High above the volcano that created Santorini as we know it today, gazing across the island’s magnificent caldera, is a little piece of heaven. Or, quite possibly, actual heaven. I’m not sure. All I know is it’s very white and so, so beautiful, it’s easy to wonder what saintly deeds you did on earth to wind up here.
‘Here’ is the exquisite Astra Suites, built into the cool, sheer cliffs for which the volcanic island is so famous. Or Heaven. You can call it what you will. Discreetly nestled in amongst the maze of hotels, private residences and cafes that comprise the cliff-side part of Imerovigli, the suites benefit hugely from the location – somewhere between the main towns of Fira and Oia – which afford it some of the most dramatic views on an island famed for dramatic views. Directly in front and a little to the left lies the sleepy volcano. A little to the right, the teeny island of Thirasia (separated from Santorini as a result of the volcano) behind which the sun will set, a burning disc in an otherwise clear sky. To the far right, lie the white domes of Oia, clustered on the tip of the island. And everywhere else? A sparkling blanket of deep, blue Aegean. Breathe it in.
The suites themselves offer a type of luxury that does not underestimate the power of simplicity and this is possibly one of the hotel’s greatest aesthetic strengths (apart from its unfairly stunning location). Working beautifully with Santorini’s iconic colour scheme of sky blue and white, the rooms are havens of cool. Pure whitewashed walls provide the perfect backdrop for subtle blonde wood furniture and splashes of brighter hued fabrics. The fully equipped kitchenettes stick to the pared-back theme with stone sinks and pale blue, scrubbed-wood window shutters framing the caldera view. The overall effect is of minimalism with soul. There is no more than you need and the rooms align seamlessly with Santorini’s own sweetly simple take on life.
Because the rooms are so beautiful, one might feel inclined to stay in and make the most of the satellite TV, DVD player and mini bar. Or, at the very least, during a typical Santorini summer, the air conditioning. However because the surrounds are so beautiful, one also might feel inclined to spend as much time within them. To enjoy the daily complimentary breakfast – customised by you and served to your room – on the balcony. Or to have a drink in pool bar. Or, if you are fortunate enough to have booked a Pool Suite, to spend the afternoon in your very own plunge pool that seems, once you are in it, to be an extension of the vast, surrounding ocean.
Perhaps the true beauty of Astra Suites is that it doesn’t lose itself in the importance of being a truly top class hotel. Aware of the sheer splendour of its surroundings and the culture of the island itself, it stays, respectfully and quietly, classy.
And did I mention the complimentary bottle of Santorini wine upon arrival? Must be heaven.
Contact: +30 22860 23641, fax: +30 22860 24765, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Services spa, swimming pool, parking, hotel restaurant, hotel bar, room service, internet access, air-conditioning.