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“Great Value Caldera View (Detailed review with tips here)”

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Villa Ilias Caldera Hotel
Ranked #2 of 21 Hotels in Firostefani
Certificate of Excellence
Stourbridge, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
122 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 242 helpful votes
“Great Value Caldera View (Detailed review with tips here)”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 July 2014

We booked directly with the hotel as it was cheaper than any booking site. And what a great place Villa Ilias was.

The hotel organised our private taxi transfer from the airport. We found out on our return that shared transfers are available, though only a little cheaper. Despite arriving after reception hours at 23:30 (reception is 8am till 9pm) we had a warm welcome and brief tour of our apartment. One of the joys of a night arrival here is you get the real welcome when you wake up to your first view of the Caldera and the surrounding vistas the next morning.

LOCATION

The Villa is on a cliff side 5 minutes uphill walk North of Firostefani centre. Perfectly situated between the smaller village of Imerovigli, 15 minutes walk uphill, and the more vibrant city of Fira, 20 minutes downhill. To be honest if you are on a cliff side in any of these locations you are likely to have a fantastic sea and/or caldera view from your accommodation. You also have views out to the East coast, it really is a stunning location. Because of this these three settlements, along with Oia further around the coastline, are the highest profile and thus highest priced holidays on the island. It's referred to as a holiday on the Caldera side as they overlook the Caldera. What attracted us initially to Villa Ilias was its location just away from the lively Fira but close enough to access it, it's views, the reviews and it seemed to present very good value for money when doing a date/price search compared to other properties offering similar features.

WHO GOES HERE:

It's a great mix of people. Not just a honeymooners or couples experience, though there are weddings happening all the time. Families go too. All different nationalities. And as it is the norm for people to stay just a few nights, if you stay longer you get to meet lots of characters over breakfast and hear their stories. A welcome evening also takes place a couple of times a week where you can get to know each other, if that is your thing. Equally if you enjoy your own company, no one will try and get in your way. Indeed there are "no music" signs by the pool and this villa has emphasis on providing peace and tranquility, if you are after lively times you will not find them here.

WEATHER:

Those of you that will have done Greek Islands before will have noticed, if you had checked weather websites, that forecasts never seem to go above 30 degrees. Cool for Greek Islands in July? Why? Because of the wind. It's windy, pretty much constant. If it does drop and to be fair it did during our 7 night break, then you'll get your 40 degrees. Not so bad in the beach resorts of Kamari and Perissa so do go there to spend some meaningful time in water, because you won't spend much time in the hotel pool high up in the cliff resorts. There are around 16 rooms, yet only 6 sunbeds? That simply would not work were it not for the the weather conditions high up in Firostefani. And also Santorini is a place people come to and spend maximum time getting out and about the island and seeing it, more than any other similar Greek Island I've been to. But don't worry, you'll still get a tan, be needing sunscreen but perhaps a jacket or long sleeves at night.

ROOMS:

We were on effectively 3rd floor, room 6, a direct Caldera view room. Most expensive because of a fantastic view direct onto the Caldera and of the village side to both left and right. Access to pool via side stairs one floor down. Main door to room was also patio/French door onto balcony. Reasonable size bed though it was hard, and despite it being a premium room I'd guess it was as small as many of the others given previous comments. It had everything you'd need though. Fridge freezer, sink, basic cutlery. Bathroom was small shower only, but sink had complimentary toiletries. Cramped toilet. Hair dryer. Towels were good and included a separate set for the pool. Flatscreen TV with free to air channels, only around six, notably Euro News and BBC World News. Also had DVD player. Air conditioning was good, easy to use, though not really needed that much. Walls were a bit thin, you could hear the footsteps above, plumbing when showers in use, though only one full blown argument (in another room not ours!) provided some comedy. Seriously though, thin walls won't ruin your holiday. This is small room living in Santorini! Finally rooms were kept spotless clean, random cleaning times as the hotel is constantly turning over rooms so heavy sleepers always be prepared for a visit!

FOOD

Breakfast is provided in the main reception area and outside it. Which is across a cobbled street from the hotel. I say street, cars don't drive down it, it is the main walkway, down to Fira or up to Imerovigli. Self service Buffett. Plenty of Tea/Coffee choices. Three fruit juice drinks. Good selection of cold food, including fruits, eggs, cereals, bread and toaster, savoury pies, pastries and cakes, cold meats. Lots of it home made and varied daily. Outside of breakfast there is no drinks or other snack facilities, apart from a small free Buffett at the welcome evening.

STAFF

Owner and all of his staff were welcoming, polite, friendly, attentive to our needs and any queries. Could not have asked for more.

EATING OUT.

