Some people say that the Greek island of Santorini is actually the legendary island of Atlantis – and it’s not hard to see why. The cave-style buildings clinging to the volcanic cliffs, the blue-domed churches, the cobbled stairways leading to doors that open to a view of the sea… it really is the stuff that myths and fantasies are made of.
Now if you’re visiting Santorini, it’s worth knowing that while the island is dotted with a number of pretty villages, what most people are looking for is to step into the picture-perfect whitewashed town they’ve seen in photos. If that’s the case, it’s the village of Oia (pronounced ee-ya), on the island’s northwestern tip, which you want to stay in.
The town is also home to some of the most luxurious and romantic hotels in the world, and if you want the true Cycladic experience, it’s hard to go past a traditional cave-style hotel. I stayed at the Andronis Luxury Suites and its newly opened sister resort, the Andronis Boutique Hotel – two intimate resorts that wind their way down the cliff-side in stunningly minimalist fashion.
I feel that it’s wise to splurge on accommodation when you’ll be spending a lot of time at your hotel relaxing, and Santorini is one of those destinations where relaxing is what it’s all about. Soaking in the sun, spending lazy days by the pool, taking in the views, and dining (or dreaming about your next meal) are the primary activities.
Actually, I should probably add drooling to that list of activities because I spent a lot of time doing that. I mean really, it doesn’t matter how much you swoon over the pictures and hype Andronis up in your head, it’ll live up to even the wildest of expectations. I know that no hotel can be perfect, but I really did struggle to find anything wrong with the place. In the end, the worst I could come up with was the patchy-wi-fi in my room. But then it dawned on me that I was literally staying in a cave where the signal couldn’t reach, and that nobody else came to a place like this to work anyway. Point taken. So I shut my computer and headed to the pool.
Finding a hotel with a great pool is particularly important in Santorini. The location of the cities – perched high along the cliffs – makes beaches much harder to access than on Greece’s other islands. Not to mention that the Agean is a particularly cold sea, even in the summertime.
The infinity pool at the Luxury Suites is breathtaking to say the least. You could stare at the blindingly white buildings that tumble down the cliffs all day (and I did). Meanwhile, the pool at the Boutique Hotel offers spectacular views of the “caldera” – the body of water formed by a volcanic eruption 3600 years ago.
Both hotels offer poolside service, since few people want to tear themselves away from their deckchair… assuming they even made it as far as the pool in the first place. You see, each of the suites are fitted with jacuzzis, either inside the room or on the private balconies – so there’s really no need to ever leave your suite.
It’s the little details that round out the experience. From the “welcome” that includes a Greek wine and taste of local specialties, to the organic Greek amenities in the bathrooms, to the a-la-carte breakfast (which includes ouzo flavored marmalade!) that’s served on your balcony each morning – you’re spoiled at every turn. And everybody else coming to Santorini knows it too, since the hotel is visible to awe-struck onlookers from high up on the main pedestrian road. Most photographed is the hotel restaurant which juts way out over the sea, where guests can dine or take part in a private wine tasting (Santorini – and Greece in general – produces many varietals not found outside the country).
Not surprisingly, the Andronis resorts are popular with honeymooners and couples on romantic getaways and the service is clearly provided with this in mind – staff are always attentive yet discreet. They also make it a point to get to know the guests and greet them all by name, which I have to admit, makes you feel pretty special.
Really, you can indulge just about every whim here… and if you don’t believe me, just read through the hotel directory in the suites and keep going until you get to the bit about the private helicopter rides they can organize for you…now that’s taking luxury to new heights.
NB: The first 8 photos below are of the Andronis Boutique Hotel and the final 8 feature the Andronis Luxury Resort. The two properties are located a few doors down from each other and boast many of the same features. If you are trying to choose between the two, it’s worth noting that the Luxury Suites come with excellent views of the cliff-side buildings while the Boutique Hotel does not (it has an unbroken view of the caldera instead). Both properties are intimate, at 14 and 22 suites, respectively.
*I was a guest of the Andronis Exclusive Group.