Accessible antiquity at AthensWas

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The balcony of the Hellenic Suite in the AthensWas Hotel has a view of the Acropolis.
The balcony of the Hellenic Suite in the AthensWas Hotel has a view of the Acropolis.

The Modern Restaurant on the roof deck of the new AthensWas Hotel certainly has a contemporary feel. But with fantastic views of the Acropolis, Hadrian's Gate and other Athenian ruins, it's not hard to feel modern in comparison.

The boutique hotel opened on April 1 and is the second in the Anemi hotel family, the first being the five-star Anemi Hotel on the Greek island of Folegandros. Billing itself as a luxury design hotel, the AthensWas features 22 rooms, ranging from the Classic rooms on the back side of the building to the nearly 1,200-square-foot Hellenic Grand Suite, which occupies an entire floor and has views of the Acropolis.

Designer Stavros Papayannis focused on giving the hotel a retro feel, bringing the Athens of the 1950s and '60s into this era, one hotel employee said.

Hotel manager Sophie Vrind said, "He wanted to create the feeling that the hotel had always been here, while at the same time being very modern and new."

As a recent guest for several nights, I stayed in two different rooms: an executive suite and a deluxe room. The smartly appointed executive suite featured two full bathrooms and was divided into two rooms, with a narrow balcony in the back of the hotel. The smaller deluxe room had a more spacious balcony in the front of the hotel, which was perfect for watching the street life, as locals and tourists chatted and dined at the outdoor cafes.

The hotel serves an excellent breakfast that's included in the room price (the Greek breakfast was particularly delicious and filling), and for dinner, guests can visit the Modern Restaurant.

For business travelers, the hotel has a conference room and business center as well as a small gym.

Steps from ancient sites

Perhaps the most attractive feature of the AthensWas is its location, set on Dionysiou Areopagitou, the central pedestrian avenue. Go left and it's a few minutes' walk to one of the main entrances to the Acropolis. Go right and it's even closer to Hadrian's Gate and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.

Just across from the hotel is the Plaka neighborhood and its pedestrian streets, bustling with tourists shopping and dining at outdoor restaurants. It was easy to head out to visit some museums and ruins, come back to the room for a rest and then go out again, rather than planning to be out all day.

During my time there, I took advantage of the great location to walk to as many of Athens' attractions as I could in three days.

After a full day of walking, a drink at the Modern Restaurant, taking in the lit-up Acropolis and the sights and sounds of Athens, was a great way to end the day.

Prices on the weekend ranged from $202 a night for a Classic room and $504 for an executive suite.

For more information, visit www.athenswas.gr.

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