I love Athens
. The modern capital of the ancient world, it’s become a little schizophrenic in its old age, as modernity keeps pulling away from its past. It’s a living, breathing museum that is a capital of the country. But if it’s not the heat or the incessant traffic in the main streets fraying nerves, it’s the throngs of tourists around the archaeology sites.
So, if the city gets a bit too much, why not do what people have done for thousands of years: head to the sea and the Athens Riviera.
From the road outside, they’ve done a pretty good job of making it look just like any other hotel. So much so that, when I arrived, I was a bit distrustful of the taxi driver. But once inside the Margi, it’s instantly a little oasis. To say that I found myself in another world is a bit of a cliché, but with the 38-degree city closed away behind the sliding doors, as I entered the lobby, that’s exactly what it was.
Light brown walls, soft edges, suffuse lighting, little mirrors at random places and the floor scattered with Persian rugs – it’s so nice compared with what my senses had to deal with in the city that I instantly want to sigh loudly and go to sleep. Just from the walk up to the reception desk, it could almost be called a wellness centre.
Not every hotel can be like Carmos, which I reviewed in Portugal a couple of issues ago. The room was a little smaller than I’d imagined it would be from looking through the website, although the huge mirror and big windows help with that. But it was perfectly appointed and relaxing. That might have something to do with the fact that the cooling earthy colours and obtrusive delicate wooden furniture told my senses that I was in Tuscany, not downtown Athens. The bathroom, all laid out in exquisite marble was perfect.
If the hotel was on the beach, it would be perfect. You’d never have to leave. The sea is not too far to walk, but it’s not that easy to get to the waterfront, so the hotel loses a couple of points on location. But come the morning, with the walls washed with gold from the rising sun and fresh sea breeze welcoming me to breakfast by the pool, all this is forgotten and I’m thinking that I could stay here are a few more days (even before I’ve poured my first coffee of the day).
But for me, the best thing about the Margi isn’t the room; it’s the ground floor. As a writer, I’m always looking for cosy places to sit and wait for words to come. There were a couple of nice cafes in the city, but in the Margi, everywhere is perfect to summon inspiration: soft couches in front of the gorgeous fireplace, and secret nooks tucked away by reception and the pool. The gently flapping cloth canopies are nice in the day, but in the late evening and night, this area simply stunning. What they’ve done with the lighting is incredible: giant lanterns on Persian rugs, piles of collisions and candles flickering in the mirrors. I loved it.