Semiramis Hotel – Kifisia, Athens, Greece
Owned by Dakis Joannou, an eminent collector of modern art, the philosophy of Yes! Hotels is Young, Enthusiastic and Seductive and denotes a commitment to creating a new form of art in hospitality;
Semiramis Hotel – Kifisia, Athens, Greece was the first YES! Hotel to say YES to bold design, superior luxury and exceptional service. It was designed by Karim Rashid as a fusion of Rashid’s loud refusal to embrace mundane functionality and Joannou’s dedication to the modern art world.
Semiramis Hotel encapsulates an aspirational and ambitious notion of design in the thriving area of Kifissia, a stylish, well-heeled suburb of Athens. It is the epitome of a 21st century creation, surprisingly and seamlessly fusing art and practicality in its 51 guest rooms.
Designed to appeal to art enthusiasts of all ages, Semiramis has an innovative approach to combining texture, materials and colour.
The striking palette of lime, pink, orange, yellow and white is the canvas upon which Rashid projected glass tiles, terrazzo floors, custom coloured carpets, patterned wall coverings and coloured glass walls. Works from Joannou’s extensive art collection including pieces by Jeff Koons, Sue Webster and Tim Noble can be viewed at the Semiramis’ bi-annually rotating exhibition in the public spaces. For business travellers, Semiramis offers a creative space in which guests can be both relaxed and inspired.
Given free rein to create a total experience, Karim used his signature curvaceous forms and lollipop colours to offer a young, enthusiastic and seductive alternative to more traditional conceptions of hospitality, playing happily alongside a rotating collection of contemporary fine art, handpicked by owner and art collector Dakis Joannou.
Semiramis is a feast for the eyes for any guest: With an extra element of cheekiness, guests are encouraged to play with Rashid’s device for communicating with the outside world. Instead of the boring “Do Not Disturb” signs, he offers electronic message boards, which guests can personalise from their in-room keyboards.
He describes his overall view of Semiramis as, “an intimate hotel that focuses on positive energy, heightened experiences, culture, design, and art. Semiramis is a place for new contemporary experiences – to enjoy, relax, work, and engage a new memorable experience unlike any other or anywhere else in the world.”
Thanks to its location on the slopes of Mount Pendeli—with a more moderate climate than Athens’s center—Kifissia has a long-standing reputation as an exclusive escape for the moneyed set. Once a philosophers’ retreat and then home to the military outposts of the USA, Germany, and Britain, the area still tailors to its clientele with a plethora of exclusive indulgences, such as fine restaurants and upscale bars.
Semiramis’ guest-rooms, suites, and poolside bungalows utilise creative materials (like the opaque glass bathroom walls) and playful design such as the light-box art installations behind each bed.
Rashid’s mark is on everything from the slippers under the bed to the custom-made carpeting. Offering enticing alternatives to traditional ideas of hospitality design, the designer has dispensed with the use of room numbers, identifying each guest-room with custom-designed symbols.
The rooms and bungalows at Semiramis overlook a plush park, the Kefalari neighbourhood, or the popular swimming pool. Services here even include secretarial support.
Bathed in natural daylight, the 18 to 20 square meters rooms overlook the park of Kefalari. Karim Rashid lighted murals offer a pop of colour to the all-white feeling of tranquility.
Whether overlooking the plush park or Kefalari or the popular Semiramis pool, superior rooms are a candy-inspired delight in their 22 square meters. Superior rooms have their own private balcony.
The pool bungalows, built independently from the main building, are right where the splashing action is. As they have direct access to the popular Semiramis pool, guests can choose to walk straight to their luxurious pool chairs. With a private terrace and garden on the other side of the bungalow, the desirable option of sunbathing in the two sunbeds provided is also available. The bungalows offer 30 square meters of Karim Rashid design, where guests can enjoy the latest hotel technology. The shower cabin is masterfully designed, overlooking the bungalows’ private garden.
Penthouse Studios, located on the 4th floor
Exquisitely arranged, the penthouse studios are spacious in their 45 square meters. Design furniture and artifacts give out a most pleasant vibe against a white background. Guests enjoy their own large private terrace, where Karim’s outdoor furniture offer comfort and style. As they lounge around, they can immerse in the amazing views afforded over the entire Attica region. With their plush bath tabs, the bathrooms have been designed strictly for indulging.
