The Vasilicos in Santorini is next door to the local monastery, but there’s nothing monkish about its seven seductive suites, whose sea-and-volcano views might be the best on the island. This former family home will win your heart with flower-graced rooms, cave-carved bathrooms, hot tubs set in flowerbeds and delicious food.
Get this when you book through us:
30 per cent off a private dinner at the Vasilicos, or an upgrade to a private round-trip transfer for guests who pre-booked a shared transfer from the hotel
Noon (flexible, subject to availability and a charge: 50 per cent of the nightly rate). Earliest check-in, 3pm, but staff will accommodate early arrivals, where possible.
Double rooms from £278.50 (€330), including tax at 13.5 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional government tax of €0.50 per room per night on check-out.
Rates usually include Continental breakfast and WiFi.
Want to know the difference between tomatokeftedes and tomatines, or how to handle a white aubergine? Drop into the kitchen and spy on the chef at work – you might leave with some razor-sharp knife skills, or an expert’s recipe for pork and fava beans.
At the hotel
Swimming pool, kitchen, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: on-loan Samsung Galaxy tablet, smart TV, DVD player, minibar, Illy coffee machine (on request), Apivita bath products, marshmallow-soft bathrobes and slippers.
Our favourite rooms
We’ll be waking up in Efta, the most private suite, which is tucked away at the lowest point of the property on the cliff edge, with stellar views. The suite has an outside lounge area with a hot tub set in the rocks. As a teenager, owner Daphne used to sit here at night and admire the lighthouse; you should do the same.
If you’re staying at the Vasilicos, you’ll feel that little bit smugger when you lay eyes on the pool – it’s one of the largest on the caldera (it’s heated, too).
A jumper for nighttime – it can get surprisingly chilly, even in summer, thanks to Santorini’s brisk sea breeze. Leave room in your case for bottles of olive oil and wine made by Daphne’s brother, sold at the hotel’s sister winery.
Want to look your best for sunset? Ask staff to book you an in-room pampering treatment – a pedicure, manicure or massage, perhaps.
Little Smiths can come, although the hotel’s not designed for them (it’s built on a cliff, with lots of steps). Babysitting is €10–€15 an hour; cots and extra beds (€100 a night for under-16s) can be added to one Honeymoon Suite and the Grand Suite.
On your own private terrace (especially good at sunset o’clock). Obliging staff will set everything up, add candlelight and bring you your feast. Little lanterns help dial up the romance (ardent suitors could pick worse proposal scenes).
The hotel is stylishly understated – match it. Clever clogs could add a dash of basil cologne, as a nod to the hotel’s namesake herb (‘vasilicos’ is Greek for basil).
If, when you went to a restaurant, the chef came out to enquire about what you felt like eating and how you’d like it cooked, you’d be pretty chuffed. At the Vasilicos, such service is standard: expect brilliant chef Yannis to introduce himself and quiz you on your culinary preferences, before making something to match them. (You’re likely to eat a lot of local cheese, just-caught fish, fresh vegetables and house-made bread.) Don’t expect a formal set-up, though – meals here are a room-service affair.
There’s no bar, so play bartender in your suite and make the most of the wine-crammed minibar. Daphne’s brother owns a winery called Vassaltis Vineyards on Santorini, so expect some serious nectars. Their cocktail list runs delightfully long too.
Room service is on offer until 9pm; with advance warning, guests can dine after this time. Lunch can be ordered from noon.
It’s a very independent set-up – all meals are arranged via room service. You’ll get a phone call each evening to see what time you want breakfast (if you want to sleep in, just let staff know the night before).
The Vasilicos is in one of the best bits of one of the world’s best islands. Imerovigli is the quietest of Santorini’s caldera towns, with unbeatable sunsets and lofty cliff views. Fira – the island’s largest town – is a 30-minute walk away.
Santorini International Airport (www.santoriniairport.com) is 8km away (a 20-minute drive). Our Smith24 Team can arrange hotel transfers: €30 shared; €40 private; €60 VIP (all prices are for two people; one way).
Forget cars – make like the locals and gad about – cautiously – by quad bike (don't forget to bring suntan lotion).
If you decide not to fly direct, you can easily hop across to Santorini by boat from Athens, Mykonos, Crete and other Greek-holiday hotspots.
Worth getting out of bed for
As tempting as it may be to stay in bed and eyeball the caldera, hop out and see it by boat – the hotel can organise catamaran cruises. Want to explore a Minoan Bronze Age settlement? Head to Akrotiri in Thera, which was destroyed in the Theran eruption around 1627 BC. Volcanic ash preserved its municipal structures; you can also gaze at ye (very) olde domestic objects, frescoes and other artworks. If you’re inspired by the Vasilicos’ independent spirit, embark on your own walking tour of the island. Pause on the safe, sandy beaches for a breather, a dip in deep-blue waters and a Yellow Donkey beer or three. in 2016, Vassaltis Vineyards will offer wine-tasting and tours.
Aktaion (+30 22860 22336) is a traditional taverna within walking distance, famed for its moussaka. Anogi (+30 22860 21285) may not have a sea view, but this buzzy neighbourhood restaurant is always bustling with locals. Book ahead to share platters of chargrilled octopus, sticky mustard chicken and pork in a plummy Vin Santo sauce. Argo’s airy, elegant dining spaces sprawl over three floors nestled on the steps to the old port on the caldera’s cliffside (+30 22860 22594). Chef and owner Constantinos Chatzopoulos freshens up classic Med flavours: try the aromatic octopus flavoured with mastic and caper leaves or the feta-stuffed calamari. Cosy blankets are at the ready, should the sea breeze prove a little too chilly. For fine fish, try Captain Dimitri’s Taverna (+30 22860 82210) in Ammoudi.
Pull up a chair in Mousiko Kouti’s picturesque courtyard (+30 22860 85282), tucked away in the village of Megalochori. This laid-back rustic-chic tavern dishes up spicy Smyrnan specialties such as smoked saganaki cheese with a paprika crust.
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 cliffside hotel in Imerovigli and unpacked their olive oil and local wine, a full account of their luxury island break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick postcard from the Vasilicos in Santorini…
We’ve read the words ‘home-from-home’ so many times that we want to eat our own sun hat, but sometimes the phrase still rings true. The Vasilicos was once owner Daphne’s family summer house; Daphne’s father Vassilis used to tap the basil plants that flank the property with his cane as he entered, allowing wafts of basil to perfume the rooms. (Feel free to do likewise.)
Homely touches remain. There’s an open-plan kitchen with glittering copper pans, hanging twists of garlic, marble table tops and an obliging chef, who will tailor his menus to your predilections. Rooms are named after moments in Daphne’s childhood; each one contains a crockery set bought by Daphne’s parents as a wedding gift to themselves.
In 2014, Daphne and her husband refurbished the property, which sprawls across four levels on a lofty cliffside, perched high above the pedestrianised streets of Santorini. Tourists will come and go by the coach-load, drawn here by the world-famous sunsets – trump them and bed down here, in your own Santorini summer house.