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Athens Hotel for 2021 Apex cruise


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Now that our July 2021 Celebrity Apex cruise has been moved to Athens, we need to find a pre- and post cruise hotel.

We've been able to make air reservations flying in 4 nights early and departing one day after disembarkation...

 

I'm starting a new thread since I don't think this is entirely typical pre-cruise hotel advice needed...With Athens presently somewhat shut down, it's hard to picture the situation in four months.  I am hoping things are a bit better and more open...but, the uncertainty may dictate a little of what we should be looking for...

 

In a perfect world, with everything open, we would just want a nice, clean higher end hotel...or really well run local hotel...very close to attractions, restaurants, etc.  Something in a perfect location.  But, with the present situation, we also have to ask "What if" things aren't completely open?  We still want to keep our "four day early" schedule...because, more important than seeing Athens (where we've been a few times before--40 years ago on our "land trip" honeymoon and at least three times since on cruise stops), we really want that time to account for possible travel glitches and for catching up with our 10 hour time zone change...

 

In the event things are a little "different"...we'll need the hotel to be comfortable to lounge around at, have some restaurant facilities in case local restaurants aren't open, etc.

 

So, the question is where to stay?

 

On other threads, I've seen people recommend the Grande Bretagne... But they are currently quoting rates of $688 per night...and that is just CRAZY...

I've also seen the Athens Gate recommended...But all of their most reasonable rates say "Non-Cancelable"...and having gone through two years of canceled cruises and canceled plans, there's no way I "pay in advance" or accept "non-cancelable"...

 

I can get a King room at the Athens Hilton for as low as 111€ per night on a long term rate that requires a one-night deposit, but is cancelable (and I worry a little less about getting money back from Hilton (with taxes, those first four nights come to 523.66€) ...or a rate that requires only a credit card number, no deposit, for 126€ per night (with taxes, 591€ for four nights)...So, the entire stay for less than one night at the Grande Bretagne...

 

Are there reasons NOT to just book the Hilton?  Or, are there some other well-located hotels we should consider?

 

Thanks...

 

 

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I've read great things about the Grande Bretagne and the location looks perfect but the rate I'm seeing is around $700 / night (we are coming in 6 nights early) so that is a non-starter. I'm considering the Athens Marriot because 1) I can book on points which are fully refundable until 2 days before arriving and 2) the cash price currently is $150 / night if I decide to later switch to that which would pay for a lot of taxi rides (needed because the location isn't that great) and a day or two of a car and driver for some tours.

 

While I know a lot are (rightfully) skeptical that this cruise will go the other possibility is that Greece does indeed open as they say in May (or perhaps June) and everything, and I mean everything, gets booked up solid and prices go much higher. To me it is a good hedge to book something now that is refundable and be sure of having a place to stay and perhaps change it once things firm up.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Paulhc said:

While I know a lot are (rightfully) skeptical that this cruise will go the other possibility is that Greece does indeed open as they say in May (or perhaps June) and everything, and I mean everything, gets booked up solid and prices go much higher. To me it is a good hedge to book something now that is refundable and be sure of having a place to stay and perhaps change it once things firm up.

Yeah...I always try to book hotels early--on fully cancelable rates--then keep monitoring.  But, surprisingly, it seems most often we end up with that first booking after all.  Rates always seem to go up...especially in "high" season...though, with the pandemic, this summer could always be the anomaly...

So, at least for now, I've gone ahead and booked the Hilton for four nights prior and one night after on the fully cancelable, no deposit rates ...591€ total for the four nights prior...then rates go up a little and it's 176€ for the one night post cruise...so, 767€ for the five nights.  At current exchange rates, that's around $900 Us--an average of about $150 per night...The Hilton looks to be about a 12 block walk to the Plaka...but it also ranks high on Trip Advisor--#35 out of 353 Athens hotels...

Edited by Bruin Steve
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We're also starting to look around for a two night pre cruise hotel, but we're not cruising until July 2022. We were thinking about the Athens Gate because it is with in walking distance of the Acropolis, but not if it's non refundable.

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I just checked the Athens Gate website and they have "Fully Flexible Rates" for all room categories this July - and just about anytime you want to go.  

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5 minutes ago, marazul said:

I just checked the Athens Gate website and they have "Fully Flexible Rates" for all room categories this July - and just about anytime you want to go.  

I just went back to their site to check their "fully refundable rate" on their cheapest "Budget Internal Room"...For our five total nights, it would be $1013 US (plus 3€ per night in tax...so add another $18---so $1031), but does include breakfast...Our rate at the Hilton comes to approximately $900 (including taxes) for the five nights, no breakfast...So, basically, we'd be pre-paying about $26.50 per day for breakfast and trading the supposedly 5-star Hilton for the 4-star Athens Gate...and about a 12-block difference in location.  Hilton adds points on our Hilton account.  BOTH hotels are close in ranking on Trip Advisor (both rate a 4.5 out of 5).  Reviews for both hotels look very good.  The Hilton room is a standard room with King bed, balcony and city view, with the Athens Gate, that "Budget Internal room" sounds a bit claustrophobic--and no balcony...For a "standard room" with a view to the back of the hotel, it adds another $17 per night to the rate...For a room with an Acropolis view, it adds $56 per night...all are "double" beds.

