Rimowa Salsa Air cabin case
Hire car from Europcar
Total travel time 4 hours from London
West East Suites, Imerovigli
The best time to visit the Greek Islands is either late Spring or early in the Autumn when the weather and crowds are welcomingly pleasant. As a bonus, during Autumn, the sea is warm enough for a swim – often warmer than the hotel pools. There are several villages and small towns scattered across Santorini island, some which are situated on top of the crescent-shaped cliff of the caldera, including Fira and Oia. We decided to book a location offering 360° views.
During this trip we were situated at the recently-opened West East Suites located in Imerovigli, providing amazing views of the horizon, all the way down to Oia town, proving to be particularly impressive at sunset. West East Suites is located on the outskirts Imerovigli, near the peak of the island, but is a pleasant 30 minute sea walk from the town centre. West East is a small boutique hotel, with as few as 16 suites and all the suites offer a stunning vista, either across the island or sea. We’d recommend the suites facing the sea, at the rear of the hotel, for the most stunning views.
Being of a typical Greek design, the hotel has clean, modern lines, and many of the suites come include a small private pool. We stayed in two rooms, the executive loft and the superior suite. The executive loft includes a room-based internal jacuzzi, split across two levels, with a balcony that has the most incredible views over the caldera. However, we found the room would become overwhelmingly hot during the night from the jacuzzi and had to leave all the windows open to cope – and this was in a cooler June. The room didn’t have air conditioning when we visited.
The superior suite was very different. On a single level, no internal jacuzzi, but with it’s own private infinity pool, which you can jump right in to from the terrace. But, bear in mind, that although the pool is described as ‘private’, there are other suites which share the same water, so your private section is effectively a section split by loose red rope. We didn’t find the sun loungers to be particularly private either as you could see and hear everything your lounging-neighbours were up to, only metres away.
What else did we note about West East Suites? The pool was unheated and was freezing cold (but those stunning views make up for it and you’ll welcome the cold pool in mid-August), whilst we also noted the all-white sun loungers – although stunning to look at from a distance – were already a bit grubby despite the hotel only being open a couple of months.
On the plus side, breakfast was stunning. You could ask for nearly everything from the menu and we did, helping ourselves to multiple courses (we rarely eat lunch when we’re on a trip), but the restaurant area was tiny, consisting of only 7 or 8 small tables, 4 of which were on the right side of the bar, facing the caldera. We felt the hotel weren’t expecting many people to eat outside of their room and assume most people will simply head in to town to eat after spending the day by the pool.
If you enjoy the outdoors, you can easily stroll out the back of West East and head out on the path just outside the hotel which runs along the caldera. At Short Motivation, we like to get up early and have a workout, so this path gave us the opportunity to take in plenty of hill sprints up to a deserted nearby church which provided a great place to do plyo and resistance band workouts with views.
One of the more disappointing aspects of Santorini are the beaches. Do not expect stunning beaches or flawless white sand. Santorini is a volcanic area and many of the beaches reflect this, with a lot of pebble sand and seaweed washed up on to the beach front. But, do you go to Santorini for the beach?
If you have a rental car (we’d recommend this option on the island and it’s relatively easy to navigate) the rest of Santorini is incredibly easy to explore. We drove to the Red Beach, which is located right below volcanic cliffs, hence the red sand. Whilst it is beautiful, it can be difficult to reach and very crowded. It was also very easy to reach Fira by car, where you can enjoy the views, where you can sit and view the many cruise ships dropping off a constant stream of tourists, whilst you enjoy a dinner at one of the many restaurants in the region.
Although Fira is stunning, sadly it is difficult to escape the crowds, even in off-season (we wouldn’t like to imagine what it’s like in August). A very viable and beautiful alternative is Imerovigli, just down the road from West East Suites. With stunning views just like the rest of Santorini, it has fewer crowds and quite possibly one of the top restaurants on the island, La Maison.
This gourmet restaurant is a must-see, for the views, the cuisine and welcoming staff. The cuisine is modern French with a Greek mediterranean influence. There are plenty of interesting choices on the menu including great meat selection. The desserts were a particular highlight, sumptuous chocolate decorated across the plate with ice cream. To top it all, you are offered candy floss served with your bill.
Once you’ve finished dinner at La Maison, it is a wise idea to walk it off by taking in Imerovigli on foot. We made it down to the many paths to Grace Santorini, arguably one of the most famous hotels on the island. Another stunning hotel with even more stunning views, where we noted you could sit in your private jacuzzi, located outside your room, facing the caldera. Sadly, we encountered different views while walking through the hotel as it was surrounded by very low clouds, which provided a mystical feel to the place.
Santorini is a great visit, and not just for your honeymoon or romantic getaway. If you are looking for some peace and tranquillity, we highly recommend going just before the crowds get there and locate yourself outside the more ‘popular’ areas of Fira and Oia.
Have you been to Santorini? What did you think of the island? Agree or disagree with our view? Let us know in the comments below.