As far as exotic islands go, Greece has none. Most of the Aegean sea is filled with tiny islands that are in the mercy of winds blowing from every direction and as a result, most of them are really bare when it comes to fauna. But this does not stop magic from happening. Santorini is not really your typical Greek island, in fact as mediterranean islands go, it is very unique in its form.
Also known as Thira, the island of Santorini as we know it today, is the remains of an enormous volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. Houses cling on to the cliffs on the side of the island that looks down to the caldera (that's the crater that is created once a volcano erupts), giving visitors exquisite views and making Santorini one of the most romantic places on Earth.
Being a volcanic island, one should not expect long white sandy beaches that can be found elsewhere in Greece. In fact most of the west side of Santorini lacks beaches but there is a port and small paths can lead you to the sea level (if you are patient enough to walk - the alternative being riding a donkey!).
With sunset views being the biggest selling point of the island, you can expect that the price of real estate to the west side will high. With little space available, hotels are crammed next to each other, with small picturesque paths between them, all whitewashed of course and in typical Greek island style.
Here are our favourite hotels on the island.
Carved into the rugged Caldera cliffs, Mystique, a Luxury Collection Hotel, overlooks the turquoise expanse of the Aegean Sea that encircles the island of Santorini. A favoured destination for honeymoons and romantic escapes, Mystique is an adults only hotel that emanates a carefree spirit, imparting an understated, exclusive feel, so reminiscent of the spectacular location.
Perks include free airport transfers, cooked-to-order breakfast and wi-fi, but for the price tag, we would have expected more. Many hotels have the exact same view and Mystique's rooms have no high spec designer feel.
Also, as the hotel is based in Oia, none of the rooms have direct sunset views although views of the caldera are stunning. Be prepared to walk down the many steps to the hotel (staff will bring your suitcases).
Have dinner in the Secret Wine Cave.
The Mystery Villa is stunning with a heated private infinity pool!
Get a villa if you want privacy in your pool/jacuzzi.
Flat shoes are better than heeled sandals if you want to go out in the town!
Adults only hotel.
Photos © Mystique Hotel, Santorini, shot by George Fakaros
Not only is this all-suites hotel in the right location for sunsets, it is also THE place to eat on the island with its "Flyaway" restaurant ranking no1 on Tripadvisor.
West East Suites have been designed by their architect-proprietors, their aim and ambition being to transcend travel accommodation into a unique living experience. The volcanic rocks, the azure waters, the colour of the caldera, the sea breeze and the endless light of the Greek sun inundating our West to East orientation, all coexist here in harmony with the natural environment.
What characterises West East Suites is the water element which surrounds and follows your every step throughout the grounds. Pool-lakes, Jacuzzi pools, pool-channels leading the way, from the parking area to the reception hall, to the suites. The blue of the sky, sea and water element surrounds you from West to East.
The 16 suites are 16 different approaches to the idea of "living". The white and grey of the building structures uniquely merge the Cycladic white with the black volcanic rocks of the island. All of the suites have spacious verandas with private pools-Jacuzzi, offering the splendour of the sunset and the magnificent sea view spanning from West to East, in luxury and total seclusion.
Photos © West East Suites, Santorini
Possibly one of the best known hotels and as such attracting a diverse crowd - from hair-dressers to instagram influencers, this is one to be seen in (take a selfie, post on Instagram). If you don't mind looking at others posing for hours next to the pool, then book the Grace straight away.
What we like: the large rooms with contemporary style however the authentic factor is lost on Grace's owners. The hotel website claims to be offering "bespoke design alongside traditional handcrafted pieces" but these handcrafted pieces are not immediately visible in the hotel photography.
The bathrooms offer double vanity units with marble carved basins and spacious rain showers with mosaic feature walls. Luxurious indeed. perfect to wash off the fake tan before lounging around the pool to soak in the sun rays and work your natural melanine to the extreme.
Breath-taking views are the norm here. A quick visit to the Champagne Lounge is a must but don't linger for long. Spend some time navigating the streets of Imerovigli and the local authentic greek food restaurants.
We think: overpriced and has lost its appeal. Location and proximity to public footway may be an issue.
Some 15 of the hotel rooms are on the public hiking trail/pathway and you are not guaranteed privacy. Check with the hotel before booking or you will need to have your windows closed.
Ask for room 54 with large inside spa and outdoor plunge pool.
Rooms under the champagne/wine bar are really nice.
Photos © Grace Hotels Limited
Sophia Luxury Suites
Sophia Luxury Suites has been designed in a way to pamper you with the natural surroundings, inspire you and make you feel welcome.
The luxury given to the details, the urban characteristics, the natural volcanic stone combined with aged wood, all blending smoothly with the unlimited surrounding blues of the Aegean Sea and the natural Cycladic elements, recalling memories from the past, become the architecture of your holiday home.
traditionally built beds, all white decor, minimalism
cave style, spa experience in the suites
The minimal Aurora Cave Suite, Sophia Suites
The character Cave Room, Sophia Suites
Superior honeymoon suite, Sophia Suites