Best island greek hotels

Best island greek hotels

  • 1. ISTORIA SANTORINI, GREECE
  • The designer digsIstoria means ‘story’ in Greek. And when Antonis and Kalia Eliopoulos drove down a narrow track to Perivolos beach to explore socialite Christina Tassou’s abandoned mansion and stables, they saw the chance to tell a very different one; not of Santorini’s hotel-clogged western caldera but of human obsession and the wild, black sands of the remote south-east. At the age of 15, Tassou caught the attentions of a Saudi sovereign, 35 years her senior, at the Greek royal court where her father was equerry. The king doggedly pursued her across Europe but to no avail. To trim a very long tale, she eventually escaped here and seems to have preferred horses: her home was hung with oil paintings of her five steeds.ISTORIA OPENS A NEW CHAPTER IN SANTORINI’S STORYCaptivated by her epic life, the maverick hoteliers behind Mystique and hilltop Vedema engaged Athens-based Interior Design Laboratorium to create a barefoot retreat, a homage less to Tassou than to organic storytelling by design. The departure from the whitewashed hotels and jet-skis of Oia, and the physical isolation here, are reinforced by a stripped-down ethos which allows the original stone structure – and wilderness itself – to dominate. Its translucent waters are arch-framed from 12 suites, six of which are converted from the original stables, where nature’s palette is repainted in blush plaster, polished cement floors and clay-toned linens. On a taverna-less part of the coast, quantity is replaced with an impressive strike of quality at Mr E, the invention of Noma alum Alexandros Tsiotinis. Ingredients for his re-tellings of classics are sourced from Tassou’s former gardens. Her spirit remains in little reminders: water troughs and bridles are the hotel’s art. But the showpiece here is the 30-metre slate pool, with the caldera-rivalling drama of monolithic Mesa Vouno range rising behind. It’s said to be the largest pool on the island – or perhaps that’s just a fable. Either way, Istoria opens a new chapter in Santorini’s story. By Roxy Kavousi-WalkerAddress: Istoria Santorini, Perivolos, 847 03, Greece
    Telephone: +30 2286 085051
    Websitedesignhotels.com
    Prices: Doubles from about £335BRECHENMACHER & BAUMANN
    • 2. CANAVES OIA EPITOME, SANTORINI
    • The family favouriteSpace is rare in Oia; a commodity on the brink of consumption. Every square inch of cliffside here on the caldera, a giant’s bite into coastline, has been gobbled up by immaculately iced cake-like hotels jostling for a ringside seat. Yes, when it comes to Corbusier-lauded Cycladic minimalism, it’s poster-framed perfection. Yes, it’s all very pretty in a chaotic sweet shop kind of way – but a little claustrophobic. Canaves Oia Epitome turns its back on all of that. The fourth property from the Chaidemenos family opened in May 2018, a mile north at Ammoudi Bay, facing away from the caldera in a brazen flouting of conventional hotel wisdom.THE OPEN LAYOUT IS LIBERATING: ALMOST ALL SKY, SEA AND POOLIn 1985, Yiannis and Anna were among the first to lure travellers to the Santorini fishing village with views that captured the very curve and expanse of the planet. The two cliffside caves they converted into minimalist dens for neo-troglodytes became Canaves Oia, and then the all-white Cycladic hotel brand which set the tone of the island’s smart scene for the next three decades. Now in charge, their sons Markos and Alexandros bring a stylistic gear change. For Epitome, the group’s first family-friendly hotel, they called in K-Studio, the hip home-grown designers behind Mykonos’s Bill & Coo Coast and ultra-cool Scorpios. The open layout is liberating: almost all sky, sea and pool with 24 quasi-neolithic, low volcanic stone cubes camouflaged into the rock face. These are brain-coolingly expansive villas. The huge Aqua Retreat has an aquarium-like window in the lower bedroom casting an ethereal blue light from the depths of the pool. There are plenty of places for families to escape one another; the black sands of Katharos beach are just a teen-stroll away. Swirls of tangerine in the sky signal the time to regather. The lesser-spotted sunsets here are somehow better than the ones at Oia. The ones over the caldera no longer seem worth the price. By Roxy Kavousi-WalkerAddress: Canaves Oia Epitome, Oia 84702, Thira 847 02, Greece
      Telephone: +30 2286 071844
      Websitecanaves.com
      Prices: Doubles from about £340CHRISTOS DRAZOS
    • 3. ELIVI, SKIATHOS
