first off, i'm writing this the day after coming back home and shy of some of the details as my wife is still in bed. i will try to be detailed as possible as i don't want to forget some of the nuances. also, this review will extend a bit outside of just our hotel stay, just a tad more inclusive of our entire trip...but the overall rating will reflect purely on my decision of the hotel and the mood it left me with.
the location is perfect.
a fairly large parking lot sits right by the hotel entrance even if you can't manage to get the one right next to the hotel. from reviews at other establishments and at other cities, this seems to be a convienence we completely overlooked but happily discovered as we also rented a car.
it sits at the highest point in santorini with a cliffside view and a complete look of the caldera. <insert bragging rights>. when people mention how beautiful the sunsets are at oia, they really have no clue...i'm guessing its part of the marketing push of oia as the honeymoon spot. the ocean sunset view over thirasia, i thought made a more interesting, romantic view than just watching it touch over open water.
the walk to fira is short but not 20 minutes. i would give it atleast 30-35 from the hotel to the more downtown area of fira which is the time you really want. this also depends on how many pictures you decide to take on your walk cliffside (took us over an hour first time), and how thin the sandals your wife is wearing at the time. the walk back at night (hours past sunset) is not preferred - some of the local kids come out and although i'm sure is completely safe, i still couldn't help but feel uncomfortable.
skaros sits right below the hotel - (think of chinaman's hat in hawaii but connected to the main island) this was a nice hike and not too strenuous if relaxation is your main goal. the church was cute, the view there fantastic.
tip - on how to get on top of the plateau of skaros - the path will split as you walk around the hill...one goes down to the church. then 2nd leads up to the base of where you actually have to do a bit of rock climbing. the shortest point (and i'm sure the only feasible way for inexperienced climbers) is behind part of a ruin that looks like a large brick door but with no door. you will know when you see it. no sandals. do not try this by yourself. you need some flexibility and a hint of upper body strength. it's really a short hop to the first ledge, then 2 short but more involved climbs thereafter. the view makes santorini complete.
it is quiet. there are not hundreds of people like in oia flocking to get a view of a sunset, nor is there any sort of night life like there is in fira. there are, of course, wonderful restaurants nearby - agnogi (no view), estia next to agnogi (must get the lamb in the oven!), and blue note which does have an excellent view of the aegean. but the lounges stay quiet so if you want a little bit of a social atmosphere, make the walk to fira and maybe take a taxi back at night.
we stayed at a studio - room 6. this was probably the smallest room available. as we got a fantastic package deal, we certainly received more than we paid for. however, i did try to move for an upgrade immediately for the later part of the stay but the rooms were all booked. in hindsight, we probably made the right move as we were only at the hotel for sleep, did not utilize the pool, and used the lounge chairs for only a few of the evenings.
something to note - our room is probably the second most private room of the hotel, the most being the room next to us (room 7?) which was a "slightly" larger studio. above and below us were the larger apartments. above was the foot traffic of the hotel guests as they would have to walk in front of your (for the most part secluded) balcony. for example, the first night we walked there i unexpectedly saw an elderly man change into his swimming trunks as roberto carried our bags to the room. privacy is a loose term as 90 percent of the time you will not see anyone else at the hotel. the pool also sits there. below sat the common path for lost adventurers...while there was a large standing wall/gated door, people could look in and watch you eat your toast at those rooms. our room had a few seconds of traffic on stairs off the side. the room next to us however only had us to deal with and had quite a view of the city left of them.
the upstairs was just the bedroom carved into a traditional cave room. watch your head. be aware that the upstairs window sat right behind lounge chairs of the lower level (meaning keep inside voices inside should you want any airflow from an open window). the lower level was just a foyeur with a table and chairs, a small closet, fridge, and a very small bathroom. it would have been nice to lay our stuff out, crash on a couch...so if you are budgeting, be wary of space.
complaints of the bathroom - almost every time we showered, the bathroom would be flooded as you would have to be very conscious of the curtain. there is no fan so humidity sticks. the infamous toilets (little water on island + low capacity toilets with weak flush = request you throw toilet paper in the provided trash can or embarrassing clogs may occur)...we rectified the situation by halving our normal toilet paper consumption and flushing it merrily along.
we have no experience with public transportation there as we rented a vehicle. this is not a must as our british neighbors only rented an atv when needed, and took the taxi or bus for other excursions. i suppose either approach is fine. for us, the convenience of having our own car each day was great as we did quite a bit of exploring and if something was beneath our expectations we could quickly move out and book it to the next town. it probably made more sense in any case as imerovigli is a smaller town and the taxis looked more sparse. be aware, if you are driving without gps (wish we had opted for one) find a GOOD map. the souvenir shops have crappy maps, the tourist centers had better, free ones. there are NO road names, just arrows to the next city...took a stressful day of driving to get used to the traffic (no lights at 5 way intersections? c'mon!).
very helpful and very friendly. yannis took care of us, roberto said hello with a smile every time we saw him. professional and courteous...not much to say here.
