‘New Hotel’, Athens, by the Campana Brothers

As the ‘New Hotel’ in Athens (property of the Yes! hospitality group) celebrates its first anniversary, The Style Examiner looks back on what has become one of the most celebrated hotels in the Greek capital. As the first hotel venture by award-winning designers the Campana brothers, the hotel features trademark interiors by the creative duo, including quirky bespoke furniture and handmade fixtures.

The 79-room hotel is a renovation of the former Olympic Palace Hotel located on Filellinon Street, close to Syntagma Square, and within walking distance of the Greek capital’s main sights and attractions. It also houses the ‘New Taste’ restaurant, and it offers a fitness area, as well as executive floors, a lounge and a penthouse suite.

Humberto and Fernando Campana led the design of the hotel, with the collaboration of 20 local students of architecture from the University of Thessaly. In line with the designers’ appreciation for restoring, recycling and sharing, the team was responsible for creating chairs, plates and side lamps. Working with the students for an insight into local culture, the Campanas focussed on three traditional Greek themes that were incorporated into the designs throughout the property. The first pays homage to Karagiozis, a mischievous folklore shadow puppet, with golden fairytale characters adorning the walls. The second theme embraces the ‘evil eye’, a bead charm used to guard against ill omen, with handmade glass eyes illuminated for an arresting effect. Finally, the third uses a wall collage of historic postcards to offer a glimpse of old Athens within a context of modern design.

The bedrooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, bamboo floors and tables, while the bathrooms showcase solid brass washbasins in the shape of fragmented rocks. Corridors are covered in bark cloth from Uganda, a natural wallpaper produced by processing bark from the Moraceae tree. Many original features of the Olympic Palace Hotel have been retained, including the 1940s marble staircase. Located on the ground floor, the atmosphere of the ‘New Taste’ restaurant is inspired by the Campana’s ‘Favela’ chair, with columns covered in long narrow strips of wood, reminiscent of Brazilian shanty towns.

Yes! Hotels currently comprise four other properties, all owned by Dakis Joannou, a collector and admirer of modern art and design. The original Yes! Hotel, Semiramis Hotel, was designed by Karim Rashid in Kifissia, an affluent suburb of Athens. Twentyone Hotel, also located in Kifissia, explored creative ergonomic design; Kefalari Suites were conceived as serviced apartments set in a nineteenth century mansion building; and Periscope Hotel is a city resort hotel in the central and upmarket Athens neighbourhood of Kolonaki.