Last spring, I enjoyed a sublime holiday in Greece. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Athens
- Review: PHENOMENAL Amanzoe, Peloponnese
- Review: Kivotos Mykonos Hotel
- Review: Canaves Oia Luxury Suites, Santorini (today)
- Review: Grace Santorini
Today (August 29, 2018): Review of Canaves Oia Luxury Suites, Santorini (Greece).
- Location: Google maps
- Address: Oia 84702, Thira 847 02, Santorini, Greece
- Hotel website: Canaves Oia Suites
- Tip: get free VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso
On the northwest tip of the Greek island of Santorini, one discovers the welcoming Canaves Oia Suites hotel in the picturesque village of Oia Santorini. This breathtaking hotel is carved into the cliffside and offers its guests a majestic view of the caldera and the Aegean Sea, creating the ideal setting for a perfect Instagram shot. Canaves Oia Hotel provides tastefully designed facilities and services to ensure a comfortable, fairytale like stay. Freshly renovated luxury suites offer the ultimate in modern facilities, with spacious living areas and private plunge pools. Blending spectacular vistas with over the top accommodation and impeccable service, these luxury suites will charm even the most eclectic guests.
In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & 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
*** Get the most out of your (luxury) trip to Greece with my online Greece travel guide ***
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- It is impossible not to fall in love with Santorini, Greece’s most spectacular island that Canaves Oia Suites calls its home. Santorini came into existence as a result of intensive volcanic eruptions causing the collapse of a mega volcano’s central part, hereby creating a large crater (caldera). The island captivates and inspires every visitor because of its magnificent landscapes with blue domed chapels and whitewashed houses perched on black volcanic cliffs, all set against the backdrop of the beautiful shimmering Aegean waters. Santorini is the most sought after place for a romantic getaway in Greece, and enjoys a growing reputation as a wedding destination for couples from all over the world.
- Canaves Oia Suites enjoys a privileged location in the gorgeous hilltop village of Oia. Set on the northwest tip of the caldera, Oia is the quintessentially blue-and-white Santorininian village, with azure domed chapels, marbled alleys, and enchanting sunsets so beautiful they draw in a crowd at the end of every single day. The entrance to the hotel is located at the start of Oia’s main pedestrian path, meaning that unlike guests of most other Oia hotels, you don’t have to struggle through the crowds and the many steps to get to the hotel. There’s also a decently sized parking lot across the road from the property, which is a rarity for Oia and a welcome facility for those getting around in Santorini by rental car.
- Clinging to cliffs 130 m (430 ft) above the deep blue Aegean Sea, Canaves Oia Suites offers the most jaw-droppingly stunning views of all hotels in Santorini. Not only does it enjoy a spectacular view over the crescent-shaped volcanic rim and the island of Thirassia (as most caldera hotels do) but due to its unique position on a rocky, elevated outcrop, it also overlooks the village of Oia itself, resulting in incredible panoramas all around you. You literally won’t believe your eyes when you arrive at the property and every single morning that you walk out onto your own private balcony. Because of its terrific views, the hotel creates the ideal setting for guests to enjoy the surreal atmosphere of Santorini’s famous caldera at its most.
- Owned by the Chaidemenos’ family, Canaves Oia Suites is a family run business. The Canaves Oia story began in 1985 when the Chaidemenos family were among the first families to introduce tourism to the fishing village of Oia in Santorini, transforming 17th-century caves – once used to store wine – into designer-chic luxury hotel rooms. The name of the hotel, “Canaves”, means exactly that: cave houses. The birth of the Canaves Oia brand also introduced the all-white minimalistic design concept, which has been mimicked since then by countless hotels all across Greece and redefined the meaning of luxury accommodation in the country. In 2010, the second generation of the Chaidemenos family, Markos and Alexandros, took over management.
