Athens city center to get more hotel units

By Stathis Kousounis

It appears the city center of Athens is set to see developments in its hotel market thanks to the major increase expected in tourism, already evident this year too, as Omonia and Syntagma are in line for the opening of landmark units that could change the face of the capital’s two main squares.

The Defense Ministry has decided to restart the process for the long-term lease of Hotel La Mirage, which belongs to the Hellenic Air Force’s Mutual Benefit Fund, allowing for hopes that a hotel will grace Omonia Square after more than five years.

The fund has been paying for the building’s maintenance and security since La Mirage closed in July 2008, at no small cost, so the ministry has ordered a negotiations committee to be set up that will undertake the project of the hotel’s lease. While there will be no set price, extra caution will be taken in the evaluation of the company to undertake the hotel’s operation, which may also have to pay for the unit’s renovation and refurbishment.

The broader area of Syntagma Square will soon acquire a new hotel, with the Electra hotel group having emerged as the winner in a tender conducted by the Church of Greece regarding the leasing of the building complex where the Education Ministry used to be housed on Mitropoleos Street. The six-story building will be leased for about 40 years, with the option of an extension.

The hotel group, which also maintains two more units close to Syntagma, has submitted a plan for the transformation of the former ministry building into a hotel. The tender’s conditions provide for the group to operate the building to complete renovation works within three years.

One more new hotel, to be run by the Benakopoulos hotel company and with a capacity of 50 beds, is expected to open in central Athens by early 2015. The boutique hotel will be located on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street in a building owned by the company.

The investment for the project is estimated at 7.5 million euros.

Another boutique hotel, the Pallas Athena, was opened by the Daskalantonakis-Grecotel group close to City Hall in central Athens earlier this year.

Investment interest in the Athens hotel market has been rekindled thanks to the return of tourists to the Greek capital after five years of sliding figures. Around 90 hotels were forced to shut down in the capital and the Attica region during that period.