Penthouse Suite, located on the 4th floor
The penthouse suite offers more than a glimpse of the Karim Rashid design universe. Spacious in its 60 square meters, the suite showcases his signature style worked with humour and colour. A glass partition separates the bedroom from the living area, multiplying the feeling of living in ample space. A large bathroom indulges with its plush bath tab. The private terrace, where Karim’s outdoor furniture create a coveted outdoor spot, offers unique views over the entire Attica region, from the slopes of mountain Penteli to the port of Pireaus.
Nolita Athens is an original restaurant concept, situated on the ground floor of Semiramis hotel. The menu sets the mood for Italian cuisine whilst delicious cocktails served at the bar make a big splash.
Nolita Athens, has become quite a hit with the hip crowd, who enjoy live pizza cooking & high quality food. Reservation in advance is highly-recommended.
WELLNESS & SPA
The colourful swimming pool, shaped in one of Karim Rashid’s trademark fluid curves, is a unique creation. Miami style glamour meets upscale design, with the flowing, landscaped sunbathing decks ideally arranged for daytime lounging. A mosaic water fountain adds a decadent touch, with guests soaking up the sun in the luxurious white sun-beds. Overlooking the swimming pool, the Gym Club boasts state-of-the-art fitness equipment and tasteful changing rooms. A popular spot for fitness pros and amateurs alike, its wellness facilities include a steam bath and massage rooms.
Flying in the face of Athens’ classical architectural tradition, Semiramis features such delights as pink and orange glass partitions, green box balconies, and rubber floors. Commissioned by art patron Dakis Joannou, Semiramis is entirely the creation of Egyptian-British industrial designer Karim Rashid. Guests entering through the glowing pink glass cube into a lobby know they are in store for something radically different than the city’s classic architecture. Semiramis’ guest-rooms, suites and poolside bungalows offer both the use of creative materials (like the opaque glass bathroom wall) and playful design, such as the light-box art installations behind each bed. The designer takes an innovative approach in mixing textures and materials: colored concrete with rubber floors, for example, or ceramic tiles with metal and epoxy with dark wood. Innovative technology is also a given in Rashid’s 21st century concept.
INTERIOR DESIGN – JUICY COLORS AND LIVELY LIGHT
Hot pinks, lime greens, and bright oranges characterise the interiors, while the furniture comes in a stunning array of shapes, sizes, and textures.
Bold color schemes and Rashid’s signature furniture – including his Wavelength Sofa and Swing Chair – give this hotel its distinct look. Juicy pinks, oranges, greens and yellows make up the hotel’s energising color scheme, tinting everything from lobby couches to transparent glass partitions in the rooms. A lively lighting concept has been especially commissioned from Focus Lighting in New York, under the direction of principal designer Paul Gregory.
Dakis Joannou, the hardworking owner of Yes! Hotels, is one of the foremost collectors of contemporary European art in Greece. And when it comes to hospitality, he’s just as dedicated to the cause. Working alongside innovative interior designers such as Brazil’s Campana brothers, he has left his cool-as-ice hallmark on a trio of boutique hotels in Athens—Periscope Hotel, Semiramis, and New Hotel. As a member of the Board of Trustees at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, a member of the International Directors Council of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and cofounder of DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Dakis Joannou is surrounded by the subjects that inspire him: art, design, and architecture.
MEETING & EVENTS
With meeting rooms designed by Karim Rashid, business partners, colleagues, or friends attending are bound to sit up and listen. Bathed in natural day light, Omni and Kismet showcase Karim’s colorful design touch, with custom-made carpets and signature designer furniture. Even the ceilings carry his unique symbols, mixed with interesting lighting scenarios. A number of seating options can be accommodated, from business meetings and lunches to teleconferences and high standard presentations. Direct access to the vibrant swimming pool area ensures that guests can enjoy their break over cocktails or delicious meals.
For the young at heart, the rooms can also be used as dining or cocktail-party venues including a dance floor.