 

Also, the Hilton has this on their website:  "We can help facilitate offsite COVID-19 testing with a local provider for a fee."...which COULD be valuable to us.

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Somebody mentioned the Grande Bretagne and we have stayed there a couple of times and loved the experience.  It is certainly the grand old hotel of Athens and is now operated as part of Marriott's Luxury Hotel brand.  The location is absolutely perfect (right off Syntagma Square) and it is a hotel for those not on a tight budget who enjoy being in a great older property.  We also like that it is within easy walking distance to the Plaka and also our favorite Athens restaurant (Daphne's).

 

I will also say there is one very good reason to NOT to  book the Athens Hilton.  To be very blunt, the location of the Hilton SUCKS!  It is just a bit too far from everything.  I think its best attribute is the huge swimming pool...but otherwise it is a hotel to which we hope to never return.   We have a very bad memory of trying to get a taxi from near the Plaka back to the HIlton late one night and the taxi drivers all quoted ridiculous prices (at least 5 times the proper rate) because they must have figured we had no choice but to pay whatever they asked.  Fortunately, both DW and I are pretty good walkers and we surprised those taxi drivers by making the long walk back to the Hilton.

 

And this begs another question/answer.  Many taxi drivers in Athens are "crooks" and will play lots of games with fares when they know you are from another country.  Just beware, know your rights, and demand that they use the meter (make sure it is reset).  Personally I prefer Uber (assuming that it still works in Athens) since you know the cost up front (usually cheaper then the taxi fares) and payment is handled via the app with no monkey business.

 

Hank

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9 hours ago, Hlitner said:

Somebody mentioned the Grande Bretagne and we have stayed there a couple of times and loved the experience.  It is certainly the grand old hotel of Athens and is now operated as part of Marriott's Luxury Hotel brand.  The location is absolutely perfect (right off Syntagma Square) and it is a hotel for those not on a tight budget who enjoy being in a great older property.  We also like that it is within easy walking distance to the Plaka and also our favorite Athens restaurant (Daphne's).

 

I will also say there is one very good reason to NOT to  book the Athens Hilton.  To be very blunt, the location of the Hilton SUCKS!  It is just a bit too far from everything.  I think its best attribute is the huge swimming pool...but otherwise it is a hotel to which we hope to never return.   We have a very bad memory of trying to get a taxi from near the Plaka back to the HIlton late one night and the taxi drivers all quoted ridiculous prices (at least 5 times the proper rate) because they must have figured we had no choice but to pay whatever they asked.  Fortunately, both DW and I are pretty good walkers and we surprised those taxi drivers by making the long walk back to the Hilton.

 

And this begs another question/answer.  Many taxi drivers in Athens are "crooks" and will play lots of games with fares when they know you are from another country.  Just beware, know your rights, and demand that they use the meter (make sure it is reset).  Personally I prefer Uber (assuming that it still works in Athens) since you know the cost up front (usually cheaper then the taxi fares) and payment is handled via the app with no monkey business.

 

Hank

 

Agree with Hank. When booking a hotel in a location like Athens (or Rome) location trumps all.

 

Have stayed in both Athens Gate and Grande Bretagne. The GB is a "life experience" not just a hotel but I agree with those rates probably I'd pass. I stayed when prices were much lower a few years ago when people were "afraid" to stay there due to the political situation...

 

Athens Gate is a well-run hotel with an excellent rooftop lounge and view of Acropolis where both breakfast and surprisingly good dinners are served (per your request for food facilities).  I have always chosen one of their lower category rooms -- even those have floor to ceiling windows with views. If you don't have an Acropolis view, you have a view of the gorgeous Temple of Zeus in the opposite direction.

 

Up to you but I would NOT choose to stay at the Hilton. There are reasons it is cheap(er).

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I let Azamara book the hotel for one night precruise for this July. The Hilton was what was booked. Should I change? 

 

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27 minutes ago, ltcTN said:

I let Azamara book the hotel for one night precruise for this July. The Hilton was what was booked. Should I change? 

 

A good (not great) stay, but okay for one night.  What room did they book for you?  They may have a corporate deal for junk view rooms only.  Ask for and upgrade to Acropolis View, if only for one night/ morning it’s still good to view lit up in the evening and to wake up to the next morning.

 

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Despite what some posters on here say, I'm thinking, more and more that we will stick with the Hilton...

