As much as we all love hitting the beach, when there’s five long months of “summer” to get through (cue the violin!) – sometimes, you’re just more in the mood for a pool.
Make use of the democratic open-door policy at many of the city’s leading hotels, which means you can enjoy their swimming facilities for the day, without being a guest.
Amanda Dardanis scouts the best hotels in Athens to help you make a splash this summer:
A glorious rooftop option for those who like to swim with the Gods. The boutique-sized pool at the Novotel Athenes, is 4km from the Acropolis, in downtown Omonoia, and offers stonking views of the famous landmark, along with luxe loungers, free parking and drink on entry. Open during the summer season, the pool café Clair de Lune will also keep you well hydrated and nourished!
OPENING HOURS: 9.00-19.00.
ENTRY PRICE: €20; and €10 for children (weekdays and weekends); Includes towel, drink and free parking.
KID-FRIENDLY: Yes. Our children are always made to feel welcome here.
WHERE : Michail Voda 4,Tel: 210.820.0700, www.novotel.com/Athens
With its distinctive green and white striped awnings, The Margi has the air of the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel; and its gorgeous compact pool area, is pure “Californication”. Even more so now, after a ravishing makeover. The Margi has created a slinky and sophisticated oasis in the heart of lush Vouliagmeni. There’s stylishly accessorised divan loungers, floating olive trees, and loads of lovely drapey canopies (that you can reserve exclusively for up to 6 people complete with fruit platters and Evian facial spray!) and shady nooks to retreat behind. A perfect spot for a special “ladies day out”, such as a baby shower, birthday or pre-wedding celebration, with great poolside dining and cocktail options.
OPENING HOURS: 9.00-19.00.
ENTRY PRICE: €30; children €15 (week days); €45; children €22.50 (weekends). Cabanas are €100 on weekdays; and €150 on weekends.
KID-FRIENDLY? Not terribly. Probably wise to leave them at home.
WHERE: Litous 11, Vouliagmeni, Tel: 210.892.900, www.themargi.gr
The inviting ground-floor swimming pool at the landmark inner-city Hilton has a classic retro-60s feel about it, and has long been a popular urban sanctuary and meeting point for American tourists, corporate types, and Kolonaki locals who go to cool off during the Long Swelter.
OPENING HOURS: 8.00-21.00.
ENTRY-PRICE: €25; €12.50 for children (weekdays); €40; and €20 for children (weekends).
KID-FRIENDLY: Yes. The pool is big enough to cater for the needs of all age-groups; plus there’s a kid’s pool too.
WHERE: Vass. Sofias Ave, Athens, Tel: 210.728.1000, www.hiltonathens.gr
VERTIGO POOL CLUB AT ST GEORGE LYCABETTUS BOUTIQUE HOTEL
What this chic and elegant rooftop pool terrace lacks in proportions, it more than makes up for with its epic Mount Olympus-worthy views and fashionable ambience. Nestled against the pine-forested slopes of Lycabettus Hill, the St George Lycabettus affords breath-taking panoramic views over Athens to the Acropolis and the Saronic Gulf beyond.
OPENING HOURS: 9.00-20.00.
ENTRY-PRICE: €25 or €40 for 2; €12.50 for children (weekdays); €30 and €15 for children (weekends). Entry fee includes a coffee or soda.
KID-FRIENDLY: Only the most well-behaved little people need apply.
WHERE: Kleomenous 2, Kolonaki, Tel : 210.741.6000, www.sglycabettus.gr
DIVANI APOLLON PALACE
Can’t decide between salt water or chlorine pool? No problem at the Divani Apollon Palace where you have both dreamy options, side by side. Plus, your day ticket grants you access (via a private tunnel) to the hotel’s lovely private beach. The revamped Kavouri seafront directly across the road also has some terrific waterfront dining choices (such as my favourite Garbi), if you don’t want to eat at the Divani’s poolside cafe.
OPENING HOURS: 10.00-20.00.
ENTRY PRICE: €35; €25 for children (weekdays); €50; €35 children (weekends) Includes entry to private beach.
KID-FRIENDLY? Yes. The pool area is large enough not to feel like you’re intruding on others’ adults-only holiday.
WHERE: Agiou Nikolaou 10, Vouliagmeni, Tel: 210.891.1100, www.divaniapollonhotel.com
SEMIRAMIS ART HOTEL
For those who like their pools to make an artistic statement, look no further than the Semiramis – the pool that launched a thousand instagrams – in leafy Kifissia. The colourful swimming pool (along with the whole hotel) is the visionary brainchild of art patron Dakis Joannou and famed industrial designer Karim Rashid, and is shaped in Rashid’s trademark fluid curves and Miami-style palette, complete with a decadent mosaic water fountain. This is Hip Headquarters.
