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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 Hotel Santorini wows above all with its perfect interpretation of the Cycladic vernacular style. With mesmerizing views and amazing sunsets, Grace Hotel Santorini, Auberge Resorts Collection frequents the “best hotels of the world” lists like no other hotel. But only as my family and I came to visit here we realised that location is only half the story.
As we stepped down to the reception terrace, we felt special from the very first moments. Beginning with a sincerely warm greeting, glasses of champagne as welcome drinks, I spent some time chatting with the hotel manager and then was 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 all the guests are well taken care of.
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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 I was so glad to see that all our picks were all arranged and waiting for me in the room.
The Design of grace hotel, santorini
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.
Special Memories at Grace Hotel, Santorini
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.
WHAT I LOVED
- The hotel location: in the quiet Imerovigli, immediately across the iconic rock of Skaros. It’s far enough from the busy Fira to offer an escape from the tourist scene, yet within the walking distance to plenty of restaurants and shops. Imerovigli sits at the highest elevation on the caldera, so the views are much better here than in Oia.
- The outdoor infinity pool is jaw-dropping. It’s one of the biggest pools on the caldera, and the unobstructed panoramic views from it is a sight to behold.
- Sunset-watching is the thing at Grace! While the pool is well-situated for the views, the best spot is the 363 Champagne Lounge terrace, one level below the lobby. Sundowners and light canapés are served here every evening.
- Every room is unique, and most have private plunge pools and terraces positioned to take advantage of the fantastic views, and the sunset spectacle.
- Stylish, elegant, and chic. This hotel knows how to look good!
- Everlasting memories. They take a Polaroid-style photo on arrival, and guests also are given a “memory box”, to store Santorini mementos.
- The stay is personalized, with pillow menu and fragrance to choose from. You can even have monogrammed robes (though that’s for an additional fee).
- The high quality of service. Prompt, professional and respecting guest privacy.
- The Santoro restaurant. It’s open-air dining with a Mediterranean fusion menu, but the real highlight is the a la carte Champagne breakfast. It was a lovely change from the buffet breakfasts in other high-end hotels on the island — and overall one of the best we had in Santorini. Homemade pastries, eggs any way you like, pancakes with pear and honey, as well as freshly squeezed juices and smoothies were a great start of the day.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
- There are 150 steps to negotiate, so the hotel isn’t really suitable for guests that have difficulty walking. Children under 14 are not allowed.
- Wi-fi is complimentary and reliable.
- Some of the rooms in low categories do not have plunge pools and are smaller than others.
- Some rooms also suffer from lack of privacy, due to the vicinity of common walkways. This is especially true of the rooms situated at the lowest level, right by the public pedestrian path to Skaros. There are usually quite a lot of tourists going up and down there. While this is quite normal for most of the hotels located on the caldera’s rim, try to request a room away from the public path (if you booked a Deluxe room).
- The breakfast is served until as late as 11.30 am (which suited us fine!)
- It is one of the best hotels in Santorini, but it is also one of the most expensive ones.
- It takes only 15 minutes to get to the Monolithos Airport and 20 minutes from Athinios Central Port by car.
- If you want to rent a car, keep in mind that Imerovigli isn’t very parking-friendly. It will be a struggle to find a spot. These days the quads (ATVs) are also popular, but they tend to slow down traffic, and are a nuisance to the locals.
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