Kapari Natural Resort in Santorini’s Imerovigli village is a smooth wedding cake of a hotel, with all the caldera cool you’d expect: cavernous rooms, neutral hues and a whole lot of white and blue. The curvaceous cave rooms allure with the softest beds, oversized showers, and the odd private terrace, some with a Jacuzzi. The stay can also tick off moreish Mediterranean food and a chilled-out pool – but the at-your-beck-and-call staff are perhaps Kapari's best asset.
Get this when you book through us:
Free pick-up from either the airport or seaport and a plate of fresh fruit on arrival
Noon, but flexible on request if there’s availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £261.21 (€285), including tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional government tax of €4.00 per room per night on check-in.
Rates include a buffet breakfast.
Families and groups can book three, four or five rooms at a time to make a private dwelling with its own courtyard.
November to March.
At the hotel
Lounge, DVD library and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, AMX smart sound system, air-conditioning, minibar, Duxiana beds and Prija bath products. Some have a Jacuzzi.
Our favourite rooms
We love Room 102 for its bed in the loft, reached by climbing a set of whitewashed steps, and its luscious light, which streams in through duck-egg-blue shutters. Keen cooks will enjoy the cute concrete kitchen and big dining table in Room 104. Rooms 203 and 204 are right by the pool, so may not be the quietest.
There’s a small heated pool on the lower deck and various sunlounger-lined terraces across the grounds, including one with a hot tub.
Avoid getting mocked by the locals and pack some sensibly sturdy flats; Mr Smiths wouldn’t look out of place in a slick Panama hat.
There’s no spa, but a therapist can be summoned for in-room massages and treatments.
Over-14s only. Exceptions are occasionally made during low season, depending on hotel occupancy at the time. An extra bed can be added to the Vanilla room category and suites; prices change depending on the season, ring ahead to request rates.
Chances are you won’t want to miss the views out on the terrace, but cool down on one of the banquettes, beneath the hammered-metal-dome lighting.
Cool, casual and crisp linens and cottons: think Wimbledon on sea.
The restaurant serves amazingly fresh Mediterranean fare, out overlooking the Aegean or inside in the oatmeal-and-white dining room. Menu highlights include squid stuffed with fennel, grilled peppers and smoked cheese, lobster and salmon ravioli with an ouzo-tinged white sauce and shrimps, and the simple-sounding but delicious Santorini cheese pie. Breakfast is served here, too: expect a bounty of bread and pastries baked on site, fresh fruit and thick Greek yoghurt.
The bar shares the same cave as the restaurant, mixing mojitos until the last guest wants one, as long as it’s before midnight.
Breakfast times can be flexible but are roughly 8.30am–11.30am; there’s no set service for lunch, just a light snack menu that runs all day; dinner is on offer from 7pm until midnight. Last orders are at 11pm and tables must be booked in advance.
Food can be ordered 24 hours a day: hot meals up until midnight, snacks, salads and sandwiches afterwards.
Kapari Natural Resort is in Imerovigli village, 380 metres above sea on one of Santorini’s highest spots.
The island’s airport is eight kilometres from the hotel. Fights depart for here from London Gatwick every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday during the summer; you can also connect from Athens in 45 minutes. Contact the Smith24 Team to arrange transportation on 03333 318 506.
It’ll only take a couple of minutes to reach main town Fira by car. There’s free parking at the hotel, in a square usefully right outside.
Arrive by boat: Kapari is 10 kilometres from Santorini’s port.
Worth getting out of bed for
Take the trail across to the famous white and blue Theoskepasti church, directly in front of Kapari Natural Resort, or scale the caldera with a cliff-top walk. Boats and yachts can be chartered for the day with Santorini Sailing Center (www.sailingsantorini.gr).
There's little reason to leave the hotel come evening – their superlative restaurant will keep you well-sated. But if you'd like to explore further afield, Smith loves some of the restaurants nearby. In Fira, Koukoumavlos is the dining star; menu highlights include lobster and monkfish terrine, and grilled beef with bergamot-spiced mash and parmesan ice-cream (+30 22860 23807). If you’re full up of Greek food, try Il Cantuccio, a simple Italian trattoria in Firostefani (+30 22860 22082). For really fresh fish, head to seaside Dimitri’s at Ammoudi (+30 2286071606) and dine by the glittering bay.
Mr Smith: ‘I want you to spread my ashes here.’
Mrs Smith: ‘You said that in the park last week.’
