The Greek island of Santorini is arguably one of the world’s most idyllic islands and ranks among my favorite destinations on earth. Perched high above the deep blue Aegean Sea, Santorini’s whitewashed villages are clustered atop dramatic cliffs, with black sand beaches resting at the bottom. The island was shaped some 3,600 years ago by one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history, which left a giant water-filled crater measuring about 12 by 7 km (7.5 by 4 mi) and surrounded by 300 m (980 ft) high cliffs on all sides. Steeped in history and culture, Santorini is a place of ultimate romance and tranquil serenity that tempts you to unwind and revive in its warm embrac. The popular island is also known for its unique and ultraluxe hotels, where rooms and suites are often carved into the rocks. I hereby share with you my 10 favorite luxury hotels on the island.
1. CANAVES OIA EPITOME
Santorini is one of Greece’s most popular islands. Yet at Canaves Oia Epitome, you may feel you have this enchanting isle almost entirely to yourself. This all-villa luxury resort is located above the picturesque fishing town of Ammoudi (near Oia) and privacy, style and an almost zen-like calm are the order of the day. Then, as evening unfolds, the hotel reveals its greatest treasure: the best sunset views in Oia. When you’re not gazing at the sky, you’ll find a lot to love about Canaves Oia Epitome. From the villa interiors to the innovative rooftop terraces, the contemporary design captures the dusky hues of the surrounding volcanic landscape. Pick out your perfect lounge area and spend the day by the pool – and you don’t even have to leave your villa for this. Seek inner peace and rejuvenate with signature spa treatments. Then make for the fine dining Restaurant and lounge Bar for cocktails and world-class Greek cuisine.
2. MYSTIQUE, A LUXURY COLLECTION HOTEL
Celebrating the finer pleasures in life, Mystique is a sensual experience on the sun-drenched isle of Santorini. Situated on Oia’s famous cliffs, the stylish Mystique features dazzling views of clear blue crystalline waters, the volcano, and the Aegean Caldera. Surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful scenery, the resort’s island-style design pays homage to nature in a climate of unabashed luxury. The 35 suites and villas provide a sensorial experience in surroundings of understated elegance, with lovingly handcrafted from wood, local stone, and glass with enticing patterns carved into the walls. Antique textiles and plump, luxurious towels will wrap you in their warmth and comfort. Guests swim in the infinity plunge pools, grab a cocktail at the bar, head to the secret wine cave for a ceremonial wine tasting, and then dine at Charisma Greek or Asea Japanese Restaurant.
Poised on the cliff high above the Aegean, Perivolas is a boutique escape, offering laidback luxury and designed as a place where you can let the rest of the world slip away. Built amphitheatrically, Perivolas’ secluded location combines expansive views with the luxury of absolute tranquillity. It’s just a short walk from Oia, the most beautiful village on Greece’s most romantic and dramatic island. Once the homes, wineries and stables of Santorini’s fishermen and farmers, this group of 300-year-old caves has been transformed into a complex of serene private houses. Intimate in scale and atmosphere, every house is different. Terraced gardens spill down the slope to the infinity pool, which seems to slip off the rim of the cliff and bleed into the blue horizon. Only the occasional toll of church bells or the whistle of a fishing boat far below breaks the meditative silence. It is easy to linger here all day, watching the changing light until the sun settles into the sea.
Katikies – a complex of bridges, cubist cottages and infinity pools – is considered one of the best boutique hotels in Santorini and is a member of Leading Hotels of the World. Hugging the dramatic volcanic rim, the property is a natural fit for honeymooners, romantics and couples. The white washed suites have classic arched ceilings and majestic views of the Aegean Sea, which can be enjoyed from the large terrace with an open-air dining area, sun deck and two-person Jacuzzi. For the ultimate romantic meal, the restaurant provides the perfect setting with just four candlelit tables perched on a secret verandah rooftop overlooking the Caldera. The better-known Kirini pool restaurant offers the same breathtaking panoramas, plus a fresh, seasonal menu of traditional Mediterranean dishes. Awe inspiring views, sublime Santorini sunsets and perfectly manicured pink bougainvilleas provide the magnificent backdrop for this perennially gleaming, glistening white luxury hotel that spills down the cliffs of the magical Caldera.
5. VEDEMA, A LUXURY COLLECTION RESORT
Tucked away within the medieval village of Megalohori, the enchanting Vedema, a Luxury Collection resort, has evolved from a 400-year-old wine cellar and a 100-year-old mansion into an authentic, Cycladic-styled property. Dedicated to the needs of seasoned travelers, the resort has gained renown as a charming, luxurious and intimate retreat. Located on the western side of the island of Santorini, it is encircled by a traditional stone wall and surrounding vineyards that overlook the village and outlying Aegean sea. The hotel has been seamlessly integrated into one side of Megalohori, incorporating the ancient cellars that have been sensitively restored. Sunken pathways guide the way to the subterranean cave restaurant, a well-stocked wine cellar and the world-class Asian Spa. The architecture pays homage to the traditional fortified Greek village that still stands strong today where indigenous elements have influenced the decor and the carefree Grecian hospitality encourages a causal, barefoot philosophy.