Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009

Eridanus Hotel

Athens' decade of renewal has been deftly done. Many Olympics-spurred additions to the city are both bold and assured, among them the luxury art hotel Eridanus, tel: (30-210) 520 5360. The Xidias group had the nous to establish the Eridanus on what was a slightly scruffy stretch in downtown Athens, but one that connects what are now Athens' hippest precincts, Psiri and Gazi. The Eridanus was itself a catalyst in this sea change. An alliance with Michelin-starred Varoulko, perhaps Athens' best seafood restaurant, saw that distinguished eatery relocate from Piraeus to the building next door. Varoulko's owners then started Eridanus' rooftop restaurant, Parea.

Elegant and welcoming, the Eridanus has only 38 rooms, and attentive service makes it feel more intimate still. Most of the rooms have stunning Acropolis views; some open onto terraces. The converted neoclassical mansion retains original cornices and ceiling frescoes, and Giorgos Lazongas canvases adorn the walls. Furnishings are specially designed, and green-marbled bathrooms allude to the river for which the hotel is named. (Known in antiquity, the Eridanus was bricked over for centuries and only rediscovered during construction work for Athens' underground railway.) Luxurious amenities, original design and superlative breakfasts ensure that the Eridanus continues to upstage its more established competitors.