Despite all the bad news that has been coming out of Greece over the last few years, it’s still one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Tourists looking for a little culture and sun have been flocking there since Grand Tours become popular in the 17th century. Now Athens has a new hotel that offers visitors a modern take on an ancient culture.
The aptly named New Hotel was opened by Dakis Joannou (one of the most influential art patrons of our time) and forms part of the YES! Hotel chain. Iasonas Rizos first designed the building the hotel finds itself in during the 50’s. Joannou approached Brazilian heavyweight designers Humberto and Fernando Campana to update the space for the now and integrate pieces of his own art collection that he has very generously decided to give to guests to enjoy. In typical Campana style, the duo injected the hotel with a fresh dose of fun. They roughly divided the 79 rooms into three categories inspired by Greek culture; Greek shadow theater (AKA Karagiozis), the evil eye, and old Athens. The first theme was explored using beautiful paper-cutouts of puppets hung on walls. The second sees walls covered in evil eyes, for those wanting and extra strength metaphysical protection. And the third used old postcards to evoke the spirit of yesteryear. The furniture in New Hotel is a hodgepodge of taken from collectors and made on site with the help of students from University of Thessaly.
The New Hotel is exactly what Athens needed, a breath of fresh air in a city that can too easily be seen to be living in the past. Whilst the Campana Brothers may be decidedly Brazilian, they have translated their aesthetic to create a space that makes most sense in Greece.