxe rooms (32 sqm), eight suites (55 sqm), 45 Athenian Panorama rooms (40-50 sqm) and one Royal suite (117 sqm).
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The panoramic views of the Temple of Zeus, the large marble bathroom and free internet access.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS As well as the pool and lobby bars on the ground floor, there is Abbey restaurant, which serves Mediterranean cuisine. But the real highlight is the top-floor Ioannis – a bar and dimly lit fine-dining eatery with a spacious terrace and roof that opens up to the stars. The views from it are amazing, with the Acropolis on the right illuminated after sundown.
The menu is meat heavy – in fact there was only one vegetarian option on it – a starter of warm root vegetable salad, which I ordered. It was a substantial portion but very tasty. When it came to choosing a main, the chef was accommodating, knocking me up a dish of fresh tagliatelle with rich tomato sauce and garden vegetables. I was too full for dessert but enjoyed a small glass of mastika pine-flavoured liquor instead – a local favourite.
The service was attentive and the atmosphere relaxed. The only thing I couldn’t get on board with were the chairs, which were upholstered in an unpleasant granny-style floral fabric that seemed totally out of place with the otherwise minimalist décor.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The hotel has an excellent range of meeting and events venues in an array of dimensions and styles. There are 13 rooms in total (several divisible into two or three), and all with natural daylight and free wifi. The largest is the Olympia ballroom for 700 delegates theatre-style, while Kallirhoe can seat 300.
Audio-video technicians, translators, musicians, electricians, photographers and security guards are all available on request, along with equipment ranging from projectors to plasma screens. A modest business centre is accessed to the left of the main entrance to the hotel and has four PCs, printing facilities and free internet access.
LEISURE FACILITIES A new 1,500 sqm spa is under construction to be complete by next year, but guests do have access to a gym in the mean time. The open-air ground-floor pool is open during the summer.
VERDICT With extensive meeting venues, a central location, free internet throughout and good dining options for entertaining clients, the Royal Olympic is an excellent option for business travellers.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in June started from €140 for an Executive room.
CONTACT Royal Olympic, 28-34 Athanasiou Diakou Str, Athens; tel +30 210 9288 400; royalolympic.com