12 euros for the continental, 15 for the american which included bacon and eggs. in us dollars, that's quite extravagant for 5 days (150-170) so we went to the local market and purchased cheese, bread and meats (salami was great). 20 euros carried us 5 days, although we did splurge and bought a local spread of honey olive oil with crushed green and black olives for another 20 euros. if you decide on breakfast (we did one morning to experience it), the continental i thought was sufficient...the crossaints were amazing.
late september was perfect. 77 all week with one night dipping into the mid 60's. talking with shop owners, this is the time when tourism begins to decline with the summer being packed full of fainting tourists and congested areas, streets and walkways alike. it was still quite warm so the beach was nice, but the water a tad cool but manageable after a moment. on future visits, i wouldn't go any other time.
quick words outside the hotel stay for those who care -
akrotiri - the "pompeii of greece." give yourself 45 minutes. my wife was disappointed because she's actually seen pompeii, but i was thoroughly impressed. but outside the excavation site, there was little left of the culture but for a few pieces of pottery and such. most of that was at the prehistoric museum at fira. air conditioned, completely indoors, it is now reopen to the public in 2012 after being closed for 7 years due to a collapse in the roof (killed a tourist i believe).
museum of prehistoric thera - located at fira, you get to see tons of pottery, impressive wall paintings, some jewelry, and the golden donkey all from akrotiri and more. give yourself an hour.
ancient ruins of thera - view was sufficient. you were able to see both kamari and perissa from this vantage point. hot and very little shade. drive up as far as you can unless you like grueling hikes. even the german hikers (equipped with hiking poles) looked more than exhausted in the heat and sun. even from that point, there is a small 10-15 minute hike to the ruins but find yourself with very few informative plaques. may not be worth it to some people as the ruins here were not as impressive as akrotiri. will not do this again but glad i experienced it.
red beach - if you are at akrotiri, stop by. drive down further and you will find yourself a 15 minute adventure to the most "exclaimed" beach in santorini...not for us. change at the museum and use restrooms there before you drive down. bathrooms at red beach reminded me of a horror flick. it sits below this gorgeous red cliff but the beach is very rocky and sharp as you step in the water. if you don't want to do the hike, take the water taxis from the other beaches. small beach but brings lots of people.
perissia beach - more commercialized (something to be said about tourism), and more enjoyable. course but finer black sand. wife's favorite beach.
kamari beach - another black beach but overly commercialized. large beach. i enjoyed the swim there more because i found the smooth rocks beneath your feet in the water nice.
wine museum of the koutsoyannopoulos winery - more expensive probably than the other wine tours but the museum was very interesting and air conditioned. it sits below 7 meters underground and guided by an audio tour provided in many different languages. the wine tasting there had us purchase their assyrtiko varietal...a wonderful white wine. we kept the winery info for future shipments. the wineries are not lush like the ones you see all over the world due to the harsh and barren environment...so do not expect much, however, we both enjoyed this a lot....1 and half hours.
thalassa pirate ship tour - more expensive, but we enjoyed it. especially the part where they played captain jack sparrow as they hoisted the sails. the hike on top of new volcano - medium difficulty as we were under time constraints but our tour guide was knowledgeable and kind of worth it to listen on how the island was formed. the view from an unimpressive crater was just that...unimpressive. bring athletic shoes...skip this part if you aren't feeling it. the hot springs...not hot. the water was shallow for the ship to moor to closely, so only for average and above average swimmers. a woman almost drowned swimming half way from her catamaran. tepid and again unimpressive. the food filling, the box wine was sufficient, the view of the sunset outside oia amazing and romantic. mixed feelings...but still glad we did it including the hike and swim to the hot springs. if you are less athletic, find a cheaper ship as there are many available although this does come highly rated.
amoudi bay below oia - small unimpressive bay unless you see it from the ship which looks magical. had several drinks, watched a guy cut up some fresh squid and moved along. sea breeze and a beer had me enjoying this place more than i expected.
old port - there are 3 ways down, which is where most people have to go to for the ship tours. 1) cable car...people from the cruise ships congested this severely (4 cruise ships literally polluted the view and was happy when they left) so we took option 2) hike down...can be done in 20 minutes but took us 30 because we carefully navigated through probably a mile or 2 of donkey manure. 3) donkeys...this was about as fast as walking because they made a few stops but you didn't have to watch for manure so this would have been a preferred route had we foreseen the obvious dangers ahead. the old port is heavily commercialized, not much to be seen unless viewed from a ship because it so far below fira. we took the cable car back up.
one last note for tourists (i'm so sorry this is so long but wanted to archive my stay for a future visit in one site and still mention the hotel stay) - lots of walking, and most of it hilly and cobblestones no matter where you are at. trainers (i guess this is the more international term for tennis shoes) are recommended but i was comfortable in THICK flip flops. the only time i needed my tennis shoes were when i knew i had a real hike ahead of me (skaros and new volcano). my wife had thin stylish sandals which slowed her down and caused some pain. this said, baby strollers are probably not as useful...while i have no experience with children my self, i saw plenty of times where couples had to carry the stroller together on steps (all over santorini) or carried a baby by hand because they must've only brought a stroller. older folks (70ish and up) also tended to have more difficult time as well because of the frequent uphill walks and steps. this was especially the case in most visited cities like oia and fira because they were cliffside towns.
room 7 - tiny, tiny haven but for those who want more privacy from other guests when they are at the...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.