I’ve traveled to many beautiful places in my life, but nowhere in the world has the look and feel of Santorini in the south Aegean Sea. Formed by a massive volcanic explosion 3,600 years ago (called the Minoan Eruption), only the remnants of the top of a volcanic cone are left to overlook the expansive caldera, now filled in by the sea.
Santorini is all those descriptors we writers use too flippantly – breathtaking, peaceful, awe-inspiring, spectacular. Sheer cliffs, white, sugar cube houses and deep blue Aegean water make for the picture perfect Greek isle experience. Seriously. Go.to.here.
But where should you stay? I thought you’d never ask!
Breathtaking is just about the only word to describe the view from Astarte Suites, where Lauren & I spent two ro-tic nights in Santorini. Situated near the ancient settlement Akrotiri, far south of the bustling towns of Fira & Oia, Astarte Suites has to be one of the most romantic places I’ve ever been. Given I was visiting with my best gal pal Lauren and not some handsome hunky hunk, I made the best of it by flirting with the super cute pool waiter and lounging by the pool for hours on end. It’s not romance exactly, but it’ll do.
No matter where you’re sitting at the 9-room property, the sky and the sea seem to soothe you like a big blue massage. It’s easy to let hours slip away just staring into the silent caldera. Once in a while a ferry from Mykonos or Athens or another nearby island zooms into the harbor, so you might hear the faint rumbling of engines. But then it evaporates into the blue and all is silent again. From atop a fluffy cushion on the pool deck , all the white houses and hotels across the caldera look like a dusting of snow on top of a mountain.
If you’re searching for a perfect honeymoon spot, Astarte Suites is it. Every room has a view of the volcano/caldera and a private Jacuzzi with twinkling Swarovski stones adorning the ceiling above. The beds are beyond comfy and breakfast is served daily on your private patio. Lauren & I padded around in our bathrobes & slippers, sipping orange juice, eating crepes and fighting over if we should listen to classical music or country. So I guess we are a little bit like a married couple.
Astarte Suites has so many good qualities, it’s hard to list them all. The amazing service & friendly staff (and yes, hot waiter) made Lauren & I feel so welcome; the pool area is magical – you never want to leave; and the food at the on-site restaurant was absolutely to die for. We had pork tenderloin & goat cheese for dinner one night and simple souvlaki for lunch one afternoon – both were cooked to a turn. You don’t ever actually have to leave the property unless you are just dying to see the sights.
Downsides to the resort are few. The property is tucked on the southernmost part of the island, so it’s perfect if you want solitude and relaxation, but maybe not the ideal centrally located base if you want to vigorously explore the rest of the island. (You can rent a car pretty reasonably, so it’s definitely possible. Lauren & I just aren’t cut out for driving in foreign countries.) Once you’re at the resort, there are a million reasons to stay put the entire time. The biggest one is the hill you have to climb to get back up to the road. Being a lazy cow, I could only get myself to go out maybe twice a day… but I’m sure there are fitter, more gung-ho travelers out there who wouldn’t mind the effort.
Me? I just wanted to chat with the hot pool waiter & get a tan. What more do you need from a Greek Island vacation?
For more information on Astarte Suites, click here.
We didn’t want to leave Astarte Suites… ever. Fortunately our next stop was Hotel Aigialos, a beautiful example of Cycladic architecture perched on the rim of the caldera. The 16 rooms are actually traditional houses melded together to form one modern complex with stunning views of the volcano, town of Fira and port below.
The breezes that blow through the Cycladic Islands are quite famous, and each room at Aigialos is named for one of them. We stayed in the Notos room, named for the south wind, overlooking the Byzantine Church of Christ & the town of Fira.
The manager at Aigialos was a wonderful man named Jean-Pierre. He answered all of our questions and directed us toward the tastiest restaurants and best nightlife in Fira. When Lauren & I ran into him while exploring town, he bought us Coke Zero and chatted us up even more. Jean-Pierre is just the kind of person you hope to befriend when traveling – knowledgeable, sweet & excited about his property and the location at large. One night he ensured we started our night out in style with a private wine, cheese & fruit party on our balcony. We finally found a man for our ro-tic dinners!
When you go to Santorini, look him up!
Romantic, practical and centrally located, you can’t pick a better hotel in Fira than Aigialos. It was everything we wanted – gorgeous views, proximity to town and activities, friendly staff, pool & room service. A great choice on Santorini!
For more information on Hotel Aigialos, click here.
Up a hill, down a hill, over the many, many cobblestones, down, down, down, down the stairs, up, up, up some more stairs… eventually, you’ll arrive at the cliff’s edge and the very private Spitia Villas. Fortunately, one of the staff will meet you in Oia (ee-ya) to gather your bags. (Be nice to them. Pack light and don’t forget to tip!) The location may be a bear to get to, but the view is so worth it!
Stacked with dozens of other blinding white Cycladic buildings into a steep hillside, the settlement of Oia is famous for its magnificent sunsets over the Aegean. Hundreds of tourists flock here every night to watch the sun descend. The best way to avoid that fracas is to reserve a room at Spitia, where you’ll have your own Jacuzzi, kitchen and yes, a spectacular balcony view of the sunset.
I spent so much time on my balcony just gazing at the water & the stacks of white houses above and below, I forgot to take a picture of my adorable loft bedroom! The living space downstairs was perfect (and I remembered to take a picture) for me to get a ton of work done, and the free unlimited WiFi was a godsend. The full kitchen allowed me to cook dinner for the first time in about 5 months which was nice. Simple pasta and veggies was enough to make me happy, and it saved me a heckuva trip back up the stairs to town. (Yes, I’m a lazy cow, but we’re talking a LOT of stairs to get to a restaurant here. One night I just skipped eating because I couldn’t bear the thought of the trek.)
As with almost every property I visited in Greece, a delicious breakfast was included and you know what that means – Greek yogurt and honey! I ate it every single day in Greece and crave it now that I’m gone.
Private, quiet and equipped for living, Spitia Suites is a great choice if you want to do your own thing & don’t need much extra service. It is a hike to get to, but totally worth it for the views and the privacy. Just be sure to run all your errands in town before you head back to your room. You won’t want to make that trip twice!
For more information on Spitia Suites, click here.
*Stays were complimentary. Thanks to each hotel for hosting me!