Santorini spells a medley of nautical colours; a trail of white buildings with softened edges perched on black volcanic rock overlooking the glittering Aegean. It’s an architectural delight, an ocean-lovers dream, and frankly, a destination that should be on everyone’s list.
This Greek island – the southernmost in the Cyclades – is really just the rim of an ancient volcano, with the main area shaped like a croissant around an inner lagoon. Imerovigli is widely knwon one of Santorini’s best places to stay – it’s not quite as pretty as the much-photographed Oia, but the views are perhaps even lovelier and it’s much less crowded. It was here that we checked into West East Suites, a beautiful property that opened last summer on this beguiling island.
West East Suites is located just outside of Imerovigli town in the direction of Oia. The hotel straddles the peak of the island, so while most suites offer incredible views over the caldera, those that don’t still look out to the ocean on the other side.
When architects become hoteliers, you can expect something special. West East Suites is no exception; combining the traditional cave style that’s a signature of the island with clean, modern lines, this hotel is a pioneer among the rest. Ample glass is used to screen the terraces, whilst giving the impression there’s nothing to shield the magnificent landscape.
West East Suites has just 16 suites in total, giving the hotel a very boutique, personal atmosphere. Each suite is a dreamy place to rest your head, with a Jacuzzi, private plunge pool or pool access. Interiors are bright and contemporary, merging Cycladic white with organic grey that echoes the island’s volcanic rock.
Our Junior Suite was beautifully lit and well set up, with quirky lines following the natural geography of the volcanic setting. Those looking for an extra special sojourn should pick the regal Infinity Suite, which features both an indoor Jacuzzi and an outdoor plunge pool. If that isn’t indulgent, we don’t know what is.
‘Flyaway’ is West East Suites lounge, bar and restaurant, centred on an infinity pool carved into the cliffside with full views over the caldera. Romantic cave-like dining booths feature Eames chairs with modern cut-outs, while the open areas are scattered with chunky wooden sun loungers and modern white beanbags. Beside the bar lies a breakfast bar for lunchtime bites in the shade of creamy canvas sails.
West East Suites picked a truly excellent chef; meals throughout were delicious, combining fresh local ingredients with creative flair. The breakfast menu is possibly the most extensive we’ve seen anywhere, and breakfast can be delivered to your room too. It seemed a shame not to enjoy our suite, so we devoured baskets of pastries, plates piled with scrambled eggs and feta, and fresh fruit on our terrace, before sinking into the plunge pool with cups of tea.
Aside from lounging by the pool, West East Suites can arrange all manner of excursions for those with itchy feet. We had a quad bike delivered and spent a leisurely day zooming around the island – the pretty skyline, upmarket boutiques and heaving restaurants of Oia are easily accessed, as is Ammoudi Bay, a crescent of local restaurants set on the ocean. Perissa and Kamouni beaches are worth a trip too – you can find black, white and red sand on Santorini’s striking shores.
Adventurous visitors can scuba dive or kayak, while foodies can imbibe Santorini’s famous wine and check out the local vineyards, Those interested in culture can visit Aktrotiri’s excavation site to see a village preserved by volcanic ash, but, if you feel like splashing cash, a helicopter or a private yacht are unbeatable ways to soak up the scenery of the Cyclades.
In a Nutshell
By nature, Santorini is a design aficionados dream, and the views over picture-perfect traditional white washed villages at West East Suites are reason enough to pitch up at this undeniably trendy boutique retreat.
Words by Annie Biziou – Lifestyle Editor