Hotel of the Week: This Neoclassical Gem in Athens Is an Art-Filled Urban Escape
The Dolli occupies an exquisitely revived 1925 mansion with unparalleled views of some of the Greek capital’s most famous landmarks
In the pantheon of European capitals, Athens perhaps most deserved a contemporary grand dame hotel, a property that could assert its reverence for the past and remix it with modern flourishes. Newcomer The Dolli swooped in to don the mantle.
For years, the 1925 neoclassical building that today houses The Dolli had been the object of desire for local developers, who coveted this architectural jewel on bustling Mitropoleos Street. Its distinctive rounded corners, towering windows, and ornate façade reflect a medley of architectural styles and eras, adding to the property’s allure amid the Brutalist-adjacent polikatoikias that have come to define much of the Greek capital’s post-war architectural identity.
The narrative of this neoclassical edifice is as layered as the history of Athens itself. The brainchild of Andreas Kriezis, renowned for converting King Otto’s palace into the Greek Parliament, the building was initially commissioned as a private residence for Dimitrios Kallimasiotis, a notable figure in shipping and politics. Over the years, it housed a succession of prestigious textile companies, until economic tides turned. Following the decline of the textile industry, this diamond-in-the-rough remained unoccupied, its potential untapped.
The turning point arrived when Grecotel, Greece’s premier luxury hotel chain, recognized the building’s latent splendor. CEO Marie Daskalantonaki embarked on an ambitious seven-year restoration, a project briefly stalled by the global pandemic.
“The first two [years] were spent in deep thinking and conceptual sessions: how can she look, should she be like a residence, a classic hotel, or a place defining hospitality as it should be now and tomorrow?” muses Daskalantonaki. “The only thing I knew, way before finding the name, is that she’s a woman, like the city she was born: Athens.”
This meticulous endeavor, driven by a commitment to preserving the building’s historical essence while infusing modern hospitality elements, has reinvigorated the structure. The lobby lounge best exemplifies this metamorphosis, presenting a veritable gallery of art and collectible design, including works by François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne and Jean Cocteau, as well as avant-garde creations by contemporary artists like Pierre Augustin Rose and Seung Jin Yang. This artistic assemblage, carefully chosen and thoughtfully placed, is the first to address the dearth of true art hotels in Athens.
Far removed from the ground floor’s lively hum is The Dolli’s rooftop, where Kois Architects, an Athens-based firm renowned for their subtle yet transformative designs, have excelled. Guests initially encounter a modest landing, yet, just a turn away, a stunning view unfolds: the Acropolis, resplendent above the minimalist elegance of an infinity pool. To the left, a laid-back deck offers a serene spot for post-swim relaxation. To the right, the sleek all-day restaurant sits ensconced in a glasshouse brimming with the heady scents of Mediterranean flora.
Providing both unparalleled views and enveloping luxury are The Dolli’s 46 rooms and suites. The lofty 12-foot ceilings and expansive windows ensure that even the standard rooms are bathed in natural light, creating an airy and inviting atmosphere. Each room, swathed in a palette of soothing creams, boasts luxurious marble baths equipped with spacious walk-in showers designed for two, enhancing the sense of indulgence. For those seeking a brush with history, request a room that overlooks the Acropolis.
Another must-visit space within the hotel is The Dolli’s library. With its restored architectural elements, such as the majestic stucco ceilings adorned with sun motifs, grand picture windows, and cozy wood-clad alcoves, the serene area is an ideal spot for guests to immerse themselves in a curated selection of literature beneath a hanging Alexander Calder mobile. Soon, the room will also host a traditional weekend tea service.
Also upcoming is the adjacent Le Bar Secret, a jewel-box lounge featuring decadent wooden accents, an artful array of bouclé sofas, and Jean Cocteau ceramics, where guests can enjoy cocktails and conversation. And joining the recent acquisitions on display is a polychrome wood mummy mask from Egypt’s Late Third Intermediate to Late Period, dating back to the 25th Dynasty (circa 747-525 B.C.), and a wood sarcophagus mask from the Late to Ptolemaic Period (circa 664-30 B.C.). According to Daskalantonaki, the artifacts also hint at more surprises to come—the details of which remain, for now, under wraps.