Summer doesn’t officially end until September 23, and October air and sea temperatures are still very pleasant on a Greek island. Moreover, there are much less crowds of people. At the tip of Santorini’s northern horn is Ia (or Oia), the island’s second largest city and the most photographed village in the Aegean. Here you can enjoy some of the island’s most spectacular sunsets. The landscape is in two halves, the black of the volcanic cliffs and the white of the marble main street, churches and cave dwellings, many of which have been transformed into luxury hotels that are painted four times a season to keep their white curves sparkling.
Ikies, a boutique hotel on the outskirts of Oia, is an excellent choice as it is close to the village, but its discreet location makes it quieter than other hotels. The hotel has thirteen villas and suites. The honeymoon suites have steam rooms and there is also a very private two bedroom villa with a plunge pool at the top of the complex. All the attractive suites look as if they were carved out of the cliffs. Fresh white stairs connect the different suites built in the traditional Santorini style. The suites all have generous terraces and private hot tubs that overlook the Caldera (the crater in the center of the island formed by one of the strongest volcanic eruptions of about 3,000 years ago). At night, watch the elegant catamarans and sailboats sail into the bay for the spectacular sunsets.
Ikies suites respect the scale and design of most multi-storey hotels in the area. Like Lego blocks, each suite or villa seems to build on top of each other. This does mean that there is not much privacy as the terraces for each villa are next to each other. However, they are generous in size and the views are incredible, plus there is a small pool tucked away on a lower terrace for all guests to use. The rooms are well designed in the traditional white decor, but with a contemporary style. The rooms have high ceilings and the overall feel is fresh and airy, especially in the mornings and evenings.
The hotel does not have a restaurant, but they have recently introduced in-room/al fresco dining with a varied menu from the talented young chef Socratis Maligani, who prepares his delicious take on local dishes. The generous breakfast of Greek yogurt, nuts and muesli served with tahini and pastries or full English is also served on each guest’s terrace. Lunch includes traditional Greek or Santorini salads.
A hotel often distinguishes itself by good service and the staff at Ikies are excellent and make sure that the needs of the guests are met at all times. George single-handedly served dinner, set up umbrellas, and tended the hot tub with a single request.
A path from the hotel leads past the pretty blue-domed church and through the boutiques and shops of picturesque Oia, but getting on the water is essential to fully appreciate Santorini. A sailing trip around the volcano on a catamaran departing from Ammoudi Bay marina just below Oia or a private boat excursion are both good options.
There are an abundance of boat companies on Santorini, many of which bring people on board and race between beauty spots, leaving not enough time to enjoy anywhere properly. Two companies that really stand out and come highly recommended are Water Blue Travel for relaxed catamaran rides with a delicious lunch and no more than 12 people or, for a truly private trip, a speedboat excursion with My Blue Cruises takes you close to scenic places where the larger boats don’t. have access. Both companies will take you to swim in the volcanic springs.
For a special meal outside Ikies, on the other side of the village of Oia, the exquisite tasting menu at Canaves Elements Restaurant takes local gastronomy to the next level. Executive Chef Tassos Stefatos has put together four fantastic tasting menus that combine modern European cuisine with Greek influences. Flavors are simple yet complicated, with an element of surprise as key to the experience. The world tasting menu includes duck and turbot, the Greek menu includes Sofigado, a delicious beef stew, the signature menu is seafood based on King Crab and langoustines, while the vegetarian menu includes a delicious pithivier pie.
Ikies Santorini, Oia, 84702 Cyclades, Greece. Suites start from 500 euros per night, including breakfast.