Sunday, 24 July 2011

Athens - Yacht to the Islands

The Islands

Mrs Ketty, head of Folli Follie, Greece's biggest jewellery brand, invited a group of fashion editors to Athens this summer to see the new collections. I was one of them and, needless to say, Folli Follie has a new fan! Athens is a beautiful city but it can get seriously hot in high summer. For the perfect way to cool down head to the islands.

Mrs Ketty very kindly lent us her 80 metre yacht to take a trip out to the island of Hydra. Did I mention how much of a fan of Folli Follie I am?! If you don't happen to have a yacht on standby there are ferries that go from the port or you can book an organised trip. The easiest islands to visit from Athens are Aegina, Poros and Hydra.

 Picturesque views in Hydra

Be sure to head out early in the morning so you can stop off for lunch in one of the secluded bays and indulge in a spot of champagne diving. Then head to pretty Hydra port for the afternoon. Stroll around the quaint streets, buying hand crafted jewellery and stop for afternoon tea quay side.

Omilos bar
Port of Hydra 

Just round the corner from the port we discovered Omilos Bar. Great cocktails, chill out tunes, the chicest place to sun bathe with incredible views across the azure sea.

What to wear when you're there

White cotton beach dresses are the perfect island apparel
Other Folli Follie fans

Athens - Packing and Street Style

What to wear when you're there - Athens

After Dark
Blue kimono dress - Topshop, brown wedge sandals (above) - Next, silver flat sandals (below) - Monastiraki market in Athens, metallic clutch bag - Yves Saint Laurent, cats eye sunglasses - ASOS, bronze metallic eye shadow - Black Up Paris, violet nail polish - Deborah Lippmann, silver and lapis bangle - Ibiza hippy market, silver friendship bracelet - Links of London

City beach
Chiffon dress - All Saints, silver flat sandals - Monastiraki market in Athens, lilac nail polish - Filthy Gorgeous, Evil eye charm bracelet - Astley Clarke, Blackberry phone, wayfarer sunglasses - Raybans, crystal and leather friendship bracelet - Swarovski, metallic swimsuit - Stella McCartney for Adidas

Day of sight-seeing
Black jersey crop top - Topshop, cats eye sunglasses - Topshop, tiger print canvas bag - Mulberry, suede and metal sandals - Office, nude shorts - New Look, nude nail polish - Models Own Pro, purple obsession eye shadow - L'oreal, scarf - Missoni

Street Style Athens

lady in red

wide brim sun hats are chic and practical

Athens - After Dark

Athens After dark
Night life in Athens is a mix of two extremes. Pick from the trendy new al fresco bars which double up as restaurants and nightclubs or for a more traditional night out, head to one of the many Ouzeries on the Plaka.

Persefonis 49
Gazi Rouf

Located in the trendy new Gazi area of Athens, Mamacas is a bar/restaurant playing host to the Athens fashion set. The atmosphere is fun and lively and the decor chic and minimal.
dining room at Mamacas


Villa Mercedes
Andronikou & Tzaferi 11, Athens 
     (Pireos str. annex - Benaki Museum)

Villa Mercedes is the playground of Athens' hip crowd, mainly frequented by models if the night I went was representative. Make dinner reservations for 11pm and watch the room fill up and the tunes get louder as you approach dessert. You'll have plenty of time to eat and work it all off by throwing some shapes on the dance floor.  We left at 6am and the dance floor was still pumping.

The Plaka
The best time to head to the Plaka is around 7.30pm, for a little pre-dinner aperitif. If you're going on to a trendy all in one bar/club/restaurant dinner normally starts at about 10.30pm.

The Art Foundation
5 Normanou Str,
Mon - Sun 1pm - 9pm

Hidden away behind a wall of screen prints is The Art Foundation. A little bar/restaurant which houses a gallery and art house cinema. Great for late afternoon drinks and a little culture.

Art Foundation entrance

41 Kydathineon Str

Famous for their multi coloured wall of flavoured spirits Brettos is an Athenian favourite. One of best places in the Plaka for delicious traditional Greek food, affordable prices too.

Also worth mentioning in the Plaka area:
For those in the know head to Thirio, the latest hang out of the in-crowd.
 Also check out Scholarxio for quick, cheap eats before a night out.

Hotel Grande Bretagne
Roof Gardens,
Grande Bretagne Hotel,
Constitution Square, Athens 10564

For a romantic night out and the best views of the Acropolis, the Roof Gardens at the Grande Bretagne Hotel is the place to be. Something of an establishment in the city, this classic hotel is still as popular today as it was 140 years ago.

27 km from Athens
Sounio Avenue

 Island is a go to venue for summer nights out. A restaurant, bar, nightclub and cabaret in one and set on the beach. It's a great night out, the only downside is that it's a little out of town so you'll need a car or a pre-arranged taxi.
Beach bar at Island

Athens - Sleeping

Where to Stay

Semiramis Hotel
Charilaou Trikoupi 48
Kifissia, Athens

We stayed at the Semiramis hotel in Kiffisia, part of the Design Hotels group. Located in a lush green suburb in the north of Athens, the hotel is chic but it's a little further from the centre. Ask to stay in the poolside bungalows.

Astir Palace Hotel

Astir Palace Hotel
40 Apollonos Str
16671 Vouliagmeni

If you want to stay by the coast Astir Beach is the best location. The Astir Palace Hotel is a great place to stay but it's quite expensive. Do as the Athens hipsters do and pay entry for the day, that way you get to hang out there without the hefty price tag. If you get peckish head to Nobu restaurant, which is part of the international group, incase you were wondering.

Periscope Hotel 
22 Charitos St
Great location in the centre of Athens, in the Kolonaki district, the Periscope is a minimal, trendy, design hotel. Check out the views from the rooftop hot tub.

Athens - Sightseeing and Shopping

Athens Shopping

If you're only in Athens for the day and want to fit in sight seeing and shopping, the best way to do it is to head to the Acropolis first thing. It'll be less crowded and cooler earlier in the day. There is a route that leads straight from the foot of the Acropolis, down into Monastiraki, which is where the best flea markets are located. Best buys here are gladiator sandals, leather satchels and white cotton beach dresses.

Also in Monastiraki you'll find the fake goods shops and next to them the antique and vintage furniture markets. Stop at the Art Foundation for a drink (see after dark) and then head up to Ermou Street for more well known high street brands like H&M and Zara.

Little cafes line the back streets
Bric-a-brac in the vintage/antique stores
Art Foundation bar
The main hub of shop, bars and cafes is inbetween Monastiraki and Syntagmer stations, and the area known as the Plaka. Also worth visiting is Kolonaki, the equivalent of London's Bond St, for all the high end labels from Chanel to Louis Vuitton.

Remember shops close at 3pm on a Saturdays so the earlier you start the day the better.

After a busy day of shopping head to the Plaka area, within easy walking distance, which is full of bars, restaurants, cafes and stop for a late afternoon glass of ouzo in one of the many ouzeries.

The main shopping area at the foot of the Acropolis

Attica, Athens' best department store
The Parthenon