The Big Six: Santorini sleeps

Whitewashed buildings, quiet villages, and exclusive couples retreats
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The Independent Travel

Grace, Imerovigli

The scenic Greek Island of Santorini is dominated by its star attraction: a large, partly submerged caldera that rests under the calm, blue Aegean, surrounded by small volcanic islands. Raised on a steep cliff overlooking this dramatic vista is the Grace, which drapes itself over the terrain with a series of low-rise, whitewashed buildings. Located in Imerovigli, a dreamy north-western village made up of sugar cube-style houses and the odd blue dome, the hotel boasts an infinity pool with unflinching sea views and some of the best sunsets on the island. Rooms are all modern and minimalist – many with outdoor pools – but the trophy suite is The Villa, with two bedrooms and its own private spa, complete with a hammam, sauna and Jacuzzi.

Grace, Imerovigli (00 30 22860 21300; Doubles start at €370, including breakfast.

Santorini Heritage, Megalochori

Santorini Heritage offers two self-catering villas in the village of Megalochori. The two-bedroom Mansion Sophia is accessed through an imposing wooden doorway, that features a pretty private courtyard and a Moroccan-style plunge pool. Just off the town's main square, larger Mansion Kyani is situated on a hilltop overlooking vineyards, with three bedrooms and an outdoor infinity pool that's crafted from the island's volcanic rock. Car rental and transfers are included in both.

Santorini Heritage, Megalochori (00 30 699 4102450; Villas from €290. Sleeps four-six.

Perivolas, Oia

Perivolas is a short walk away from Oia, a tiny village where only the toll of a church bell or the chug of a fishing boat pierce the silence. The hotel dates back to 1969, when former navy captain Manos Psychas, purchased a plot of cliff-top land, dotted with cave dwellings and stables. The former quarters of fishermen and farmers have now been converted into 17 luxurious suites, with traditional smooth stone walls and curved cave-like ceilings. The restaurant serves up seasonal Greek classics.

Perivolas, Oia (00 30 22860 71308; Doubles start at €420, including breakfast.

Zanos Melathron, Pyrgos

In the 1870s, wealthy land owner, Michael Zannos, married off his daughter. Her dowry included a mansion in the village Pyrgos, which became the family's home for a century, before being transformed into a hotel. Today, Zannos Melathron is a slightly different proposition from the Santorini staple. Colourful rooms are almost Italian in style, with opulent fabrics, heritage furniture and a scattering of family heirlooms. Outside, the pool is shaded by olive trees, with views of the coast and the church of St Theodosia.

Zannos Melathron, Pyrgos (00 30 22860 28220; Doubles start at €370, including breakfast.

Rena's, Fira

This affordable hotel is located in the island capital of Fira. Recently renovated, it features a refreshed sea-view pool and simple but elegant rooms, done up in nautical hues with paintings of coastal scenes. Aside from the open-air breakfast restaurant, frills are kept to a minimum. Instead, a team of helpful staff is on hand to point guests in the direction of the island's top draws. Spend days exploring black-sand beaches, meander around Fira's cobblestone streets or take a boat tour to the caldera and a dip in its hot springs.

Rena's, Fira (00 30 22860 28130; Doubles start at €68, including breakfast.

Sun Rocks, Firostefani

Poised above the Aegean, Sun Rocks prides itself on being an exclusive couples retreat. Luxurious but low key, it has 17 softly furnished rooms, with creamy white walls and polished concrete floors. Some have verandas that open up on to caldera views. Others stare out across the characteristic architecture of this startling Cycladic island. French chandeliers, Romanian antiques and Italian furniture add a cosmopolitan feel. The island capital of Fira and the village of Firostefani are close by.

Sun Rocks, Firostefani (00 30 22860 23241; Doubles start at €380, including breakfast