IF YOUR MIND IS A PRISONER OF YOUR LIMITED THOUGHTS, HELP IT BREAK FREE. TRAVEL

- SAJJID MITHA

IF YOUR MIND IS A PRISONER OF YOUR LIMITED THOUGHTS, HELP IT BREAK FREE. TRAVEL
- SAJJID MITHA

The Grande Bretagne - Athens - A hotel rated as one of the world's finest.

Someone recently asked me how we manage our time, so that travel is such an essential part of our lives. I responded rather spontaneously that ever since Laveena and I were married, travel has been a priority and hence we have chosen to follow a compass and not a clock.

We travelled to Greece for our Diwali vacation this year and stayed at The Grande Bretagne hotel in Athens, a property that enjoys the distinct honour of featuring on the ‘Condé Nast Gold list’ of the Best Hotels in the World.

When we arrived at the hotel and alighted from the hotel limousine which picked us up at the international airport, a smartly dressed white gloved doorman, welcomed us by our family name. We were checked in by a charming young receptionist named Elena and were introduced to our butler, Panos Pittaras who appeared to have been expecting us as he was waiting by the lobby near the reception desk. Before showing us to our room, Panos asked if we would like to know a little more about the property we had chosen as our home in Athens for the next few days. He explained that the art-deco style stone building we were standing in, was built in 1874 and that the hotel over the years had hosted various famous heads of state, royalty, Hollywood celebrities and even Olympians, in 1896, when the modern Olympic games were restarted.

Mrs Laveena Mitha at Hotel Grande Bretagne

Parliament Building
Mount Lycabettus
Acropolis
Olympic Stadium

Panos added that the hotel is located in the very heart of Syntagma Square, with uninterrupted views of the Parliament building, Mount Lycabettus, the Acropolis and the 1896 Olympic Stadium from the hotel’s rooftop bar and restaurant.

As we looked around, Laveena and I couldn’t help appreciating the antiques in the lobby which looked restored yet priceless. We were awed by the tall Corinthian pillars, the rich crystal chandeliers, the royal mosaic tiled floors which added to the opulence of the lobby decor and the ornately decorated high ceilings which lent ample grandeur to this landmark property.

Panos walked us to our suite, which had a large living area with a wrap around balcony, overlooking the parliament building and from where we planned to watch the changing of the guards later that evening.

Our suite was done up in a neo-classical art deco style and while we were soaking in the interiors, we understood why this property was preferred by so many for its effortless embracement of class and luxury.

Alexanders Bar

Before dinner we ordered a glass of champagne at Alexander’s Bar and admired the antique tapestry depicting Alexander the Great and his conquests, which we were told by the barman, dated back to the 18th century.

Our dinner that evening was at the Roof Top garden, where a very special table had been reserved for us with the most stunning views of The Acropolis, brightly lit on a cool autumn Athenian evening, crowned by the grand Parthenon.

Mr Sajjid Mitha & Mrs Laveena Mitha with chef, Asterios Koustoudis

The hotel’s Michelin starred executive chef, Asterios Koustoudis, walked up to our table and introduced himself. The famous young man is loved in Greece and hailed by many as a culinary hero. He is known to have perfected the technique of slow cooking which helps bring out various mysterious flavours in menus curated by him. He cooks with vegetables and citrus fruits and has developed a unique art of presenting guests with Mediterranean elegance on a plate. The yellowtail fin carpaccio with mastiha oil was the best we had ever tasted while the lobster orzo pasta with basil and tomato was also an absolute treat on the palate. We were convinced that the pairing of the food that evening with the brightly lit views of the monuments in white Pentelic marble, made this one of the finest restaurants in the world to dine at.

At The Grand Bretagne guests are offered one of life’s rare opportunities, to not only see and enjoy things through one's eyes, but also feel life’s infinite wonders through ones heart. We cannot wait to return and hope to do so very soon.

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