Greece: home to the Olympics, the original action hero, and ouzo-swilling plate-smashing parties. As the evenings are setting in and a winter chill descends, now is the perfect time to flee for the fairer climes, feta cheese and famous sights of the Mediterranean land. And where better to be based than Athens’ Life Gallery? It’s a modern hotel which combines elegant design with contemporary artworks, and far enough out of Athens to escape the hordes but luxurious enough for Zeus himself.
Why this week? Make like migrating swallows and chase the sun southwards. Life Gallery is offering Smith members €100 off the price of its Suites in December: so even mere mortals can enjoy a night in the land of the gods.
Our favourite bits: Life Gallery is a modern-minded boutique hotel that’s part luxury pad, part art museum, with a splash of tech-savvy gadgetry (check out the programmable in-room lighting scenarios) and two pools thrown in for good measure. The hotel is packed to the rafters with sculpture and original artworks and it’s serious about relaxation too, with a tension-melting Jacuzzi, spa treatments galore, and daily yoga. The Junior Suites have a private terrace and floor-to-ceiling windows and, thanks to this Smith offer, they’re available to book now for December at €290 a night (excluding breakfast). Two of them are corner suites and therefore boast two glass walls, and tranquil terraces overlooking the green, green grounds.
Wine Gallery, the hotel restaurant, is cool, classic and contemporary and wisely sticks to well thought-out modern Med fare, with a nod towards its Greek culinary heritage. For a dish with gastronomic pizzazz to match the sophistication of the surroundings, try the charcoal pike fillet or one of the inventive salads. For an after-dinner tipple sashay into the Pisco Sour bar: the alpha to the restaurant’s omega. Dressed in red and arted up to the nines it specialises in Chilean cocktails (unsurprisingly), and hosts DJs on Saturday nights.
Mr & Mrs Smith say:
‘Our taxi climbs into the forested suburb of Ekali and stops outside a modernist, glass-louvred building set in a smart garden of terraced lawns and mature trees. The instant we walk inside the cool interior, we unwind. A long walkway dotted with Asian furniture and modern art leads to reception, where we’re greeted by the most enchanting staff you could wish for. This sets the pattern for our whole stay.
The elevator deposits us upstairs and we sink Achilles-deep into a corridor of sumptuously soft carpet. We wade to our room and open the door onto an elegant essay in Japanese-influenced minimalism, with a few colourful touches such as a bright orange strip of under-lit floor – very Studio 64. The bathroom is a freestanding counter with twin basins, and a pair of cubicles – one loo, one bionic power shower – that share a sliding glass door and a cheeky peephole between them. While Mr Smith performs an exhaustive audit of the 18 lighting ‘mood scenarios’, I escape to the veranda and soak up the view of the mountain which provided all that Pentelic marble used to construct the masterpieces of ancient Athens.’
Compiled by Lizzie Davis