“ Address: Oia 847 02 / Santorini / Greece „
A few hundred years ago sea captains and their crew lived in caves, places that had been cut into the rock face looking out on to the Caldera in Santorini. You can still see the remains of them if you visit the island today. The Hotel Mystique of Santorini bought 18 of these caves to convert to suites and several have been put to use in the running of the hotel. It was in one of these caves that I spent my week on Santorini.
Arriving at Santorini airport we were met by the hotel's driver, Andreas holding up a sign bearing "Mystique" After shaking our hands, he loaded our luggage on to a people carrier. Once inside he invited us to use the refreshing wipes and small bottles of water situated in the arm rests. From then on we began our half hour journey. Andreas explained the area as we went, telling us about the Santorini grapes, the black volcanic beach and so on. When we arrived we were met by Georges who took our luggage and showed us to reception which was down a couple of flights of steps built into the cliff. Here we experienced our first cave. Cream on the outside and snow white within, I couldn't help but be overawed by this place. We were greeting by Antonia, the hotel manager and given two glasses of champagne. Georges took the luggage to our room while Antonia gave us a guided tour of the hotel. Glasses in hand, we followed her down more steps until we were in the rock face and looking out on to the Caldera. It was just starting to get dark and the view was magnificent.
The alfresco dining area, the Charisma had tables in a prime positions looking out on to the volcano. Our breakfast which was included in the price would be served here. The restaurant was also open to hotel guests only for lunch and dinner at an extra cost. Behind the Charisma, we found the "secret" wine cave, a place to enjoy a pre dinner drink and where wine tasting sessions were held with the hotel's sommelier.
The Mystique offers a selection of suites; we had chosen the smallest and therefore the cheapest, the vibrant suite. All suites have a king size bed and adjoining living space. Our cave was wonderfully furnished in white and cream and the use of driftwood. The open plan living space and bedroom consisted of a media centre cupboard which housed a large plasma screen TV and CD player. At the side of that a very well stocked mini bar. In front of the three seater cream settee were two white coffee tables in the shape of boulders. Cream lampshades with driftwood bases provided ample and soothing light. The headboard too was made of driftwood. Two double white wardrobes containing extra pillows, duvets, fluffy bathrobes, slippers and generous hanging space also house the safety deposit box.
The bathroom had twin sinks, large mirror and a hydro massage tub and power shower. As well as a large selection of the usual toiletries, there was a drawer containing shaving packs, sun creams, manicure and vanity sets, toothpaste and brushes. There were plenty of thick towels and a pair of bathroom scales.
By the time we had showered and unpacked, it was nearly 9pm. For our first night we decided to eat in the hotel. The hotel prides itself on its gourmet restaurant and the food was wonderful but very pricey. A two course meal with wine and water came to 150 Euros. The view however was priceless.
After a sound night's sleep, we went for breakfast. This became one of the highlights of the holiday for me. Breakfast was al la carte and you name it they had it. A range of home cooked bread, croissants, muffins and pastries, fresh fruit, wonderful muesli and pancakes. The hot food included delicious Greek omelettes and smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and champagne. Every day we enjoyed fresh fruit smoothies and juices. Breakfast was served from 8am until 11am. I could easily have sat for the three hours sampling the goods whilst drinking in the view. The bathroom scales remained untouched for our duration! Throughout breakfast and the course of the day, we were served by Panos, the head waiter, Angelika, a young girl from northern Greece and Dora, a Polish lady from Krakow. I have to say that I have never come across such pleasant and obliging staff in all my travels. In degrees hitting the lowers forties, they worked extremely hard and their standards never faulted.
All the rooms have sitting areas and their own sun beds but these were covered overhead by awnings. Having had such a bad summer here in the UK, I wanted the sun and to feel the heat. We decided to sunbathe by the pool. This was the only disappointment; the infinity pool was only small and felt crowded with five or six people in it. There wasn't much space around the sun bed area either and the beds were too close for my liking. After a couple of hours, the couple on the next beds decided to put up their umbrella. The umbrellas were huge and covered the beds either side. We were soon in the shade. Later in the day, I called at reception and asked if our awning could be taken down and within half an hour it was. From then on we sunbathed on our own private terrace.
Because of its romantic setting, the majority of the guests in the hotel were honeymoon couples from North America. They chose the hotel because of its "exotic location" and they tended only to stay two or three nights, moving on to Athens and Crete. We on the other hand stayed a full week and by that time were very much at ease with our surroundings and felt we had known the staff a life time.
Check out time was 12 noon but this was easily extended another couple of hours to tie in with our flight home. There was no charge for this. When it was time to leave, we went to say our goodbyes to Panos, Angelika and Dora. I took their photographs to remind us of our wonderful stay, something I haven't done before. It was a sad farewell.
The cost of this holiday was not cheap. We had wanted to visit Santorini for years and when I saw this hotel in a brochure I thought it the ideal place to stay. It has the best view on the island and this holiday was a birthday present to my hubby who happens to be celebrating a big one this month. The hotel belongs to The Luxury Collection, but we travelled with Aegean Island Holidays. The cost of our cave for a week and flights came to just under £3,000 for the two of us. The picture at the top of the page doesn't do the hotel justice; please take a look at the website at www.mystique.gr or www.luxurycollection.com/mystique.
This was a unique holiday and one I will never forget.
Thanks for reading,
Fred and Wilma Flintstone
Update June 2009
Since writing my review, the hotel has bought more caves which have been turned into super bedrooms and work on the pool has made it much larger.
Situated on a cliff overlooking the beautiful Aegean Sea in Greece.