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by MARY GOSTELOW on December 3, 2014

What on earth is David Bowie, or at least UK former-sculptor Joe Black's portrait of him, formed of thousands of test tubes, set side by side and filled with different inks, doing in Athens' 1936-vintage luxury hotel that was named for King George II of The Hellenes? Well, when the owners of the neighbouring Grande Bretagne (GB) took over management of the King George, they put in some of their own art collection, including this. In the main, says the gal, the King George's new look, done by Alexandros Samaras, is exquisitely classical.

Alexandros Samaras replaced an unexciting lobby bar by simply opening it up, making a large lobby with a glorious multi-greys marble floor patterned to look like the finest of silk rugs. Alexandros Samaras, who happens to be the brother of Greece's Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, is a philosopher. Design should be diachronic, timeless, and the result, he says, must be inevitable. He remembered this hotel from his childhood, and he wants to make it once again a setting for people with aesthetic taste. Apart from David Bowie, you could almost say it is understated, with lots of nuances (see how the ceiling mirror reflects the beautiful marbled floor).

by MARY GOSTELOW on November 25, 2014

A weekly series featuring luxury hotel expert Mary Gostelow's hotel pick of the week.

Athens, Greece has a tourism industry that is picking up business and with more passion than ever. Experts predict 2014 figures will equal those of 2007 (pre financial crisis), and 2015 looks even better. With the reawakening of the city, I suggest booking your travel now, and I suggest booking one of these symbiotic Luxury Collection properties.

(photo: Sister hotels glowing in the Mediterranean night: Hotel King George and Hotel Grand Bretagne.)