As any visitor can attest, Athens is a fascinating jumble of many things: the chaotic and calm, the edgy and old-fashioned, the international and the unmistakably Greek. The same is true of the New Hotel. Located at the intersection of the quaint, historical Plaka neighborhood and business-centric Syntagma Square, the one-and-a-half-year-old hotel is a stunning — and very literal — combination of the cutting edge and traditional. Located in the shell of the former Olympic Palace, it recycled and repurposed much of its predecessor’s glorious furnishings and decor. “We took this old building,” says the hotel’s events manager Elena Lissaiou, “and remade it.” With a hotel so rooted in its surroundings, we asked Lissaiou and New Hotel guests relations manager Natasa Papefstathiou to give us tips for their corner of Athens.
This small vegetarian eatery with sidewalk seating is a stone’s throw from the New Hotel. “It’s a personal kind of place,” says Lissaiou, “the same people who are cooking your food serve you.” The health-conscious menu includes organic, gluten-free pizzas and pasta, and Mediterranean vegetarian specialties.Nikis 30
+30 210 323 7878
If you’re looking to do some shopping, Lissaiou recommends wandering down this lively thoroughfare stretching from Syntagma Square through the heart of Monastiraki. “It’s the place to shop,” she says. The street has a uniquely Athenian mix of small family-owned establishments and more established brands, like Camper and Adidas, as well as one of the oldest churches in Athens, the Church of Panaghia Kapnikarea.Ermou St.
This affordable wine bar, located a quiet side street, is a local favorite. “They change the wine list every month,” Lissaiou says, “we go there a lot.” She especially loves the bar’s relaxed patio and non-smoking policy. If you’re looking to buy a bottle of wine to take home, Oinoscent also has a carefully curated selection.Voulis 44A
+30 210 322 9374
ART & CULTURE
MUSEUM OF CYCLADIC ART
Filled with art from the Cycladic Islands, this smaller museum is one of Lissaeoui’s favorites. Although it specializes in pieces from the third millennium BC, it also features a variety of temporary exhibits by modern artists like Louise Bourgeois.4 Neophytou Douka St.
+30 210 722 8321-3
MUSEUM OF CYCLADIC ART
Located just off Syntagma Square, Furin Kazan is one of Greece’s oldest Japanese restaurants, and, according to Papefstathiou, one of its best. “It’s very famous for its sushi,” she points out. The restaurant also has a selection of Japanese classics, with a massive reputation. “People even travel from the north of the country to go to Furin Kazan.”Apollonos 2
+30 210 322 9170
In recent years, the formerly derelict area surrounding Athens’ old gas works has become a nightlife and culture hub, attracting both foreign and Greek hipsters and art fans. Papefstathiou recommends taking in some of the area’s lively musical events, many of which take place at Technopolis, which occupies the breathtaking former gas works themselves. The multi-use venue hosts art shows, concerts and eclectic happenings of all kinds.Pireos and Voutadon
+30 210 346 1589
For more traditional Athenian specialties, Papefstathiou recommends Bairaktaris, a century-old eatery that specializes in gyros and kabobs and is located on a bustling corner just off the main Monastiraki subway stop. “You can smell it a mile away,” she says. It’s the perfect place to grab some casual lunch and an outdoor seat, and spend an hour watching the chaos of the square.Monastiraki Sq. 2
+30 210 321 3036