Need a jealousy-inducing holiday backdrop? One with just-right measures of whip-smart minimalist design and ravishing natural scenery? Well, boutique Santorini stay Vòra Villas obliges with three cliff-clinging cave-style villas overlooking Skaros Rock and the dazzlingly blue caldera. K Studio architects have used greatest-hits Cycladic and Scandinavian aesthetics: white lime-washed walls, pared-back palettes, sculptural furnishings. Beyond good looks, the hotel’s on-the-edge spa tubs will make you feel like you’re flying, the on-speed-dial chef will transport you with fresh island produce and the concierge will call in a private yacht for you to daytrip on.
Get this when you book through us:
Two glasses of champagne on arrival and two sunset cocktails
12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £455.78 (€502), including tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of 0.5% per booking on check-out and an additional room tax of €0.50 per person per night on check-out.
Rates usually include à la carte breakfast and a glass of prosecco each on arrival.
The hotel can help with car or bike hire on request and lend out tablets or laptops as needed.
The hotel closes from November to March each year.
At the hotel
Concierge, laundry service, free WiFi. In rooms: private infinity spa tub, terrace with sunloungers (some villas have two), Bang & Olufsen sound-system, Smart TV, iPod dock, fully-equipped kitchen (with a stove, fridge, cook and tableware, Nespresso coffee machine and tea-making kit, and free bottled water), sun parasols, bathrobes and slippers, Olive Era bath products and individually controlled air-conditioning. Hair straighteners and beach bags are available on request.
Our favourite rooms
Fun fact: each villa (yet-to-be-opened Vita, Omikron, Ro and Alpha) is named after a Greek letter in Vòra’s name, so if you have a corresponding initial you could buddy up. Unfortunately this is the most scientific way we could come up with for choosing between what are equally lovely spaces. Villas Ro and Alpha have the edge for their twin, upper and lower terraces, and Omikron has the largest terrace.
Each villa has its own private heated infinity spa tub, which juts out from the cliffside so you feel like you’re floating over the Aegean as you soak. With the caldera stretching out below and the soaring volcanic cliffs either side, it could be the most dramatic hot-tub session you’ll ever have.
Massages (solo or as a couple) and facials can be carried out in-suite.
Comfy shoes for navigating flights of stairs (those hillside views come at a price), some engrossing books for whiling away afternoons and swimwear to be seen in – the villa terraces are only partially private.
We’d advise vertigo-sufferers to exercise caution – these lodgings are right on the caldera rim.
Precipitous drops and lascivious intentions make this very much an adults-only hideaway.
On your front-row-for-sunsets sofa on the terrace.
Pyjamas or swimsuits, if you wish, and a kaftan to throw on after sundown.
Breakfast is served to your door to be enjoyed in bed. Santorinian breakfasts are renowned for their enormity and this is no exception, with pastries and breads; Greek yoghurt with various toppings; eggs all ways; classic, Greek and vegetarian set menus; and the ‘chef’s preference’, that might be strapatsada eggs with grilled tomato, caramelised tsoureki (sweet bread) with vanilla cream, or chocolate ganache with peanut butter and caramel. The main Mediterranean-fusion fare, delivered at any hour, has tempting local flavours. Try the Greek trilogy (eggplant salad, fava beans on toast and trahana – fermented grains and yoghurt – with black tzatziki), or the seabass in a lemon-ginger sauce. The hotel’s private chef can prepare a special tasting menu on request (must be booked in advance) to be served in swoonsome style on your terrace.
Be your own barkeep. There’s a list of wines – many from Grecian vineyards – and all the big names in champagne: Moët, Dom Perginon, Roederer… The cocktails are a tasty lot, we like the Scotch Delight with Kavalan Taiwan whisky, blueberry, vanilla, lime and grapefruit bitters or the champagne mojito with spiced rum. The Big Bang (a tribute to the island’s explosive birth) is a doozy too, with three kinds of rum (Diplomático, Kraken and Havana), pineapple, passionfruit syrup and cherry bitters.
Sunset cocktails are poured from 2pm–11pm; and coffees, beers and soft drinks are served from 10am–10pm. Otherwise you can pick and choose what you want and when.
Vòra Villas quite literally hangs out on a cliff in Imerovigli, with its dramatic cuboid hideaways carved into the volcanic-rock face. And, it’s in prime position for Skaros Rock views and those famous Santorini sunsets.
