Athens design hotel Apollo Palm

Going to Greece This Summer? Don’t Miss This New Athens Design Hotel

Traveling to Greece this summer? Here’s our official Sight Unseen Greek travel advice: One, spend a few days in Athens rather than skipping through it on your way to an island. Two, arm yourself with our new Athens travel guide and map (you’ll need to join our SU Friends membership program to access it). And three, if your budget allows, book yourself a room at the latest, greatest Athens design hotel, the Apollo Palm, a 48-room property in the up-and-coming Psyrri neighborhood that marries pan-European mid-century-glam interiors with the cool minimalism of classic Bauhaus architecture.

The latter is what stands out first about the hotel (aside from the giant vintage brass palm trees that flank its entrance); it occupies a pair of conjoined buildings that originally housed an architecture and graphic design school, one built in the 1930s and one built in the 1990s to mimic it. The original building revolves around a six-story spiral staircase that rises up from the hotel lobby, framed by a series of incredible gridded stained-glass windows that the hotel team restored during construction, while the newer back building features period-faithful circular walkways and curved window balconies added by the Apollo Palm’s designers to give it even more visual impact. In between the two structures is an enclosed courtyard with a bar that’s a true urban oasis — a moment of respite from the heat and grit of Athens. When you’re done resting, there’s also a rooftop bar with a beachy striped-yellow cabana tent, striped floors, and a postcard view of the Acropolis in the distance.

The hotel’s interiors are the work of Mariette Sans-Rival, a former costume designer for Parisian films, ballets, and operas who moved to Athens and opened her design firm there in 2019. Apollo Palm — which was developed by her husband, Greek hotelier Konstantinos Polatidis — is her first hospitality project, and she filled it with custom-made furniture and brass lighting fabricated with local craftspeople. Conceptually speaking it pulls inspiration from her work in theater, and from the overlap between Greece’s maritime culture and the nautical references in Bauhaus architecture. “I wanted to channel the spirit of a cruise or a holiday — that iconic holiday vibe that reminds you of childhood, when you had no responsibilities,” says Sans-Rival. The result is at once glamorous, visually layered, colorful, and relaxing – a sunny antidote to the generic neutral-colored hotels that are all too common, and that never made sense to us anyway in a city as wild and vibrant as Athens. ◆