Recently I had the pleasure of staying a few nights at the Esperas Hotel in Oia. Those looking to experience Santorini from the comfort of traditional accommodations (read: whitewashed walls with blue accents and beautiful antique furniture) in that iconic Greek island setting (read: seemingly endless, twisting cobblestone alleyways dotted with churches and tiny shops) look no further.
A Bit about the Island
Santorini (known locally as Thira) is no secret – it’s easily one of the most well-known islands of the Cyclades and its iconic cliffside setting and blue-capped churches are well documented. But there is a reason for that and if you can get past the bustling streets and tourist-pandering shops, it should definitely be tops on your Greek Island bucket list.
Originally one large island, Santorini and its neighbours Aspronisi, Therasia, Nea Kameni and the smallest one, Palea Kameni, were separated after a massive volcanic eruption in the 16th century B.C. caused the centre of the mega-island to collapse into the sea. The result was an island with a steep jagged drop to the Aegean on one side and a slow decent descent that rolls into huge flat plains on the other – and some of the most unique beaches and history in the world.
It seems like each island is known for a certain food or dish – the rooster and potatoes of Naxo or the olives of Crete – and Santorini is no exception. Santorini is one of only two places in Europe with a desert climate and volcanic ash soil – and while for many agricultural interests this would be a non-starter, for the locals here it means grape vines, cherry tomatoes, and caper bushes grow like weeds.
Food aside, there is much to see and do on this island. From its unique beaches to incredible historical sites, if you want to escape the comforts of Esperas and head out to explore, you won’t be bored.
Related: 3 Days in Santorini
The Esperas Hotel
When this family owned and operated hotel opened its doors in 1992, it was one of only three hotels in Oia. On a recommendation from a friend the original plot, a rocky, sheer cliff with no access that ‘may’ have a cave or two, was purchased by a Greek couple to create a vacation home for their family. As the renovations got underway (all completed by hand since heavy machinery cannot access the cliff face), five caves were discovered and the opportunity to share what they knew was going to be an incredible spot was too much to turn down. The Esperas Hotel was born.
The Esperas hotel, a proud member of the Historic Hotels of Europe, offers a variety of room styles to suit your needs. Studios to cave houses and honeymoon suites with private outdoor Jacuzzi tubs can accommodate you and yours no mater the occasion. With a focus on incredible, personal service, this is an opportunity for guests to experience an authentic and traditional setting (Oia has strict rules about what can and cannot be done to the facades and layouts of these historical buildings) with all the modern comforts and luxuries you could want. Spacious marble-tiled showers, private balconies (some units boast their own pools or hot tubs), a lavish breakfast spread served to your room, a delicious onsite restaurant serving modern takes on all the Greek classics, and uninterrupted views of the legendary blue waters of the Aegean and the old Ammoudi port below are all yours to enjoy at the Esperas Hotel.
Oh. And the sunset. A couple hours before the sun begins to set you will notice throngs of people (tourist and locals alike) gathering along the Kastro walls (the ruins of an old medieval fortress) behind the resort. Don’t worry, they are well away from the comfort of your private balcony. They have all come to see the legendary Santorini sunset. This is THE spot to see it – and you have a front row seat.
Bottom line – skip the minimalist, ultra-modern offerings and experience the warmth and comfort that only a traditional, family-owned, hotel can offer.
What to see and do on Santorini
There is much to see and do on this popular island – here are some quick tips on some things you shouldn’t miss:
- Rent an ATV, scooter, or car and tour around the island – we opted of for the dune buggy….which was fun, but make sure you get something with enough horse power so your girlfriend doesn’t end up pushing you up steep hills.
- Visit Akrotiri Ancient ruins – beautifully preserved city over 3500 years old. It’s definitely worth the extra 10 euros to get a guide for the tour.
- All the beaches – Red Beach, Black Beach, and White Beach.
- Wander the beautiful streets of Oia.
- Eat a Gyro from PitaGryos.
- Hit the Donkey Brewery for a tasting and a tour (the only on-island brewery).
- Enjoy one of a few wineries (there are over 10 to choose from!).
- Duck into (literally) the Apollo bookstore – started not that long ago by a couple American expats, it has become one of the most visited shops on the main street of Oia for its unique book selection and its unique space.
Bonus Tip – when staying at the Esperas Hotel, be sure to track down George (son-in-law of the property owners) and pick his brain about anything and everything to see and do. He is a wealth of information and connections on Santorini – and all of Greece.
Esperas Hotel Hotel Good to Know
Room Rate: See website for best rates.
Includes: Breakfast on in your room or restaurant and spectacular sunsets!
Don’t Miss: Walk down to the fishing village below.
What say you?
Thoughts on the Esperas Hotel in Santorini?
Let’s hear it!
Although I was provided a complimentary stay at the Esperas Hotel,
the experience, opinions, and traditional stay are my own.