Near a peaceful village church on Santorini’s popular northern tip, Canaves Oia Hotel is a laid-back boutique bolthole with bleached-white rooms, a relaxed poolside restaurant and a buzzy swim-up bar. Days here are spent lazing by the Aegean-surveying pool, feasting on fava, seafood and cherry tomatoes, and making the most of the additional facilities at the hotel's sister property, Canaves Oia Suites, which boasts a spellbinding spa and ambitious gourmet restaurant.
Get this when you book through us:
A welcome drink each by the pool on arrival; GoldSmiths get an upgrade to the next best room category (subject to availability) and two glasses of vinsanto wine poolside, once during their stay
Noon. Earliest check-in, 3pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £584.16 (€650), including tax at 13.5 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €4.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates include a champagne buffet breakfast; guests can also order pastries, fresh fruit and juices, cold cuts and cheeses, made-to-order omelettes and Greek-style potatoes to enjoy on their own terrace.
Santorini produces prized aromatic wines from its volcanic soil; book a spot on the private tasting terrace to sample local vintages and a tempting platter of Greek cheeses at sunset.
10 November 2015 to 1 April 2016.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, iPod dock, minibar, tea and coffee-making facilities, Elemis toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Adapted from the existing caves, rooms take their design cues from Santorini’s clean, whitewashed aesthetic; some have antique wooden furniture, bespoke Italian sofas, carved headboards or decorative mirrors. Top marks go to the Honeymoon Suite, for its meandering, river-like plunge pool, reached by steps from the bathroom.
Meandering into a rock-hewn cave, the hotel's infinity pool is small but blissfully shaded; get cosy at the swim-up bar with your fellow guests and order something artfully mixed and perfectly chilled.
None, but you can use the spa at Canaves Oia Suites, the hotel's blissful sister property, a short stroll away.
No Santorini capsule wardrobe should be without glamorous shades and flat grippy sandals.
Over-14s are welcome, but we suggest leaving the not-so-little Smiths at home, this is a made-for-romance hotel.
Tucked away beneath bougainvillea at one corner of the pool, the pergola-shaded table is a pleasant spot for breakfast.
Preppy cruise chic: pack white linens, nautical stripes and silky head scarves.
The island’s balmy climate calls for leisurely alfresco meals. The poolside restaurant serves pan-Mediterranean fare; expect risotto with beef ragout, lemon-scented grouper, and colourful halloumi and watermelon salad. Guests can also eat at sister hotel Canaves Oia Suite's ambitious restaurant, Petra, tucked away on its own intimate terrace with just three tables. Book ahead for chef Andreas Evangelatos’ set menu of authentic Santorinian recipes.
The poolside bar mixes mean cocktails, many of which are laced with Greece’s potent mastika liqueur. Ginger, mango and chili provide sweet, exotic notes; take your drink to one of the tables at the edge of the pool to watch the sun set behind Oia and its lights twinkling into the night.
Order snacks, Greek feasts and tipples until 11pm.
Staff will happily set up a candlelit table on your terrace: just call for your pick of the restaurant menus during opening hours.
Canaves Oia Hotel is at the entrance of Oia’s pedestrian area, on a quiet caldera-facing spot on Santorini’s northern tip.
Santorini airport is well served in the summer from European destinations, with direct flights from London Heathrow and Gatwick. Connecting flights from Athens take about 45 minutes. There are limited taxis on the island, so it’s best to organise transfers in advance. The hotel can arrange private transfers for up to four people for €90 each way. If there are more than four of you, the charge is €20 for each additional guest.
The hotel is a half-hour drive from the airport and the port; take the twisting ‘high road’ if you want to see views on both sides, or the ‘low road’ to follow the coast. Once you arrive in Oia, park for free at the town hall or post office.
Athinios port can be reached by boat from Athens' Piraeus port and other locations such as Mykonos or Crete; see www.gtp.gr. The fast boat from Piraeus takes three and a half hours, but others are slower, so it’s definitely worth looking at the timetable.
Worth getting out of bed for
Set out on foot to explore Oia’s maze-like streets. Just steps from the hotel, the marble-lined pedestrian area stretches out to the very tip of the island, a prime spot for watching sunsets if you don’t mind the crowds that flock there from all over the island. Spend an afternoon browsing the upmarket boutiques and designer jewellers wedged between souvenir-touting stalls, and leave some space in your luggage for the spoils. Atlantis Books (+30 22860 72346) is a charming hobbit-hole of a bookshop; pick up letterpress prints, limited-edition Platos and novellas light enough to replace a postcard. The hotel’s knowledgeable staff will happily suggest interesting walks in the area or around the capital, as well as helicopter tours, diving excursions and horseback rides for the more adventurous. Experience the caldera in style with a private catamaran cruise to the nearby islands; Canaves’ sister company has eight waiting to whisk you away.
