Positioned on seven levels on the rim of the caldera and seated in the best location from which to admire the spectacle of the sun setting behind Oia, Grace Santorini wows above all with its perfect interpretation of the Cycladic vernacular style.
With mesmerizing views and amazing sunsets, Grace Santorini frequents the “best hotels of the world” lists like no other hotel. But only as we came to visit here we realized that location is only half the story.
What makes it different?
As we stepped down to the reception terrace, we felt special from the first moments. Beginning with a sincerely warm greeting, glasses of champagne as welcome drinks, we spent some time chatting with the hotel manager and then were shown around the entire hotel, all the way to the stunning infinity pool. The host, who led us along, explaining facilities, had set the tone for the entire stay. He was friendly, professional, engaged and above all, committed to ensuring we are well taken care of.
Soon we were shown to our suite, which had a large private terrace, with a plunge pool offering glorious panoramic views over the caldera. Inside, it had all the modern luxuries, kingsize bed, crisp linens, goose-down summer duvets, and the latest technology. A particularly nice touch was an email we received before arriving, with a pillow and scents menu — and we were glad to see that our picks were all arranged and waiting for us in the room.
The village of Imerovigli is perched on the highest part of Greece’s most photogenic island, nesting some 300 meters above the caldera, and dramatically carved into the cliff face. But it does not receive nearly as much tourist traffic as the famous Oia, or Fira (the capital, which is only a short walk away from Imerovigli). For us, this makes it the most attractive place for a tranquil boutique hotel.
Stepping down from the Imerovigli pathways onto the steep “grounds” of this hotel makes one dizzy, and not only for the heights. The terraces of Grace — cascading from the reception to the sunset bar, and then to the stunning infinity pool — are the staging ground for the hotel’s classic design.
The architecture is a variation on the simple Cycladic exteriors and cool white-on-white themes inside, pleasantly contrasting with the dark rock of the island. The brushed concrete floors and pathways painted in grey tones evoke a sense of minimalism. This unassuming take on the Cycladic architectural style allows the landscape to take the center stage.
Memories to cherish
On arrival, each guest is photographed, polaroid style, against the backdrop of the Skaros rock and the caldera. We still have that photo, and it now serves as a memento of the great time we had at Grace. Each guest also receives a wooden box, designed to contain keepsakes and souvenirs.
But it is not things that we cherish in memory. What we get reminded of when thinking of Grace are the many special moments, such as the tranquil sunsets, absolutely stunning from the bar terrace, or from the infinity pool. The unique changing lights in the pool, lit at night, made the evenings extra special.
Dining was exceptional too, especially as many restaurant tables are set up around the swimming pool. But our favorite meal of the day was breakfast. A healthy balance of continental classics and fresh local dishes (and, champagne) were served with the backdrop of the wonderful views on the clifftop terrace.
These prolonged morning feasts set us well up for the day of fun and exploration of the beautiful Santorini.