August 12, 2022

Our first stop in Greece was King George Athens, a Marriott Luxury Collection property. After that we stayed at Hotel Grande Bretagne, also a Marriott Luxury Collection property, which I’ll be reviewing in the next installment. These are often regarded as the two best city hotels in Athens, though the latter is typically significantly more expensive.

What’s my take on King George, which is a historic hotel that has been open since 1930? It has an ideal location, beautiful views, and great service. I also love how it’s more of a boutique property, as it has just 102 rooms. However, the hard product and amenities are lacking, unlike at Hotel Grande Bretagne.

Booking King George Athens

I paid 420 Euro for our one night stay at King George. Ford booked us through the Marriott STARS program, offering complimentary daily breakfast, a $100 property credit, a room upgrade subject to availability, and more. These benefits largely stack with the typical perks Marriott Bonvoy Platinum members and above receive

An award stay for our date would have cost 60,000 Bonvoy points. Personally I value Bonvoy points at 0.7 cents each, meaning an award stay would have cost the equivalent of ~$420. In this case I decided to pay cash given the ability to take advantage of Marriott STARS benefits, plus that I can usually get much higher value redemptions with my points.

King George Athens location

King George has a pretty unbeatable location in Athens, as it’s right in the center of the action. It’s within walking distance of the Acropolis, Agora, Plaka, Thission, etc. The immediate area also has lots of cute hole in the wall restaurants and shopping.

Just as a point of comparison, the Grand Hyatt Athens has much more attractive pricing, but the location isn’t nearly as good, as there’s very little in the immediate area.

King George Athens exterior
King George Athens entrance

By the way, King George and Hotel Grande Bretagne are literally next to one another, and share a wall. So location isn’t a factor in deciding between these two hotels.

Hotel Grande Bretagne Athens exterior

King George Athens lobby & check-in

The lobby situation at King George is a disaster, plain and simple. I can’t emphasize enough that everyone working at the hotel is so nice, perhaps overly so, and that’s probably part of the problem.

The reception desk is right at the entrance, and there are only at most two “desks” where guests can be assisted. Both at check-in and during a subsequent interaction, I had to wait over 20 minutes before being helped. That’s ridiculous, especially for a hotel with just over 100 rooms.

It’s not that there were dozens of people in line, but rather it was just that helping each person took forever. The front desk agents would try to be really engaging with guests, ask about their trip, where they’re going, etc. And that’s great if other people aren’t waiting, but…

The other challenge was that I felt like there were a lot of non-frequent travelers (without exception, all guests I overheard were American) who just had endless questions. For example, I remember waiting while the front desk agent had to spend five minutes explaining to someone what a credit card authorization is, because they just couldn’t wrap their head around it.

King George Athens reception

Then there’s the other general lobby issue, which is that most guests were arriving from the United States in the morning hours, and their rooms weren’t ready yet. Everyone just wanted to plop down in the lobby, yet the hotel didn’t actually have much lobby seating.

The extent of the lobby seating is what you can see in the below two pictures.

King George Athens lobby
King George Athens lobby

There was also a small refreshment cart throughout the day with some juice and water.

King George Athens lobby refreshments

Now, you’re probably thinking “well this is a boutique hotel, you can’t expect the hotel to have a big lobby.” Fair enough. The issue is that the hotel actually has a huge lobby. However, it’s used as a permanent art exhibit. I’m not sure who this is targeting, exactly.

King George Athens art exhibit

And don’t even get me started on the art as such. Half of the art display was dry cleaning hanging from lamps. Seriously, this passes for art nowadays?

King George Athens art exhibit
King George Athens art exhibit
King George Athens art exhibit

The exhibit even had seating that you’re not supposed to touch. You know what’s nicer than looking at seating? Sitting in it…

King George Athens art exhibit

King George Athens one bedroom suite

I had used a Marriott suite night award to confirm an upgrade to a one bedroom courtyard suite. My upgrade cleared five days before arrival, and we were assigned room 812K (all room numbers at the hotel end with “K,” and that’s to differentiate the rooms from those at Hotel Grande Bretagne, so you can charge stuff from outlets there to your room).

The hotel’s elevators are right near reception, and they go to all guest rooms plus Tudor Hall (the hotel’s restaurant).

King George Athens elevators

Our room was on the eighth floor (the hotel has nine floors), and was at the end of the hall on the left.

King George Athens hallway
King George Athens suite entrance

Inside the entrance to the suite and to the left was the living area, which was… sparsely furnished. I was honestly confused as to whether a piece of furniture was missing, or if this was intentional, because there was a lot of empty space by the window. The living room had a sofa that could seat three, a coffee table, and a desk with a chair.

King George Athens suite living room
King George Athens suite living room
King George Athens suite living room

To me the living room felt kind of like an apartment that someone was in the process of moving out of. On the plus side, we were brought some fresh flowers shortly after checking in, which added a bit of personality to the living room.

King George Athens suite flowers

The bedroom was on the opposite side of the room, and while there was a door frame, there wasn’t actually a door, so you don’t have full separation between the spaces.

King George Athens suite bedroom privacy

The bedroom had a comfortable king size bed plus a TV.

King George Athens suite bedroom
King George Athens suite bedroom

The minibar and coffee machine were also in the bedroom.

King George Athens suite minibar
King George Athens suite in-room coffee
King George Athens suite minibar

There was also a closet in the back corner of the bedroom.

