In the Greek capital, a centuries-old neighbourhood has more to offer these days than souvenir shops, thanks in part to a new hotel with a bar worth lingering for.
If you’re still under the impression that Athens merits little more than a pit stop – just enough time to glimpse the Parthenon before moving on to the islands – then you should book a night or two at the recently opened AthensWas. The hotel’s rooftop bar and unobstructed up-close views of the Acropolis are major draws, as are the 20 mod-ish rooms with Le Corbusier armchairs and Warren Platner coffee tables. But the real selling point is the hotel’s location in Plaka, smack-dab in the middle of historic Athens. Though it’s full of tourists (especially since Greece’s economic outlook has become sunnier than it was ast summer), there’s more to do here than tour the ruins. Here’s our cheat sheet on how to fill the time between sightseeing and toasting during happy hour on the roof.
Snack. Housed in a refurbed Neoclassical building, Manimani specialises in dishes from the rugged south-eastern Peloponnese region of Mani, known for its simple but strong flavours and for recipes centred around fava beans and the orange-tinged Cured pork called siglino.
Spice. Newly opened by a former journalist, Daphnis and Chloe is a tiny shop selling foraged and cultivated culinary herbs for which the Greek islands are famous, all beautifully packaged. Speciality food shops and top restaurants around the world are already fans.
Shop. The Plaka neighbourhood is known more for its souvenir shops than for its stores with style but Forget Me Not offers an antidote to the tourist dreck with its playful edit of home décor items, clothes, toys and beauty products – all from contemporary Greek designers.
Sip. The classic Plaka café Yiasemi makes an ideal step for a mid-afternoon caffeine fix – locals love an iced frappé or a hot shot of Turkish coffee (just be sure to call it Greek). Bright-green al fresco bistro tables and chairs climb a set of stone stairs in a charming street leading to the Acropolis.