OPENING HOURS: 11.00-19.00.
ENTRY PRICE: €25; and €15 for children (weekdays); €35; and €25 for children (weekends).
KID-FRIENDLY: Hmmm. Not so much. But take them anyway.
WHERE: Char. Trikoupi 48, Kifissia, Tel : 210.628.4400, www.yeshotels.gr
OASIS HOTEL APARTMENTS
A non-pretentious School Holiday go-to for families seeking to escape the heat of summer and the fuss of constant beach outings. The paved pool area of the 4-star Oasis Hotel is huge and well-landscaped, with a plentiful supply of plastic sun-loungers, tasty eating options ranging from pastas, salads and ice-creams – and efficient poolside waiter service. Perfect for singles, couples and kids of all ages.
OPENING HOURS: 10.30-18.30.
ENTRY PRICE: €8 for all (includes coffee and juice).
KID-FRIENDLY: Extremely. There’s a lifeguard on duty and a separate kiddie pool in the garden area.
WHERE: Leof. Posidonos 27, Glyfada, Tel : 210.894.1662, www.oasishotelapartments.com
You can also dive into some of the city’s best-value leisure complexes
BALUX (Asteras Complex)
Located right above the sand at the sprawling Balux Asteras Complex in Glyfada, this pool gets our vote because you can alternate easily between sea and pool – and because of the very reasonable entry price which includes towels, super-comfy sun bed and umbrella, usage of steam bath, locker rooms and free parking. We prefer the more chilled-out morning shift from 10am – 2pm. After this, the pool fills up with beautiful young bods; the beach bar next door starts pumping out summer anthems; and a clubby atmosphere prevails.
OPENING HOURS: 9.30-18.00.
ENTRY PRICE: €8 (weekdays); €12 (weekends).
KID-FRIENDLY? Not at all. In fact, children under 13 are not allowed admittance.
WHERE: Posidonos Ave 58, Asteras Glyfada, Tel: 210.894.1620, www.asterascomplex.com
ANIMA CLUB – SARONIDA
A marvelous swimming option secreted away in the rolling hills of Saronida that’s well worth championing. Especially this year, as they are granting FREE entry to all – on condition that you buy a coffee, juice, etc. from their café. You’ll feel a million miles from Athens in this attractive stone leisure complex that’s also equipped with scenic tennis courts, a cheery indoor recreation room, and a Country Club atmosphere. Great salads and pizzas – but the pool does get extremely busy on weekends, so best get there early.
OPENING HOURS: 9am-8pm.
ENTRY PRICE: Free!
KID-FRIENDLY: Very. Anima regularly hosts childrens’ birthday parties at both the pool and the adjoining Volta Fun Park. Lifeguard on duty.
WHERE: Akinthou St, Anavissos, Tel: 229.105.4001, www.animaclub.gr
Tucked up in the arid rocks above Varkiza is this true insiders secret that not many people seem to know about (so don’t tell too many others!). You’d be forgiven for thinking the Achillion-Ribas multiplex is just a nightclub or special-events venue, but this multi-levelled venue also houses a fantastic 50m pool with panoramic views of the Saronic Gulf, a relaxed non-pretentious vibe, and very reasonable entry prices, considering the location.
OPENING HOURS: 10.00-sunset.
ENTRY PRICE: €5; €3 for children (weekdays); €7; €3 for children (weekends).
KID-FRIENDLY? Yes and no. Kids love swimming under the bridge and there’s a lifeguard on duty – but there’s no shallow end, so be sure to pack floaties for the wee ones.
WHERE: 30th km, Sounion Ave, Varkiza, Tel: 210.965.6150-1, www.ribas-riviera.gr
INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL CLUB VARI
Insider will be Public Enemy Number One for letting this cool cat out of the bag. For years, Southsiders have been heading to the perfectly pleasant and chilled-out suburban pool space (that’s part of the International Football Club of Vari) when they want to escape the hectic crush of the Athenian Riviera summer scene. Great prices, friendly staff and relaxed, democratic mood that welcomes everyone from teens and toddlers to coupled-up sun-worshippers.
OPENING HOURS: 10.30-20.00 daily.
ENTRY-PRICE: €6 for adults; €3 for children.
KID-FRIENDLY: Big Tick. There’s usually a life-guard on duty and a generously-proportioned shallow end.
WHERE: Andrea Papandreou 2, Vari, Tel : 210.965.5300. Find them on Facebook.