Once we booked our flight to Santorini, we were excited to experience the breathtaking views of the caldera and the hillside towns along the edge of the island! Then the hard part began…..which lodging in Santorini to choose? Did we want to stay in Fira, Imerovigli or Oia? Did we want a caldera view room with a balcony? Was a hot tub worth the extra money? How much were we willing to spend?
Due to an issue with a hotel booking, we had the opportunity to stay at 3 different properties during our 5 nights in Santorini. We are going to share our perspective on the considerations of choosing lodging in Santorini and if the cliffside properties are worth the money.
Which area of the island?
The 3 most popular areas are Fira, Imerovigli and Oia. Ultimately we chose Imerovigli and we were pleased with our decision. Imerovigli is located in the middle of the other two areas therefore we felt it was a good base to explore. Fira is just a short 25-30 minute walk therefore it was easy to get around both areas. Even in the hot July weather, we found the walk to be comfortable and of course the stunning views make it easy on the eyes!
For us, the tougher decision was deciding between Imerovigli and Oia. Oia is famous for it’s windmill views and since it’s on the edge of the island noted for it’s sunsets. The con of this area are the crowds and it is a bit higher priced than other areas. The bus regularly goes between the towns and taxis are easy to book hence we decided on Imerovigli for our lodging in Santorini.
Just to clear up any concerns regarding sunset views, they were amazing in Imerovigli as you can see above!
Should you book a caldera view room?
For us, this was hands-down a must. We were in a bit of sticker shock at first for lodging in Santorini but decided to bite the bullet…..YOLO! Each property served a private breakfast on the balcony. Here are the views of each property we stayed at. In the sake of full transparency, we are being highly critical to give you some things to consider however overall we were pleased with all locations.
Aliko Suites – This property for us offered a view that lacked in comparison to the others. Mostly due to the fact that it was quite a way down the cliff. Due to that, the perspective was not as great due to the brush in the front.
Absolute Bliss This property’s view offered the most background with the curling island and view of Oia in the distance. It was also the largest balcony that we had. The drawback of this one, was the high railing that was in view particularly when using the loungers.
Above Blue Suites – This one was our favorite! Despite being the smallest outdoor space of the 3 properties, it had the perfect unobstructed view. Also it was perched highest on the hill versus the others which I think added to the experience.
While you can visit restaurants and bars that offer caldera views, we found our private balcony was the perfect spot to enjoy some wine or champagne as the sun went down. Again, Above Blue Suites really delivered for sunset viewing!.
Is a hot tub worth it?
In short, we did not use the hot tub. In most cases we felt it took up space and would have preferred a larger balcony area. Also the rooms with hot tubs were at a price premium that in the end was money wasted for us.
Due to the close proximity of rooms and properties, the jets are turned off around 9pm therefore we couldn’t enjoy the hot tub after dinner in the evenings. Secondly they are not covered and we found the water to be lukewarm at best even at the highest setting. Lastly they aren’t really private, you can easily see your neighbor’s hot tub within the properties.
Our recommendation instead, stay at a property that offers a pool when choosing lodging in Santorini! Aliko Suites did not have a pool but both Above Blue and Absolute Bliss had pool options.
This is the view from the pool at Above Blue. Very relaxing setting but you don’t have caldera views while in the water.
This is the pool at Absolute Bliss, aptly named hotel as it truly was bliss at the pool! You can lean on the edge of the pool and take in the caldera view. This property wins hands-down!
Do I need a restaurant on-site?
As shown above, all the properties where we stayed included breakfast regardless if there was a restaurant on-site. For us, a restaurant would be a nice to have but not a deal-breaker for lodging in Santorini.
We enjoyed having the option of ordering a few appetizers to go along with our wine during sunset at Absolute Bliss.
The best on-site restaurant was at Above Blue Suites. They clear the pool area and set up a few dining tables each night. The bonus is you get to enjoy a lovely meal while taking in the popular sunset.
Even better, you don’t have to be a guest at the property to enjoy dinner here. Just make sure you have a reservation in advance since there are limited tables. Oh and don’t miss the saganaki, we almost ordered 2!
Is air conditioning important?
We found that not all properties offered air conditioning. Considering hotels are built on the cliff, the rooms are built into the side of the mountain. All of the rooms we stayed in were similar set-ups in that they were long narrow spaces. To show perspective, here is our room from Above Blue.
Due to the design, the rooms stay relatively cool therefore it would be ok to stay in a room without air conditioning. The only caveat would be if there is a hot tub inside the room, then air conditioning is a must! Aliko Suites had a hot tub in the room that was not fully enclosed and no air conditioning in the bedroom. Unfortunately the nights were uncomfortable as the hot tub ended up creating a sauna-like atmosphere in the whole room.
Above Blue Suites, offered a hot tub in a fully enclosed room. This way, the heat was contained and the room was comfortable with the air conditioner. If you enjoy hot tubs, we would recommend a room with the hot tub inside so the water is truly hot unlike the balcony issue above.
Overall we were very pleased with the lodging in Santorini and highly recommend a room on the cliff with a balcony to anyone traveling there. Yes, they can be expensive depending on your typical budget but it will be money well spent in our opinion. We spent most of our room time on the balcony and just went inside to sleep! Overall it is a unique experience to stay in properties on the side of a cliff. With a setting like that, it’s hard to make a wrong choice when choosing lodging in Santorini!
Have you gone to Santorini? What advice would you add for lodging in Santorini?