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Hilton Athens: End of a Great Era in Greek Hospitality

Photo Source: @Hilton Athens

More than half a century of the finest Greek hospitality later, one of Athens’ landmark hotels – the Hilton Athens – is closing its doors leaving behind a vast legacy.

Besides being one of the finest examples of Modernist architecture in the Greek capital featuring on its façade the work of one of Greece’s greatest visual artists: Yannis Moralis, the 5-star hotel located on central Vassilissis Sofias Avenue has lent its name to the entire area between the Kolonaki and Pangrati districts, known today as the “Hilton Area”.

Since 1963

The Hilton Athens first opened its doors on April 20, 1963, marking a new era of prosperity and development for Greek tourism. Among its many “firsts”, it paved the way for the first international chain hotel to enter Greece.

The Hilton Athens during its construction, 1961-1963. © Hilton Athens History Archives / Benaki Museum Photo Archives

The Hilton Athens during its construction, 1961-1963. © Hilton Athens History Archives / Benaki Museum Photo Archives

The Hilton Terpsichore ballroom in the ’70s.

A frontrunner in hospitality, it welcomed the world’s crème of the crop, including actors, singers, presidents, dancers, Olympic athletes, kings, queens and tycoons such as Aristotle Onassis, Jeremy Irons, Hugh Hefner, Frank Sinatra, Ingmar Bergman, Pierre Cardin, Anthony Quinn, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Madonna – to name a few.

Ingmar Bergman and his wife at the Hilton’s Galaxy Bar.

Julie Nixon Eisenhower, daughter of Richard Nixon, at Hilton Athens.

20 April 1963 – Conrad Hilton inaugurates the Hilton Athens with Greek co-ordinating minister, Panagiotis Papaligouras, and the president of Ioniki company, Stratis Andreadis.

Hilton Athens to open as ‘The Conrad’ in 2024

Fifty-eight years later, the Athens attraction is history only to come back and make new history as The Conrad (the first name of its founder Conrad Hilton), set to open in 2024 under the Conrad Residences and Waldorf Astoria Residences brands with 280 rooms and suites and 50 luxury residences.

The ‘new kid’ on the market is expected to create at least 600 jobs, boost property value in the area, and upgrade the tourism product on offer in the Greek capital.

Impression of The Conrad hotel.

The Hilton Athens shut down on Monday, January 31, 2022, so that construction work can be carried out in safety. TEMES, a leading destination developer and operator active in high-end tourism and real estate also behind the groundbreaking Costa Navarino, acquired a controlling interest in Ionian Hotel Enterprises SA, which owns Hilton Athens.

The multi-million-euro project aims to preserve and further highlight the architectural heritage of the building, its timeless façade and reputation.

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About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.
  1. Floria Reply

    We’ve been staying at Hilton Athens regularly for many years. It was a great hotel with the stunning view of Acropolis and very accommodating staff.
    Even during the pandemic the hotel adapted greatly to accommodate guests safely and staff were as wonderful as ever. It’s been a real pleasure to have had been staying with Hilton all these years and I was sad to find out the hotel is closed when I came to book another stay this morning. We’ll miss it greatly and thank you to all the wonderful management and staff at Hilton Athens for so many memorable years.

  2. Dave Phoenix Reply

    We stayed at the Hilton Athens four years ago and what an impressive hotel it was at that time. The hotel gave us a very nice upgrade to a beautiful Executive Suite, as we are Hilton Diamond members and it is always very satisfying to be recognised for brand loyalty, the hotel offered a very nice Executive Lounge offering drinks and a very good selection of hot and cold food. We have stayed at the Conrad Singapore a few times and if the new Athens Conrad is as good as the Singapore version, then hey !! looking forward to that !! Cheers Hilton Group.

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