A balcony to the Aegean sea
In Santorini, it is said that people more often read sunsets than books, especially when a good dose of assyrtiko, the local wine, is involved. Hence the primordial task of finding just the right place to stay, the one where you’ll have perfect access to the view, from every room you’ll walk in, at every moment of the day. After a short twenty minute drive from the airport, we cross a charming square with a small church and arrive in a village made of blue domes and white alleys, the type of village where you would expect Meryl Streep to jump out of every corner in overalls. The exact decor one has in mind when booking a trip to the Greek islands.
Majestically perched atop a cliff, the Unesco protected village of Oia, awash in gleaming white villas, faces a sparkling Aegean Sea. A view that some could say is worth all architecture on the island. Honeycombed into the cliff, the caves houses turned into hotel rooms were once used to produce and store wine, a reassuring previous usage to the place you’ll dreamfully sleep in. Located at the northwestern tip of the Santorini island, the Canaves Oia Suites consists of galleries of elegant white rooms with small private terraces, all nestled in the volcanic rocks, highlighted by a subtle interior design.
If on this island simplicity is the key to local beauty, Canaves Oia Suites takes it a step further into refined luxury. The hotel succeeds in blending traditional architecture with calming interiors of monochrome white, linen and marble. From the woven fabrics, XXL clay jars, painted beams and the polished plaster an elegant atmosphere is born, a blend of Greek architecture and local antiques inducing rest. All sublimated with an omnipresent white, from the walls to the lounging chairs, setting up the right frame for an intriguing deceptive minimalism. This minimalist aesthetic with a warm twist embodies the Mediterranean charm and the sophistication of its local art. The bet for Canaves Oia Suites was to blend perfectly into the local architectural traditions while still standing out through small touches of local artworks and craftsmanship that give the place the added value you never thought it needed.
“Our custom furniture is made here in Santorini, as the potery. Working with local artisan was an important mission for us, shedding a light on the talents held by the island, testimonies of our centuries-old culture. There’s more to the village than the view.” explains Mr.Chaidemenos, the hotel’s Managing Director, founded in 1983 by his parents. “Finding artisans was easier for us because we are local to this land.”
As he explains further, giving back to the local economy was an obvious part of the project since the creation of the hotel, now composed of three other locations on the island. Exploring through the small villages surrounding the hotel you easily understand his point. Painters, potters, fishermen, winemakers and so many more are easily encountered in each alley, each one a more loyal depiction of local traditions. Why bring through air and sea what lies beautifully at arm’s reach?
A journey of the senses
On your journey through Oia you’ll notice that colors have a whole new meaning on the island. Waking up in Oia on your first day, you’ll be struck by a banner of the deepest blue riding across the sky, fading into the sea in a slightly deeper nuance, yet referring to such a color as simply blue feels inadequate. Hidden in every corner of the island, from small round rooftops to window frames, this blue has a story intimately linked to the region, under the name of cyan. Did you know that the word cyan was directly taken from the Ancient Greek kyanos, meaning a dark blue enamel, or “Lapis lazuli”? A blue named after a mineral so rare it was considered more valuable than gold during the Middle Ages. Staring into Santorini’s horizon once again, we can picture, centuries ago, the Greeks gazing upon the same view, coming up with the perfect word to embrace the fullness and the depth of this blue, worthy of all the gold.
The never ending whitewashed walls of Canaves Oia Suites also create an ideal canvas for the remaining colors, adding specs of life to a simple yet elegant palette. There’s the dusty green of the olive trees, either centuries old, rooted deep into the soil on the terraces, or tiny enough to sit at your breakfast table. But it’s only at the end of your sun stretched day that the last one will make an appearance. The heavy warm orange of the sunset will suddenly cover all surfaces with a golden tan, reverberating on the surface of the sea, offering you the most stunning sight for a short amount of minutes only. These essential colors will fill your trip with a feeling of stillness that can ease the most troubled minds.
We were told that the best way to embrace the view and surroundings of the island was to engage in one of the hikes available around Oia, which we did with the help and advice from the hotel’s staff. Slightly out of breath from navigating the hilly paths, one can only but wonder how many landscapes have the luxury to claim being the nest of gods. Upon staring into the blue horizon, memories from mythology classes emerge from our past and suddenly each step taken on these lands feels imbued with heroism.
Becoming one with your surroundings
The second part of the journey took us fifteen minutes away from Canaves Oia Suites, to Epitome, its sister hotel located in the outskirts of Oia, away from the crowd. The recently built resort can claim one of the only views on the island free of other buildings. The architects from K-STUDIO, a renowned greek design studio, understood how to ensure that the best use was made out of this part of the island, the only one to offer open, light-filled space with unrestricted views. Being further away from the caldera, where space is limited, the rooms are therefore larger, increasing our perception of space. From our private terrace in the room, we witnessed a breathtaking view, quite different from the previous one, one where nothing stood between us and the sea. The rooms are perfectly fitted for a cool lifestyle on a Greek island and their individual terraces offer a small bubble of light, like front row seats to the Sun’s course.
Focused on highlighting the natural elements that compose the island’s treasured landscape, this hotel initiates a different experience of the senses. Far from the usual Cycladic villas, here you are surrounded by grounding elements, such as the imposing dark walls of Santorinian volcanic stone or the hefty wooden tables. Here again we can find treasures from local artisans, but this time diligently associated with pieces of contemporary design. Earthy tones suddenly take over the palette, bringing out a sense of alignment with the surrounding nature. Even the light seems to react differently to this decor, sliding through the grooves of a pergola, fading slowly as you step inside.
Sitting at the restaurant by the pool area, facing the sea, you understand there’s a different ambiance to the evenings in Epitome. The fancy decor sublimated by modern architecture entails a whole new experience, where every detail is part of a well thought out work of art. Nothing is left to chance, from the books on the shelves, the dried flowers in the jars and even the game of lights and shades. Light is a milestone in the hotel’s atmosphere, gliding through small openings, inviting shades in all sorts of shapes through louvers, drapes and alcoves. The hotel is a subtle blend of local textures combined with a laid-back generosity, comfort and the sense of a private, personal space, rare and valuable within the island.
Nevertheless, what makes the two accomodations align is the perpetual calm, almost ceremonial, where the wind and the sun dominate time, leaving you at the mercy of a day without any notion of plans. Lazing around on sunbeds by the cliff hanging pool, the sound of the sea lulling the day like in a wide awake dream, you’ll gorge yourself on capers, white eggplants and ntomatokeftedes (sort of cherry tomatoes fritters local to the island). You have all the privacy needed to only occupy yourself with reading a book, or the sunset.
Canaves Oia Suites
An adult-only property of 26 suites, welcoming guests seasonally from April to October.
Check-in: 3:00 PM; Check-out: 12:00 PM.
18km from Santorini Airport.