When it comes to experiencing a unique type of accommodation, hotels along the edge of Santorini’s iconic, volcanic caldera immediately spring to mind. Dangling along the edge of the cliff, more than 1,000 feet above the water, an interwoven series of staircases seems to connect the white-washed architecture in a maze-like patchwork that is breathtaking.
Iconic Santorini is one of those boutique hotels that impresses with its local design and exceptional service. This boutique cave hotel is not in the tourist hubbub of the towns of Fira or quieter Oia. Instead, its location in between them in the village of Imerovigli puts everything within walking distance. It’s the perfect central base from which to explore the island via its walking paths, but also to relax and take in the view.
Everty owns, develops and manages real estate properties around the world. The company recently purchased the hotel and brings with it a long history of expertise. It owns, develops and manages properties with a goal to invest nearly $100 million in the Greek premium real estate market. The brand is already present in other destinations including Costa Rica and Bulgaria among others. Paired with the setting and the excellent staff, this has become a dream destination that is exceptionally popular with Americans.
Here are five of the best reasons to visit the stunning Iconic Santorini Hotel.
Born in Santorini, the celebrated Executive Chef Matthaios Sorotos is responsible for the morning-to-night menus at PERGOLA Restaurant. These focus on using regional ingredients, often sourced from local purveyors and farms, to present an authentic and delicious menu. Often, guests from other hotels make an effort to visit the restaurant for its well-known menu.
Most recently, the chef redesigned the offering to include more fusion dishes. These incorporate Greek recipes and flavors with international dishes. For example, there’s an Asian bao ban dish using locally caught crayfish. Then, there’s an octopus pappardelle pairing together the island’s rich seafood culture with an Italian favorite. Most of the seafood comes from the Aegean Sea. In fact, the latter dish was born from the chef’s own family get-together. He paired leftover octopus with fresh pappardelle pasta, which eventually became one of the most popular items on the menu.
The chef takes a lot of inspiration for the recipes from his grandfather who was also a chef, but the new fusion dishes are unique to the hotel and hard to find elsewhere on the island. Other tasty options include a deconstructed chicken gyro platter with eggplant fries (the white eggplant used is native to Santorini), a South American-style ribeye steak, a tostada with local vegetables and Santorinian pork and cheesecake made with local katiki cheese.
A term coined by the ever-present and lovely general manager, the hotel exudes “Greekness” by using products and ingredients from all over Greece. It starts in the rooms where the beds are topped with Greek-made Cocomat mattresses and duvets that are simply dreamy. Bathrooms have Cocomat towels, and the vanities stock Greek toiletries and loofah sponges born from the sea.
Each guest receives a welcome bottle of Santorinian wine in the room, and the art pieces and furnishings come from local producers and designers. On the menu is a stunning array of local products and ingredients with nearly a dozen different Greek cheeses. The recipes all bring to mind postcard-like tables of endless Greek dishes.
Even the do-not-disturb sign is actually a colorful string of prayer beads, a common sight in the hands of Greek people. In typical Santorinian fashion, panels on the doors open to let in natural light and the scenery while keeping the room cool. If you’re looking to experience all-things-Greece, Iconic Santorini Hotel offers up the ideal experience.
Accommodations here are mostly housed within the white-washed cave walls from centuries ago. They used to be home to locals and passing sailors seeking shelter from the sun or harsh wind and weather. Their design allows them to remain cool even on the most blazing-hot days, but don’t worry, they also have air conditioning these days. Beautiful blue or grey doors open to the bespoke decor of each room.
Cycladic touches are the focus of the design with wooden chairs decorated with Greek shawls. Each room is different in the layout with some opening to private terraces while others share space with the neighbor. Many have private whirlpools that bubble in the shade. Others are close to the beautiful pool with its splashing fountains and infinity edge with beautiful caldera views. It’s a sea of white buildings hugging the cliff. Punctuated only by turquoise blue plunge pools and the occasional blue roof of a small church on a hill, the view is amazing.
It’s hard not to want to snap selfies and panoramic photographs at every turn, and if you look atop the main cliffs, you’ll see plenty of influencers snapping their new cover photo.
Despite the thick stone walls, the Wi-Fi here is surprisingly excellent, and it works both indoors and out on the terrace. Since guests under 14 are not allowed, the atmosphere remains quite relaxed and serene.
Like many other hotels, you don’t fully discover the hotel until you follow the zig-zagging stairways on the hillside. The reception area is tiny. Most of the gathering space is in the restaurant and along the terraces that front every room. It’s the kind of place where you’ll rarely see anyone. Even when it is full, it is the perfect destination for honeymooners and romantic getaways.
All rooms have some sort of caldera view, and many have private whirlpools that are tucked into corners overlooking the sea. Four Honeymoon Suites have an entirely different view from their whirlpool. They have a romantic spot one level below the main bedroom in a private cave. It’s a unique and romantic spot to relax away from anyone else.
Each morning, a complimentary and hearty Greek breakfast is delivered to one’s private terrace. With a simple knock on the door, you walk outside to discover a sumptuous Greek feast. It is laid out with precision to enjoy picture-perfect views of the sea and the caldera. Where else can you feel like you have the whole island to yourself. Yet, within minutes, you can walk to other restaurants, shops and viewing points.
The team here is exceptional. They are unobtrusive, but the staff is always available. For starters, you’ll appreciate that they help carry bags up and down the stone stairways. In the bar and restaurant, they are always there with a smile. They even make recommendations for their favorite wines or give feedback on places to visit.
With a nearly 2-to-1 guest to staff ratio, there is always someone there with a smile. Many have worked at the hotel for years. This includes some, like the chef, who were born on the island and proud to show off its famous hospitality.
Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist covering hotels, cruises, airlines, and loyalty programs from around the globe.