In Santorini’s south-east, Istoria Hotel offers island addicts a whole new sunrise experience. Instead of been-there, Instagrammed-that caldera views, there’s an authentic black-sand beach on your doorstep, and the resident taverna gives new meaning to the term ‘barefoot luxury’. The hotel’s heritage is celebrated with accoutrements from the mansion’s former stables (in case you’re wondering what that bridle’s doing on the wall…); although the grand residence no longer keeps equine borders, sunset horse rides and supper on the sand can be arranged in a hoof-beat…
Get this when you book through us:
Two signature cocktails of your choice one evening at Istoria’s Bar
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £236.64 (€261), including tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional government tax of €0.50 per room per night on check-out.
Rates usually include breakfast.
Chikdren of all ages are welcome for stays throughout 2020.
20 October 2018 to 25 April 2019.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, beach. In rooms: TV, iPod dock, air-conditioning, minibar, free bottled water, tea- and coffee-making kit, and Korres bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Each of the 12 suites has its charms, right down to their names – each is the word for ‘story’ in languages from Finnish to Esperanto (and the Italian of the hotel’s chosen moniker). But we were wooed by the Tarina Suite’s plunge-pool-enhanced terrace, which also has two sunloungers and a cosy dining area begging to be breakfasted on. The Storia and Conte Suites are closest to the shoreline.
The huge lap pool is open for swimming and sunbathing between 8am and 8pm. There’s a handy bar alongside it, too.
The spa has been transplanted from Bali; there are two treatment rooms for relaxing rituals using organic, local oils.
Don swimwear that makes a splash; equine motifs to reference the hotel’s horsey heritage are optional.
This one’s not suitable for wheelchair users.
This stay’s almost entirely adults only, but well-behaved over-14s are welcome.
There aren’t many to choose from, but grab one along the edge, so one of you gets a comfy cushion and the other a sea view.
Since the floor’s made of black sand, you may as well leave your shoes at home.
Mr E – that’s the name of the restaurant, not the chef – serves modern taverna fare in a simple alfresco setting with a sandy floor. Breakfast – highlights of which include the smoothies, cakes and cookies – is here or on your terrace. Greek classics are elevated at Mr E: don’t miss the pasta with cuttlefish ink or the tuna carpaccio with lavender and watermelon. Just make sure you save space for the white-chocolate panna cotta.
The huge bar stocks every spirit imaginable and is conveniently poolside – you’ll be able to call your order out without even having to dry off. Cooling cocktails are the order of the day.
Breakfast is served between 8am and 11am. Lunch is from 12pm until 4pm. Dinner service is from 7pm until 11.30pm. The pool bar serves drinks from 8am until midnight.
A Mediterranean-inspired menu is available in-room, as is breakfast if you’ve got a terrace worthy of it.
The hotel is perched beside Perivolos Beach, on Santorini’s south-easterly edge.
The island’s airport is 13 kilometres away; the drive should take 25 minutes. Private transfers in a Mercedes-Benz are €65 each way for one to four people, or €100 each way for five to eight people.
Fira Town is a 25-minute drive away; free street parking’s available nearby. If you want to see Santorini’s sights, your own wheels will come in handy.
Aegean-roving ferries and hydrofoils regularly drop anchor in Santorini from Athens’ major port, Piraeus, and other Cycladic hotspots, including Mykonos and Naxos.
Worth getting out of bed for
The hotel is on the south-east coast of Santorini, on a quieter patch away from the sunset-spying crowds elsewhere. Santorini’s volcanic black-sand beaches aren’t everyone’s bag, which means they’re often nice and quiet – try Perivolos (accessed directly from Istoria). If the traditional sunset shot’s a must, head to Fira, along with everybody else. If the stables have you wishing the former equine residents were still onsite, don’t dismay – the concierge can arrange horse riding experiences, including jaunts down Perivolos Beach. Sea-view wine tastings and private beachside dinners can be arranged too, as well as jet-skiing and boat trips around the island.
For a bougainvillea-framed lunch spot, try Mousiko Kouti, in a colourful, casual yard with retro furniture and traditional wooden tables in Megalochori. The beachside Delfinia (right on Red Beach) serves superb seafood at the water’s edge – especially handy if you’ve been out exploring the ruins at Akrotiri. Fish fans will also do well at Dichtia, which translates as ‘the nets’ and serves up the daily catch right by where it came from. Fancier fare awaits further afield at Selene, Koukoumavlos and Ambrosia. The Aegean’s haul gets a Japanese makeover at Asea, where’s it’s turned into sushi and sashimi.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this beachfront hotel in Greece and unpacked their ouzo and olives, a full account of their island break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Istoria Hotel in Santorini…
If you’ve voyaged to the Cyclades to chase Santorini clichés, Istoria probably isn’t the hotel for you. There are no caldera vistas, no sunset hordes, no glossy restaurants. Instead, you’ll find a nicely authentic volcanic black-sand beach, accessed directly through the hotel’s gates; a laid-back restaurant with an ambitious approach to mod taverna classics; and cool, contemporary design throughout. The local restaurants are as unpretentious as Istoria’s Mr E, but if you do want to see the showier side of Santorini it’s all easily reached. For those seeking to stand out from the crowd (literally), this is the Santorini sanctuary for you – and you won’t even have to wear heels to dinner (the floors at Mr E’s made of sand, so that would be a bit silly).