Hotel review: Grace Santorini (Greece)

Wednesday newsletters always feature a luxury hotel and/or flight review.

Today (January 28, 2014): Review of Grace Santorini (Greece).

Grace Santorini is an exclusive boutique hotel in Santorini, one of the southernmost Greek islands in the Aegean sea. The hotel with its amazing views of the world-famous caldera and sumptuous sunsets has received global critical acclaim as Santorini’s best luxury hotel, and I can only agree. With its jaw-dropping location, spectacular infinity pool and luxurious accommodations, Santorini Grace may be the ultimate expression of a boutique hotel in the iconic Greek Island and one of the best in the Mediterranean.

Grace Santorini features in my top 10 list of the most beautiful hotel pools in the world, the world’s best honeymoon resorts, and swimming pools with stunning views.

In this review (more info and photos below the slideshow):

  • Pros & things I like
  • Cons & things to know
  • My verdict
  • Tips for future guests & save money
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there

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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Grace Santorini enjoys the perfect location, perched high up in the hills of Imerovigli on the north coast of Santorini. Imerovigli is a picturesque Cycladic village sprinkled with white sugar-cube houses, which is far enough from Santorini’s busy capital Fira to feel secluded, yet within walking distance.
  • Whether you arrive by plane or boat in Santorini, the transfer to the property is short as the hotel is only a 10-minute taxi ride to the Airport, which receives daily flights from Athens (and from most European capitals in high season), or to the Port for the five-hour ferry from Piraeus.
  • Its dramatic cliffside setting provides heart-stopping views. Directly below you is the word-famous caldera, the underwater basin of an ancient volcano, and facing you is the plug of Skaros, topped with Venetian castle ruins. The dazzling azure of the sky and sea, sharply contrasting with the whitewashed villages and black lava rocks, is a sight to behold. In fact, the views are even better than the already breathtaking views from the famous village of Oia (where most visitors stay), since the hotel is located much higher above sea level.
  • The hotel is the perfect vantage point from which to enjoy the famed Santorini island sunsets that envelop Greece’s Cyclades Islands. This is a huge advantage as compared to staying in Oia, where tourists gather on mass on the local square to enjoy the  sunset (as the latter can not be observed from most Oia hotels). In addition to the benefit of enjoying sunsets, you will also get an extra 2 to 3 hours of late afternoon and evening sun as compared to Oia. For those who like the ambience of the evening light and sunset, my advice is to stay here, and not in Oia.
  • The exquisite infinity pool, the largest of its kind in Santorini, offers bathers stunning uninterrupted views across the caldera, the ultimate transporting experience that defines a holiday in Santorini. In fact, the pool is one of my favorite hotel pools in the world, simply because of the stunning vistas. Complimentary fruit kebabs and iced tea are served throughout the day.
  • The white, minimalistic decor of the communal areas is fabulous. In front of the lobby, there’s a large sun terrace with plenty of loungers. There is also a library with guest computer and DVDs/CDs to borrow.
  • The 22 guest rooms and suites come in 7 categories, ranging from deluxe rooms to a huge villa. They are located on various levels of the steeply terraced hotel and are all perfectly positioned for breathtaking views of the caldera and the amazing Santorini sunset. Most rooms have private plunge pools and terraces. Inside, chic white decor, kingsize beds decked out in crisp white cottons, and fresh flowers await you, including modern amenities such as WiFi, iPod and dock, satellite plasma TV, and DVD player.
  • The Grace Suite, my accommodation during my stay, epitomizes what people look for in a luxury suite in Santorini. It features a large, private terrace with comfortable sun loungers and an enticing plunge pool. A kingsize bed takes pride of place in the stylish bedroom while the ultra-luxurious en-suite bathroom features twin vanity units as well as a “hammam” steam bath and a separate interior plunge pool with views to the horizon.
  • Recently, an ultra-luxurious, 400 sq m Villa has been added to the ensemble, one of the largest and most magnificent hotel suites in the Greek Islands, if not the whole of Greece. Ideal for couples or small groups, it has its own private spa and kitchen, two palatial bedrooms, a huge private pool and extensive secluded sunbathing areas.
  • From the Champagne breakfasts to fine dining, food at the resort is delicious. Meals are served on the cliff-top terrace, in the high-ceilinged airy restaurant if the weather is not cooperative, or in a private candlelit ‘cave’ if you prefer.  The four-course breakfast menu is a very original and tasteful alternative to the all-you-can-eat-breakfast buffets in other high-end resorts. In the evening, you can sample Mediterranean fusion cuisine (e.g. prawn giouvetsi or sea bass moussaka) from the enticing daily menu of local chef Spiros Agious.
  • There’s a semi-subterranean spa with therapy rooms and a variety of massages and beauty treatments are available. You can also enjoy a spa treatment in the comfort of your suite.
  • The staff is very friendly, helpful, and always smiling, and the service they provide is impeccable.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

