Serenity in Santorini

Canaves Oia Epitome

The village of Oia, on the rugged, windswept island of Santorini, holds a special place in many travelers’ hearts (the armchair variety included). It can be lovely and charming and out-of-time. It can’t, however, be considered a secret anymore. During a visit several weeks ago (in September, not even officially high season), with two massive cruise ships in the harbor, the narrow streets of Oia were so packed that moving through them felt not so much like strolling but queuing, shuffling forward one slow step at a time behind some pokey mass-market tourist.

It could be dismaying—maybe even a sign that it’s time to move Oia to the list of places that have been loved to death—but it can also be seen as a message that choosing the right place to stay is more important now than ever before.

For a number of years, one of the best choices was the original Canaves Oia hotel. It is located along the village’s main drag of sunrise-facing hotels that appear to tumble down over the cliffs, their whitewashed walls together forming the very thing that makes Santorini one of the most dramatic of the Greek Islands.

A bedroom at Canaves Oia Epitome
A bedroom at Canaves Oia Epitome | CANAVES OIA

The story of Canaves Oia began in 1985 when the Chaidemenos family were among the first to introduce tourism to what was then a fishing village. Yiannis and Anna Chaidemenos transformed 17th-century caves, once used to store wine, into designer-chic luxury hotel rooms.

The birth of the Canaves Oia brand led to hotel’s all-white minimalistic concept, which redefined the meaning of luxury accommodation in Santorini.

This first hotel, which still has a mere handful of rooms, is romantic, sophisticated and stylish, with a well-regarded spa, yoga classes overlooking the sea and an excellent modern Greek bistro. The nearby Canaves Oia Suites follows the same formula with more lavish accommodations. Is it a surprise that much of the clientele at both are newlyweds and other romantics?

Sunset at Canaves Oia Epitome
Sunset at Canaves Oia Epitome | CANAVES OIA

Either one is a good choice for those who want to be in the middle of everything but also comfortably cordoned off from it. The hotels are quiet and serene. There’s a sense of space. But even there, there’s a lot of visual and auditory input. For those who want to be more isolated, there’s Canaves Oia Epitome.

Opened last year, this newest hotel in the Canaves portfolio is on the outskirts of Oia. If you’re feeling tough or in need of a mini workout, the center of town is about 15 minutes away by foot, albeit uphill. Otherwise, there’s a shuttle service.

Dining at Canaves Oia Epitome
Dining at Canaves Oia Suites | CANAVES OIA

Or there’s the very valid option of staying put. The hotel is perched above the picturesque fishing town of Ammoudi. The architecture was inspired by traditional Cycladic buildings, combining natural and earthy materials with modern design and style. The 24 rooms are huge, even before you consider their very private courtyards with good-size swimming pools. The privacy is so good, you could probably skip the swimsuits. (Not that I know anyone who might have done this.)

Elements Restaurant & Bar
Elements Restaurant & Bar | CANAVES OIA

The in-house dining is a step up from the city’s tavernas. Breakfast is a lavish affair, with a menu that mixes Greek classics and American standards, with plenty of Champagne. In the evening, Elements Restaurant & Bar is the project of chef Tasos Stefatos, whose menu of sophisticated European cuisine with Greek touches challenges the palate, in the best of ways.

Not to mention that during dinner there, the sun goes down and illuminates the sky, in full view outside the restaurant’s window. The view is nearly the same as what you find by Oia’s famous windmills. But instead of jockeying for space among dozens of other visitors, at Canaves Oia Epitome, guests feel like it is theirs alone.

In June 2019 Eden Villas was launched by the Chaidemenos’ sons, Markos and Alexandros. The three-villa complex is the perfect unspoilt location to completely unwind and relax in utmost privacy. All three villas offer striking, unobstructed views of the volcano, Skaros rock and the sunset. Alongside all the VIP amenities and services you could wish for, you will find your own private hot tub on your balcony. Eden villas are ideal for families and friends or booked as a whole 7-bedroom property for groups to enjoy a private and intimate space.


2019 Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards – #1 The Top 10 Resort Hotels in Europe

2019 Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards – #9 Top 20 Resorts in Greece

Original article by Ann Abel