    • The natural retreatSkiathos has a certain reputation. It all began in the mid-1960s, with a national drive to promote the former shipbuilding centre off the coast of Thessaly as a tourist destination. It was a beautiful oddity in the pebble-shored Sporades: a pine-forested interior, peacock-blue waters and more than 50 beaches with sand as soft and fine as wheat flour. And when the international airport opened, a hop from London to Sporadic shore took just three hours. It was easy – too easy. But Elivi is different. In some way, it goes back to the beginning: it’s a renovation of the Xenia hotel, built in 1963 as part of the original initiative, set in the Koukounaries nature reserve and black-swan-nested lagoon on the south-western peninsula. The towering Aleppo pines give the terracotta-painted contemporary low-rise a sense of privacy and maturity, its 32 rooms and 68 beachside suites and villas camouflaged in the landscape. This is an another-level hotel for Skiathos with a boutique, family spirit; it’s owned and run by Greek father and daughter Elias and Vivi Nathanailidi.WHY, OH WHY, LEAVE THIS PLACE? Families are encouraged here, not least by the staff who, in seconds, learn toddlers’ names and seem eager to serve ice cream to little dictators. Buggies zip guests between their residences – rooms have a Scandi-Med feel, all pale woods with linen curtains – two pools, an Elemis spa and hammam, yoga studio and tennis courts. Along with Leda and The Swan, a white-tablecloth restaurant on a purple allium-strewn terrace, there are four taverna-served narrow private beaches with Caribbean-hued waters. (One of them is nudist, cheekily named Little Banana). Water taxis can be taken from the beach to Skiathos Port, but why, oh why, leave this place? It’s so easy, the right kind of easy. Blockaded from the rest of the island by a fragrant natural fortress, it’s like the time before they came. Skiathos’s name is due a reappraisal. By Charlotte SinclairAddress: Elivi, Koukounaries Bay, Skiathos, Greece
      Telephone: +30 2427 440900
      Websiteelivihotels.com 
      Prices: Doubles from about £165HEINZ TROLL
    • 4. OLEA ALL SUITE HOTEL, ZAKYNTHOS
    • The zen masterThis opening marks something of a sea change for Zakynthos: a calm, smart design hotel, masterminded by slick Athens-Stockholm studio Block 722, heralds a new grown-up era for the roaring beach-party island. In some ways, it’s also a symbol of the resurgence of Greece. Plans for its creation, on a hillside above the north-coast town of Tsilivi, go back 20 years – to the decade before the global financial crisis curled its fingers around the throat of Europe. When its grip was finally released in 2018, the hotel was built within a staggering six months; the arrival coincided more or less with the completion of Greece’s final financial bail-out.THIS IS THE NEW ZEN ZAKYNTHOS, AN ISLAND UPWARDLY REINCARNATEDFor owner Venia Xenou, part of the powerful local family behind 12 island hotels including Zante Maris Suites, the vision of what Olea would become didn’t dim during the intervening period. Perhaps because the vision was so strong. At first look, it could be a classical Hellenic city with whitewashed temples which appear to float on a terraced 4,000-square-metre lake. But the real art here is in the landscaping which allows water, and a certain energy, to flow seamlessly through tranquil rooms and subtly interconnected plunge pools. Inside, hard-lined concrete minimalism is softened with dark wood, lending a little dash of the Japanese while hanging egg-chairs and rattan inject the tropical. It’s all about flow here: indoor-outdoor flow; go-with-the-flow jumpsuits in the boutique; and yoga flow for morning asanas in the spa. This is the new Zen Zakynthos, an island upwardly reincarnated. And even if at night the faint sounds of karaoke bars can be heard from Tsilivi, the party on this island seems to be changing its tune. By Becky LucasAddress: Olea All Suite Hotel, Planos 291 00, Greece
      Telephone: +30 2695 022265
      Websiteoleaallsuitehotel.com 
      Prices: Doubles from about £135
    • 5. KATIKIES, MYKONOS
    • The after party padFew consider Mykonos their Aegean go-to for social reclusion. But among the island’s more wholesome secrets are its covert refuges – even Dionysus needed a break from the fun. Most discreet yet on point is the new Katikies Mykonos, ensconced on a misshapen beanbag of land on the south-west coast, just east of the island of Delos, where the god’s toga-clad cult engaged in rituals of ecstasy. It opened in June 2018 as the equally shy, 30-year-younger sister to the adored Santorini original – a local design pioneer in its day – and was an instant classic, recalling the go-slow, get-lost spirit of pre-1950s Cyclades that second-wave bohemians fell in love with. It’s even hard to find: just a hamlet-like stack of pristine sugar cubes above Agios Ioannis’s quiet smile of sand. In fact, owner Nikolaos Pagonis’s amphitheatrical layout conceals 35 rooms with private terraces and plunge pools within a labyrinth of alleyways, creating illusions of space, solitude – and that little thrill of discovery.
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