Located on a separate level, Vision is overlooking Filadelfeos Street, a tranquil, leafy street. Vision follows Karim’s overall design and colour scheme, its custom-made carpet and designer furniture creating an ideal backdrop for a business meeting, a teleconference, or even a formal dinner. A private terrace for relaxing and mingling is an added bonus.
All rooms are equipped with the latest technology audiovisual equipment. Authentic modern art from Dakis Joannou’s internationally acclaimed collection is on display.
A great place for lounging and enjoying the outdoors, Pergola gets its funky vibe straight from the buzzing swimming pool area. Overlooking the brightly coloured swimming pool, it is an excellent spot for a business or a ladies lunch. As lights linger in the evening and the social scene is buzzing with excitement, Pergola offers a variety of dining options, including corporate, formal, and gala dinners.
The lollipop colours, playful furniture, ample space, and vibrant atmosphere create the perfect universe for children’s parties. From playing host to carousels and climbing walls, to turning into a funky dance floor or princess castle, Omni and Kismet can accommodate all the needs and desires of the young Semiramis guests. The friendly staff is trained to provide first-rate service for these special occasions, making sure that the big day runs smoothly. Bite-sized finger food, delicious healthy salads and hotdogs that melt to the mouth are some of the options on the menu, made with care at the Semiramis Restaurant.
You might also be interested in:
Although individuals have endured difficult circumstances since the start of the economic crisis in 2009, the city is on the rise. There is crackling energy in galleries, political debates and even on the walls of derelict buildings. This creates a lively urban bustle, but at the end of the day, Athenians build their own villages in the city, especially in open-air restaurants and bars where they linger for hours.
Beyond Athens, down the Attica peninsula, are more spectacular antiquities, such as the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, as well as very good beaches, such as those near historic Marathon.
Ancient sun-bleached ruins pierce blue skies as the Aegean laps at the endless coastline. And Greek culture is alive with passionate music, inspired cuisine and thrill-seeking activities.
Cultural Treasure Chest
Standing in the shadow of the Acropolis feels other-worldly. Greece is full of such moments. Step into the ring where Olympians first competed. Climb steps hewn out of stone to Meteora’s monasteries, perched atop towering rocks. Contemplate the oracle’s insights from the grandeur of Delphi, take in a starlit drama at an ancient outdoor theatre and be stunned by massive marble sculptures dredged up from the Aegean. But then you’ll encounter bold modern art, the melancholic throb of rembetika (blues songs) and artisans creating new work from traditional techniques. Greece has endless cultural pursuits and a calendar bursting with festivals, holidays and exhibits.
Whether you’re a serious adrenalin junkie or dedicated beach bum, Greece will bewitch you. Days melt from one to the next under wide open skies and a sea speckled with islands that deliver the white-sand, palm-fringed beaches of your dreams. Wander along cobbled Byzantine footpaths, hike into volcanoes, watch for dolphins and sea turtles, and cycle through lush forests. Meander through olive groves, idyllic villages and petrified forests. Thrill seekers will discover world-class kitesurfing, wreck diving, and rock-climbing locations with dizzying views. Or simply hop on a boat and set sail into the glittering blue beyond.
The secret to Greek cooking is often found in the chef’s garden. Basic ingredients such as feta and olive oil are at home across Greece, but the regional produce and cooking styles make travelling here a culinary adventure. Taste herbs and mountain greens you’ve never heard of, mussels steamed in ouzo, bread baked with olives, and fish straight from the sea. Taste-test regional cheeses: crumbling feta, honeyed soft cheeses and sharp, hard rounds. Find Italian influences in risottos and pastas or Turkish spices woven into delicate sweets. A traditional-cooking renaissance has chefs lifting time-honoured recipes to new gourmet heights.
Socialising is more than a pastime in Greece – it’s a way of life. Cafes overflow with teenagers gossiping or older locals in heated debate. Restaurants are filled with long tables for big gatherings and friends amble arm in arm down the street. Squares are the focal point, where life unfolds collectively. Immerse yourself, whether it’s a coffee, a shot of ouzo, a chorus on the bouzouki or a local celebration. Greeks are passionate and live life to the fullest, even at the most difficult times. The result is a country seemingly riddled with challenges, yet full of people loving life.