It’s high time that I tell you why we stay at Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel when we’re in Athens, Greece. To start, eating breakfast at a rooftop restaurant with magnificent views of the Acropolis is simply not something that you do every day.
But, the elegant hotel has a storied history and you feel like you’re in a special place the second you step into the palatial lobby. The location suits us well as you can walk to shopping and historic sites. All in all, it’s an easy place to base yourself in the Greek capital — many have done so since its 1874 opening.
In this Hotel Grande Bretagne review, I’ll go over room and suite options (we’ve stayed in a few different accommodations), restaurants, the spa, pools, and more that you’ll want to know before checking-in. The part you’ll especially want to pay attention to is how to book in. You have access to value-added VIP benefits through me.
WHAT I LOVE
- Views of the Acropolis and Parthenon from GB Roof Garden
- Central, safe, easy Syntagma Square location
- Restored antiques in Deluxe Suites and higher
- Feeling like you’re staying in historyPoolside souvlaki
- Butler service
- Value-added Virtuoso or Marriott Luminous amenities
GOOD TO KNOW
- Classic rooms feel small
- Don’t stress about booking an Acropolis view room — you’ll see it from the rooftop restaurant
- The outdoor pool and terrace restaurant is open from May–October
- Not all rooms have bathtubs
- Families of four need connecting rooms (or to put one kid in a king bed and another on a rollaway).
Hotel Grande Bretagne Location in Central Athens
Depending on where you are in the hotel, you can see the Acropolis, Parliament (where Changing of the Guards happens), the original Olympic Stadium, Mount Lycabettus, or Syntagma Square. Hotel Grande Bretagne’s prime location in the heart of Athens places you within walking distance of exclusive shopping areas (luxury and high-street shopping), Monastiraki Flea Market, the city’s main attractions, National Gardens, and museums.
Syntagma Square is the closest Metro station and you’ll even find Greek art and artifacts from city excavations inside of it. Sister property King George Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel is right next door to the hotel.
History of the Grande Bretagne Athens
Wealthy Greeks began to come in greater numbers to Athens after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1830. This included Antonis Dimitriou, an aristocrat who purchased the plot of land the hotel stands on today. On it, he built a 90-room mansion that was designed to reflect opulent city living in London and Paris.
In 1874, the mansion was bought and restored by hoteliers who named it the Grande Bretagne. It became the most luxurious hotel in Athens, a designation it carries to this day.
If only the walls could talk. Over the years, kings, presidents, diplomats, and businessmen have met here to devise important national and worldwide policies — some even lived in the hotel, too.
After Greece fell to the Axis Alliance in 1941 during WWII, the hotel became Nazi headquarters. After the war, there was still unrest in Greece. Hotel Grande Bretagne housed refugees, but also diplomatic negotiations between George Papandreou and the British, including Winston Churchill.
When peace arrived in 1956, Hotel Grande Bretagne reopened once again as the best hotel in Athens. Since then, new governments have been formed in its suites.
A €112-million renovation freshened up the property which is now home to 320 rooms and suites in addition to its famous rooftop garden. Throughout the hotel, you’ll find original artwork and various restored antiques that remind you of its history and make you feel like you’re staying in a palace.
Rooms and Suites in Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens
The Hotel Grande Bretagne rooms and suites offer Luxury Collection beds with Frette linens, air-conditioning, writing desks, complimentary bottled water, in-room coffee and tea, in-room safes, and evening turndown service.
Rooms and some suites have Gilchrist & Soames bath products and you’ll find generously-sized Acqua di Parma products in most suites (which I love).
Despite the hotel’s street corner location, our accommodations have been pretty quiet. Blackout drapes cover the large windows should you need to recover from jet lag. Guest rooms and suites vary in size because its a historic hotel but I’ve provided ranges to give a feel for space.
About Grande Bretagne Butler Service
Suites come with 24-hour butler service. Classic King, Deluxe King, and Deluxe Acropolis King rooms can also be booked on Butler Floors.
Why do you need Hotel Grande Bretagne Butler Service? It’s helpful. The historic hotel is a busy one and it’s nice to have someone with a faster response time to answer questions and arrange itineraries (though the regular concierge desk is fantastic).
You can think of butlers as an extension of the concierge. They’ve helped me print business documents which is easier than using the business center. Butlers are trained to help guests with elevated needs. They’ll set the table in your suite for guests, prepare coffee and tea in the English way, unpack and repack your suitcase, and iron clothes.
Guests on Butler Floors also receive a private 6th floor check-in and a welcome drink.
Classic rooms offer courtyard views and come with either a king-size bed or two single beds. You’ll also find a writing desk and bathroom fitted with a rain shower and separate tub. This category offers accessible rooms and connecting rooms for families. They run on the smaller side at an average of 290 square feet but have a writing desk, chair, and some storage space.
