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Alexander’s Cigar Lounge: A delightful experience in the heart of Athens
The executives of the historical Grande Bretagne hotel talk to NEO about this affordable luxury
by Kelly Fanarioti
Entering the Grande Bretagne Hotel, which is still the acknowledged queen of Athens hotels, one is impressed by the aesthetics and grandeur of the space. And what dominates on the first floor is the atrium of Alexander’s Cigar Lounge, an autonomous space, and at the same time an “extension” of the Alexander’s Bar which was voted by Forbes magazine as the best hotel bar in the world.
It has exactly the same list of drinks and cocktails, the same award-winning team of bartenders, and also the widest variety of world-renowned cigars for guests to accompany their drink.
According to the Director of Grande Bretagne restaurants, Ms. Chrysa Dimitriadou, what differentiates this Cigar Bar from others in Athens is that it is located in the most historic and luxurious hotel in the city. And it offers the visitor a moment of relaxation in a space with high aesthetics, and with excellent food and drink, away from the noise of the city, and yet in the heart of downtown Athens.
“Outdoors olive trees, laurels, small cypresses and flowers generously offer their colors and beauty, and guests of the Atrium of Alexander’s Lounge have the opportunity to relax and enjoy their coffee or drink in an outdoor area of special aesthetics with excellent service,” she told NEO.
As for the cuisine, the Executive Chef Asterios Koustoudis says that Alexander’s Lounge is the only place in the hotel where he does not focus on Greek gastronomy, and this is because the colonial style of the place inspired him to create a menu with a Latin-American character.
“We created a snack menu that includes options such as handmade organic corn tortillas, vegetarian tacos, guacamole sauce and much more. Products and recipes that match the excellent varieties of rum that this bar offers, such as a baba au rum, and for those who want to enjoy their cigar or a bitter chocolate tart with smoked cacao nuts.”
Cigar lover’s paradise
For cigar lovers, the Alexander’s Lounge patio has an excellent wine, beverage and cocktail menu, as well as a variety of excellently-preserved cigars that complement the ritual. The specialist staff is always ready to help guests choose the cigar that suits everyone’s personal taste, either to enjoy it in the lounge, or to buy it for another time.
The collection of cigars includes emblematic names of Cuban origin with unique taste and rich aromas. The tobacco mixture is excellent and everything is “hecho a mano,” which means handmade.
The choices are many: mild, medium and full-body varieties from Cohiba Robusto or Cohiba Maduro Genius to Montecristo A, Partagas Serie D No 4 and Romeo y Julieta Churchil. In terms of sizes, all kinds of mythical vitolas are available, from panetelas to gran coronas.
The high level of service, in addition to the cutting and lighting the cigars, includes their combination with the drink that will accompany them: an Armagnac, or a Calvados, a great brandy, or one of the special whiskeys on Alexander’s Lounge list.
As for whether this is a place dearer to the heart of men–as is usually the case with cigar bars—Ms. Dimitriadou answers: “It is a magical place that attracts both men and women. The renewed Atrium of Alexander’s Lounge continues to offer unique experiences and moments of relaxation to all. In recent years it has become an increasingly popular choice for women to enjoy a cigar with a malt whiskey.”
Where history was written…
It is worth mentioning that the hotel has hosted several historic moments: in the basement of the hotel was delivered the war communiqué that introduced Greece into the war against the Axis. Immediately afterwards, an evacuation of the rooms was ordered to install instead various military and civilian services and a wartime staff of 40.
At the end of the Nazi Occupation in 1944, the hotel, like the country, went through numerous upheavals, including hosting members of the National Unity government elected in the fifth-floor suite, and Konstantinos G. Karamanlis resided in the hotel for four months after the end of the military dictatorship. Another important moment for the hotel was the message that Archbishop Makarios delivered from the balcony on the second floor to the Greek people after the invasion of Cyprus. Most recently, the Grande Bretagne bore witness to the demonstrations in Syntagma Square against austerity measures.