The Grande Old Dame of Athenian hotels has recently had a facelift after being acquired by the Marriott Group.

The 19th century building sits impressively just opposite the Greek house of Parliament, overlooking Syntagma Square,  and with ranging views of the Parthenon from most rooms, as well as from its iconic rooftop terrace where the best buffet breakfast in town is served from 7 am to 10 am.

The hotel has long been a favourite with celebrities and various dignitaries visiting Athens, and the recent updates in amenities will ensure its continued pre-eminence.

It s classic interiors, lavishly decorated with signature antiques, cannot be rivalled for opulence, while the resplendent ground floor bar remains a meeting place of choice in town.

The vast lobby, with its sink-in seats and sofas, original artworks and splendid gilded surfaces connects to the Winter Garden, an urban oasis atrium, adorned by a stained-glass ceiling, potted palm trees and other luxuriant greenery.

Savvy visitors choose to stay in the butler-assisted section (7th floor), which has its own entrance, and are… well, provided with a personal butler on call throughout their stay.

The hotel has two swimming pools, one outdoor on the roof terrace and another indoor as part of the spa which is open 7 days a week, a veritable bonus in a city where opening days and hours are often unpredictable and /or unreliable.

Another perk (for smokers) is the ultra chic cigar bar.

Service is impeccable: from the Champagne offered on arrival, to the discreetly re-stocked with fruit and chocolates rooms, to the no-request-is-too-odd attitude at the restaurant and bar, to the perfectly trained and spoken staff everywhere.

The complimentary chocolates deserve a special mention here because they arrived, every morning, in different colours, flavours and shapes, the apotheosis of them, a very large sculpture of a Parthenon-esque pillar, made in white chocolate (although a football shoe in dark chocolate was a very close contender).

Our abiding regret was that, due to the high outdoor temperatures, we couldn’t take some of the goodies in our luggage, nor eat them all after the copious breakfasts and indulgent dinners.

In addition to the buffet, which abounds with fresh Greek fruits and delicacies, there is a menu for those who prefer cooked breakfast and one of us opted for a most excellent Eggs Benedict every morning (options of ham, bacon or salmon).

The best of the breakfast experience, however, remains simply the best view of the Acropolis on a sunny morning. Make sure you arrive either early or very late to get one of the best tables along the first line of the terrace in order to enjoy it fully.

The shopping district of Kolonaki is a short walk from the hotel, as are countless eating and drinking places lining the streets until late at night.

The Grande Bretagne remains the most outstanding Central Athens hotel, so long as budget is no consideration.

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