Turning onto a grubby sidestreet to the left of Monastiraki metro station, I walked past Mona three or four times before I realised I had arrived. The next moment, I was buzzed inside to a softly lit hallway, with a tactile velvet sofa and antique dining table acting as reception, and instantly transported to another world.
Housed in a 1950s textile factory, the Mona sits in the shadow of the Acropolis in Athens’ Psirri neighbourhood, and feels more mood than hotel, more experience than stay. Concrete, raw industrial finishes are married with sensual fabrics, soft vintage lighting and seductive photography, resulting in a very sexy, urban space.
It’s the sister hotel to the Shila, found in the more genteel Kolonaki area, both of which have been designed by House of Shila, headed by NYC entrepreneur Shai Antebi alongside Greek born creative director Efithia Stefanidi. The latter’s background in film, theatre and photography lend the interiors a wonderfully cinematic feel, as if you are moving through a series of thoughtful sets.
I’m shown to Room 16, one of Mona’s penthouse suites. Open-plan, like all the rooms, it’s the most sultry place I’ve ever stayed. A day bed stretches out in velvet the colour of burnt toffee, an emperor bed dressed in natural cotton hovers near to the floor, and soft cream drapes dance open to reveal the bathroom with its cavernous egg bath and generous velvet curtains. On a minimal rail hang off-white kimono-style robes and stylish pieces you can take home with you.
Outside, a long terrace is an inviting space to take your breakfast or soak up the last of Athenian light with a glass of natural wine from the considered minibar. If you take the marble stairs up another floor, you reach Mona’s rooftop, where guests can pour themselves a drink from the honesty bar and watch as the sun sets on the Parthenon. It’s also the setting for Thursday nights for Mona members, plus Stefanidi has plans for more events in the basement, including screenings and pop-up dinners.
The next morning, I fuelled up with fresh Greek yoghurt and fruit and a flat white on my terrace, plotting a day’s exploring around the city. Perfectly positioned for walking around central Athens, I left Mona and started by winding my way around the Acropolis and weaving my way through Plaka with its elegant mansions and world-feel. From there, I cut through the shady pathways of the National Gardens to reach the Benaki Museum. There, I admired centuries of Greek treasures and managed to catch a John Craxton exhibition, luxuriating in his use of colour and musing that I, too, would love to be remembered as a ‘Greek soul’.
Afterwards, I joined the throng of Athenians at Dexamenes Square in Kolonaki for a mezze lunch: pitta breads, spicy cheese dips and salads. Behind this neighbourhood, the hill rises steeply, allowing for increasingly impressive views of the Acropolis as you climb each set of stairs. I followed the path up Lycabettus Hill, earning the most beautiful panorama of Athens sprawled out below, the Aegean glittering in the distance in the late afternoon sun.
With tired legs, I walked back to Mona, tempted by a long soak in the bath and curling up on the terrace with a glass of wine. I’ve never wanted to spend so much time in a hotel room, such are the seduction powers of this space. Refreshed and revitalised, I walked the short distance to the newish Linou Soumpasis k Sia. It’s a slick, but cosy and very easy on the eye restaurant, which serves up some of the most beautiful and refined dishes I have had in ages —and there are plenty of Pet Nats and skin-contact wines on the drinks menu. I settled on wild greens with soft cheese from Ios and steamed clams, alongside their trio of breads and everything was delicious. I’m devastated not to have room for hazelnut parfait, but resolve to come back soon.
For late night drinks, I headed to Athens’ Exarchia neighbourhood, stopping in 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 on every corner and in every glass. I fell into bed later that night exhausted, my head fizzing with the idea that I should move to Athens. And become a member of Mona, of course.
Standard room rates start from 195 EUROS; mona-athens.com