A MEDITERRANEAN SANCTUARY
Located at the cusp of midnight blue waters and onyx volcanic sand, Istoria Hotel is Santorini’s best kept secret hideaway.
Think of Santorini and picturesque images of ancient volcanic calderas and dramatic sunsets instantly spring to mind. But while the Greek island is celebrated for its whitewashed Cycladic buildings, multicoloured cliffs and blue-domed churches, lesser known are the idyllic Mediterranean beaches that line its entire eastern and southern coasts. Santorini’s volcanic origin has created a coastline unlike any other – instead of powdery white sand, the beaches of Santorini are speckled with tiny black pebbles. Located between the azure blue waters of the Aegean Sea and infinite stretches of black sand, Perivolos Beach is one of Santorini’s most popular seaside spots. It is here that boutique hotel Istoria, a member of Design Hotels, has opened its doors. Tucked away from the tourist throngs of Santorini’s caldera-facing west coast, the beachfront property offers an unforgettable view to where the Mediterranean sun meets the sea.
Modern Cycladic Charm
Taking its name from the ancient Greek word for ‘story’, the design concept of Istoria Hotel stems from the tales of its past residents. The hotel was formerly a three-story Cycladic mansion owned by a legendary socialite known for her penchant for fine horses. It was this equine love that inspired the hotel’s design, including the five stables that once housed her beloved horses.
To accommodate a total of 12 suites, Athens-based firm Interior Design Laboratorium remodelled the property from scratch. The building’s façade was transformed into an open-air restaurant and reception area, while five stables were converted into ground floor rooms. Fusing the traditional Santorini architecture style with a stripped-down contemporary aesthetic are rustic textures that sit side by side with sleek, modern furnishings. As a nod to the former owner’s love for horses, the arched ceilings of the stables are kept. Tying the theme together are decorative, thematic motifs such as bridles that hang outside the suites. The theme continues within the suites as well, with subtle statement pieces such as rectangle-shaped basins of black rock, reminiscent of the old horse troughs while harkening to the region’s rich volcanic history.
Stories To Remember
Within the hotel, travellers are invited to recreate their own stories of their stay. Suites are divided into six categories – Saga, Recit, Tarina, Rakonto, Conte and Storia, each named in a different language that translates to the word ‘story’. The suites range in size from 40 to 50 sq m and come with verdant terraces for lounging under the summer sun. Most suites also boast private jacuzzis or pools. The Storia Suite, the hotel’s highest category of accommodation, features an indulgently spacious bedroom with a king size bed, luxury linens and an airy living area complete with a comfortable sofa to accommodate an extra guest. On the 45 sq m terrace, guests are invited to idle on the sunbeds or take a dip in the outdoor hot tub, all while enjoying the stunning view of the sea in complete privacy.
Istoria Hotel prides itself on allowing guests to curate their own bespoke experiences. Through ties with Perivolos’ local outlets, the hotel facilitates a wide range of activities, including horseback riding by the beach, biking in the mountains, parasailing, jet ski and more. Sailing tours to explore Santorini’s spectacular coast come highly recommended. For day trips, transfers to and from the coastal towns of Oia and Thira can also be easily arranged with the ever attentive and resourceful concierge team.
The infinity pool at Istoria Hotel is one of the largest in all of Santorini.
Complementing the inherently experiential Istoria stay are several spaces catered for guest entertainment. Right outside the hotel’s doorstep is a dedicated serviced beach area, where guests can lie on sunbeds and read a book while enjoying the gentle sea breeze. When not at the beach, guests can let afternoons slip away with a dip in the hotel’s infinity pool, one of the largest in all of Santorini, framed by towering views of the surrounding mountains. The casual poolside bar serves up a curated selection of cocktails, drinks and snacks, while the onsite Asian Spa offers a luxurious range of facial and body treatments that promise rejuvenation for mind, body and soul.
For gastronomic indulgence, breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at Mr E, the hotel’s main restaurant. Helmed by renowned chef Alexandros Tsiotinis, the restaurant serves Greek and Mediterranean cuisine with dishes created using fresh, seasonal ingredients and seafood garnered from the island and the Aegean Sea. The seasonal a la carte breakfast menu includes highlights such as kagianas or Greek-style scrambled eggs, an extensive cheese platter featuring local produce and a range of refreshing breakfast salads. For lunch and dinner, guests are encouraged to pair their meals with sublime Santorini wines. With the restaurant opened to the elements, dining at Mr E is done al fresco style. The restaurant does away with flooring – instead, rustic style tables and chairs are set on the black sand of the beach itself. In place of a roof, canvas sails block out the glaring rays of the summer sun.
From captivating architecture to stunning design and delectable cuisine, the elements that attract one to visit Santorini can all be found within the hotel walls. The island may be replete with a myriad of activities, but Istoria Hotel makes a memorable case for staying in.
This article was first printed in MillionaireAsia Issue 54 - December 2019