What you’ve heard about Santorini is true: it’s nearly impossible to find a bad view on the Greek island known for its stunning sunsets. There is one hotel, however, that may be the best lookout point of them all. By Nina Ruggiero
The Grace Hotel Santorini, Auberge Resorts Collection, was named not only the best resort hotel in Greece, but the best resort hotel in all of Europe by Travel + Leisure readers in the 2021 World’s Best Awards. And while it has modern suites with private plunge pools, a clifftop fine dining restaurant, and an ideal location in central Imerovigli, it’s the sunset watching that likely stole so many readers’ hearts.
The hotel is perched overlooking Skaros Rock and the caldera, the Aegean Sea sprawled out to what looks like the ends of the earth below. To the side of Skaros sits a picture-perfect, white and blue Greek church.
Santoro restaurant, 363 Champagne Lounge, and the infinity pool all overlook the same incredible view, so guests can soak it in as the sunlight shifts throughout the day, whether they’re taking a yoga class, sipping some bubbly, going for a swim, or enjoying a plate of langoustine saganaki.
I first visited this hotel in Greece, years ago to enjoy a sunset cocktail at its Champagne bar. It was the brightest sunset I’d ever seen, and the image of the vast sea drenched in its orange light is something I never forgot. When I returned to Santorini this summer, on my first trip to Europe since before COVID-19 started, I knew I had to stay there.
We chose a deluxe room with a plunge pool, and found it plenty spacious for two, though there are suites available, and even a two-bedroom villa. The heated plunge pool looked directly out onto the caldera, and while we took part in many activities on the island over the weekend — from renting a boat to hiking, to winery hopping, to exploring Oia and Fira — it was tempting not to leave our patio, well, ever. For two remote workers, this was a dream weekday situation.
We enjoyed a late-night dinner at Santoro, in one of the cave-like, covered outdoor tables, and feasted on lobster in herb ravioli with caramelised hazelnuts and lamb in a coffee-infused sauce. We looked forward to breakfast every morning, sat beside the edge of the infinity pool, where the multi-course offerings changed daily.
Although, as one of the world’s top tourist destinations, Santorini in Greece can get crowded, we witnessed a quieter side to the island as it first reopened to Americans. The hotel was occupied, but never packed. And if it had been, its spacious rooms and private outdoor spaces make it the perfect place to find seclusion, even in the heart of Santorini. The Grace is a huge honeymoon destination, and it’s obvious why — no couple celebrating a special occasion would be disappointed there. Plus, if you really want to splurge on some alone time, the villa is calling.
Nina Ruggiero is Travel + Leisure’s deputy digital editor. A New Yorker living in Los Angeles, she’s happiest on a beach, a cobblestone street, or in a hotel bathtub with a view. Find her on Instagram @ninamarienyc.