There’s no shortage of eateries on Oia’s winding streets. Just off the main drag, unpretentious Skala (+30 22860 71362) serves traditional Greek food on a bustling terrace; for a laid-back meal, order a selection from the mezze menu and feast on local smoked trout, silky fava and aubergine purées, and moreish pine nut and onion pies. Dressed in crisp white linens, Ambrosia’s tables are set on two terraces facing the caldera (+30 2286 071413). This fine-dining destination makes the most of Santorini’s sun-kissed produce in dishes such as veal mille-feuilles, delicately grilled sea bream and truffle-infused shrimp risotto. Snatch a table on Petro’s second-floor terrace for startling sea views (+30 22860 71263); the spectacular lobster linguine and simply grilled meats are worth the effort too. After sunset, walk down the steep path hugging the cliffside to Ammoudi Bay, where Dimitris (+30 2286 071606) serves some of the best seafood in town in a cheerful waterfront taverna. Unless you’re fit enough to tackle a post-prandial climb, be sure to book a taxi for the return trip.
For a taste of hedonistic island life, head to the capital Thira, a 15-minute taxi ride away. Sleek and minimalist Tango (+30 697 449 8206) is a good spot for Mediterranean cocktails and late-night conversations. See and be seen at Casablanca Soul Bar(+30 22860 22740), which hosts international DJs spinning everything from soul and jazz to house and electro.
Canaves Oia Hotel and Suites, like Santorini itself, is fond of one particular colour scheme: white. Not off-white, eggshell white, or cream, but pure, bright, glimmering, potentially retina-damaging white (do not forget your sunglasses). Everything, from the walls and floors to the beds, paths, tables, chairs and iPod docks, is faithful to the famous Greek-island whitewash – even the friendly hotel staff are dressed head to toe in crisp white uniforms. Arriving in Santorini in early September, after miserable London weather, Mr Smith and I blended right in, a couple of pasty sun-starved Brits camouflaged against the brilliant white streets of Oia, the island’s northernmost village. Alas, it was not to last as Mr Smith decided to go without sun-tan lotion on the first day; he turned an all-too conspicuous shade of lobster; matched by me red-faced from sheer embarrassment.
So it was an especially excellent thing that the private terrace of our Aegean-view honeymoon suite came with its own plunge pool. (Would it be rude to hide and keep cool here for the rest of our stay, we wondered…) It was also pretty lucky since not only are we way off honeymooning but we’d only booked a junior suite. They kindly upgraded us at check in, making us feel rather special indeed. We were led from reception across a cobbled path, through wooden double doors and on to our suite’s beautiful terrace which featured, aside from that game-changing pool, our own sun loungers, breakfast table, and cushioned wooden bench which managed to make all manner of sun-catching positions comfortable. Inside we discovered a bottle of the hotel’s own-label crisp citrus white on ice in the living room – Santorini is one of the world’s oldest wine producers. Within 30 seconds we were in that pool, glasses in hand, as any self-respecting honeymooners would be.
A lie-in the next morning was cut short by the sound of ringing bells from the cathedral behind Canaves Oia. Not just a few short dongs, my friends, but a 15-minute chorus of rings. Since there was going to be no sleeping through Greek church bells on a Sunday we got straight on the phone to order breakfast – champagne, pastries, eggs, fresh juice, and coffee. Served on our sunny terrace within half an hour, suddenly those campanologists didn’t seem so unreasonable. Yes, guests can also take breakfast down by the pool where there is a buffet of local fruits, cheeses and hams – but why go to all that effort when you can have someone bring a spread to you?
When you have it this good, it’s pretty hard to leave your suite – let alone venture out of the hotel. But dutifully we got dressed to explore. I say dressed, but non-stop swimwear is another bonus of having a private tub; and who needs clothes rubbing on fresh sunburn? We headed down the steps to one of Canaves Oia’s two pools. Finding the sunbeds by our closest pool full with what seemed to be bona fide honeymooners, we hopped across to the quieter infinity pool. This we preferred, not least for the two swim-up bar seats perfect to perch on for frozen margaritas and chips with tzatziki.
Invigorated by a day’s relaxing, we felt a little adventurous and took a walk through Oia to the tip of the island where crowds gather nightly to watch the sun set over the water. Oia is the island’s most popular village, celebrated for its charming white-stone cave houses and narrow cobbled streets. Watching the fire-red sun slowly dip into the sea here is spectacular, even if this is also tourist-focussed terrain with its fashion boutiques, tavernas and souvenir shops. But sometimes when you’re away, you want to make like a holidaymaker. So back at the hotel we signed up for ‘Greek night’ comprising a tasting menu and a live band banging out some 80s classics under the stars. At the poolside gourmet restaurant, we lingered over a sophisticated seven-course extravaganza of all the classics, from the national signature salad and dips to moussaka and orzo pasta by candlelight. It was the perfect romantic end to our two-day surprise honeymoon.
Sprawled over three levels of stone archways, with gently swaying bougainvillea and view-blessed patios, this is a beautiful and peaceful caldera-facing setting for these sister hotels. With all this plus the luxurious rooms and attentive service, it would be hard not to love a stay here. We ought to head back; maybe that honeymoon will come sooner than either of us thought. Then who’ll be ringing the church bells, huh?