We stayed at Alexander's for the first time back in September 2008, for one night, and our experience then was so lovely, we decided to stay there again for our 8-night visit to Santorini in April 2010. We were very disappointed to find that our return experience was nothing at all like the first.
When booking this visit, we requested the semi-private airport transfer, pre-paid and arranged through the hotel. We dealt with Martha (the owner's wife) for reservations, and she arranged for the taxi to pick us up from the airport when our plane landed at 6:30am, and bring us directly to the hotel. Our cab dropped us off at the entrance to Alexander's at 6:45am, but upon our arrival, we were in for a rude awakening when we discovered that the reception was abandoned and closed up. The hours on the door stated an opening time of 8:30am, but this was little comfort to us, considering that in Santorini in April, at 6:45am, it is still dark as night outside and very cold.
Because we had all of our luggage with us and nowhere to go, our only option was to sit on the steps outside of the office, shivering, waiting for someone to come in to work. To make matters worse, we had flown from New York City with long layovers in London and Athens - total travel time of 2.5 days - and so we hadn't slept in days and were delirious. After an hour and fifteen minutes of waiting, a bell boy showed up at 8am and let us into a tiny room by the office, telling us to sleep it off and check in when we were ready.
When we emerged from the room that afternoon and went to the office to check in, we were greeted by Alexander, the owner of the hotel, and so we proceeded to explain to him our dilemma. We told him we were aware that check-in time was 3pm, but since Martha had specifically arranged for the taxi to drop us off at the hotel at 6:45am, we thought it might be helpful if she had also mentioned to us that no one would be there upon our arrival!! Had we known, we could have made any number of alternate plans, including staying at the airport (where it was warm) until later in the day. Alexander was extremely unsympathetic and even made the ludicrous comment, "what, if you had known we wouldn't be here, you would have changed your flight to arrive later in the afternoon?" He next stated that the airport had changed their flight schedules as of April 1st, and this was the first time a flight had come in so early, so there was no way of them knowing we would be there so early. We reminded him that his wife, Martha, had been the one to arrange our drop-off at the hotel at 6:45am!!!
After bleakly apologizing and still insisting that no wrong-doing had been committed on the part of the hotel, he told us that he was going to upgrade us from the room that we had requested (Opal Cave House) to the much smaller room we had been dumped in upon our arrival (Sapphire Villa). When we questioned him, he told us, "the size of the room is not what matters, it's what's in the room that's important." These items were supposed to be a bathtub, countertop stove (ours didn't work), and satellite TV - all items we could have done without, as we would have much preferred a larger room.
After reading other reviews on this site, we've learned that it's common for the hotel to overbook guests and to move people around so as to maximize their income. However, what's even stranger is that the room directly to the left of us remained empty during our entire stay (April is low season, so the hotel wasn't full). On our second-to-last day, during breakfast on the terrace, a lady from the office opened up the door to that room and offered for us to go on in and have a look. When we did, we were shocked to find out that it was much, much larger than the one we had been staying in. To this day we still haven't figured out why they wouldn't have put us in that room, since it was vacant - especially since it was our return visit to Alexander's and we stayed 8 long nights (unheard of in Santorini, where it's common to stay only a few)!!
On our second day, we happened to meet Alexander in town, at which time he proceeded to invite us to dinner on our last night, and we accepted. Again, after reading other reviews on this site, we've learned that it is his common practice to treat his guests to meals out on the town. We looked forward to dinner and hoped to see some traditional Greek dancing - however, on our last night, we dressed and waited for his arrival to pick us up as promised. Alexander never showed, and we never saw him again.
On our last morning, we had to leave very early to catch our flight. We were told that the bell boy would be available to help us with our luggage, but when our cab arrived to the hotel at 5:30am that morning, he had failed to turn up, so we had no choice but to haul our own luggage up the steep steps to the waiting taxi. We thought perhaps the bell boy had overslept, but after reading other reviews on this site, we've learned that this has happened to other guests. It seems they make the promise to arrange for help, but then have no intention of inconveniencing their bellboy to wake up early.
Last, when booking this trip, we were specifically asked if we were visiting Santorini for any specific special occasion. We told them yes, we were there to celebrate a milestone birthday. After our 8-night visit, thinking about the size of our "upgraded" room, the hotel's and staff's failure to meet any promises or standards, and the atrocious service for which there are no words, we walked out of there certain this second stay would be our last. We also wondered why they would even make a point to ask about special occasions, because it seems that special occasion or not, you will be shown a horrible experience.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Luxury, elegance, intimacy, breathtaking views of the caldera...Alexander’s is a boutique hotel consisting of suites, cave villas and cave houses all named after precious and semi-precious stones, according to Cycladic architecture. We are a hotel with less steps. We have been recommended by the New York Times, the Independent and the Daily Telegraph. Our hotel was the main location of the film “Thira.” Special occasions are magical when held at Alexander’s. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Alexanders Boutique Hotel Oia
- Alexanders Boutique Oia
- Alexander's Boutique Hotel Of Oia Santorini