ATHENS — Perhaps it's not surprising in the land of philoxenia and Greeks noted for caring about visitors, but Athens was ranked Europe's ninth-friendliest city by the travel magazine Conde-Nast in a survey.
It appeared to be a bit of an advertising push, however, as the magazine directed readers toward preferred hotels, although writing that Athens has markedly improved its formerly bad reputation for many unsuitable lodgings.
The timing wasn't great, either, coming with many hotels closing temporarily or for good during the COVID-19 pandemic and with one of the worst summer seasons ever as people were afraid to travel and Americans and Russians among others not allowed to visit Greece this year.
“Only a few years ago, hotels in Athens were limited to grubby hostels and soulless chain hotels,” the magazine said, noting that during a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis that developers swooped in near the end to grab up properties and add a host of new hotels before the pandemic hit hard.
“Funky little guesthouses are cropping up all over the city center, and coastal hideouts are upping their game to keep up with the splashiest new entry, Greece’s first Four Seasons. The city is now full of lodgings so lovely that you’ll definitely want to stay for longer than a layover,” the magazine wrote.
It wasn't explained why writing about hotels means the city is friendly though and be prepared to cough up big bucks for their choices because they're in the luxury range.
Galway and Dublin, Ireland were the friendliest places with Valletta on the scandal-stained island of Malta third despite the murder of an investigative journalist and a reputation for money laundering and corruption.