Before you judge me for staying at an American chain hotel in Athens, Greece, you should know a bit more about the brand.
Radisson Blu hotels differentiate themselves from the Radissons often found near airports with artistic design, modern décor and international appeal. They consider themselves an “upscale” branch of Radisson, and while Athens’ Radisson Blu Park Hotel was definitely sophisticated, it was anything but stuffy and high-end.
As chic hotels do, Radisson Blu properties exist mostly in European cities and have just begun their U.S. expansion.
The Radisson Blu Park Hotel in the Avenue Alexandras neighborhood of Athens sticks out like a sore thumb, probably because it is one of the only modern looking buildings in this mostly run down residential area of the city. The hotel is recognizable from blocks away because of the crisscrossed piping decorating the front of the structure, giving it a geometrical look that matches the photos. Upon entering, you are transported to a park—fittingly as it is situated across the street from one of Athens’ largest green areas, Pedion Areos park. Off to the right is a forest-esque sitting area, complete with floor to ceiling tree-trunks and dark leather seating. Look up for a mesmerizing display of leaves, which changes colors to represent the changing seasons. The hotel drew inspiration for its 2010 renovation from the nearby park and has created the perfect example of an urban jungle in its lobby. As you walk to the elevators, you can’t miss the display of hanging bicycles, establishing the hotel as on-trend and hipster-friendly.
If you’re more urban than jungle, you’ll appreciate the simplicity of the rooms. Equipped with a coffee maker, a fridge, free Wi-Fi and a very supportive mattress, the room has everything you need. In the standard room’s bathroom, you have the choice of a bath or shower, which are separate but situated directly next to each other with no divider. If you like to bathe in the company of others—ancient Greek bathhouse style—this setup is perfect for you. Every room has a view that beckons you to the window; we’re partial to those facing the Acropolis and Lycabettus Hill.
As previously mentioned, the hotel itself pops, but the Radisson Blu’s Athenian identity is even more striking; throughout the establishment you will find tributes to the city it calls home. From the lobby that resembles the neighboring park to the Greek artists featured in the Radisson Blu’s “Contemporary Greek Art” series, the creative minds behind this hotel clearly have a soft spot for their hometown. This Athens appreciation extends all the way to the roof, where they’ve created an outdoor space for guests to enjoy uninterrupted views of the city—stretching all the way to the Acropolis—by the beautiful pool and bar/restaurant (pictured at top).
The neighborhood is nothing to write home about, but perfect for those looking to put a few subway stops in between themselves and the throngs of tourists. The Pedion Areos park can offer some respite from the craziness that is Athens, but you have to get past Athens’ finest homeless folk first, who tend to camp out on the edges of the park. The world famous Athens Archaeological Museum is a few blocks away and just beyond the Victoria metro station is a busy square with lively restaurants and cafes.
Maggie Parker is Paste’s assistant travel editor.