Want romance with a view? You won't be able to take your eyes off this incredible island hideaway in Santorini, Greece.
SANTORINI, Greece – As we’re getting off the plane, landing in Santorini from London, I overhear a typically middle class, middle-aged British couple talk about taking a ferry right over to the island of Folegandros, "what Santorini was like 20 years ago." It is no secret that Santorini is a tourist trap. You're more likely to hear English than Greek being spoken, especially in the main towns of Oia and Imerovigli. In the next breath, the couple mentions that they will end their trip with three nights in Santorini. "We keep coming back."
After vacationing on the famous island, I understand that irrespective of the hoards of over-eager tourists running (literally running) through Oia to catch what feels like a particularly stressful sunset, Santorini is just too mind-blowingly beautiful to write-off as ruined by tourists. Improbably carved out of a cliff top, the main towns feel like Star Wars sets, with their smooth white cavernous architecture looking out onto that spectacular Caldera (a cauldron-like volcanic depression). Oh that view. The seemingly endless Aegean peppered by Santorini’s satellite islands sparkle in brilliant sunlight and twinkle flirtatiously at sunset. Blimey, it’s enough to make a cynical girl feel spiritual. There are, of course, pricey hotels serving up the Santorini view, one fifteen-euro cocktail at a time. But they certainly do it well.
Which brings me to Perivolas. Often called The Original, Perivolas was one of the first hotels on the island, founded by the Psycha family 33 years ago, when Nadia and Manos turned four 300-year-old fisherman houses and donkey stables into simple-yet-chic guest rooms. The Psycha’s granddaughter, Sandrine, now works on the property, which has expanded over the years to 21 rooms. The gate to the hotel is just off the three-hour hiking trail from Fira to Oia, covering the length of the island, with views so breathtaking passers-by stop just outside the gate to take it in. For Perivolas guests, it is the view you wake up with, it is the view you have breakfast with, it is the view you gaze at from the pool, and it is the view you drink up at sunset, on your private terrace as you squabble over an epic game of Rummikub (just us?), away from the masses.
We stayed in three rooms during our vacation (we’re crazy cats like that) – 18, 14, and the OMG Perivolas Luxury Suite. Not it’s official name, but OMG is the indisputable reaction you have upon entering the room, complete with its own jacuzzi, steam room, and private pool that opens up from the bedroom, all housed in two whitewashed caves that look out onto the stunning view. Did I mention the view?
Rates from €550 per night. Make a reservation.
Nestled into the hillside overlooking the Caldera, the hotel is less than a ten-minute walk from the town of Oia, yet maintains an otherworldly quiet that silences the tourist hubbub.
Tranquil, pared down Cycladic elegance.
This Place Is Perfect For
Couples. This is one of the most romantic places on Earth and an extremely popular honeymoon destination. If you’re single and do not want to be, avoid it at all costs.
What’s on Site
The hotel is essentially a series of caves scattered along a winding path that leads to the infinity pool your Instagram account has been waiting for (Perivolas was one of the first hotels in Santorini to install one). There’s also a gym and spa, both of which look out onto the sea, which almost tempted me to work out. Almost.
Food + Drink
Breakfast is included and lovely: a more than adequate buffet of toast, cereal, and mini Greek pastries with an a la carte menu on offer too. The Greek-style scrambled eggs and freddo cappuccino were my go-to. The restaurant also serves lunch and dinner, which is delicious (the best caprese salad I’ve ever eaten thanks to juicy, skinless tomatoes and a spiced cheese combo). It is truly romantic at night, with tables scattered across tiered terraces lit by artfully placed lanterns. If you crave alone time it is ideal. But if you are after anything resembling a scene at dinner time you need eat elsewhere.
Number of Rooms
There are 21 rooms, two of which can sleep up to four people.
No TVs, but it took us two days to notice as we were so enamored by the view. WiFi is patchy but generally fine. Enough to download a Kindle book and upload an Instagram photo, but not enough for a Netflix streaming session which is probably for the best. Every room comes with a complimentary carafe of Vinsanto dessert wine produced on the island which is a sweet little touch. Rituals toiletries and generic international snacks in mini bar (besides the Mythos beer) are fine. There's also an in-room coffee machine.
My inner monologue while perusing the lunch menu: Look, it's pricey. A $30 salad and $12 beer … eeesh. But you know, you’re at one of the most beautiful hotels on the island of Santorini. This is why you save money. Suck it up.
The service is impeccable but it’s got to be the location. It is simply other-worldly. It is sometimes difficult to really believe it's real.
What to Do Nearby
Fino is a cute little spot, a fifteen-minute walk from the the hotel, off the main route through Oia. Not that it is especially traditional, but my husband proclaimed the burger to be one of the best he's ever eaten. This is a man who has seen a few burgers in his time.
Ammoudi Bay is a must, at the bottom of cliff, with the sea lapping at the handful of Greek tavernas specializing in fish. We walked there through Oia, down 250 steps at sunset to the bay, which was enjoyable except that the 250 steps were littered with more donkey shit than we ever thought possible. Be warned.
Athenian House in Imerovigli is also worth checking out. It’s an expensive 10-15 minute taxi ride away, but it is worth it for the delicious food on a terrace overlooking, you guessed it, that view.
Good to Know
If you fancy being active, people say the hiking trail from Fira to Oia is fun. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing. And if you’re after ultimate privacy/want to live like a celeb/are a celeb check out the Perivolas Hideaway, a private villa situated on the satellite island of Therasia, just a few minutes by boat from Santorini. It can sleep up to eight and comes with its own chef, skipper, and watersports facility.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
How to Get There
The hotel includes a private transfer from the island’s airport or port on arrival and departure, both approximately 25 minutes. There are cars, ATVs, and motorcycles available if you want to explore the island more.