Zannos Melathron

Pyrgos, Santorini, Greece Book from

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, 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

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...

  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 17
  • 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
  • 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.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Butler (on request)
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Internet access
  • Kitchenette
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace


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.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Kitchenette
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • 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:

  • Cycling
  • Horse-riding
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Tennis
  • Windsurfing
  • 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 equipment:

Baby cots available on request

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

Kid Friendly:

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