Our family of three recently stayed in a Classic connecting room set that was a king with an internal connecting door to a two twin bed room. There isn’t a lot of room to navigate around luggage in Classic rooms but they are fine for a short stays.
The maximum occupancy in these rooms according to Marriott is three people but on Virtuoso it’s two people. I can’t wrap my head around how a rollaway bed can fit into these rooms so I do think they’re best for two people and a baby. A crib would fit okay.
Deluxe & Deluxe Acropolis Rooms
Deluxe rooms boast a stunning view of Mount Lycabettus while the Deluxe Acropolis rooms look out over the Acropolis or Mount Lycabettus. A number of the rooms have balconies as well, offering panoramic views of Athens.
Not all rooms have bathtubs so you’ll need to request a room with a tub if you need one. The average room size is 355 square feet. Three people can sleep in these rooms comfortably and they can put in a crib or rollaway bed. Connecting rooms are available by request.
This entry-level suite provides plenty of space for our family of three with an average size of 530 square feet. The living room separates completely from the bedroom. The marble bathroom is large with a walk-in shower, separate tub, and double sinks.
My daughter slept on a rollaway bed in the living room where there was plenty of space for it. We are able to unwind comfortably at the end of a day of sightseeing with room service and a cocktail. I highly recommend this suite.
From this suite onward, guests begin to enjoy stunning crystal chandeliers and antiques chosen by Christie’s and Sotheby’s. You begin to feel more like you’re staying in a palace.
These suites typically have an inner courtyard view, but sixth-floor balcony Deluxe Suites look out at Lycabettus Hill.
Grand & Grand Acropolis Suites
The Grand Suites and Grand Acropolis Suites have a larger seating area that is separated from the king bedroom. They offer awe-inspiring views of Athens’ historical landmarks through floor-to-ceiling windows.
The Grand Acropolis Suites have views of the Acropolis Suite while Grand Suites overlook Syntagma Square or Lycabettus Hill. The average size is 660 square feet.
These spacious suites come with separate seating and working area. The en-suite bathroom is fitted with a rainfall shower, large bathtub, and double basins.
Grand Deluxe Suite
If you’re looking for a suite with a view, the grand deluxe suite boasts incredible scenes of Parliament and Syntagma Square. This two-bedroom suite is spacious and elegant with a collection of rare antiques, a walk-in closet, and an average size of 960 square feet.
Each bedroom has a king bed, and you’ll enjoy two bathrooms with steam showers and Acqua di Parma bath products.
Executive Acropolis Suites
It’s not the largest suite in the hotel at 756 square feet, but it is one of the most extraordinary. Each of these 6th- and 7th-floor- suites has its own private terrace and outdoor seating area that overlooks the Acropolis. In the bedroom, you’ll find a king-size bed, a walk-in closet, and a flat-screen TV.
The bathroom has a steam rainfall shower, deep bathtub, dual sinks, and Acqua di Parma bath products. The separate sitting room provides a relaxing space, complete with large windows and a spacious work area.
You’ll love the priceless antique furniture inside the Presidential Suite’s king bedroom, separate living room, dining room for up to 12 guests, kitchen, and 1.5 bathrooms. All are accented by grand columns, crystal chandeliers, wood flooring, paneling, and stunning art across 2152 square feet.
Enjoy views of Acropolis, Constitution Square and Mount Lycabettus from the Royal Suite across its 4304 square feet. Sleep well in the king bedroom. Entertain in the dining room, living room, media room, wine cellar, or with the grand piano. Burn off baklava in the private gym and then hop into the centerpiece jetted bathtub in the enormous master bathroom (your guests use the powder room).
If you can, why not splurge on a 3766-square-foot two-bedroom suite with a private pool that overlooks the Acropolis? It would be tough to leave the sun loungers on the oversized terrace. Your amenities in the three bathrooms here are premium Molton Brown.
Grande Bretagne Spa
We’d just taken a day trip to Delphi from Athens, and my back was hurting from climbing ruins while carrying heavy camera gear. I made a spa appointment for a signature massage, which is something I rarely do in cities like Athens where there is so much to do.
It was 100% worth it and I recommend that you book in also. The award-winning GB Spa both makes you feel a sense of place in the historic city center and that you’re receiving cutting-edge treatments.
The indoor swimming pool, Thermal Suite (sauna and steam rooms), and hair salon are located here, too. You’ll also find the fitness center with state-of-the-art Life Fitness cardio machines that have attached televisions. Personal training can be arranged.
GB Roof Garden Restaurant
The hotel’s rooftop restaurant must be one of the most special places in Athens to dine with its view of the Acropolis and Parthenon. Lucky for Grande Bretagne guests, this is where you have breakfast—which is included for two guests per room with my VIP rates.
Breakfast is an American-style semi-buffet (or at least it was prior to the hotel’s reopening on July 15, 2020) with the ability to order hot items a la carte. I recommend Greek eggs.
