The Excelsior

Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece Book from Book from £126 per night

Beautifully restored hotel with first-class hospitality and a buzzy bistro, in the heart of Greece's second-largest city
In 1925, Konstantinos Tornivoukas made an international splash opening Thessaloniki's first luxury hotel. Today it's his 4th hotel, The Excelsior, that's making waves. Reclaimed from a 1920s-era building, this hotel dominates a corner of the city's downtown shopping and dining district, thanks to its striking neo-classical facade. Inside, wrought-iron flourishes and ornate ceiling cornicings lend a Jazz Age elegance, a voluptuous orange mobile makes the lobby gallery-chic, and the bistro/bar spilling out onto the sidewalk is a local hotspot.

But what earns near-universal praise is the well-honed high standard of the hotel, blending comfort, luxury and service. It's all in the details (both functional and pampering): luscious bergamot, citrus and honey toiletries; bedside reading wands that adjust precisely; a welcome bottle of Greek wine, and twice-daily maid service. The 34 rooms and suites are quiet and comfortable, luxurious cocoons to return to after sightseeing. Days begin with a generous breakfast buffet in the glass-enclosed Roof Garden, and smiling staff are eager to help you plan your day.

Highs

  • Thessaloniki itself - an interesting, energetic city with friendly locals and a lively music scene
  • Ideally located a block from the waterfront and just steps from historic landmarks, designer shopping and gourmet dining
  • Excellent service from kind staff who speak impeccable English
  • The bistro be*, offering all-day food and a bar renowned for its cocktails and Friday-night fun
  • Gorgeous architectural bones dressed in cool contemporary art by up-and-coming local artists

Lows

  • No pool or spa
  • Some spaces are cramped - previous guests have complained that the Classic Double rooms (20sqm) are too snug; our shower was roomy enough for 2, but the (separate) bathroom was barely big enough for me
  • No twin rooms - this is best for couples and little families (children under 12 stay for free on extra beds, and the Excelsior Suites sleep up to 5)

Best time to go

Spring (April-May) and autumn (October) are the best times, being moderately warm but not too hot, and much quieter than mid-summer. But they are often busy with other like-minded travellers so book early, especially over Easter. The hotel is open all year round.

Our top tips

"A good host welcomes his guests not just to a hotel, but to a place," writes The Excelsior's owner Konstantinos Tornivoukas in the introduction to his book Fifty Pauses in the City. This unique tome is both a useful guide to 50 places you can visit in Thessaloniki, and a beautiful remembrance of your stay. Through stories and book and newspaper excerpts, it peels back the history, multicultural atmosphere and secrets of a city that's endured for 25 centuries. Available at reception.

Great for...

City Style
Family
Foodie
Honeymoon
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 34
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room:

Rooms

The 34 double rooms and suites are dressed in clean contemporary lines, with honey-coloured hardwood floors and spots of rich colour - plum, gold, persimmon - against white walls and linens. Interesting juxtapositions of textures and finishes include leather headboards, frosted globe lights, mirrored bedside tables, frosted closet doors and stunning gold panels that roll across windows to create total darkness and quiet for a great night's sleep. Even in the Classic Double and Deluxe Double rooms - where space is limited to 20 or 25sqm - the effect is comfortable elegance.

Almost all rooms have private Juliet balconies with city or courtyard views, and shower bathrooms are made from luxe marble. From the grand, double-height window in our Junior Suite we watched comings and goings on a busy street corner and glimpsed a sliver of the waterfront a block away. The flat-screen TV at the foot of the bed swivelled toward a leather chaise longue, if we preferred. And what the glass shower cubicle lacked in privacy (separated from the bathroom, facing the hall just inside the door), it more than made up for in space. While bathrooms are small, they are all generously equipped with a magnifying mirror, bathrobes, slippers and glorious scented toiletries.

The 3 Excelsior Suites are a combination of a Junior Suite and Classic Double, and can be set up as 2 double bedrooms or 1 bedroom and a living room with a rollaway bed, making them great options for families.

All rooms and suites have individually adjustable heating and A/C, an interactive TV that handles billing and wake-up calls, a radio with an iPod dock, and twice-daily maid service.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Ipod dock
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Nespresso coffee machine
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Slippers
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

A sumptuous breakfast buffet is served in the sunny, peaceful Roof Garden every day from 7am - a lovely way to start the day. You'll find excellent traditional Greek produce (cheese pastries, creamy feta, olives, tapenade, delicious homemade breads and sweet cream filo pies) along with honeys, compotes, a delicious strawberry marmalade and fresh juices. This is included in the room rate, and you can also order an omelette or eggs cooked to order while you admire the wraparound view and mosaic floor.

For other meals, the ground-floor bistro, be*, offers all-day dining in its funky retro dining room or at tables outside. The menu is Western comfort food - a wide variety of pasta, risotto, meat and fish dishes. Our daughter's spaghetti with chicken meatballs was delicious; my husband's burger was very good, but my salmon with ginger glass noodles was disappointingly bland, missing the aromatic punch it promised.

Room service is available 24 hours a day, and the bistro's bar is a favourite with fashionable locals, known for its Friday night wine tastings, live music and DJ-hosted events.

If you're staying for several days, staff can recommend good restaurants downtown and in Thessaloniki's suburbs,.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Thessaloniki is a safe and compact city made for strolling. A block from the hotel, you can follow the waterfront to one of the city's most important landmarks, the White Tower, where the panoramic view includes legendary Mount Olympus
  • Or explore by bike: there's a rental place near the hotel and cycle paths to follow
  • Don't miss the famous 'Umbrellas' installation on the waterfront, by Georgios Zoggolopoulos
  • A 'Hop-on, Hop-off' sightseeing bus leaves from the White Tower for a 70-minute guided tour of the city's main historical and cultural sites, including the Archaeological Museum, the Church of Hagia Sophia (an imitation of Istanbul's landmark) and the Arch and 3rd-century palace ruins of Roman Emperor Galerius
  • Continue on foot to colourful multicultural neighbourhoods and Ottoman hammams that have been converted into art galleries
  • You're also an easy walk from Aristotelous Square, the city's main square where all major celebrations are set, including the lighting of the city's Christmas tree and the New Year countdown
  • Shark bar-restaurant is a great venue for live music, with well-known artists from all over the world
  • Shop! Excelsior guests get a discount at several of the city's designer shops, including Emporio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and the Notos Galleries mall, all within blocks of the hotel
  • Relax at the hotel. Linger over lunch and cocktails in the bistro, page through art and history books in the mezzanine lounge, and check out the sculpture, art and photography by young, emerging Greek artists that's displayed throughout the hotel

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Live music
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets
  • Walking

Kids

Families are welcome and kids under the age of 12 stay for free. The hotel can supply extra beds and baby cots and organise babysitting on request.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

An extra bed can be added to Junior Suites and Excelsior Suites; smaller rooms can fit a baby cot. Excelsior Suites are a combination of a Junior Suite and Classic Double, and can be set up as 2 double bedrooms (plus the rollaway bed, so sleeping 4 adults + a child) or 1 bedroom and a living room with a rollaway bed (sleeping 2 adults + a child), making them great options for families.

Families Should Know:

Balconies and carpeted stairs could be dangerous for toddlers.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 0 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Rooms
9/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

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Rates for The Excelsior