This utterly romantic hotel, one of my all-time favorites, comes close to absolute perfection. The location, views, service and overall decor will blow you away. I totally loved it and could not find any real cons, just some minor things that you may want to know:

  • Santorini can be extremely hot in summer, and the hotel terraces do not provide a lot of shade.
  • Steep steps make this hotel unsuitable for anyone with limited mobility. This is the case with most of Santorini’s hotels.
  • Some of the deluxe rooms are small. Others lack privacy since they are right by the path to Skaros (so rather public). Request a room away from the public path.
  • Santorini has become very commercialised and the caldera rim is lined with hotels, though this one is set slightly apart.
  • The famous (but also very touristic and crowded) village of Oia is a 10 minute drive away. But why stay there when you can stay in all tranquility in this fabulous hotel?

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 10/10
  • Design: 9/10
  • Rooms: 9/10
  • Food: 8/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Overall experience: exceptional: 9/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury resort like Grace Santorini (and receive many free perks).
  • Save money: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, complimentary one-way private airport transfers, welcome amenity of bottle of champagne, fruit and chocolates, early check-in, and late check-out).
  • Try to visit Santorini outside the high season, not only to avoid crowds and excessive summer heat, but also to avoid paying premium prices on room rates.
  • If you book a deluxe room, request a room away from the public path.
  • For the ultimate romantic experience, book a suite (and not a deluxe room). The VIP Suite and Grace Suite are stunningly beautiful.
  • When you travel in group or have money to burn, consider booking Greece’s most spectacular accommodation: the Villa.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The best time to visit Santorini is spring and fall when the weather’s warm and the crowds are few. Like all of the Cyclades, Santorini welcomes the most visitors during the summer, so if you’ll need to make your reservations at least two months in advance to travel then.


HOW TO GET THERE

Grace Santorini is located a 10 minute drive from Athinios Port and Santorini (Thira) National Airport. The latter is served by most European charters and some full-service and low-cost airlines in tourist season (click here for a direct link to their websites), but has no direct overseas connections.


CALDERA VIEWS
CALDERA VIEWS FROM HOTEL
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
STAIRS TO LOBBY
STAIRS TO LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
CALDERA VIEWS
CALDERA VIEWS FROM HOTEL
CALDERA VIEWS
CALDERA VIEWS FROM HOTEL
VIEW OF CRUISE SHIP FROM HOTEL
VIEW OF CRUISE SHIP FROM HOTEL
CALDERA VIEWS
CALDERA VIEWS
CALDERA VIEWS
CALDERA VIEWS
CALDERA VIEWS
CALDERA VIEWS
CALDERA VIEWS
CALDERA VIEWS
SWIMMING POOL
SWIMMING POOL
SWIMMING POOL
SWIMMING POOL
SWIMMING POOL
SWIMMING POOL
SUNSET
SUNSET
SUNSET
SUNSET
HOTEL TERRACE
HOTEL TERRACE
HOTEL TERRACE
HOTEL TERRACE
HOTEL TERRACE
HOTEL TERRACE
HOTEL TERRACE
HOTEL TERRACE
HOTEL TERRACE
HOTEL TERRACE
HONEYMOON SUITE
HONEYMOON SUITE
DELUXE ROOM
DELUXE ROOM
SUPERIOR SUITE
SUPERIOR SUITE
GRACE SUITE
GRACE SUITE
GRACE SUITE: TERRACE
GRACE SUITE: TERRACE
GRACE SUITE: TERRACE
GRACE SUITE: TERRACE
GRACE SUITE: TERRACE
GRACE SUITE: TERRACE
GRACE SUITE
GRACE SUITE
GRACE SUITE
GRACE SUITE
GRACE SUITE
GRACE SUITE
GRACE SUITE
GRACE SUITE
GRACE SUITE
GRACE SUITE
GRACE SUITE
GRACE SUITE
VIP SUITE TERRACE WITH PLUNGE POOL
VIP SUITE TERRACE WITH PLUNGE POOL
THE VILLA PRIVATE POOL
THE VILLA PRIVATE POOL
THE VILLA PRIVATE POOL
THE VILLA PRIVATE POOL
THE VILLA MASTER SUITE SEATING AREA
THE VILLA MASTER SUITE SEATING AREA
THE VILLA HEATED PLUNGE POOL SPA
THE VILLA HEATED PLUNGE POOL SPA
RESTAURANT
RESTAURANT
RESTAURANT
RESTAURANT
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER

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