Ah, InterContinental – Athens. Finally, I have arrived at your doorstep!
After an ordeal of a trip, I arrive at my hotel at 6am on a Monday morning. I was supposed to check in around 11am the day before. Ugh, what a horrible travel experience getting here. The young girl at the reception desk is friendly and attentive, even that early in the morning, so the hotel gets their first point thanks to her! I get my room key, and require no assistance with my bags because I’ve only got my backpack and a rolling duffel bag. I shuffle off to my room, and upon arriving I’m thankful for the heavy curtains that will help me get some much-needed, post-travel, restorative sleep in the plush bedding. Point 2. I curled up, and crashed…. hard! The only difficulty? The air conditioning didn’t seem to be strong enough to cool the room sufficiently, considering how dense and warm the bedding was. Minus 1/2 a point. But bonus point for having a “pillow menu”!
One really nice thing about the hotel is how big the rooms were. My room was just a basic room, and it had a big’ole king size bed, and a nice seating area at the end of the room. If I were here on business and needed to have a quick little casual meeting, or had friends to entertain in the room, the seating area would have been really nice! Of course, given the fact that my 4 days in Athens had turned to 3 with the travel delays, I didn’t spend much time in the room as I wanted to play tourist and see as much as I could, but it was nice to have the option. Another point for room size & comfort. Though I have to take away another 1/2 point away because, although clean, the sheets had a bleach smell to them the whole time I was there, which meant I didn’t like to sleep on my side as normal, but rather on my back to keep my nose farther from the fabric. Down to 2 points again.
A key element to a hotel room for some people is the mini-bar. This one had a nice selection of snacks, but unlike the room itself, they weren’t such a good value. Good selection if you’re desperate, but thankfully, there were news stands right across the street from the hotel and just around the corner, so if you’re willing to walk a little bit, you can get a bigger selection of snacks and drinks (including large water bottles) for a much better price. Point count up to 3.
Now let’s talk about the bathroom.
At first glance, the bathroom looks great. Roomy, and though it has a dated decor, elegant. The amenities provided are nice – Korres products, a sewing kit, etc. All the basics covered, and then some. Up to 4 points.
As I’m showering on the 2nd day, however, I notice something. I look closely at the marble near the emergency pull-this-if-you’ve-fallen-and-can’t-get-up cord and notice that it isn’t, in fact, a natural variation in the grain of the marble that accounts for the darker patch but mildew. I wipe a tiny bit up and, yes, it is definitely mildew. Ew. I could take them down a 1/2 point here for missing it, but I won’t because I figure that I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt since the hotel is so low on occupancy, so maybe they just haven’t had anyone in this room for a while. I decide that I will just leave a clump of hair on the wall to flag it for housekeeping so that they can give it a proper scrub, and continue on with my day. Unfortunately, when I come back to my room, the room has been made up, but the mildew patch is still there. But the hair I put in the middle of the mildew patch is gone, indicating that they cleaned the tub, but not nearly well enough. Enough patience, they’re losing a full point on this now! Not impressed with the attention to detail from the housekeeping staff here, particularly since this is supposed to be a 5 star hotel. Back down to 3 points.
I take a washcloth and start to wipe the wall down myself. Seriously, very gross. The difference between the shower wall before I wiped it down and after is clearly visible, and I didn’t even have any cleaning products, so you know that there’s still some film of grossness still there. Not impressed with this at all. This will come off of the housekeeping tip! Which brings up an interesting topic. Chitalian readers, do you tip housekeeping? If so, how much to do you tip? Please submit your answers in the poll below! I always tip housekeeping partly because my mother used to do some room cleaning when she was younger. I usually a minimum of $5 (US) per stay, and I’ll increase it a few dollars per night that I stay. CNN recommends $2-5/night in this article from CNN/Money on How Much to Tip.
Now, largely because of Greece’s current economic struggles, tourism was dramatically down. Streets that were normally really full of people were comfortable to walk along; restaurants, half empty. What that meant for the hotel was that they had rooms to spare, so I lucked out and was able to book my hotel by way of Expedia Unpublished fare (you pick the rating and price, and find out the hotel name after) for only $74/night – quite cheap considering this hotel was rated as a 5 star! Value? Definitely bumps up the score by at least a point…. bringing us to a total of 4 points.
Another benefit for being a tourist in a country with a fragile economy is that there are a lot of sales. Even the little boutiques inside the fancy hotels have good sales, and you can get nice jewelry at significant mark-downs. I discovered a Greek jewelry brand Folli Follie, which I found a couple of nice pieces of at a really good price in the lobby store. Another point for good value in the hotel boutiques! Point 5. The pool is right near the stores, but unfortunately, with my trip cut down by a full day, I didn’t get a chance to take advantage of it. I did take a peek, and found it to be a bit disappointing in size, but it looked nice, and in the extreme heat of the Greek summer even just having a pool at all earns a hotel an extra point! Up to 6 points now.
Now let’s talk transportation. I paid 45 euro to get to the hotel from the airport, which I was totally fine with, but if you would rather be more thrifty there is another option. The Athens Metro system goes from the airport to Syntagma square for a very small fare. From there, the hotel has a free shuttle that departs about every 1/2 hour, making it very convenient. Definitely another point for the free shuttle, though I’ll take 1/2 a point away because the shuttle bus seems to be too small for as many guests as appear to take it every half hour, so I’d recommend getting there early or you’ll have to either hop into a cab or wait for the next one.
Final count? 6 1/2 Chitalian points! Still haven’t gotten a good grasp on my scale, but it’s a work in progress. Now, let me know what your thoughts are on tipping housekeeping!