- Whitewashed outside and in, the property is one of the most picturesque hotels on the island, featuring a mix of a contemporary chic style with traditional Cycladic design, promising unforgettable memories and utterly romantic moments. Canaves Oia Suites’ serene ambiance will strike you from the second you step off Oia’s busy main street into the small, stylish reception area. From here, it’s another 50 meter (160 ft) via a cobblestone pathway to a wooden door (the actual hotel entrance), which opens onto steps meandering down the cliffside through a fairytale cluster of labyrinthine alleys and Cycladian-white suites, with vibrantly bright-colored flowers dotted around.
- Canaves Oia Suites is a boutique property with only 24 suites, all of them offering astounding views towards the caldera and Oia and featuring their own terraces with hot tubes or plunge pools. During my holiday, I stayed in a duplex superior suite which came with a private Jacuzzi on the outdoor patio, and which was elegantly designed preserving the traditional island architecture. The light-filled ground floor featured a sitting and dining area as well as a bathroom with two sinks, a toilet, and an enormous rainshower, while the first floor loft had a wonderful cave like ambience, with a queen sized bed, a small terrace, and another toilet (so you did not have to go down the stairs in the middle of the night). The in-room amenities were luxurious, including Aqua Di Parma toiletries.
- Since its opening in 1995, the property has flourished as a holiday haven for A-list celebrities, politicians and royal families. But its stellar reputation hasn’t stopped the property from renovating from time to time, such as a refurbishment of all suites in 2015 and an overhaul of the public areas in 2017. The most dramatic renovation took place in 2006, when an elevator with full access to all suite levels was added to the property, something considered to be impossible back in the day. Till today, Canaves Oia Suites is the only property with full elevator access on Santorini, an island known for its many, many steps. The elevator goes from the street level to all suite levels.
- Unlike most hotels in Santorini, Canaves Oia Suites has not one but two swimming pools. The main pool is quite deep and large enough to do laps, with a tiled terrace in front of it, featuring two rows of very comfortable loungers from where you can enjoy unobstructed caldera views. On the side is an absolutely stunning infinity pool with built-in beds, creating a totally surreal setting for an amazing Instagram photo. Added to the property in 2015, the infinity pool area features 3 shaded cabanas. One of the best things about the hotel is coming back to the calming ambience of the pool area and its magnificent views at the end of a day full of sightseeing and adventure.
- The pool is next to the hotel’s only dining venue, which is called Petra restaurant and run by executive chef Andreas Evangelatos. Petra restaurant is open all day, offering a sumptuous breakfast from both a buffet (displayed in a cave) and an à la carte menu, and lunch dishes inspired by the sumptuous Mediterranean and local Santorinian cuisine. At night, Petra restaurant transforms into one of Santorini’s most high-end eateries, offering romantic candlelit dinners under the veil of stars with a sophisticated culinary choice of fresh fish or lobster along with fine wines. If you don’t feel like leaving the cozy luxury of your suite, you can also enjoy a fine dining experience within the comfort and convenience of your private balcony, and your own waiter.
- Located below the pool area is an intimate gourmet dining area in a most spectacular setting: an outdoor candle lit terrace with only one table and breathtaking caldera views. Enveloped by the eternal blue sky and the infinite blue sea, the so-called ‘Panorama Balcony‘ invites romantic couples to the ultimate stellar dining experience with exceptional gourmet creations from Petra restaurant’s refined cuisine.
