Hide away in postcard-perfect vineyards at Vino Houses, a rural retreat just behind the sunset-spying village of Oia. Blessed with classic Cycladic curves, these three sophisticated villas have been kitted out with hydro plunge pools, sun-kissed terraces and the plumpest of beds – just the thing if you’re travelling with a pack. Such is the serenity and intimacy of the setting that you’ll be tempted to linger, but when wanderlust takes a hold, ask staff for in-the-know pointers to the island’s most soul-stirring excursions.
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For stays of up to two nights, a bottle of wine and a fruit plate; for stays of three or more nights, a dinner for two (excluding drinks)
Noon. Earliest check-in, 2pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from $186.04 (€168), excluding tax at 13 per cent.
Rates usually include a breakfast of home-baked bread and pastries, cereal, fruit juices, eggs, bacon, cold cuts, cheese, fresh tomato and cucumber from the garden, and olives gathered by the owners.
Vino House’s owners know the island inside-out and will happily point you to the best sailing tours, donkey treks and helicopter rides.
Vino Houses closes from 1 November to the end of March every year.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout. In rooms: kitchenette, flatscreen TV, minibar, air-conditioning, tea and coffee, Yves Rocher toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Blessed with hydro-massage plunge pools, Vino Houses’ three whitewashed villas are a masterclass in pared-down Cycladic architecture. If you’re travelling with a pack, each sleeps up to four on the plumpest of beds. They’re elegantly dressed with contemporary putty-coloured furnishings and a scattering of handpicked earthenware nodding to the island’s ancient past. If pressed, we’d opt for the Vinsanto villa, perfectly poised at the top of the complex for uninterrupted sea views and spectacular sunrises from the front patio.
There’s no spa as such, but staff will happily arrange in-room massages, manicures and pedicures by local therapists, as well as yoga classes should you want to work on your sun salutations.
Poolside lounging calls for carefree kaftans; bring flat sandals with a good grip for Oia’s central marble-paved street.
The villa’s kitchenettes are kitted out with a full cooking station and a sink – everything you need to rustle up simple Mediterranean fare from the island’s sun-kissed produce. Vino Houses can organise a crash course in Greek cuisine.
Welcome. Free cots, high chairs and toys can be requested, and babysitting arranged for €40 an hour.
Vino Houses takes a holistic approach to treating our planet kindly. Much of the kitchen’s seasonal produce is grown in the garden, with any food waste going to the neighbours’ animals. Plastic and glass are recycled; wastewater is used to irrigate plants.
Vino Houses is a countryside retreat tucked away behind the cliff-hugging village of Oia.
International flights to Santorini usually connect via Athens, though some airlines also provide direct flights to the UK, particularly in the high season from June to September. Private airport transfers take 20 minutes and cost €55 for up to four people one way; additional passengers are charged €10 each.
You might want to bring your own wheels for quick jaunts to Oia or Imerovigli, or to beach-crawl along the southern coast of the island. To find Vino Houses, follow directions to Oia. Turn left at the Santorini Mou tavern towards the village of Finikia; the hotel is 1500m down the road on the right hand side and has free parking on site.
Athinios port can be reached by boat from Athens’ port of Piraeus and other locations such as Mykonos or Crete. Private port transfers for up to four people cost €65 one way; additional passengers are charged €15 each.
Worth getting out of bed for
Decompress by the plunge pool on your own private terrace, backdropped by the vineyards that thrive on this rich, volcanic soil. Get better acquainted with the terroir at neighbouring Domaine Sigalas, known for its food-paired wine tastings and sublime sunset views (minus the camera-toting hordes you’ll find at famous viewpoints like Oia.) Pebble-scattered Baxedes beach is 15 minutes’ walk away, while Amoudi Bay, Oia’s tiny port, is the locals’ swimming spot of choice. One of the island’s loveliest hikes is the clifftop trail to Fira, past pretty blue-and-white churches and the sheer drops of the caldera. At Imerovigli, another footpath climbs to Skaros Rock – a craggy headland and ruined fort, with matchless views over the Aegean.
Lunch at Aktaion, in nearby Firostefani, is a masterclass in homespun Greek cuisine. Commandeer a table on its tiny, shaded terrace and order up a feast, from fava bean purée with fried capers to the signature clay-pot moussaka. Back in Oia, Fino has made its name with upscale comfort food, from truffle-topped lobster risotto to a game-changing Black Angus burger. A few streets away, Catch is the place for a romantic dinner, with its leafy, lantern-strung courtyard and dreamy rooftop terrace. Sip a hibiscus-spiked cocktail as you contemplate the menu, which riffs on local produce (think sea bass tartare with samphire and sea urchin, or dukkah-crusted lamb shoulder).
In Firostefani, Galini Café is a chic but welcoming spot, with its sun-dappled terrace, whitewashed walls and easy-going, all-day brunches; try the plump Dutch baby pancakes, or chilli-laced poached eggs with Greek yoghurt.
Amid the island’s beach bars, Yalos is a standout, set in a former boatshed on the black sands of Exo Gialos. Its laid-back, surf-shack vibe belies its excellent food; don’t be surprised if that quick glass of rosé somehow segues into dinner. For late-night carousing, though, head to the capital, Fira, wherePK Cocktail Barserves up clifftop views from three show-stopping terraces.
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 serene hotel near Oia and unpacked their sunnies and sandals, a full account of their island break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Vina Houses in Santorini…
With its marbled street, tempting boutiques and sugar-cube houses clinging to caldera cliffs, the village of Oia is known for its spectacular sunsets. But there’s more to this northern corner of Santorini than bustling restaurants and Insta-worthy viewpoints. A stay at Vino Houses reveals a gentler pace of life: just off the beaten track, its three private villas riff off the classic local recipe (a white-and-blue palette, arch-framed plunge pools, striking sea views) at the heart of the island’s wine country. You’ll get a heady dose of Greek hospitality here, thanks to hands-on owners as generous with local advice as they are with offers of home-cooked food and cold tipples. Amble around the charming sleepy village for a taste of Santorini as it once was, saunter down to the black volcanic beach of Baxedes, sample Oia’s cosmopolitan vibes, or simply idle the hours away to make the most of Vino Houses’ cosseting spirit.
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