Selina Theatrou Athens – A Review

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Selina is a co-living/hostel concept brand aimed at digital nomads, flashpackers, and millennial travellers. 

For those of us lucky enough to be able to work on the go, the appeal is obvious – it’s more comfortable than a hostel, more sociable than a hotel or Airbnb, and with facilities that cater specifically to those on the move.

The brand has only recently ventured into Europe so I was pretty excited to try it out when they announced new properties in Greece.  The first to open was in Makrinitsa in the Pelion region, with the Athens property opening in August 2020.

But will it live up to the hype?

Intricate stairwell in Athens Selina.

Check-In

At the time I travelled Selina were requiring pre-checkin on their app 72 hours in advance, which would have been fine if it worked properly. It’s a nice-looking app but painfully slow and I couldn’t get the password reset link to work from the app which led to a bit of stress.

The reception desk is open 24 hours and staff were friendly and helpful on my arrival though. 

The Location

Deckchairs on balcony at Selina Athens.

I have mixed feelings about the location. I spent all of 2016 in Athens so I know the city pretty well. Selina occupies a large hotel block a few streets away from the Varvakios Central Food Market. It’s in between the lively Psyrri area which is full of bars and hipster appeal, and the grittier Omonia neighbourhood. 

Personally I find the location is not the best for a solo female. The market area can feel very masculine compared to other parts of Athens, and there’s not much going on at night. It’s fine really but if I was new to the city I’m not sure I’d feel so comfortable.

On the plus side, there are some great places to eat and it’s a very short walk to Psyrri and Monastiraki as well as the Omonia metro station.

The Room

Inside a standard double room at Selina Athens.

Selina is a cross between a hostel and hotel – there are dorm rooms available as well as small doubles without an ensuire (micro rooms), standard doubles, and fancier suites.

I have mixed feelings about my rooms too. On my first trip I was upgraded from a micro to a standard room, but on my second trip I was put into a room with no balcony, and a view of the lift shaft. Pretty much everywhere in Athens has a balcony so this felt like some kind of punishment! There was very little natural light. And there is no way the rooms were full – this being the tail end of the 2020 season.

I booked using the app too, which promises some kind of ‘loyalty rate’ – pah (I checked the rate against Booking.com and couldn’t see much difference).

I strongly feel that rooms without a balcony should be charged at a lower rate. I would have complained but I’m too English so I’m moaning on the internet instead.

Good points –  bed and bathrooms are excellent, USB plugs next to the bed, room was a comfortable temperature even mid-summer.

Bad points – the mattress is super soft and I personally wouldn’t find it comfortable for more than a few nights. The rooms is clearly not designed for working in – there is a tiny table and on the balconies (for those that have them) there are deckchairs and no table. Presumably this to force/encourage people to work in the communal areas. What if they’re full, or you need privacy, or just want to do some light work?

There is also a lack of storage for stuff, the only item of furniture being a wire coat rack with hangers. A shelf in the bathroom would also be handy, as would a mirror above the small desk – was this room designed by a man who only owns t-shirts?

The Communal Spaces

Ground floor reception area at Selina Athens.

Coworking space at Selina Athens.

On ground level is a spacious communal area and cafe zone. There’s also a tucked-away mezzanine with more deckchairs. Downstairs is the co-working space consisting of several office rooms and booths with a mix of long tables and desks, and a small kitchen area. There is also a cinema room. The facilities are decent but the layout makes it feel like a meeting room, and not very welcoming.

The internet is good but then I’ve never had a problem with it in Athens.

One day I’ll find a co-working space designed with ergonomics in mind, but this is not it.

Breakfast is served in the cafe area and I can’t tell you anything about it as booked the room rate without breakfast. The breakfast menu looked delicious but was full of large brunch-style dishes, not the kind of thing that you would want to eat every day.

The Rooftop

 Rooftop bar at Selina Athens.

The rooftop bar is bewilderingly closed during the day. But when I finally made it up there for evening beers I was blown away. It’s on the 9th floor which is quite high for central Athens. Photos don’t do it justice.

It’s a shame the bar menu is not quite so compelling, otherwise I could spend all evening up there. It’s overpriced, the menu is limited, and my chicken salad was over-salted. 

But it’s a shame, particularly as it’s the only outdoors space and the co-working space is in the basement. Central Athens is crammed with fantastic (and competitively-priced) cafes and bars so I imagine that even when Selina is buzzing, a big chunk of that buzz will head elsewhere for the evening.

On the plus side, you do get a voucher for a free welcome drink when you check in (although you can only redeem this at a certain time).

The Vibe

Rooftop at Selina Athens.

It’s really hard for me to make a fair judgement on this – it wasn’t particularly sociable however it had only just opened and, it being 2020, tourism was unseasonably slow and unsociable anyway.

I didn’t see any organised activities however this could be a timing thing. Apparently some locations have a Whatsapp group for guests. There were some posters advertising trips but these seemed to be the bog standard trips sold by every agency rather than Selina-specific.

Final Thoughts

Stylish reception area at Selina Athens.

Overall I’m a bit confused by Selina Theatrou Athens. The stylish design is enticing but is let down in the details. It wasn’t sociable enough (or friendly enough, or cheap enough) to convince me that it was better than staying at a hostel.

And it wasn’t comfortable enough to convince me that it was better than staying at a similarly-priced hotel or Airbnb. There is a lot of competition at this price point in Athens. And in better locations. 

Reliable wi-fi, coworking spaces, social events, organised day trips, even rooftop bars – these things are all really easy to come by in a busy city like Athens.

I suspect the dorm rooms and bar will be heavily used once tourist demand starts up again.

The rooftop alone tempted me back for a second visit but I won’t return for a third. For short trips I’ll stick to my trusty favourite City Circus Hostel (which has the most comfortable mattresses in the city plus a much better bar and breakfast) or one of the city’s many friendly boutique hotels.

However  I would still visit other Selina locations, particularly in rural locations where there is less competition and things are harder to organise yourself. 

It is appealing to have everything sorted out for you, and in one location. If Selina addressed some of the issues around comfort and pricing for a long stay (kitchen facilities, desks in the room, storage, a more suitable menu) then it would lock in my loyalty.

Read more:

Southern Europe – Digital Nomad Guide

10 Best Greek Islands for Solo Travellers

15 Things to Put on Your Athens Bucketlist

Athens FAQ – 12 Things to Know Before You Go

Ultimate Foodie Guide to Athens

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