Zannos Melathron

Pyrgos, Santorini, Greece Book from Book from £146 per night

A sophisticated, discreet mansion with restored Cycladic vault-rooms in a hilltop village on Greece’s most spectacular island
Santorini is a unique place. Massive volcanic eruptions 3000 years ago blew a vast crater out of the middle of the island, leaving its ancient Minoan cities fortuitously well-preserved under a layer of ash. This cliff-ringed crater is now filled with a sea so deep and blue, and lined with villages so tumbling and white, that it has become the iconic image of Greece. And the problem with iconic images is that they draw crowds: Santorini's crater rim (or 'caldera') is now so full of hotels, bars and sunset-snapping tourists that it's hard to focus on the stunning natural beauty around you.

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, all with restored original features. Outside, there's a stunning panoramic terrace, a rock-cut plunge pool and a spa housed inside a ruined building, plus a succession of vaulted and cave-like bedrooms that are cool, 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.

Highs

  • 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
  • Some of the rooms are huge - particularly the Honeymoon Suites and the Master Suites; this is a rare find in tiny Santorini
  • The food at dinner was outstanding, and it felt wonderfully romantic gazing out towards the twinkling lights of Santorini while we dined
  • You feel rather superior being away from the seething masses of the caldera rim, and Pyrgos is a real gem

Lows

  • The hotel feels a little tired, and could do with a makeover and some renovation here and there
  • Be prepared for a steep walk up from the village centre and the road (staff will help with bags, aided by mules if necessary)
  • Some of the rooms seem slightly damp - ours (a Honeymoon Suite) had a dehumidifier in it that filled up pretty quickly
  • You'll need a car or friendly taxi driver for all the main sites: caldera, archaeological ruins, lava islands and Fira's shops
  • The bathrooms aren't very well thought out; the floors get pretty flooded when you wash due to no shower curtains or bathmats

Best time to go

Go if you can in April or early May, before the first charter flights; or likewise at the end of October. Late May-June and September-early October are also reasonably quiet, with warmer temperatures and easier access. If possible, avoid July and August, which are hot and crowded.

Our top tips

If WiFi is important to you, ask before booking, as the thick rock walls of many bedrooms block out the signal.

Great for...

Foodie
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 18
  • Restaurant and bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
  • Drawing rooms
Room:

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 Suites with Shared Jacuzzi - a staggered succession of small, barrel-vaulted rooms. Non-wombles might prefer the Master 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 Junior Suites sit around a small courtyard below the main ‘melathron’, feeling slightly overlooked. For maximum privacy, splash out on a Honeymoon Jacuzzi Suite, set in its own courtyard below the terrace.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • CD player
  • Coffee maker
  • Cots Available
  • DVD player
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The intimate Mania restaurant offers a daily changing menu, and dinner is served on the rooftop terrace or in the mansion's grand dining room. We were prepared fried goats cheese with honey, a classy Greek salad with powerful local capers and olives the size of walnuts, and melt-in-the-mouth spiced chicken breast with silky-smooth mashed potato. Dessert was a white chocolate mousse with forest fruits and a crumbly biscuit base. Though not particularly imaginative, the food was cooked to perfection. Excellent wines from Greece and worldwide can be ordered with the meal - we thought the delicate flavour of the local Assyrtiko was the perfect pairing.

For breakfast, at a table on the panoramic balcony, order omelettes, yoghurt and honey, pastries and French jams to go with your coffee and fresh orange juice.

If you feel like eating out, Pyrgos has a handful of charming tavernas a short, steep walk away. Start your evening with a sunset cocktail at Franco's Café: it's pricey, but the views are astounding. Head to Brusco for traditional Greek fare and an excellent selection of mezze boards, try Cava Alta for contemporary Mediterranean dishes, or kick back at Penelope's for traditional, homecooked food at very reasonable prices.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee maker
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Wander through Pyrgos village to see its hilltop chapel, it's 51 churches and its 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 wine tasting at one of the many vineyards that carpet the slopes around Pyrgos
  • 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
  • Head up to Pyrgos' ruined castle to watch one of Santorini's famous sunsets
  • 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

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Windsurfing
  • Wine tasting

Kids

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 Master Suites have 2 double bedrooms and 2 bathrooms so are best suited to families. The Junior Suites can fit one extra bed. Cots and babysitting can be arranged on request

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Location

Zannos Melathron is in the hilltop the village of Pyrgos, in the centre of Santorini island (also called Thira).

By Air
Fly into Santorini (5km) or Athens (with regular domestic flights to Santorini). The hotel is about 20 minutes' drive from both Santorini airport and Santorini (Athinios) port. Transfers can be arranged easily through the hotel or you can hire a car.

By Boat
There are regular ferries and hydrofoils to Santorini from Athens' ports Piraeus and Rafina. Ferries take 6-8 hours while hydrofoils take only 4-5 hours but cost more. Check boat timetables (see GTP or ask the hotel) before confirming your hotel booking.

Detailed directions to the hotel itself will be sent when you confirm your booking with i-escape.

Airports:

  • Santorini, Thira 5.0 km JTR
  • Athens, Eleftherios Venizelos 300.0 km ATH

Other:

  • Beach 10.0 km
  • Shops 0.5 km
  • Restaurant 5.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

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

We really enjoyed our stay - away from the Fira/Oia crowds, in a beautiful setting with lovely grounds, pool, generous and flavorful breakfast, and real peace and quiet.

9/10,

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