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In the Driving Seat

Smooth, sleek and luxurious with a hedonistic edge, Villa Mercedes is a welcome addition to Greek clubbing.

Time stands still for no man - particularly not Greek club pioneer and DJ Vassili Tsilichristos. After steering Athens' colossal Venue Club into our 2007 Top 50 Clubs poll, he decided it was time for a fresh challenge. Some months down the line and Vassili already has new ventures on the boil. Not only is he responsible for the city's ultra-hip Venue Café - a plush musical oasis, bar and eatery based in one of the coolest districts of Athens, he's also the mastermind behind one of the capital's most talked about new nightclubs.

That club is Villa Mercedes. Six nights of the week it operates as a glitzy upmarket venue offering open-air fine-dining coupled with dancing in luxurious surroundings. But the real action takes place every Sunday, when the club's Beachball parties bring extra bounce. Responsible for both the venue and the DJ line-ups, Vassili has brought in big name DJs like Louie Vega and Dennis Ferrer recently to rock the venue. But tonight he's opted for a friend, fellow Greek and DJ he respects in Nick Varon, flying him over from his current home in New York. If it proves one thing, it's that Vassili is confident in homegrown talent.

Villa's musical nerve centre is very much reminiscent of the End's panoramic capsule and with the VIP area raised to the rear we're privvy to an all-encompassing view of the venue, as well as first dibs on Nick's tunes. The club is quite magnificent. The tall ceilings are dotted with elegant chandeliers, some glowing red and others a mellow white, giving a contrasting ambience. The walls are clothed in resplendent drapes at one end and lined with exquisitely preened hedges at the open-air end. All of which exudes a distinct warmth and luxuriance. And then there's the soundsystem. The set-up here transforms Mercedes from a lounge/restaurant early-doors into a fully-fledged intimate club as it slips into the small hours.

By 2am, Nick is firmly in his stride, showing us just why he's Hernan Cattaneo's first choice right-hand man, Stateside. His flawless progressive and up-front tech-house, fire up the super-chic, sexed-up crowd. Similar to the UK, Sundays in Athens seem to bring out the more music savvy and excitable clubbers. By the time Nick finishes his set the place is heaving, rocking and almost universally beautiful.

Credited with nurturing and moulding the Athens' club scene, Vassili is also renowned as one of the biggest names on the national DJ circuit. Over the last two decades he's collaborated with the likes of Sasha, Diggers, Oakey, Steve Lawler and Dave Seaman, and has releases a series of successful compilations. He was also one of the very first native DJs to discover Ibiza, back in 1991, so all in all he's a bit of a patron to Greek nightlife. He takes the night through to its hedonistic conclusion, playing a medley of progressive, house, disco - hell, even Yazoo gets an airing!

As the last tune fades, the retractable roof re-opens opens revealing the next-day sky, in turn signifying the night's close. Elegant and classy balanced with cool and hedonistic, perhaps it's only a matter of time before Villa Mercedes creeps into our Top 50 Clubs in the World.