For that fabled Santorini glamour, spectacular sunsets and an undemanding agenda. Stow away in one of Santo Maris’ Instagrammable suites carved into the cliffs, mere moments away from Oia’s bustling markets.
This volcanic honeymoon destination is one to book if you’re after a wildly romantic go-slow getaway, with the blue domed and whitewashed scatter of Oia within walking distance. Santo Maris cleverly folds the privacy of a private home or villa into the slick service and pampering appeal of a luxurious hotel. Couples can be cocooned for days in their own private suites, where only the sound of the occasional motorboat drawing white lines across the horizon interrupts conversation. Tear-jerking clifftop views out to sea host killer sunsets which are best viewed from the hot tub or plunge pool (in select rooms). What’s more this sacred tranquility (which pairs excellently with fresh, zingy cocktails) is keenly guarded with the hotel’s adults only status.
Set the scene:
Couples are greeted by Santo Maris’s contemporary reception area with an imposing black sweeping staircase echoing the volcanic location. Paved pathways skirt the white washed suites and gardens planted with olive trees, lavender and wild herbs. Designed by a Greek architect, the resort was built using local materials to ensure it blends seamlessly into the natural volcanic backdrop. Expect to be whisked to your room in a golf buggy. There are five beautifully-designed pools which appear to cling to the cliff edge. Surrounding these is an international crowd of predominantly couples, sipping cocktails on double cushioned sun beds. Guests needn’t lift a finger, with staff dressed in white polos and beige chinos readjusting umbrellas, bringing fresh fluffy towels after a dip and generally knowing what guests want before they truly know themselves.
There’s no such thing as a hotel room here. Spacious, minimalist inclined suites spread out across the various layers of this cliffside hotel – all enjoying their own hot tub and/or plunge pool, kitchenette and private terrace for a blast of Santorini sunshine. Tactile ceramic curved features meet silky white walls and concrete floors which are cool underfoot. Blue cushions add a pop of colour to otherwise subdued shades of linen furnishings. Super-King beds with crisp white cotton sheets are positioned to take in the views, albeit sea, pool or sunrise. And for the honeymooners? Expect scattered pink rose petals and twinkling iron lanterns on arrival, (a cliché for good reason), bubbles on ice and fresh bunches of Santorini blooms in your room. Our Editor recommends the Sunset Suites or the new secluded Cave Suites as the ultimate romantic choice for honeymooners.
Food and drink:
For a long, lazy (and truly delicious) lunch, choose Akratos the poolside bar and restaurant with trippy sea views from up high. Try the Chicken Gyro, a fresh take on the traditional kebab lathered in avocado tzatziki. Settle in here for elevated cocktails – perhaps an Fragrant Lips (rum, salted caramel, tahini and banana) – as the sun splits over the horizon with dazzling effect. As the stars reveal themselves and a marginally cooler breeze sets in, pull up a chair on Aluios Ilios’s candle-lit terrace for a six course tasting menu. A series of charming wonky plates arrive, taking couples on a culinary journey through various regions of Greece. Expect plates such as pretty Greek salads finished with zingy mouth-tingling sorbet, indulgent black garlic butter and fresh lemon infused oils for dunking homemade bread in. Breakfast is served poolside – an elegant buffet with lots of traditional Greek plates (the local crunchy honeycomb being a highlight). For a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience, a private dinner can be arranged in couples’ suites.
Privately owned Santo Maris opened in 2016 as the latest property in an otherwise Cretan portfolio. The resort had a nature first agenda. Suites were positioned around boulders and trees and the owners and designers have truly embraced and honoured Santorini’s architecture and culture.
Designed for romance and ‘grown up time’, this is no place for children. The result is a pool with no splashing, shouting or moaning… heaven? The guaranteed tranquility is as appealing to honeymooners without children as it is to those with children, taking a well deserved break.
In keeping with the traditional Santorini architecture, The Anasa Spa at Santo Maris is located underground in a calming, cave-like space. Thick concrete pillars meet curved white walls and there’s an indoor heated pool reminiscent of thermal baths, a sauna and steam room. You can expect a lifting pomegranate juice on arrival and fragrant, relaxing tea on departure. Treatment rooms are candlelit, with gentle music lowering shoulders before massages even begin. Each treatment starts with a signature foot bath with local salts – a lovely ritual to embrace, while all treatments use natural Cretan ingredients. Book the Express Facial with Avocado for a delicious refresh and reset.
Sustainability is a core focus for this relatively new resort. They have planted their own kitchen gardens, where tomatoes, peppers, aubergines all grow in abundance. Kitchen waste is turned into compost and all the plants within the resort are native to Greece. Santo Maris feverishly champions local suppliers for everything from the food to crystal glassware and Santorini ceramics in the suites.
Oia is famous for good reason. A favourite among discerning travellers seeking a pampering, luxe-but-lo-fi break, it also offers plenty of independent shops and restaurants to dive into if hotel life becomes repetitive. Santo Maris has the luxury of space, yet is only a five minute walk (via a paved pathway) to the photogenic town, making it easily accessible for lunches and dinners out. The best part? The hotel is also only a 30 minute taxi ride to the airport – music to the ears of minimooners or honeymooners who are ready to lather on the suncream.
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