22 Haritos Street, Kolonaki
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ARCHITECTURE / DESIGN
Alexandros Vaitsos, DECA ARCHITECTS
Nikos Daniilides & Nikos Papadimitriou, DECA ARCHITECTS
Walking around Kolonaki, a cool inner-city district where towering whitewashed buildings shoot upwards from the sidewalks, it’s easy to forget that Athens has one of the world’s most enchanting skylines. But step into the Periscope Hotel, just seconds from the city’s best shopping streets, and you’ll quickly be re-acquainted with it. In the ground-floor bar, a special joystick connected to two TV screens and a custom-built periscope on the roof lets guests pan, tilt and zoom their way around Athens’ shifting urban topography. From the wave-like curves of the new Olympic Stadium to the crumbling ancient pillars of the Acropolis, it’s possible to keep a watch over the entire city as you slowly enjoy your cocktail.
This notion of watching people and collecting information runs through the core of the Periscope Hotel, which was commissioned between 9/11 and the 2004 Athens Olympics – a time when CCTV cameras and surveillance drones began to speckle the urban landscape. All around the industrial-looking concrete structure, which originally dates from the 1950s, you’ll see modern works of art blended with interactive, mechanized installations.
It’s in the guest rooms however, that owner Dakis Joannou has managed to realize his passion for fusing art with design most effectively. In the fourth- and fifth-floor junior suites, panoramic shots of Athens by day and night hang from the ceilings in beams made from radiant light boxes. The effect is ambient and soothing, with soft multicolored tones reflecting in the simple wooden floors. In the Torpedi rooms, meanwhile, aerial photographs by Athenian artist Nikos Daniilides are printed on the ceilings. As people pass by in the streets below, they can look up through the windows for a sideways glimpse of the city’s urban sprawl.
The jewel in the Periscope Hotel’s crown is undoubtedly its top-floor penthouse suite which, like the rest of the hotel, is elegantly intimate. High-quality teak decks lead the way to a foaming hot tub, where you can sip champagne and soak up life-affirming 360-degree views of the Parthenon and Mount Lycabettus. At the bottom of a private staircase, sheltered from the city by electric blinds and contemporary soundproofing technologies, a simple, understated bedroom awaits. As you settle down for the night and close your eyes, you’ll know you’re very much a part of the Athenian skyline.