Athens weather can get chilly, but they do put out heat lamps and provide nice warm blankets so that you can still sit outside. The interior tables that line the windows have this view as well. If you’re further inside the restaurant, you can always step onto the terrace viewing platform to take photos.
I also recommend dinner here, because not only is the sunset view spectacular but you’ll be able to see the Parthenon lit up at night.
This year, we enjoyed Christmas breakfast at the GB Roof Garden Restaurant before flying out to Cairo to see the pyramids. My husband says it’s one of his favorite days ever. We love this view.
More Dining at Hotel Grande Bretagne
In the heart of the Grande Bretagne hotel in Athens, you’ll find The Winter Garden, best known for its opulent afternoon high tea.
Marveling at the 18th-century tapestry of Alexander the Great is just one of the reasons to visit Alexander’s Bar. The hotel is also home to Alexander’s Lounge, the perfect place to grab a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or enjoy a fine cigar.
If you’re in the mood for Mediterranean cuisine, I recommend the seasonal GB Bar and Grill next to the outdoor pool. The chicken souvlaki is outstanding and you can watch them cut it off the kebab.
If you’re looking to satisfy a sweet tooth or bring home a gift, the ground-floor GB Corner Gifts & Flavors is the place. I recommend the macarons though any of the sweets by French Pastry Chef Arnaud Larher are spectacular (and pretty).
And if you feel like a night in, the hotel offers 24-hour in-room dining. Like other luxury hotels of this caliber, the menu features a nice mix of international and local cuisine. Chose a mezze platter if you can — it’s a delicious selection paired with a glass of wine.
Proximity to outstanding tavernas, cheap and cheerful kebab shops, and small grocers provide even more convenience should you just want to step out for snacks or grab a bottle of delicious Greek wine. Your butler or concierge can advise you on outside dining to suit your group.
Swim with a view of Lycabettus Hill in the 7th-floor outdoor pool. Trust me, on a hot summer Athens day, you’ll want to cool down here or relax on loungers while sipping a cocktail from the pool bar.
The outdoor pool and GB Pool Bar & Grill are open between May–October, depending on the weather. During peak summer months, the pool area can get crowded so you may have to wait for or forego a lounger.
The heated indoor pool boasts warm temperatures year-round. Its timeless design resembles the ancient Roman baths and it’s ideally located inside the peaceful spa.
Family Offerings at the Grande Bretagne Hotel
Staying in a well-located hotel is important when traveling with children. Inside the hotel, kids receive special welcome amenities at check-in. In the restaurants, you’ll find children’s menus, high chairs, and disposable bottles (the latter two are by request) to make your dining experience easier.
The staff has no problem accommodating special meal requests if your kids want certain fruit in their smoothies or small customizations. This luxury hotel does not have a kids’ club but babysitting can be arranged.
Christmas in Athens
The festive season is a lovely time to check-in. Between Hotel Grande Bretagne and King George next door, you can choose from several special holiday meals including buffet lunches, live performance, multi-course dinners, and themed teas. These events occur on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. Christmas hampers can be purchased as well.
Not to mention that the Christmas decor throughout the hotels is stunning.
Getting there from Athens Airport
Hotel Grande Bretagne is about 22 miles from Athens International Airport (ATH) which should take approximately 30 minutes. However, during the day, you’re likely to run into traffic so expect the drive to last between 45 minutes to an hour.
(We use family-owned George’s Taxi for airport transfers and day trips in Athens because of reasonable pricing, friendly-service, knowledgeable guides, and quality of the cars. They will take good care of you.)
VIP Hotel Grande Bretagne Reservations with Extra Benefits
I have two ways for you to make Hotel Grande Bretagne reservations with benefits that can only be secured through luxury travel advisors.
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- Daily buffet breakfast for two at the picturesque GB Roof Garden Restaurant.
- A complimentary lunch for up to two people 3 course set menu valid in Winter Garden or GB Pool Bar & Grill, excluding alcohol, taxes and gratuities
- Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi daily
- VIP status
*The desktop version of Virtuoso.com is where you’ll search rates and book online. To enable the desktop version from a mobile device, after clicking on a Virtuoso hotel link, scroll down to the navy blue section at the bottom of the web page and click “Full Site.” When searching rates, do not input children ages 17 and under as they will be priced as adults. I’m notified when you book and will add them when I contact you about your reservation. You can also use my form to request rates.
- Priority for complimentary room upgrade (based on availability upon arrival)
- Daily buffet breakfast for two at the picturesque GB Roof Garden Restaurant.
- €85 Food and beverage credit.
- Complimentary Wi-Fi daily
- First priority on waitlists in sold-out situations
- Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
- First priority for requested room category, bed type, rollaways, and connecting rooms
- VIP status granted with in-person warm welcome
They also may offer special promotions.