You may not have thought about Greece as a winter break destination but if you like stylish city breaks and fancy somewhere significantly warmer than the UK, head to Athens and stay at the Gatsby.
I immediately got cosy Christmas vibes as I entered under the shimmering baubles and wreaths of the reception area and was treated to a freshly squeezed orange juice as I checked in.
The boutique 33-room Gatsby is located right in the centre of Athens, within a short walk of the Athenian landmarks of Monastiraki and Syntagma Squares. Opened just last year, it is located down the winding narrow streets of the historic quarter, but you know you've arrived because the stylish outdoor seating area is constantly filled with Athenians sipping champagne and sharing small plates from the all-day menu.
For those who appreciate surprising, quirky features, the Gatsby Athens is for you. I loved exploring my spacious room with its personalised smart TV, hidden treats and state-of-the art panel to adjust lighting settings to suit the mood, from 'naughty' to 'cosy'.
All the furniture is bespoke, including most of the lighting fixtures which were designed by the Michaelis Boyd team and locally produced. Upgraded rooms come with Juliet balconies or even terraces with private outdoor sitting areas, an outdoor cinema and jacuzzi hot tubs.
I was quick to jump into my in-room bathtub and soak in the fragrance of the Ortigia amenities provided in preparation for the Gatsby-style evening to come.
One of my favourites aspects of the hotel is its idiosyncratic design. The setting evokes the glamour of mid-1930 Athens with an eco-twist. While the bedrooms feature signature pastel pink headboards, diamond tiled showers, golden wardrobes and velvet corner sofas, the small luxury spa room and gym can be found in hidden rooms and through secret passageways in the basement, putting a true Gatsby spin on the feel of the local area.
After drinks by the fire on the rooftop, I was quite blown away by the food. Ingredients are fresh from the market and dishes are beautifully done. For dinner, we enjoyed handmade pasta with shimeji mushrooms, chicken cocotte with potato crisps and lemon oregano sauce and a salad of green apple, avocado and pistachio. Washed down of course with local Greek beer and a sampling of the Gatsby cocktails, as recommended by the friendly bar staff.
As day turned to night, so did Gatsby. The lights went down, the crowd slowly changed and the DJ eased into his set. And don't miss the Athens party scene, from the Clumsies Bar (number four in the world´s 50 best bars) to the afro beats from the Gazi club area, just a short walk away from the hotel.
The soft bedding, in-room coffee machine and delicious breakfast were the perfect antidote to the night-before. We leisurely enjoyed the bread and pastry basket with avocado on toast and eggs royale. It was also a real treat to enjoy breakfast outside in the mild Greek winter sun.
Put the Gatsby Hotel Athens on your winter break bucket list if, like the House of Coco team, you appreciate luxury with unique design, excellent food, a stylish yet relaxed vibe and lots of fun.
Gatsby Athens (https://gatsbyathens.com/ or +30 21 0321 6001) offers stays from 107EUR / £92 based on 2 people sharing a double standard room on a B&B basis.