With a statement as grand as that headline, it was only ever a matter of time before Hotel Designs took a sneaky peek inside the latest boutique beauty to arrive in Athens: The Modernist. Sheltering a design that is said to inspire curiosity, we find out how this new 38-key hotel is settling in to its city surroundings…
For many design enthusiasts, including myself, Athens is the etherial Goddess of boutique hotels – and therefore any brand entering this built-up authentic metropolis should do so with caution. In a destination where culture actually rises from the earth – I’m talking about the acropolis, of course – any hotel planning to open without a personality will be exposed and swallowed up by the noise of disobedience that echoes through cobbled streets.
Cue the opening of The Modernist, a 38-key gem that is perched aptly on a street corner. It opens with the aim to authentically connect its guests to the real Athens; to entice its guests to “explore its soul through culture and meaningful connections with the locals.”
The boutique hotel stands as the sister property to the award-winning Modernist Thessaloniki and marks a second chapter in the expanding hospitality brand created by entrepreneur Kostis Karatzas.
Located in the former Canadian embassy in Kolonaki, this new project maintains the same playful juxtaposition of art deco elements, mid-century detailing and Danish design found in its companion Thessaloniki location. Its high-quality offerings are grounded by the interior and exterior’s cool, well-honed character. The result is a relaxed, elegant environment that makes guests feel at home from the moment they set foot in the lobby.
“The Modernist is about contemporary hospitality that inspires curiosity and authentic experiences,” Karatzas says. “Ethics and aesthetics course through everything we do, as an invisible thread that connects us with the world. Following the opening of our first property in Thessaloniki two years ago, Athens was a natural next step for us. And this is only the beginning for our brand.”
The building itself commingles the minimalism of post-war 1950s architecture with the nowness of sleek yet subtle contemporary spaces. With clean, symmetrical lines that stay true to the brand’s design philosophy, the exterior of The Modernist Athens is a sight to behold amid the vibrant cityscape.
Inside, guests are greeted by sharp contrasts in colour and shape, which anchor them back in the present day. The raw assertiveness of the marble, plaster, bronze and black glass within the lobby perfectly juxtaposes the softer, more refined nature of the oak wood floors, leather headboards and artful midcentury-inspired furnishings found inside the rooms.
“We want its guests to be able to move and thrive in this space.” – Konstantinos Theodoridis and Eleni Papaevangelou, Co-Founders of FORMrelated.
Collaborating architects FORMrelated made use of an eclectic mix of local and international interior design brands, while employing custom builds such as embossed veneer panels and bronze details to articulate the second, equally cool addition to the Modernist name.
“We see The Modernist Athens becoming a compelling value proposition not just in living but in the experience industry as well,” explains Konstantinos Theodoridis and Eleni Papaevangelou, the studio’s co-founders. “We want its guests to be able to move and thrive in this space, in this small and intimate unit that manages to encapsulate contemporary luxuries in such an understated way.”
The 38 rooms are spread across six floors. Designed to be modern living spaces, each guestroom offers an uncomplicated aesthetic that is elevated by custom lighting and made-to-measure furniture, ensuring elegance across the board. Meanwhile, a meaningful sizing nomenclature (S, M, L, XL) makes it easy for guests to select the option that best fits their individual needs.
Elsewhere, the lobby maintains an aura of refinement thanks to its midcentury vibe, with dark tones and bronze details marrying minimalism with opulence. At the same time, true to the brand’s overall intuitive approach to spatial planning, it acts as the hotel’s beating heart, orienting and guiding its patrons organically between different floors and services.
On the ground floor, the breakfast buffet transforms into an all-day cafe bar, ideal for relaxation. Plywood and marble blend together to create a warm atmosphere, while minimalist shelves are filled with a refined selection of modern and limited edition books.
The rooftop garden, which can double up as an open cinema, features verdant greens and frames breath-taking views over Athens and the Acropolis, which serves as the jewel in the crown of this urban oasis.
The Modernist project began in downtown Thessaloniki as the perfect hub for constant travellers. While ideating its Athenian counterpart, the main challenge lay in staying true to the spirit of the brand, and at the same time expressing the individual spirit of each city.
A respect for the existing exterior architecture has remained one of the brand’s common denominators, as has the propensity towards using natural, reusable materials in the interiors.
Still, by far the most important element of both Modernist hotels is the symbiotic relationship they maintain with their respective creative communities.
Given Athens’ vast cultural heritage, the hotel has a plethora of options to connect its guests to locals through highly curated experiences. The introduction to a refined couleur locale starts from inside the hotel, where various artists have put their stamp on everything, from ceramics and the artwork on walls to tailor-made music playlists, and even a vinyl collection that’s in the works. The hotel also offers itself as an events epicentre, with its rooftop garden doubling as an open cinema and its ground floor as a space for workshops and talks by guest artists.
Aiming to inspire curiosity and meaningful connections with the city’s creatives, The Modernist Athens is an exciting new chapter not only for the brand which celebrates metropolitanism in a collected, understated way but also for the hospitality scene in Athens, which has taken a battering this year due to the on-going Covid-19 crisis.
Main image credit: The Modernist