“A sophisticated, discreet mansion with restored Cycladic vault-rooms in a hilltop village on Greece’s most spectacular island”
One solution is to head inland, up to the island's highest village, at the pinnacle of which sits the imposing melathron (mansion) of a 19th-century wine magnate named Zannos. Its reception rooms now house an elegant salon, bar and residents-only dining room, with a panoramic terrace and rock-cut plunge pool outside. Around and beneath it are scattered a succession of vaulted and cave-like bedrooms, cool and labyrinthine and stylishly sombre. If you want to feel like King of Santorini, on your own hilltop away from the crowds, here’s your palace.
- The panoramic position is stunning, and there are plenty of terraces to take in the views
- We liked the unusual combination of painted elegance in the main house, and Cycladic (almost troglodytic) chic in the bedrooms
- You feel rather superior being away from the seething masses of the caldera rim
- We found the staff very attentive and unfailingly courteous
- The hotel came under new management in late 2014 and we've not yet visited since the changeover and renovation
- Be prepared for a steep walk up from the village centre and the road (staff will help with bags, aided by mules if necessary)
- You'll need a car or friendly taxi driver for all the main sites: caldera, archaeological ruins, lava islands and Fera's shops
- Though children are welcome, the calm atmosphere is better suited to adults
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- Restaurant and bar
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Daily Maid Service
- Towels & Bedlinen
- Concierge Service
- Bicycles Available
- Drawing rooms
Although the name sounds like some futuristic space-travel gadget out of Star Trek, the Zannos Melathron (which actually means the manor-house of Mr Zannos) is liable to take you back in time… to an age of cave-dwellers. Most of the suites are cut wholly or partly into the soft tuff rock: labyrinthine, vaulted rooms with tiny ledges and windows, carved in the traditional style of Santorini’s earthquakophobic people. Beautifully designed, with sumptuous curves, arcaded partitions, and stuccoed walls in ochres and mauves, the effect is soothing and cool.
The most troglodytic are the Canava Superior Suites - a staggered succession of small, barrel-vaulted room. Non-wombles might prefer the Canava Family Suites in the overground poolside building: high-vaulted rooms with a wooden mezzanine providing space for 2 double bedrooms as well as a spacious sitting room whose drinks cabinet is nattily disguised as a wardrobe. The Canava Junior Suites sit around a small courtyard below the main ‘melathron’, feeling slightly overlooked. For maximum privacy, splash out on a Canava Honeymoon Suite, set in its own courtyard below the terrace.
- Air conditioning
- Butler (on request)
- Central heating
- Coffee tea making
- Cots Available
- Dvd player
- Internet access
- Safe box
- Satellite tv
The intimate hotel restaurant serves up traditional Santorinian dishes on the rooftop terrace or in the mansion's grand dining room. Ingredients are locally sourced, and the chef is willing to create meals based on personal taste (if given enough notice). We were prepared a classy Greek salad with powerful local capers and olives the size of walnuts, followed by a subtle fillet of sea-bass pepped up by a gritty olive tapenade. Excellent wines from Greece and worldwide can be ordered with the meal, or sampled in a wine-tasting, with cigars and a wide range of digestifs to finish. Private dining can also be arranged in the mansion.
For breakfast, at a table on the panoramic balcony, order omelettes, yoghurt and honey, pastries and French jams to go with your cappucino and fresh orange juice.
If you feel like eating out, Pyrgos has a couple of simple but charming tavernas a short, steep walk away. One is hidden beneath the church tower, the other overlooks the main plateia (the roadhead where the bus turns around). Both serve good, unpretentious local fare, including fava (split-pea purée), aubergines baked with local cherry tomatoes, and a variety of honey-and-almond based sweets.
- Coffee tea making
- Room service
- Wander through Pyrgos village to its hilltop chapel and crumbling ‘castro’ walls - Zannos can arrange a knowledgeable guide
- Follow mule paths down to the plain, or up to the monastery (and radio masts); the energetic can continue down a spectacular rocky path to ancient Thira
- Descend the 500 steps to the port to catch a boat to the pretty island of Thirasia (don’t worry; you can take a donkey or cable-car up on your return)
- Or take a day-cruise to the lava islands in the caldera, where you can watch sulphur gas hissing out of yellowed rocks, or swim in the steam-warmed sea-shallows
- Go windsurfing or water-skiing at Perissa, you can also dive there
- Discover the wonderfully preserved (pre-eruption) ruins of Minoan Akrotiri or the (post-eruption) site of ancient Thira
- Go horse-riding at foreign-run stables in Exo Gonia, or along the beach
- Back at the hotel, survey the island while sunbathing on the panoramic terrace before cooling off in the small rock-cut pool or indulging at the hotel spa with a massage, treatment or sauna session
- Sample locally produced wine in a wine-tasting session or mix up a cocktail at one of the hotel’s masterclasses!
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Scuba diving
- Shopping / markets
- Wine tasting
Well behaved children are welcome, but there's more of a grown up vibe. Plus activities here aren't very child-friendly.
Family friendly accommodation:
The Senior Suites have 2 double bedrooms, the Canava Suites 2+1, and the Master Suite can sleep up to 6. Cots and babysitting can be arranged on request
Babysitting available by arrangement
Baby cots available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking