Checking in: THE DOLLI at Acropolis, Athens

Editor Hamish Kilburn excavated more than a few hidden treasures when he checked in to review the latest luxury boutique hotel in Athens, THE DOLLI at Acropolis, which just happens to frame arguably the best view over the acropolis…

A white suite in luxury hotel in Athens that has a view of the acropolis

If THE DOLLI at Acropolis was any closure to the world’s most iconic ruin, the acropolis in Athens, then quite frankly it would be in its shadow; too close. The location, therefore, of the city’s latest luxury hotel – in the buzzy Plaka neighbourhood – is perhaps its most obvious appeal. However, ignore the intricate design narrative inside the 46-key hotel and you will be totally missing the point – the allure – of this boutique bombshell.

Embarking on a pursuit of the rare and exceptional, the owner, Mari Daskalantonaki, dreamt of creating a hotel in the heart of Athens The underlying aim throughout the seven-year project was to defend the building’s heritage with meticulous craftsmanship and authentic finesse. “The first two [years] were spent in deep thinking and conceptual sessions: how can she look, should she be like a residence, a classic hotel or a place defining hospitality as it should be now and tomorrow?,” Daskalantonaki said. “The only thing I knew, way before finding the name, that she’s a woman, like the city she was born, Athens.”

Curvaceous exterior of building - THE DOLLI at the Acropolis

Image credit: Grecotel

The design vision, crafted meticulously by Greek architect Stelios Kois, Founder of Kois Associated Architecture, was to shelter a contemporary hotel that embraced its curves. Kois was sensitive to preserve the original architecture created by Andreas Kriezis.

The hotel, which joins the Grecotel portfolio, has gleamed from the outside in since its soft opening in January 2023. It is wrapped in what used to be a former department store. Its naturally high ceilings throughout, therefore, allow for a confident yet paired-back design scheme to shine. And that quiet luxury, juxtaposed from what is on the outside, is immediately felt upon entering.

A lit-up The DOLLI at Acropolis with Athens as its backdrop

Image credit: Grecotel

In the lounge – where the arrival experience feels almost like theatre – guests can expect to see original art pieces from Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau, designer works by François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne, 18th century antiques, custom-made furniture from the finest contemporary designers such as Pierre Augustin Rose and a collection of ancient Greek ceramics – we are in Athens, after all. THE DOLLI, with its natural curves in both the architecture and design, is described best as an ‘elegant lady’, I am told. She is beautiful, wise and unwaveringly confident – and she has every reason to be.

THE DOLLI at Acropolis lounge - plush, luxury interior design

Image credit: Grecotel

All these elements in the lounge, which bounce off the reflection of large, distressed mirrors, fuse in harmony. Together, they cast a strong first impression that delivers the elevated luxury promise of a hotel that will feel like a home away from home. But creating one statement area in the lounge is one thing. Ensuring that feeling flows throughout the whole hotel, while also making space for a few hidden surprises in other nooks, is an entirely different task.

Further into THE DOLLI, still on the ground floor, is where guests will find the library and the pantry, which is where a playful lighting scheme works against a backdrop of olive-green cabinets, marble tables and soft wooden surfaces, pinched together with the same cream furniture style that raises the charm of the lounge.

Don’t let the luxury status of THE DOLLI fool you into thinking that this ‘elegant lady’ is, perhaps, stiff and stuffy. You only have to roam the corridors to understand that the hotel has many layers – she is by no means conventional.

A contemporary lounge area in suite in Athens hotel

Image credit: Grecotel

For example, as guests emerge from the lifts, the floor number is referenced by a small yet impactful lighting piece. It features one, two or three people (depending which floor you are on) that in the design of the lighting structure casts an atmospheric shadow. This is a subtle and contemporary way to make the design work harder. Deeper into these often-forgotten areas of the hotel – the arteries of the hotel, if you like – the designers have injected the spaces with several different modern art pieces.

The attention to detail continues in the guestrooms and suites, eight of which frame impressive views of the acropolis through floor-to-ceiling windows. Each room feels naturally bright and open, perhaps due to the exceptionally large ceilings (3 ½ metres tall, I am told).

A penthouse suite with floor to ceiling windows that look out onto the acropolis

Image credit: Grecotel

The design scheme inside the rooms feels exuberant, but also muted in the right places – it’s almost like the hotel is protecting the building’s heritage to keep its design answering to architecture and not the other way around. Some many argue that it is a little safe on the surface, but character has been injected into these tranquil abodes with marble side tables, sophisticated paneling and large Bauhaus-inspired artwork above the beds that almost pours out of the walls.

The bathrooms, meanwhile, which cohesively share the same design language felt in the bedrooms, have been kitted out with the finest products – think state-of-the-art, motion detection toilets, sumptuous rainfall showers and chrome taps, all from GROHE with circular washbasins from Roca.

A luxury room in a hotel in Athens with frosted glass blocking the shower

Image credit: Grecotel

There is no question that the strongest statement this hotel serves is perched on the rooftop, which is where its signature restaurant and rooftop infinity pool are situated, and both boast unparalleled – I would go as far to say jaw-dropping – views over not only the acropolis and the archeological sites underneath the ruin, but also over the rest of the city, which glistens in the afternoon sunlight. Daskalantonaki describes this part of the hotel as ‘a unique viewpoint of the classical world, where time stands still’. “The challenge to transform this once-forgotten rooftop into a destination of its own was taken up by Stelios Kois,” she explained. He’s a genius of understatement. He embraced my vision, and created what was to become Dolli’s restaurant. He gave a humble piece of divine architecture to Athens.”

Rooftop bar in Athens that overlooks the acropolis

Image credit: Grecotel

Sophisticated and fascinating – original and eclectic – the hotel is a sharp exhale from the fast-paced city outside. What I think captures my attention most of all about this fresh-faced hotel that has popped up in Athens with a defiant purpose to offer something new on the city’s hospitality landscape, is that in just a few months of opening, surrounded by ancient treasures and inspired by profound ideas, THE DOLLI at Acropolis has itself become a bit of a jewel. A gem that I have every hope and believe will value as it ages. And that, surely, is something worth preserving.

Main image credit: THE DOLLI at Acropolis