Turning into a filthy side street to the left of the Monastiraki metro station, I passed Mona three or four times before I realized I had arrived. The next moment, I was buzzed inside a softly lit corridor, with a tactile velvet sofa and antique dining table that served as a reception desk, and was instantly transported to another world.
Housed in a 1950s textile factory, the Mona sits in the shadow of the Acropolis in Athens’ Psirri district and offers more atmosphere than a hotel, more experience than stay. The concrete and raw industrial finishes are combined with sensual fabrics, vintage soft lighting and seductive photographs, creating a very sexy urban space. It is the sister hotel of the Shila, which is located in the more stately area of Kolonaki, and both were designed and curated by Efithia Stefanidi, whose background in film, theater and photography gives them a wonderfully cinematic feel, as if you are walking through a series of thoughtful sets.
They showed me room 16, one of Mona’s penthouse suites. Open plan, like all rooms, it’s the hottest place I’ve ever been. A sofa bed spreads out in burnt caramel velvet, an emperor bed dressed in natural cotton hovers near the floor, and soft cream curtains open to reveal the bathroom with its cavernous egg bath and generous velvet curtains. On a minimal rail hang off-white kimono-style dresses and elegant pieces that you can take home with you.
Outside, a long terrace is an inviting space to have breakfast or enjoy the last Athenian light with a glass of natural wine from the considered minibar. If you climb the marble stairs to another floor, you reach Mona’s roof, where guests can pour themselves a drink from the honesty bar and watch the sunset over the Parthenon. It’s also the Thursday night setting for Mona members, plus Stefanidi has other basement events scheduled, including screenings and pop-up dinners.
The next morning, I stocked up on fresh Greek yogurt, fruit, and a flat white on my terrace, planning a day exploring the city. Perfectly located for strolling downtown Athens, I left Mona and started wandering around the Acropolis and making my way through Plaka with its elegant palaces and world atmosphere. From there, I crossed the shady paths of the National Gardens to reach the Benaki Museum. There, I admired centuries of Greek treasures and managed to capture a John Craxton exhibit, enjoying his use of color and pondering that I too would like to be remembered as a “Greek soul”.
Next, I joined the crowd of Athenians in Dexamenes Square in Kolonaki for a lunch of mezze: pitta bread, spicy cheese sauces and salads. Behind this neighborhood, the hill rises steeply, allowing for ever more impressive views of the Acropolis as you climb each flight of stairs. I followed the path up the Lycabettus hill, earning the most beautiful view of Athens lying below, the Aegean gleaming in the distance in the late afternoon sun.
With tired legs, I returned to Mona, tempted by a long soak in the tub and curled up on the terrace with a glass of wine. I have never wanted to spend so much time in a hotel room, such are the seductive powers of this space. Refreshed and revitalized, I walked the short distance to the new Linou Soumpasis k Sia. It’s a stylish, yet cozy and very easy-to-see restaurant, serving some of the finest and finest dishes I’ve had in ages – and there are plenty of Pet Nats and skin-friendly wines on the drinks menu. I opted for wild vegetables with soft Ios cheese and steamed clams, along with their trio of bread and it was all delicious. I am devastated not to have room for the hazelnut parfait, but I decided to return soon.
For a late night drink, I headed to Athens’ Exarchia district, stopping at Tanini Agapi Mou for organic Greek wines and Lulu for cocktails. The streets of Athens come alive in the small hours and you feel its youthful energy at every corner and in every glass. Later that night I fell to bed exhausted, my head buzzing with the idea of moving to Athens. And he becomes a member of Mona, of course.
Standard room rates start from 195 EURO; mona-athens.com