It is only a 0.87 mile walk (1.4 km) from the Hilton to Syntagma Square (per Google Maps)...and we are fine with that walk for when we want to head over that way...

 

I also considered the Athens Gate, based on recommendations here...Our price for a room with a King bed, a balcony and a view is less than the Athens Gate wants for a "Budget Internal Double'...and with all of the unknowns right now, we may end up spending more time in the hotel room than usual.

 

But, most importantly, my wife likes Hiltons...she likes the mattresses they use and she feels comfortable with their overall standards...and keeping her happy is probably the most important thing about choosing a hotel.

 

Hilton CleanStay

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The Hilton certainly feels like a Hilton and, as I have posted, has a very nice outdoor swimming pool.  The walk to and from Syntagma Square is fine for those who like long walks, but was no fun late at night (after a big dinner and lots of adult beverages) when the temperature was about 100F.   Ironically, after we posted to this thread we also booked a summer trip to Greece but decided not to even go into Athens (we have been there too many times) but rather to spend a post flight night at the Airport Soffitel and then head over to Pireaus in the morning.  Although we plan on staying in Greece after our cruise (we are doing some island hopping) we have no intention of going into Athens.  DW and I still have an awful memory of being in Athens when they had the some very hot weather (the temps must have been about 115f) which was many years ago in July.  The highest temperature ever recorded in Athens was just over 120 back in July 1977 which I read is the highest temperature ever recorded in Europe.    If you get that kind of hot weather you will not want to walk to and from the HIlton (or anywhere else).

 

Hank

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37 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

...The walk to and from Syntagma Square is fine for those who like long walks, but was no fun late at night (after a big dinner and lots of adult beverages) when the temperature was about 100F....If you get that kind of hot weather you will not want to walk to and from the HIlton (or anywhere else).

 

Hank, we've got that figured out as well...it's called taxis or Uber...And the weather?  Doesn't matter much to us if we're there or home...The weather is about the same here in SoCal!

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9 minutes ago, Bruin Steve said:

Hank, we've got that figured out as well...it's called taxis or Uber...And the weather?  Doesn't matter much to us if we're there or home...The weather is about the same here in SoCal!

I hope for all our sakes that Greece does not have one of their nasty heat waves this summer.   In terms of California that would be akin to the Mojave Desert and not my kind of weather.  DW and I really look forward to returning to Greece and I think the Greeks are hungry for the return of we tourists.

 

Hank

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Hlitner said:

  Ironically, after we posted to this thread we also booked a summer trip to Greece but decided not to even go into Athens (we have been there too many times) but rather to spend a post flight night at the Airport Soffitel and then head over to Pireaus in the morning. 

 

Hank,

We also booked, but instead of staying at the Sofitel or central Athens we are planning to stay in Glyfada. 

And I agree with your opinion of the Hilton having stayed there once many, many years ago.  Never again. 

Edited by marazul
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I am also sailing in July and will be staying at The Intercontinental....really nice thing my TA is picking up the tab😃....it looks really and cruiseline includes transportation from the airport to the hotel and then hotel to the ship.

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5 hours ago, marazul said:

Hank,

We also booked, but instead of staying at the Sofitel or central Athens we are planning to stay in Glyfada. 

And I agree with your opinion of the Hilton having stayed there once many, many years ago.  Never again. 

Glyfada is certainly an improvement over the airport area :).  The only reason we opted for the Sofitel is that we are arriving in the evening and liked the idea of just walking from the airport over to the hotel.  We are also staying there the night before we return home because we are planning on getting our US mandated COVID tests over at the airport (they are open 24/7).   Be forewarned that my intention is to deplete the caviar supply long before you embark :).

 

Hank

 

If you are going to be on Seabourn give a yell

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Don't mess with my caviar!

We changed to 8/28.

What about you? I'm looking forward to buying you a drink in the Observation Bar. 😉

5 hours ago, Hlitner said:

Glyfada is certainly an improvement over the airport area :).  The only reason we opted for the Sofitel is that we are arriving in the evening and liked the idea of just walking from the airport over to the hotel.  We are also staying there the night before we return home because we are planning on getting our US mandated COVID tests over at the airport (they are open 24/7).   Be forewarned that my intention is to deplete the caviar supply long before you embark :).

 

Hank

 

If you are going to be on Seabourn give a yell

 

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12 minutes ago, marazul said:

Don't mess with my caviar!

We changed to 8/28.

What about you? I'm looking forward to buying you a drink in the Observation Bar. 😉

 

We are a month earlier then you.  Too bad because I love when somebody buys me Dom Perignon 🙂

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Our cruise was cancelled today so we are now booked on Celebrity Apex on 7/9. My pre-cruise stay became a post cruise stay of 3 nights in order to keep our same flight home. Considered Seabourn Ovation but the wife chose Apex.

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