When you pay a princely sum for a stay, you expect a lot. When you return and say you’d pay more to do it again, you know you’ve found a winner. Despite every attempt to avoid visiting Santorini during peak summer, I gave in, I loved it, and thanks to the crowds, I hardly ever wanted to leave the beautiful confines of The Vasilicos, a unique-boutique hotel with just 7 rooms.
When you see the views, you’ll understand why. I can’t think of a more charming, luxurious or personable place to stay on this inimitable Greek island. You can read the words, sure, but pictures really do the talking here..
The Vasilicos – Arrival
Booking direct with the hotel brings a series of benefits, including daily breakfast and airport transfers. I exchanged our flight details with Fiorela, who is one of the better front of house people I’ve ever encountered; and we were whisked away by a nice man waiting with a sign. On arrival, there was a refreshing glass of Rose from the hotels sister Vassaltis Vineyard, run by the same family.
But really, that’s all fairly meaningless and background noise, because the moment you reach the top of the steps, your jaw will actually, not proverbially drop. The view is the selling point. You’re instantly graced with one of the highest viewpoints on all of Santorini, looking directly down the volcanic cliffs to the stunning blue waters below, with a view of the Caldera to one side.
This is where The Vasilicos knows no equal.
Aside from being higher up than most hotels, with more expansive views in both directions, a key distinction of this hotel, versus most others with nearly identical description, is privacy.
Thanks to over tourism, tourists flock to nearby Oia, where many of the more famous hotels are found. With shared walls and no gates, you actually have people climbing onto private balconies to take sunset pictures. Not here.
Side note: here’s a guide to Santorini, if its your first time.
The Vasilicos gated entrance is about 25-30 steps from the top floor lobby, and all seven suites are far removed from foot traffic. Read as: if you want serenity, rooms here are much more private and removed than most hotels. I knew this before I arrived, because I too am a lunatic like you, who did insane amounts of research to find the perfect spot.
At the time of booking, I was looking at the King Cat Junior Pool Suite, which is typically the lowest priced option, but a cancellation had just come in, so there was an excellent rate on the Belvedere Grand Suite, which is basically the penthouse. It’s lovely, but so is every room.
The key benefit of the Belvedere suite is the nice little hot tub sized plunge pool, and the incredibly large terrace. You could throw a cocktail party on it, not that you’d want to. My recommendation is to email the hotel, if there’s a certain vibe you’re looking for in the room – aka honeymoon, solitude – and they will be happy to help.
Take away the amazing nearly 1:1 ratio of staff to guests, the daily menus created by the chef to suit your tastes or the immense wine cellar and friendly service and this place is still incredible. It has a view worth travelling from anywhere in the world to see.
In fact, I’ve travelled to most of the world, and this is the view I find myself daydreaming about all too often. Writing this certainly isn’t helping, either.
What’s particularly neat is that the sun begins to set just at the edge of your view, where the rock face juts out, but then moves across the sky as it dips, creating an almost never ending display. Every time we pulled our phones out thinking “this is the moment”, there was at least 30 more minutes of beauty. And just FYI, every picture in this review was taken with a phone.
We made a point of getting out in the morning, seeing the island by boat and eating at the lovely tavernas of the island by day, but there wasn’t a chef in the world who could’ve pulled us away at night to miss these views, and the work of chef Yannis was pretty marvellous anyway…
Hotel breakfasts are one of the great pleasures in life, and never more so than when it’s delivered to your private terrace. Every suite receives this personalized breakfast service, tailored to your sleep schedule. Think: fresh pastries, lovely honey, eggs made to order and some sort of daily unique treat.
As to the other meals, it’s up to you. The Vasilicos offers an a-la carte menu, which can be delivered to your terrace, or enjoyed on the main terrace as well. There’s legitimately something for everyone on there, and each item, even western options like a club sandwich, were made with care and love.
My favourite thing though, by far, was actually walking up to the kitchen and talking to chef Yannis. I am a seafood lover, particularly when it’s raw, cured or ceviche’d and when in Greece, I wanted it all. Yannis visits the market daily, and with my polite request for anything seafood, he took the time and care to source items for my enjoyment. It meant the world.
Having a sister vineyard on the island, the hotel serves some fantastic wines, most notably the award winning Vassaltis Barrel Aged Assyrtiko, which is exquisite. Praise heaped by the world’s most notable wine critics was not misplaced, but then again – even the house wine was a treat in the heavenly sun.
If you want to feel like you’ve made it in life, even if you haven’t, save at least one night to eat dinner on your private terrace with a bottle of wine and a few dishes from the kitchen as the sun sets. All I could think was “it just doesn’t get better than this”. For that reason, I’ll be back.
Teamwork Makes The Dream Work
With some of the most legitimately staggering views you’ll ever see, rooms with enviable appointment and great food, you can still find a hotel with a fatal flaw. You won’t here though.
Fiorela seemed to have almost secret agent precision managing the front of house, the service team was friendly and passionate and I felt like people genuinely wanted every guest to have the best time. Sensing a joy for self deprecation, Fiorela charmingly noted that wearing a sweatshirt, I was dressed like a fool at one point, which made me feel right at home. It’s this read of guests that makes service feel like more than a script.
Every interaction was on a polite and personal basis and if there were any requests to be made, every effort was made to turn them into reality. We have great friends who have a place on Santorini and joined us for drinks on the terrace one night – they quickly said this may be the best view around and pulled their phones out accordingly.