My wife and I just returned from a trip to Greece encompassing (in order) Santorini, Mykonos (Delos) and Athens. After my experience at Kavalari in the first 48 hours I was seriously considering just flying back home, but I’m glad I didn’t since Mykonos and Athens were pretty astoundingly awesome.
So…our arrival at the Santorini airport was at 6:15 AM and we were met by a scheduled pick up from Kavalari. So far so good. Now, prior to the booking, we had been concerned about our early AM arrival at the hotel. Through email correspondence we received confirmation that the pick up driver would take us to a café where we could wait for a couple hours until the hotel opened its doors. Unfortunately, the driver dropped us off an a culdesac with the hotel nowhere in sight. We tried to convey to him that were were supposed to go to a heated shelter of some sort (it was about 10 C/50 F degrees), but he didn’t seem to understand English. He did, however, enthusiastically reassure us that the hotel was open. After receiving his directions by way of hand-signals and a 200-meter walk across the Caldera’s cobblestone pedestrian walkway, we found the hotel. It was closed tight and not a light was on. No doorbell, nothing. We did some recon and finally found one pastry shop that was open about 10 minutes away. Really sweet owner, actually made his wife (?) get up and give us her chair. Delicious apple croissant and Illy cappucinos.
OK, at 8:20 AM we’re finally able to check in, right next to another, equally bedraggled couple (who apparently did not find as nice a café as we did). We tried to report this timing issue (or what I like to call an “Email Confirmation-vs-Reality Disconnect”) but the desk fellow could only say “of course we were closed, we open at 8am” before moving on to another customer. Perhaps the person who handles the email correspondence was off that day.
Room: If you need wi-fi then during the day you can get a solid dial-up modem-like connection – maybe 26k. After about 2am if seems to go up to about 1mb. This was kind of true at every island hotel we stayed at so maybe that’s just the way it is off the mainland. Athens was much better for wi-fi, tho still lots of dropped connections. Recommendation if you need wi-fi – use a cell service.
The hot water (or lack of it) in the room was not very good at all. The front desk instructed us that you need to turn on a hot water heater switch about 10 minutes before taking a shower so it would get hot. I did this and got about 1 minute of hot water before the water unexpectedly (and inconveniently) turned lukewarm and then cold. I actually fell for this TWICE before realizing that even if the switch is on for an hour it still only heats up about a minute’s worth of hot water. My wife at first didn’t believe me but she soon changed her mind and we had a bonding moment. So basically we didn’t have a real shower for the entire length of our stay at Santorini (and this after an 18-hour trip from the US). OK, so now we had to recalibrate our mindsets to “camping” mode. The bed sheets were appropriately very coarse and I ended up sleeping in my clothes on the second night. Both nights we were treated to loud party music till about 3am. I’ve never been to “Burning Man” before but now I feel like I have.
We did inform the desk woman about the problem with the hot water on the evening of our second night and she explained that it was a fuse - but unfortunately it was too late to call a repairman. She told us that we should have reported it earlier (no argument there), but we had been in a hurry to get out and catch an early bus that day and had thought that we would have gotten back earlier. In any case, the desk lady seemed less sympathetic to our unwashed troubles and more concerned about how this would affect the Kavalari Trip Advisor ratings, and took pains to lay the blame at our feet for not reporting it when a fuse-qualified repairman was available. To me, even if we had reported it earlier and they had fixed it immediately, encountering a lack of hot water under any circumstances (for any place outside of a youth hostel at least) is definitely a buzzkill.
Complimentary breakfast: No hot food, except for coffee. Basically croissants and some fruits. Waiter was very nice (unlike the maintenance staff who respond to “hi” with disdainful silence). Fantastic view tho, no doubt about that, right out of a travel magazine. As other reviewers mention, be prepared to climb stairs, but having lived in a 6 floor walk up – no big deal for us. Also worth mentioning (and this is actually the entire island) no paper of any kind is allowed to be flushed in the toilets, all soiled refuse is stored in a convenient flip-top trash can (more Burning Man festivity!).
On our check out, my wife tried to obtain some kind of monetary recompense for the first day’s arrival troubles and the desk lady said they couldn’t do anything like that because we paid in Euros. I’m not real clear on what that has to do with anything (she might as well have just said that the planet Mercury is rising in the House of Gemini - or some similar non-sequitur). Finally, the Kavalari staff called a taxi to take us to the Mykonos ferry, but it was really late and the taxi-driver kept yelling at us to carry our luggage more quickly to his cab (again at the culdesac 200m away), after which he took us on “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” down a steep mountain road and passing about 7 other cars in no-passing zones. Despite being a veteran of NYC taxis, I have never been more resigned to impending death or vehicular maiming. I can’t blame Kavalari about this part tho, but it was the perfect capper to a challenging stay.
Anyways, things got much better in Mykonos and Athens, so at least it was better to go from horrible to awesome than the other way around! I did end up with a sore throat after Kavalari which persisted for the remainder of the trip tho, so that was not exactly a lingering glow of warm satisfaction.
Pros: No roaches, breathtaking view, cold water plentiful, desk staff have very good English-speaking skills, near to all main attractions.
Cons: See above. Based on the other Trip Advisor reviews I was really surprised, and unfortunately, not in a good way….
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Kavalari, a small unique hotel originally a captain's house, the property retains its traditional island architectural style. Situated on the rim of the Caldera, 300m above the sea, the property has exterior stairways which wind down the cliff face to various flowered terraces overlooking the volcano. Rooms are built directly into the cliff with access to various flowered terraces where guests relax enjoying beautiful surroundings and spectacular sunsets. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Kavalari Hotel Fira
- Hotel Kavalari Santorini/Fira