Mr Smith: ‘Well, I’ve changed my mind.’
Mrs Smith: ‘... And you said it at Flamingo Land.’
Mr Smith: ‘You make me sound like some sort of resting-place slut.’
We’re at Kapari Natural Resort in Santorini, and this is all the conversation we manage over a period of about eight hours on day one of the best holiday I’ve ever had. You see, Mrs Smith and I think that we are good at holidays. Mrs Smith is good at planning holidays. Mrs Smith complains when we’re not on holiday. But the truth is, when we get there, the reality of doing nothing is terrifying. Here in this magical place, it’s actually happening.
I’m sat in our private Jacuzzi with the water level at the bottom rim of my sunglasses, staring out into the centre of a volcano in the Aegean Sea, and the only thing on my mind is how the hell am I going to write about this Greek hotel? Firstly, who wants to read a perfect review? It’s understood that while searching Tripadvisor we all go straight to the ‘no star’ reviews first, right? And secondly, I actually don’t want anyone else to know about this family-run Cycladic secret. It’s mine.
It was in total darkness that we’d arrived in the village of Imerovigli the night before. I got straight into a pair of linen trousers; the sooner you get into a pair, the sooner you’re on holiday. I recommend you book a table in the hotel’s caldera-view restaurant for the first night. The Mediterranean menu is small but delicious, the gourmet dishes served by the ever-charming Stellios. He’s that rare breed of fine waiter, the kind that is always there when you need them but never hanging around.
When Mrs Smith flung open the shutters in the morning, it was hard to believe that view had been hiding in the dark the night before. (We proceeded to Instagram the hell out of it for the remainder of our stay.) The hotel is a number of caves set back into a cliff surrounded by hundreds of similar man-made outcrops. The Kapari hotel stands out by being a slightly yellower shade than the traditional white, with cornflower-blue windows. If there’d been a Farrow & Ball shop in Star Wars, wherever Luke Skywalker grew up would have looked like this. The rooms themselves are on the luxury side of the fence, while maintaining a rustic edge.
I usually kid myself that I don’t want WiFi and a big-screen TV, but the truth is I’m not complaining when they’re there. We agree it’s exactly how we would decorate the place and I search the Internet for the manufacturer of the sofa, and even catch Mrs Smith taking the pillow apart to take a picture of the label. (After consulting the Farrow & Ball colour chart that Mrs Smith always has to hand, I’d say the walls are Hound Lemon, the windows Cooks Blue, and thanks to the Greek sun, I was turning a kind of Refectory Red.)
We make a vague attempt at proactivity by walking into Thira, the island’s mini main town, about 20 minutes away. Or 30 if you still haven’t got over taking pictures of the view. We look at donkeys, pretend to be interested in a rug, then quickly return to the Jacuzzi to watch the first of five stunning, and wildly different sunsets, drinking local red and wondering why would we ever want to be anywhere else?
Mrs Smith: ‘Have you started the review yet?’
Mr Smith: ‘Why bother... We’re never going home.’
I did step out of the Jacuzzi once or twice. We spent the day on a catamaran and swam in the sulphurous centre of the volcano. It really was quite disgusting. And we ate out a couple of times. We were so lazy, there are hundreds of amazing restaurants but we ate at the nearest one twice. (Anogi is a pretty good taverna in Imerovigli, which is always packed). But really, everything we needed, including excellent room service, was within a prune-fingered hand’s reach.
Purely out of the interests of writing this review, halfway through our five-day Greek escape we decided to swap suites. Something had to get me out of that Jacuzzi. We looked at a few, and were spoiled for choice. Every room is different and had something fresh to offer. We were really torn and had to toss a coin to decide where to stay. Some have full kitchens, some are next to the pool, and some are in a more private area (where up to 15 of you could stay in a little commune of rooms with their own courtyard, complete with brick oven). I’m glad to inform you that the new digs we settled upon also boasted a private hot tub. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever de-prune.
So, no amusing stories, no hilarious anecdotes where Mrs Smith and I win first prize in a Greek folk dancing competition. Just a tale of the most relaxing time of our lives. The only caper we got up to was the Kapari Natural Resort itself (it is, bizarrely, named after those salty little pickled flower buds). Bags packed and taking one last look out over the Aegean, I decide not to have my ashes spread here – they have enough of those already – but I vow to return on my deathbed and be shot out of a cannon dressed as Evil Knievel into that view.