King George Athens suite closet

The bathroom was a good size, but only had a single sink and a shower/tub combo. I also thought the toilet was oddly close to the wall.

King George Athens suite bathroom
King George Athens suite shower
King George Athens suite toilet
King George Athens suite toiletries

The room had a courtyard view, as we expected. So there wasn’t much to see. That meant there wasn’t any street noise. Unfortunately the sound insulation at the hotel otherwise isn’t very good, and we could hear just about any noise in the hallway, including people opening and closing doors.

King George Athens suite view
King George Athens suite view

After checking in we were brought a lovely welcome amenity consisting of a bottle of water, some sweets, and a small bottle of Greek liquor.

King George Athens welcome amenity

Wi-Fi in the room was fast and free, and twice daily housekeeping was provided.

King George Athens Tudor Hall Restaurant

Tudor Hall is King George’s only food & beverage outlet, and it’s located on the seventh floor. It’s open daily for breakfast from 6:30AM until 11AM, it’s open for coffee from 11AM until 1:30PM, and it’s open for dinner from 6PM until 2AM.

This venue is simply stunning, in terms of both the design and views. There’s a large “formal” dining room of sorts, with the benefit of there being huge doors that remain open, so you really feel like you’re outside.

King George Athens Tudor Hall Restaurant indoor seating
King George Athens Tudor Hall Restaurant indoor seating

There’s also a bar area, as well as some seating near the fireplace if you just want to stop by here for a drink.

King George Athens Tudor Hall Restaurant bar
King George Athens Tudor Hall Restaurant bar seating

On top of that there’s a lovely terrace, with amazing Acropolis views.

King George Athens Tudor Hall Restaurant outdoor seating
King George Athens Tudor Hall Restaurant outdoor seating
King George Athens Tudor Hall Restaurant outdoor seating
King George Athens Acropolis view

If you stay at King George and have breakfast included, you can enjoy the buffet, and then supplement that with some a la carte options. The buffet is small but high quality, and has bread, pastries, cold cuts, fruit, salad, scrambled eggs, sausage, potatoes, etc.

King George Athens breakfast buffet
King George Athens breakfast buffet
King George Athens breakfast buffet
King George Athens breakfast buffet
King George Athens breakfast buffet
King George Athens breakfast buffet
King George Athens breakfast buffet

Drinks were served by the friendly waitstaff. We had both filtered coffee and some freshly squeezed juices.

King George Athens breakfast drinks
King George Athens breakfast drinks

From the menu we ordered the Greek egg dish (strapatsada, essentially scrambled eggs with tomato and feta) and a vegetable omelet, both of which were good.

King George Athens a la carte breakfast
King George Athens a la carte breakfast

The restaurant staff also made excellent freddo cappuccinos.

King George Athens freddo cappuccino

If you do book a rate that includes a hotel credit, do be aware that this has fairly limited uses. This can only be used at Tudor Hall Restaurant. It can’t be used for room service (which I think is stingy), and it can’t be used for any of the Hotel Grande Bretagne outlets that let you charge to your room at King George (which is fair enough).

Since breakfast is included and the restaurant doesn’t serve lunch, that means you can primarily just use the credit for dinner and drinks at the restaurant. If you want a dinner reservation at a reasonable hour, you’ll want to book well ahead of your stay.

So we ended up just using our credit for some drinks, which we enjoyed.

King George Athens cocktails

King George Athens gym

King George Athens has a gym on the basement level, which can be accessed 24/7. The gym is pretty decent for a historic hotel like this, and has plenty of cardio equipment and weights.

King George Athens gym
King George Athens gym
King George Athens gym
King George Athens gym
King George Athens gym
King George Athens gym

There’s also a sauna.

King George Athens sauna

Access to Hotel Grande Bretagne amenities

As I mentioned above, King George and Hotel Grande Bretagne are right next to one another, and are both Marriott Luxury Collection properties. They almost feel like one hotel, but I guess they wanted to have two slightly different price points, so they decided to separate them out.

When you stay at King George you can go to any of the food & beverage outlets at Hotel Grande Bretagne and charge purchases to your room. You can also use the spa at Hotel Grande Bretagne, which is pretty impressive. I’ll be reviewing that hotel next, so stay tuned for how it compares, and to get a sense of some of the other amenities.

King George Athens service

Without exception, every single person working at King George was friendly and eager to help. From the people at the front desk, to the breakfast staff, to the bellmen in front of the hotel, I have nothing but good things to say.

Bottom line

King George Athens has a lot going for it, like being a boutique property with just over 100 rooms, having great views and an unbeatable location, offering a tasty breakfast, and also having friendly service.

That being said, there are also some things I didn’t love about the property. Check-in and help from the front desk took forever, I wish the hotel had a real lobby rather than an art exhibit, our suite was oddly under furnished, and the hotel has a single restaurant that just serves breakfast and dinner.

I do think Hotel Grande Bretagne is an all-around more compelling hotel, though it’s also typically much more expensive, and has more than three times as many rooms. The nice thing about King George is that you can stay here and still use many of the facilities of Hotel Grande Bretagne.

So yeah, as you can tell, I’m a bit conflicted about this property, hence the lukewarm review.

If you’ve stayed at King George, what was your experience like?

See also  Yikes: Airbus A320 Was Six Feet From Crashing