Santorini Airport is just a 15-minute drive from the hotel, and transfers can be arranged from €60 each way. Most flights stop over in Athens en route to the island.
This is more of a fly, flop and hang the ‘don’t disturb’ sign kinda place. But, if you want to travel to Oia, main town Fira or historic Akrotiri without the expense of a taxi, pick up a hire car at the airport (or the hotel can acquire some wheels for you); watch out for uneven ancient roads, stray animals and confusing signs. There’s parking on site. Or, why not hire a buggy? These beefed-up quad bikes are useful for zipping twosomes about.
Blue Star Ferries (www.bluestarferries.com) run a frequent service to Santorini from Athens’ Piraeus and Rafina ports, a journey of just under six hours each way.
Worth getting out of bed for
Business as usual in Santorini involves cosying up on your terrace, staring lovingly into each other's eyes, sipping champagne while watching the sun set, then dot, dot, dot… After all, the island is more beloved by honeymooners than a free upgrade. Cocooned couples have a Smart TV loaded up with Netflix, Amazon Prime and more, and admiring the panorama from the spa tub and terrace will take up swathes of time. But you may want to break up the lovey-dovey bits with a just-the-two-of-you trip on a yacht or catamaran out to the bijou Kameni islets, a bike tour along the cobbly lanes or getting a view from the top on a helicopter ride. Wander along to Oia hand-in-hand on the path that leads from the hotel, or ask the concierge to compile an itinerary – after all you may need a designated driver for hopping from winery to winery. There are three in the vicinity: Avantis Cellar Door, Pelican Kipos and Vassaltis Vineyards, but it’s worth heading north to Domaine Sigalas for their very generous wine flight. If it’s culture you’d rather imbibe, swing by photogenic church Agios Nikolaos and head south to the ‘Grecian Pompeii’: the ancient ruins at Akrotiri. Don’t forget to make pit stops at Red Rock Beach and the dramatic black-sand beach Perissa.
Yes, dining on your terrace is dreamy, but it’s not the only ‘one for the memories’ setting on the island. Galini Café has an Aegean-gazing balcony that’s bedecked with greenery and strung with lanterns. Lunches of feta- and spinach-stuffed crêpes and colourful salads are tempting enough, but the ‘breakfast cocktails’ are all the reason you need to visit. Aktaion has been around for more than a century and still pulls the punters in with traditional dishes: korkosela (eggs with tomato and green pepper), garlicky skordomakarona pasta, savoury loukoumades doughnuts and more. And, the Athenian House is a sophisticated cliff-edge eatery renowned for its moussaka and baklava.
Elegant view-blessed Tango Bar can claim the island’s best champagne selection, but its cocktails are well-renowned too. We like the spicy tequila-based Mexican Bliss with mango, agave nectar and ground pepper.
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 seductive sculptural stay in Imerovigli and unpacked their bottles of assyrtiko wine and ‘evil-eye’ pendants, a full account of their romantic hibernation will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Vòra Villas in Santorini…
Seclusion has rarely looked sexier than at Santorini’s Vòra Villas. This trio of cave hideaways are chiselled into an Imerovigli cliff face and have full-frontal views of the glittering caldera and Skaros Rock. K Studio architects have cross-pollinated the island’s stylistic vernacular – pure white walls, lime-wash finishes, curvilinear forms – with a Scandinavian sensibility. Clean lines and peaceful palettes are matched with Hans Wegner-style seating in chocolate woods, tactile natural linens, woven wicker and wool, and earthy stoneware – and accents of charred wood and blackened gunmetal echo the rugged volcanic stone. There’s a finishing-touch geometric black-marble bath tub installed in each villa too.
But, it’s not just interior designers and hermits reconsidering the ascetic life who’ll get turned on by these begging-to-be-Instagrammed dwellings. They’re alive with Santorini’s trademark romance: each champagne-toasted arrival at the hotel leads to a big reveal as guests enter at street level then see the abstract composition of cubes emerge below. Terraces have private infinity spa tubs that make you feel like you’re floating and are angled just-so for ooh-ing and aah-ing at ridiculously beautiful sunsets. Private yacht jaunts and tailored tours can be arranged, but the caves’ welcome coolness and cosiness, plus a Netflix-hooked-up TV, delivered-to-door wines and a mobile private chef with Greece’s sumptuous produce at their disposal are reason enough to cocoon yourselves.