Santorini Hideaway Houses

Megalochori, Santorini, Greece
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Santorini Hideaway Houses

Megalochori, Santorini, Greece

A pair of beautifully restored wine merchants' houses (sleeping 2-4 and 4-6), hidden away in one of Santorini's prettiest villages

A pair of beautifully restored wine merchants' houses (sleeping 2-4 and 4-6), hidden away in one of Santorini's prettiest villages

At first, we were skeptical. Why come all the way to Santorini, famed for its breathtaking views over the sea-filled crater, only to stay inland among the whitewashed villages and sun-baked vineyards? But then we unlatched the gate off one of Megalochori's car-free lanes, stepped inside, and were instantly converted. A quite unexpectedly pretty courtyard, laid with round volcanic pebbles and centred on an emerald green plunge pool, was fringed with potted pink geraniums. There were inviting sunbeds, a huge hammock, glimpses of white roofs; the only sounds were the trickle of water and the hourly peal from the blue-domed church.

We stepped inside Sophie's House into 4-metre vaulted sitting room - once the atelier of a 19th century wine merchant - whose thick walls and shuttered windows keep it blissfully cool even in midsummer (though there's A/C too). Off it lies a glorious master bedroom with vast four-poster, and a smaller room where our young son, when not splashing in the pool, slept. There's a chunky pebbled bathroom and a small but serviceable kitchen, too. But most of our time was spent outside: mornings in the courtyard, lunch at the bougainvillea-shaded dining table, evenings at one of the delightful tavernas a few minutes' walk away in the village.

We also looked at the slightly larger Cyan House, a 5-minute walk away in the same village, which sleeps 6 in three separate suites. Expect the same combo of pebbled courtyards, ochre walls and white-washed vaults, with a vast grape-vat bath, a similar plunge pool and no shortage of sheltered sit-outs. For anyone seeking a true hideaway on Santorini, away from the crowded caldera in one of its prettiest villages, either house would make an excellent choice.

Highs

  • After the crowds of Oia at sunset, we felt super smug retreating into our walled oasis, with its secluded courtyard and plunge pool
  • Megalochori is a pretty whitewashed village: largely car-free, with picturesque churches and friendly little shops
  • Sophie's house is perfect for a family with one or two children; or a honeymooning couple on a splurge
  • Cyan would suit 2-3 couples travelling together, or a group of friends
  • It's great having the option of self-catering or wandering down the lane for a lazy outdoor dinner at Raki, one of the island's loveliest tavernas

Lows

  • Service is minimal: after meet-and-greet, you’re left largely alone with the daily maid and pool service, plus a concierge on call
  • There's no welcome hamper, so you'll have to stock up on arrival; nearby shops include a late-opening baker and supermarket
  • Cyan House has two in-suite kitchenettes rather than a full kitchen, and only a small living-dining space: it's all about al fresco living
  • Like all Santorini accommodations, it's not cheap
World Favourite Family Hideaway

    Best rooms for families

    Of the 2 houses, Sophie's is best, sleeping 2-4. The children's bedroom is quite narrow, so if set up as a twin the beds will be close together; alternatively you could use the sitting room sofa bed as the 2nd child bed.

    Cyan would be ok for a family with older children who are happy in their own separate suites. All 3 bedrooms are double, not twin, and have their own ensuite bathrooms.

    Parents should know...

    It's not ideal for toddlers, because (in both houses) the pool is unprotected and the courtyard has a chunky pebbled surface. There are no kids' toys or games, so bring your own.
  • Cot
  • High chair

Some equipment may need to be requested in advance

Houses are self-catering; the kitchenette means that you can make your own breakfasts and snacks easily and cheaply. There are family-friendly tavernas nearby if you prefer not to cook.

  • TV and media player
  • iPod and dock
  • Unheated plunge pool
  • Megalochori has a playground by the main car park, and there are lots more dotted around the island
  • Take a boat trip to the Lava Islands
  • Swim or snorkel on the island's black sand beaches

Great for...

Family
Romantic
  • Historic Village Homes
  • 2 houses for 2-8
  • Basic self-catering, restaurants nearby
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: Dec-March
  • Plunge Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Babysitting
  • Creche / Kids Club
  • Car recommended
  • Parking
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Laundry Service
Room:

Sophie's House (slps 2-5)

This slightly smaller house has two bedrooms (plus a sofa in the sitting room), sleeping 4-5 max. We loved our stay, and thought it equally perfect for a compact family or a honeymoon couple wanting a secluded, walled oasis on hectic Santorini.

From the courtyard you step into a cool sitting room with a 4-metre vaulted ceiling, shuttered windows and polished wooden floors. It feels almost monastic - though in fact it's history is far more decadent, being the former home of a wealthy wine merchant. You'll find a sofa and chairs, a coffee table made from an old stable door, a pretty ceiling light of coiled olive branches and a dining table for 4 (though we took all our meals outside). On the (extremely rare) rainy days, a media player with movies and a fully primed Sonos audio system should keep you amused.

Off this room, one on each side, are the master bedroom with its vast four-poster stacked with pillows; and a smaller double (or twin, at a pinch) ideal for kids. They share a small bathroom with a cymbal-sized (but curtainless) shower, complimentary Korres toiletries and pebbled floors.

By comparison with the other rooms, the diminutive kitchen feels a bit of an afterthought, with a tiny worktop-sink area tucked into the original hearth - mind your head on the arch! Appliances are limited to a Smeg fridge-freezer, an electric oven, kettle, coffee machine (espresso and filter), sandwich maker and basic cutlery and crockery: just enough to whip up supper. The best feature is the secret little courtyard dining area, where a table for 6 sits beneath a poppy-red bougainvillea bush.

