Hotels that are built on the famous cliffs of Santorini may have the best caldera views, but from Voreina Gallery Suites you get views of the entire northern half of the island, the landscape, the villages, the open sea, other Cycladic islands in the distance, the sunrise and the sunset, and the caldera. The hotel consists of a small complex of nine suites and, a hundred metres away, four villas, in the hilltop village of Pyrgos. The owners are two brothers. Lefteris, the archaeologist, is a kind and gracious host and Vassilis, the art-lover and architect designed everything. The architecture is modern Cycladic, very pretty. Contemporary looking interiors are spacious and luxurious in an unobtrusive way. Every suite and villa has some unique pieces of contemporary art by Greek artists. Colour schemes are warm and soothing – pastel shades for the suites and somewhat more bold colours for the villas – there’s no white anywhere. Floors are smooth concrete; built-in furniture is pretty; beds have fantastic mattresses (I slept so well…); kitchens are fully equipped, and huge bathrooms have great walk-in showers. On top of that, each suite and villa has its own private terrace, with a plunge pool (all suites except for two which have a whirlpool bath instead) or a 34 sq m swimming pool (the villas). It is all very spoiling.
The spaciousness, comfort and perfect aesthetics of all suites – flawless. The service – kind, caring and efficient – impressed me too, as did the refined breakfast with some excellent local products. Voreina Gallery Suites is a really special place to stay.
The suites at the bottom of the Voreina property have the disadvantage that their terraces are close to the parking spots of the hotel and don’t give the feeling of perfect privacy.
2 double suites (one with an indoor and one with an outdoor whirlpool bath)
6 suites for up to 3 persons with a small kitchen and a plunge pool
1 suite for up to 4 persons with a small kitchen and a plunge pool
4 villas for up to 6 persons with a large living room, a fully equipped kitchen, two double bedrooms, a double loft room, two bathrooms and a swimming pool
En-suite bathroom (shower or bath)
DVD/CD player (on request)
Kitchen (except in one suite)
Plunge pool (8 suites), whirlpool bath (2 suites), swimming pool (the villas)
One suite and one villa have wheelchair access and are fully equipped for people with special needs
Small lounge with library
Breakfast will be brought to you in your suite or villa. I very much enjoyed mine which came with a selection of bread and croissants, tiny pies, homemade jams, fruits and freshly squeezed orange juice, in quantities that were just right. The villas and suites have small but well-equipped kitchens so you could cook a meal or two, and there are plenty of places to eat nearby, and for lazy moments, meals from one of the best restaurants (Selene) can be brought to you in your suite or villa. Do keep an evening or two (or more!) for romantic dining on the Caldera of Santorini. If you are on the island in high season, to avoid the (worst of) the crowds, Oia is your best bet for a great night out.
Santorini is not a typical Greek island for family holidays, but I don’t hesitate to recommend Voreina Gallery Suites for a vacation with the children. The villas of course are particularly well laid-out for families, but the suites too are very spacious and can sleep one or two children in great comfort. Keep in mind that young children will have to be supervised because of the pools.
Santorini has many beaches, but as most have dark, volcanic sand, they get hot during the day. Best to take your little ones for morning swims. The best beach to go to with young kids is probably Monolithos, which has nice shallow waters. Of course your children with enjoy walks through the narrow streets of the villages on the Caldera (but avoid the hottest and busiest hours during the summer), and for some real fun for the kids, take them to the water park at Perissa Beach.
Drive to the most popular beaches of Santorini. Kamari Beach is a ten minutes drive’ from the hotel; the beach of Perissa 15, and the famous Red Beach is 20 minutes by car. Or find smaller and less busy ones. Take a taxi boat from Agrotiri Beach to the beautiful White Beach in the south, or, when there is no wind, try the wild Koloumpos beach in the north. For a swim in the actual caldera, the small, west-facing Balos (or Caldera) Beach under Agrotiri is a nice place to go to.
Stroll through the village of Pyrgos. For great views, and good exercise, walk four km (uphill) to the Monastery of Profiti Ilias (Prophet Elias). Or follow the spectacular caldera trail between Fira and Oia, if you want, with an English-speaking Trekking Hellas guide and have a picnic and local transfers included.
Caldera boat trips
The view of the cliffs of Santorini from the sea is so stunning, so book a boat trip in the caldera. You can opt for a mini-cruise with swimming, a walk on the volcano crater and a picnic included, or book a more luxurious trip on a sailing boat or on a fancy yachts.
Head to Kamari or Perissa for kite surfing, windsurfing, waterskiing, jet skiing, sailing, parasailing or scuba diving. The scuba diving is really fantastic; there are several certified diving schools. Trekking Hellas organises stand-up paddling, sea kayaking and starlight kayaking in the caldera.
Go horse riding from the stables in Megolochori. Horses are well cared for, and trips are tailor-made depending on your experience. If it’s your first time, a one-hour ride in the countryside may be just fine; there are longer rides as well, along the caldera and on the beach.
History and culture
Go see the Minoan ruins at Agrotiri. Best time to visit the site is early morning, before it gets too hot and busy. There are also quite a few museums to explore: the Archaeological Museum, the Megaro Gyzi Museum (both in Fira), the Argyros Mansion in Messaria, and also the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum in Vothonas and the Tomato Industrial Museum in Vlychada.
The villages on the cliff
Go for strolls in Fira, Imerivigli and Oia. During the summer it can get crowded in the alleyways, but the magic of the historical mansions, whitewashed cave houses, chapels & churches, the views and the sunsets is always there. There are great places for drinks and meals, wonderful traditional little shops, designer boutiques, as well as interesting art galleries.
Voreina Gallery Suites are on the quiet north-facing side of Pyrgos, a charming little village that occupies one of the highest points of the island. Cars can come up to the hotel, but to go from there to the central part of Pyrgos, it’s best to go on foot through narrow pedestrian lanes. It only takes a few minutes. The beaches on the east and south side of Santorini and the villages on the caldera are roughly 10-20 minutes’ drive away.
The fastest way to get to Santorini is by plane – there are several domestic flights per day. Arriving by ferry, however, is an amazing experience and worth the extra hours spent at sea (there are high-speed ferries that take about 4-5 hours from the port of Piraeus). Guests staying at Voreina Gallery Suites are picked upon arrival on the island. If you come in your own car, follow signs for Pyrgos; turn left (downhill) just before the village (after you pass Taverna Pyrgos) and then take the first right. The hotel is 200 m down the road, on your right.