- I’m a
travelwriter who has been visiting Santorinievery year for the past 15 years.
- I spend up to three months at a time each year reviewing hotels and these are the 10 best places to stay.
In my work as a travel writer, I’ve been visiting Santorini every year for the past 15 years. And while most people might come here for just a few days before hopping to another island, I often spend two to three months at a time each year reviewing hotels.
As such, I’ve gleaned major intel on the local lodging scene that I use to help friends and family choose the right place to stay. To help them decide, I first ask a set of key questions.
Do you want to pay extra for a small room overlooking the famous caldera? Or would you prefer a cheaper, larger suite inland? Do you envision an iconic carved-out-of-the-cliff cave room with a private hot tub or private plunge pool (and staggering prices to match), or does it make more sense to pick a resort with shared, but equally impressive amenities? Do you want somewhere romantic, or are you seeking a family-friendly vibe?
And, of course, the all-important question in Santorini: If you want spectacular vistas from your room, are you willing to contend with countless slippery steps?
Only you can answer these questions, but based on the answer, I can help guide you to the best hotels, from swoon-worthy suites to celebrity-loved resorts and cheaper out-of-the-way hotels. These are the best hotels I’ve stayed in on Santorini, for every type of traveler.
One of my favorite caldera hideaways for couples, the recently revamped NOBU Santorini sits off a peaceful side road between Oia and Fira with breathtaking views over both sides of the caldera.
The 30 rooms of this Cycladic-style boutique hotel are like cozy, dome-roofed caves with large bathrooms and king-size beds, and there’s also a womb-like spa. For me, the absolute highlight is the stunning infinity pool — a sunset dip with a cocktail in hand and endless views is guaranteed to take your breath away.
Canvas Oia Epitome
This celebrity-loved gourmet bolthole within strolling distance of Oia’s shops and the famed castle is the epitome of luxury on an island where there are plenty of high-end hotels to consider. All of Canavas Oia Epitome’s 24 suites and villas are spacious, with stand-alone bathtubs and large, heated private pools, while award-winning chef Tasos Stefatos heads Elements restaurant, offering a sumptuous spin on modern Greek cuisine. But my favorite part about staying here is, because it’s away from the main caldera area, there are no steps to navigate and you can park right outside the hotel.
With just a scattering of low-key tavernas and a small black-sand beach, Vlychada (where the catamarans leave for sunset cruises), is one of the island’s more remote spots. That’s where you’ll find Villa Michalis, with its good-sized pool and cheerfully painted comfortable (but not luxurious) rooms. It’s one of my favorite options when I want to stay away from the crowded areas of Santorini and it’s an excellent budget option, too. Rooms are cheap and a continental breakfast is included in the price.
For wow factor and strong romantic appeal, I don’t think you can do better than Opera Mansion. This spectacularly distinctive villa is perched along the cobbled backstreets of Fira town, and housed in what was once (some 200 years ago) Santorini’s opera house. Photogenic features include a blood-red indoor heated pool, a large “his and hers” steam room, and a private wine cellar where you can order a romantic dinner cooked to your specifications.
Privacy is just about impossible near the caldera, where hotels are crammed against one another, and your seemingly private plunge pool or terrace is often overlooked by the neighboring hot tubs and restaurants of about a dozen different hotels.
But standing well away from the crowds on the island’s highest hill, and within strolling distance of shops and taverns in the traditional village of Pyrgos, Santorini Sky’s six hip villas are real hidden gems. Each includes a large infinity pool and a full kitchen, and there is also a geodesic dome where you can enjoy a pre-booked romantic meal beneath the stars.
It’s a long hike along a slippery cobbled mule path to reach this lovely family-friendly spa hotel, but I promise it’s worth it, not only for the views over the caldera and Skaros Rock (among the best you can get) but also because of the fantastic service. Astra Suites was actually one of the island’s first cave hotels (created back in 1985), but the 22 recently renovated rooms and suites are large and comfortable (some have heated plunge pools) with cute terraces where you can sit and enjoy those stunning views.
Close to some of the island’s best beaches and with ample comfort for a short stay, this family-friendly beach beauty is a great choice if you’re on a budget. Chez Sophie’s 12 rooms are grouped around a kidney-shaped pool and are fairly spartan, but I found the beds to be supremely comfortable, and if you’re like me, you don’t come to Santorini to stay in your room.
There’s no restaurant (although a generous breakfast is included), but it’s steps away from hip cafés and seafood taverns lining the black-sand beach of Kamari, and there are regular buses to Fira and Oia.
On an island where cave rooms are two-a-penny, Ikies‘ sumptuous grotto suites that cling to the edge of the caldera really stand out, not only because they are incredibly stylish, but also because of the gourmet in-room dining menu, which I found to be quite convenient after returning from a long day of sightseeing.
Just a 15-minute stroll from the center of Oia, the 13 rooms (10 with whirlpool baths) have domed ceilings, tiny windows, pretty caldera-view terraces, and some have antique furnishings.
Youth Hostel Anna
On an island where very cheap accommodations are fairly rare, Youth Hostel Anna is a reliable choice that’s only a 20-minute bus ride from Fira and just across from a black-sand beach and Perissa’s funky bars and laid-back tavernas.
There are brightly painted dorms with bunk beds (up to 14 beds) but they also have private rooms facing a small swimming pool. But the thing I like best about this no-frills hostel, which has been a backpacker HQ for several decades, is the fact that it’s also a great place to meet fellow travelers.
A far cry from Oia’s surging crowds, but within easy reach when you want to mingle with them, this bijou adults-only boutique retreat on the edge of a traditional hilltop makes an ideal base for sight-seeing. Unlike many hotels on the caldera, Carpe Diem’s cave-style rooms and suites are spacious, and bathrooms have huge bespoke cement tubs. There’s also a glittering infinity pool overlooking fields and vineyards, and the restaurant serves tasty dishes, including my favorite, the meltingly tender chicken cooked in the local Vinsanto wine.