- Canaves Oia Suites features an intimate on-site spa, not far from the hotel entrance. The dimly lit wellness center is located in a former 17th century wine cave at the end of a long hallway. There are only two spa treatment rooms and the treatments offered are of the highest quality, using Valmont skin care products. The signature treatment is a head to toe full body scrub induced with frangipani flowers and coconut, followed by a full body deep tissue massage to truly unwind & indulge in pure relaxation. Next to the spa is a small but well-equipped gym, with treadmills, elliptical trainers and a range of cardio training and strength improvement machinery
- In addition to the spectacular views, terrific design and superb facilities, it’s the super-friendly staff and top-notch service that makes this hotel a stand-out among their competitors in Santorini. I have no words to describe the hotel staff’s kindness, attitude and genuine eagerness to make my trip special. To give you an idea, I arrived at the hotel but they could not find my reservation. Turned out that I had booked the wrong dates – can you imagine my shock (never happened to me before) – but the staff were extremely understanding and re-booked my stay so I could instantly check-in without extra cost (and they even upgraded me in the process). I felt looked after by every member of staff, from the management at the reception to restaurant waiters, pools staff, housekeeping and concierge.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
Canaves Oia Suites lives up, and exceeds, its glorious reputation as one of the best hotels in Santorini. The intimate property is truly mind-blowing in every way, with the best location in Oia village, incredible views, cave rooms with private terraces and pools, top-notch service, two swimming pools (one of them being a fabulous infinity pool), and a great restaurant. The hotel is really a gem and the pros far outweigh the following minor cons:
- It’s important to note that the Canaves Oia site is composed of two sections – Canaves Oia Hotel and Canaves Oia Suites – which may be a little confusing when making a booking. Both are phenomenal but there are important distinctions, most importantly location: Oia Suites is connected to central Oia by the a direct footpath and looks out over the village. Oia Hotel is also located on the rim, but it doesn’t overlook the village (only the caldera) and getting to town requires a 2 min walk along the road (not a big deal but a little bit of a hassle nonetheless). Also, the suites are definitely more luxurious than the hotel.
- Canaves Oia Suites has long been the most exclusive property on the island, but the level of luxury it offers has now been surpassed by its two sister properties in town. In the summer of 2017, Canaves Oia Sunday Suites launched a little further in town along the rim with eight custom-designed suites, an alternative luxe style and a nautical décor. And last May, Epitome by Cananes Oia opened, an ultra-luxe new hotel above the picturesque fishing town of Ammoudi, a serene location awaiting those who are ready to experience Santorini from another per-spective. That said, Canaves Oia Suites still enjoys the privilige of the best location in town and has the advantage of having of two pools.
- Due to its cliffside setting, the cave rooms are a bit on the small side, although they feature a smart layout making the most of the available space. Also, because of the property’s amphiteatrical layout, not all room terraces enjoy a high degree of privacy. For example, one of the hotel’s public pathways ran in front of my room, with other guest passing by, which was a little awkward when I was taking a dip in the plunge pool. That said, these issues are inherent to every hotel in Oia, and they won’t affect your stay at all if you set your expectactions right.
- Santorini features one of the most famous sunset views worldwide. Each evening, hundreds of tourists flock into Oia village to watch the sunset in the most popular spot, by the Kastro walls. I recommend to skip this overcrowded place and to go to the village’s outskirts near the Perivolas hotel, where you can enjoy the total tranquillity of the moment as the sun fades into the sea (and the views here are better than at Kastro, since you see the sunset with Oia village in front of you). If you stay at Canaves Oia Suites in autumn (September & October), there’s no need to leave the hotel as you will see the spectacular sunset directly from your suite’s terrace.
- Santorini’s staggering beauty and worldwide fame attracts over two million visitors a year to the island – more than 130 times its population of 15000! There are currently more than 70 airlines offering flights to Santorini, with their number rising and flights arriving from dozens of countries. Visitors also arrive on cruise ships that dock at Santorini, letting off as many as 25,000 people a day in summer. Consequently, you will encounter hordes of tourists, especially in Thira (the capital) but also – albeit to a lesser extent – in Oia where the hotel is located. However, staying here has the advantage that you can explore this utterly romantic village in all tranquility in early morning or late evening when most tourists have left.
- Location: 10/10
- Design: 9/10
- Pool: 10/10
- Rooms: 8/10
- Food: 9/10
- Breakfast: 9/10
- Spa: 9/10
- Service: 10/10
- Value for money: 10/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Canaves Oia Suites (and/or receive many free perks).
- Room tip: All rooms are lovely. However, if privacy is a must for you, you should request or book one of the higher located room, since they offer more privacy. If you can afford it, go for the amazing River Pool Suite or the exceptional Infinity Pool Suite.
- 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 you’ll need to make your reservations at least two months in advance to travel then.
HOW TO GET THERE
Canaves Oia Suites is located a 30 minute drive from Santorini (Thira) National Airport. The latter is a very small and unpleasant airport, 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.