Having extensively researched my choice of accommodation and I am very fussy, I must admit that I was a bit hesitant to book the Phenix for our special getaway. However, upon reading donnyb’s extensive review, I came to a positive conclusion and reassured myself that some people have extremely high expectations, different priorities and that on a logical balance a couple of negative comments were insignificant infront of thousands of bookings that that the property must have had during the time that it has been in operation. And so our holiday begun!
We chose an Easyjet flight from London Gatwick to Athens, stayed two days there, which was enough, and caught the boat to Santorini. It really is a lovely way to travel, since you get to work on your tan on the deck, read a whole book as David did and at the same time view other islands from the harbour stops on the way!
Entering the bay of Santorini, David and I were in awe! We reached the port and amongst the chaos that prevailed from travellers getting off and on the boat, we sat at a little café to get our barings and work out how we were to make our way to the Phenix. I asked the shopkeeper for his advice and he gave me the phone to call the hotel, who advised us to get a taxi and they would send someone from the drop off point to help us with our luggage and lead us to the complex. On the way, the taxi driver asked us where we were staying and upon receiving our response, he replied that the Phenix was a good place and they had many taxis being booked for their guests! We also found out that the island was very busy, with a particular influx of Italians, Koreans and Chinese.
We were dropped off at a little square, a carpark really, with a supermarket, grill and car rental. We asked for directions to the Phenix and once again, we were helped out by the car hire man, who phoned the Phenix for us and before we knew it their luggage/general handy-man (Mondi?) was there and incredibly lifted both our suitcases on to each shoulder down and up a footpath to the hotel. We were greeted by Ailene, the owner’s very pleasant and charming daughter from England, who reassured us that check in was a very simple process of completing our payment transaction, orientating us with a map of the village and island and then taking us to our room and leaving us to our own independent devices.
We booked a studio for six nights and a suite with an outdoor Jacuzzi for the last night, for that extra special end and to try and offset any holiday blues. We found their website description of each room helpful and the rooms as described. We were taken to our first room (no 6), which was very sweet. The bed ceiling was arched like an oven and although David’s feet were too long (he’s 6ft5in) and I had to climb over him to get out of bed, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our ordinary bedroom at home was never this fun to use!
Although we had our own little kitchenette, we opted to have breakfast from the bar every other day, which we took alternately on the pool terrace and on our own balcony. Mondi and Ailene prepared us the most colourful and mouth-watering fruit salad we have had. A separate bowl of fruit including melon, peach, banana, kiwi, fan shaped apple slices and a twist of orange and a bowl of thick Greek yoghurt with honey on the side, set us up for the long days exploring the island.
The island is amazing and having walked the entire length of the caldera, Oia to Akrotiri in stages, the Phenix enjoys the best spot on the island. We even heard Ailene and her dad say to some people who were passing by and interested in staying at the complex that better hotels they would find, but not a better view and we totally agree. Oia and Akrotiri are a bit too cut off from the rest of the island, one does not get to see the cruise boats arriving and mooring in the old port and once the sun sets its is almost darkness as the twinkling lights of other villages are too far away. Fira and Firostefani are okay, but Fira is noisy due to the hustle and bustle of restaurants, bars and clubs and Firostefani is overlooked by imposing Imerovigli as it is lower down. Even in the village of Imerovigli the position of more expensive hotels like Cromata, Icons, On the Rocks and Uranus are built into the cove and do not get to see Firostefani, Fira or the unusual cliff shape like our hotel did. On the other side of Imerovigli, hotels facing the Skaros rock, benefit from its view and that of the sunset, but loose out on the cruise boats, Firostefani and Fira, especially at night with their nearby twinkling lights. Ok, the Phenix only sees the sunset in winter, but this was not a problem or inconvenience for us as there is a little church round the corner 30 secs away, perched right on the edge of the cliff, literally hanging on for dear life, where we enjoyed taking a couple of glasses and a small bottle of wine to “cerebrate” each sunset as if it was the last. Similarly, the Honeymoon, which I was looking to stay at initially, I discovered is arranged over two properties, one a bit further down the main footpath we arrived on and the other right next door and below the Phenix, and is built facing inwards to the cove. The Phenix is exactly south facing, with private terraces that other guest do not cross to get to their rooms, which I noticed happened a lot with other places. We were baffled that great care and expense was taken with regards to the internal spaces of these other hotels, but no ergonomic thought was given to the workability of the outside spaces for privacy. (David’s an engineer and I am a designer/decorator)
Our room, along with the communal areas were cleaned daily and despite some flies that got into our room while we were out, which were endemic in the whole area and a couple of light bulbs that decided to go out in succession, these were promptly attended to by Mondi upon bringing these to his attention. Yes, we could have found fault with issues such as the wood joinery of the wardrobe, the paint finish around the light sockets and dark mark on the towel from a previous guest who decided to clean their black tuxedo shoes without a thought towards the poor launderer who tried to salvage it, if we searched for these, but we didn’t and wouldn’t allow in any case for such minor aesthetics to spoil our stay. Out intention was to enjoy each other’s company and all that Santorini had to offer.
Indeed, all Ailene’s recommendations for restaurants (Marmit, Caper, Il Cantuccio, Taverna Imerovigli, Katina, Candouni and Ferrentini) and particular dishes at these, were spot on. We advised her to write a guide for the island, but she thought there were too many and no one would take any notice. Whilst staying at the Phenix, we were privy to a wedding they were hosting and were invited to the ceremony on the pool terrace. It was so beautifully decorated with bows on the terrace railings, flowers, canapés and champagne, simplicity at its best with a unique background! Additionally, on our last special day in our second room, suite 9, Ailene arranged a takeaway delivery from a nearby restaurant, which we enjoyed on our veranda with a complimentary bottle of local red wine from her.
The place wouldn’t be the same without Ailene’s welcoming and personal attention and our expectations were exceeded. We will definitely be back to the Phenix, not least for the relaxed, unpretenscious, family atmosphere and to try the remaining culinary recommendations but possibly for our own wedding some time in the future!
Ally and David, Sussex, UK
- Also Known As:
- Phenix Hotel Imerovigli
- Phenix Hotel Santorini/Imerovigli