Athens, Mykonos Magic with Grecotel

The view from Mykonos Blu is hard to beat.

Since it’s never too early to start dreaming about Mykonos, make inroads on the fantasy in Athens. 

Greece’s mesmerizing capital has emerged phoenix-like from economic ashes to shine as the go-to European destination of 2014-15. 

Athens looms large over virtually every city in Europe – it’s where Mediterranean flavors merge with mythology that is still very much alive. 

In Mykonos, the most mythic of Aegean islands, the seasons have decisively changed. But due to its renascent popularity, the time to plot a Mykonian sojourn is now. And travelers need not look far to find the perfect perches from which to craft the ultimate Grecian experiences: Grecotel Hotels & Resorts is the group behind Athens’ brightest boutique hotel, the Pallas Athena, and the most intriguing getaway in magical Mykonos, called Mykonos Blu. 

Athens has must-see attractions like the Parthenon, sitting atop the Acropolis since 433 B.C., the new Acropolis Museum, the ancient Athenian agora with its glorious, half-hidden Temple of Hephaistos (the best-preserved temple from the ancient Greek world). Then there are the small museums, such as the Numismatic Museum, which showcases rare ancient coins in the setting of famed archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann’s Athens mansion and the exquisite Museum of Cycladic Art in the posh Kolonaki neighborhood. 

In short, there’s a lot going on, so you need a place to hang your hat. That’s where the Pallas Athena comes in. 

The hotel is located next to a statue of Pericles and Athens City Hall, and a short walk to the boisterous Athens Central Market — what every shopping mall food court secretly wishes it could be. And a few minutes walk south from the market, in the direction of the touristy Plaka district but just ahead of it, puts you in the Monastiraki quarter, which is the most interesting neighborhood in Athens right now. Quirky shops, great open-air cafes and surprising street art make this a compelling urban oasis. 

Each of the 63 rooms at the Pallas Athena is different, all with unique art elements (think glossy Technicolor hippos) and many with original wall paintings. The lobby, with its all-white armchairs and stuffed fox in a box looks like the set of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” video. There’s also an area where you can shop for products from Eau de Grece, a range of organic beauty products sourced from the hotel group’s own farm in Crete. 

In fact, the island where Zeus was born figures prominently in the Grecotel range: the Pallas Athena’s second-floor restaurant features many items from Crete, the most gastronomically rich of all the Greek islands. It was on the eatery’s breezy sun-dappled terrace, in the very heart of Athens, that I started to think about Mykonos. 

Mykonos is essentially a large rock with many fine beaches in the middle of the Aegean. There is not the spectacular scenery of Capri, but there are sensations of sea, air, light and sky like almost nowhere else. And the cruise ship daytrippers (don’t let them be you) who block the bleach-white byways of the island’s sole town, Chora, miss out on the best part: the atmosphere. In this place you are really inside it, looking out at the rest of the mad world. There are no sights to see in Mykonos, but there are blue waters in which to swim, wide terraces on which to laze, ample tables at which to feast and, perchance, to dream. 

Back to the Blu Villas. Wander over to the terrace and its sweeping view of shimmering blue Psarou Bay, where celebrity yachts drop anchor in summer. That could mean sunning at the resort’s private stretch of beach or grazing, and no kitchen aboard the H.M.S. Paris Hilton could ever compete with what they’ve got here: the Aegean Poets restaurant, which serves a fantastic breakfast spread as well as dinner, each featuring items from the miraculous Crete. For lunch, you can eat poolside at the L’Archipel restaurant. 

There are many different “Island Suites” and “Blu Villas” to choose from, and Mykonos Blu staff is happy to help you find the one that’s best. I recommend a short hop to Mykonos, in season, from Athens on Aegean Airlines. The airport on the island is sadly outdated but the guys from the hotel can whisk you away from the fray in a Mercedes or Porsche S.U.V. before you can dwell on it for too long. Once you’re at Mykonos Blu, which reopens in May, you haven’t much need for a car, or yacht, for that matter: you’re already at the place where everyone else wants to be. 

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