Cyan House (slps 4-8)

The larger house has an unusual layout, with three semi-independent bedroom suites sleeping 6 in comfort, or 7-8 if you use the additional sofas. Each bedroom suite comes with a double bed, a bathroom and its own entrance; two of them have private kitchenettes. We thought it ideal for 2-3 couples travelling together, or a group of friends.

You enter into a large courtyard, laid with the same black pebbles and with a raised plunge pool at the end. Behind are some wind-sheltered sit-outs tucked amid part-ruined walls. This house is all about outdoor living: we loved the raised dining terrace with its views of the whitewashed village, and the raised pool with its soft LED lighting echoing the illuminated church at dusk. Note that communal indoor spaces are limited to a small top-floor living-room and adjacent dining table.

The coolest suite is downstairs: a huge white canava vault reminiscent of a Cycladic chapel, with a groovily curved bed base in grey polished cement, and a huge tub in its adjoining bathroom (there's a shower, too). Its kitchenette comes with ceramic hob, fridge-freezer, coffee machine, sink, kettle, toaster and basic cutlery-crockery. The other downstairs suite is lighter, with a smaller bedroom (also queensize) and a large, rustic bathroom (stones have some sharp edges). It's the only one without a kitchenette.

Head upstairs, past the dining terrace, to the third suite. This has its own sitting/TV room with a kitchenette (no oven) hidden behind a bar counter. The queen bedroom and bathroom lead off it. There's another of those huge bath vats, an indoor dining room, more olive branches, white walls and the odd piece of simple art - all quite comfy and charming but lacking, we thought, the chic cohesive design of Santorini's top end hotels.

Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • The pretty, tranquil village of Megalochori is a great base, with its pedestrianised centre, outdoor tavernas and friendly wineries (Gavalas, next door to Cyan, is worth a tour)
  • Being in the centre of the island, nowhere is more than 30 mins' drive away: the caldera rim is 15 mins' walk, the port and airport are 10 mins' drive, and two beaches are within 12 mins
  • A boat trip to the lava islands in the caldera is a must - even though you will by far from alone - for their lunar rocks and still smouldering crater, plus the chance to swim in geothermally heated (if metallic smelling) seas. Book in advance, and allow time for the steep walk or cable car down to the departure quay
  • Pyrgos (3km) is the highest and prettiest village on the island, with a ruined castle, an outdoor cafe under the church tower, and instagrammable views at every corner
  • For the best caldera views, hike from Imerovigli down to the dramatic plug of rock called Skaros: small paths lead round the left to a hidden chapel (Theoskepasti) with stunning views over the sea-filled crater
  • Take the obligatory sunset stroll through Oia, the oh-so-pretty, couply village in the north: the caldera views are truly amazing, and there's some tempting shopping too
  • Swim or snorkel at one of Santorini's black-sand beaches: Perissa and Kamari are the busiest, with organised watersports; Red Beach and Vlyhada more secluded (all are 12-20 mins' drive)
  • From Kamari, drive up to the hilltop ruins of ancient Thira for stunning views and an insight into the island's classical past; older still are the ash-preserved streets and houses of Minoan Akrotiri

Best Time to go

The houses are open from April to November, and we think May, June and September are the best months to visit, being not too hot. However, even in midsummer, these houses remain cool and relatively quiet, plus they have their own pools for cooling off in.

Bear in mind the minimum 3-night stay. We think 3-5 days is about right for a good exploration of Santorini: it's a small island, and an expensive one too. We'd allow one day for the lava islands boat trip, one for visiting Oia and maybe Skaros, one for the beaches (not the best in the Cyclades), and one for lazing at home.

Our Top Tips

One of the delights in staying here is the choice of delightful tavernas in the village. Right in the square, just 100m away, summertime Raki has outdoor tables under a shady pergola while Marmita , just opposite, is a classic year-round option. For more upscale dining, we've heard great things about Feggera. and the fantastic wine bar and arts centre, Alisachni.

As for self-catering, there's a great bakery (open 20 hours a day!) in the village, and a couple of small supermarkets just outside. You'll need to buy provisions, as only the basics are supplied: salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, sugar, espresso pods, bottled water, plus with a complimentary bottle of wine if you book through i-escape.
Kid Friendly:

Location

The houses are in the village of Megalochori, in the middle of Santorini island, close to the airport and the port of Athinios. You'll need a hire car for exploration and shopping. There's a car park on the edge of the village: be prepared to walk a few minutes to the house.

By Air
Santorini (7km) or Athens (daily domestic flights to Santorini).

By Boat
Fom Athens' port Piraeus, and also from Crete and neighbouring Cycladic islands, there are regular ferries and hydrofoils to Santorini. Most vessels leave Piraeus in the early morning or mid afternoon; ferries take 6-8 hours while hydrofoils take only 4-5 hours but cost more. It is a superb way to arrive, cruising into the caldera and looking up at the volcanic cliffs around you. If arriving by sea, we advise that you check boat timetables before confirming your accommodation.

From the Airport/Port
The hotel is about 15 mins drive from both Santorini airport and Santorini (Athinios) port. Staff can help you to arrange car rental, or see our car rental recommendations. If you're really not keen on hiring a car, airport/port transfers are available on request.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Santorini 7.0 km JTR

Other:

  • Beach 5.0 km
  • Shops 0.3 km
  • Restaurant 0.1 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
8/10
Service
8/10
Value
9/10
Overall

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