From its significant history to breathtaking beaches and architecture, Greece has long been one of the world’s most adored destinations. Whether travelers are looking to explore sandy strips along the Aegean or the historic architecture and culture of Athens, Marriott’s Autograph Collection portfolio dots important destinations along the Mediterranean. This collection of hotels center heartfelt design, craft, honoring a sense of place and many other honest values. When traveling through Greece, all of this is of the utmost importance.
At the Academia of Athens hotel, nestled in a thriving arts community of the iconic city (and around the corner from the actual Academy of Athens), arrival is akin to being welcomed into a host’s home. From the welcome drink, aptly titled The Elixir of Life, you’re transported away from a routine check-in experience and into something similar to catching up with relatives. No detail has gone overlooked at the boutique hotel, be that the well-stocked grand Plato bar greeting you upon entry to the quotes artfully placed around the property.
The hotel boasts a weekly symposium at the Plato bar, underneath the words “wisdom begins in wonder.” The country’s rich cultural history plays a prevalent role in the selection of the hotel’s programming. For example, guests can join a local professor who might ask you to delve deeper into what you believe is the definition of love while also encouraging you to listen to the answers of your fellow guests. Conversing and listening to one another, like the ancient Athenians intended, becomes a welcome and unique experience.
As hotels continue to push food culture forward, the Academia plays an important role. Symposium, their in-house restaurant, is helmed by acclaimed Michelin-starred restaurateur Apostolos Trastellis. The menu blends traditional Greek recipes with inventive new techniques. From their interpretation of spanakopita to more gastronomically-forward dishes such as smoked eel with amber dava and fennel, the level of attention and thought is immediately evident.
From Athens, it’s easy to hop around some of Greece’s most storied islands. On the largest in the region, Crete, the Domes of Elounda is an exemplary place to stay. Despite it being resort-scale—with multiple pools, private villas, and areas reserved for children—it never loses the boutique feeling and overall experience signature to the Autograph Collection.
Set against the Cretan mountains and on the sapphire-like Aegean sea, this resort lets no detail go unattended. It features a bevy of restaurants, from Yaosai (their Japanese-Peruvian-inspired spot) to Greek Zeen 1910, which serves up award-winning seafood. Simple grilled fish and mezze will have you wondering why this isn’t your everyday diet.
The CORE club pop-up space features rotating artists, restaurants and shops that highlight local culture, an outdoor gym on a terrace by the pool that overlooks the sea, and their full-service spa. The concierge will also help to arrange boating trips and visits to the nearby historical site, Spinalonga. For those staying in one of the villas on the opposite side of the resort, as part of the hotel’s haute living program, you will have access to a dedicated 24/7 club that provides a gym, food and drink.
Mark James, the European Director of Autograph Collection, explains to us that approaching Greece was different than other hotel destinations in their portfolio. “We know that our guests are what we call the individualist. These are people who collect hotels like foodies collect restaurants,” he says. “They’re out experimenting and trying out something new every time. So we need to ensure that we deliver that as a guest experience and we do that through both interior design and styling, but also through guest experience and service standards.”
James explains their ethos is centered around the idea of being “exactly like nothing else.” This is achieved in both Athens and Crete—where the hotels honor and embrace their locations but provide something more. For those dreaming of the Greek escapes they see on social media, the Autograph Collection’s destinations—including the Aegon Mykonos and the Domes Noruz Chania in Chania—deliver.
Hero image by Mike Tommasiello