It's a big part of our vacation, we do use TA a lot for research, so that is a good start point. What I would say is here there is widespread use by the restaurants of Certificate Of Excellence 2014 plaques issued by TA, which shows the rating. Displayed usually on the walls next the menus. You won't see any on display less than four stars. Our use of extensive research has actually been hit and miss so I would say look out for these plaques and go with your gut feeling. In Santorini we never found any really bad or really good experiences. Everywhere we went was just fine. Firostefani has enough places to feed you for a week, just. And they all have tremendous views. Whilst we did eat in Fira you are just as well staying local. Average two course meal for two with drinks was around 50 Euro. Santorini is big on wine, lots of wineries and wine tours available. House White was therefore better than your average holiday island, but red is not big here.

SUNSETS

Everyone talks about going to Oia for the most spectacular sunsets. Well they are just as spectacular in Firostefani and Fira. For the crazy rammed bus journey to and from Oia just before or after sunset that we were warned about we decided not to bother. You really won't miss anything.


THINGS TO DO

There are no entertainment facilities at the Villa apart from DVDs and a library. As for Santorini. Well there is plenty of information on TA. But briefly, walk down to Fira to catch buses to the five main locations elsewhere on the Island. Or a combination of doing a couple of bus trips and hiring a car for a day will be get you to see everything. Then there is the Volcano and other islands you can visit. Check out the "things to do" section. I feel a week here is more than enough. More than this is fine if you are sun worshippers. But if you are stay in Kamari or Perissa where there are beaches, lower winds, and hotels with larger pools as they have more space. Not much sun worshipping seen on the Caldera. Pools were minute in a lot of properties and seemed to exist more for picture postcard reasons than for swimming reasons.

BUGS:

No room problems with bugs. I always get mossie bites but didn't get one at all here. I did use spray the first night but didn't bother after that.


TIPPING:

I wont bore too much here as tipping is such a personal thing. Suffice to say if you are happy trying different restuarants, you are less likely to connect with staff and tipping becomes less of an issue. If you remember each others name, tip more, then they will save your caldera view and get you the same drink every night. You probably get what you pay for and have a greater enjoyment. But only if that is your thing. It's not a big thing here generally though so rounding your meal up to around 10% is probably the norm if you are looking for a figure.


LANGUAGE:

Do try your Greek greetings and use of Yamas instead of cheers,though you won't have a barrier as everyone speaks good English, and some of the larger restaurants are multi lingual.

FLIGHTS, AIRPORT and TRANSFERS

Travelled with Norwegian Air out of Gatwick. Flights on time, pleasant service on board, thought its unique selling point of free WiFi was not working on the way out. Clearing customs and bags at Santorini was the quickest ever through an airport. On the way back it was a different story, check in rather crowded but otherwise painless. Duty free prices at the airport were not cheap and selection on offer was small so we didn't bother. Do pre book private or shared transfers to/from the airport as taxis on the island seem to be at a premium at peak times.

OVERALL

We had a great time. The Villa met expectations, though it didn't exceed them. We didn't spend as much time poolside, down to the wind conditions. Not a bad thing because this is a spectacularly scenic island. I have never ever seen so many people taking pictures, everywhere you look. Clambering on rooftops. No such thing as a bad picture. It's just amazing. Because of this it is a bit of tourist trap. Prices reflect that. But fair play to Villa Ilias. It is a well run very comfortable place to stay and given what it offers and where it is it delivers great value for money.

I hope I have covered everything, if not I am sure others and the forum will help you enjoy a great stay in Santorini.

Room Tip: The Executive Caldera view rooms have the best views. Those rooms with side Caldera views are ok, bu...
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
13 Thank RealGoneKid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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771 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (164)
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English first
NEW ZEALAND
Level Contributor
43 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 July 2014

We were very pleased that we chose to stay in Firostefani on this our second time in Santorini and particularly pleased that Tripadvisor led us to the Villa Ilias, which was charming - we very much enjoyed the home-made breakfasts which we shared with other guests outside on the terrace - beautiful cheese and spinach pies (made by Marina(?) and good coffee. George and his team were wonderful, our hats off to the two ladies who cleaned and Mary who gave us lots of info and kindly hung our washing on their line as our room did not have a small line for us; plus Persefoni (whose English was very good and she made a wonderful desert for the drinks and nibbles held twice a week).

The views at Villa Ilias were wonderful, everything was very clean and well-kept and we so appreciated coming back to our room after the ladies had been in and worked their magic. We also enjoyed the pool, although small it was very inviting and the views were to die for.

We did lots of walking - lovely lanes and paths down from Firostefani to Fira with great restaurants and cafes, little stores etc - our favourite restaurants in Firostefani were Vanilia (several visits and all good) and the wonderful Actaion. Good walk up to Imorovigli took about 20 mins, very beautiful views and accommodation, plus a bus trip to Oia (which was very busy that day as the cruise boats were in!). Spent a day at the beach in Perissa and enjoyed the all inclusive coffee, water and free loungers if we bought the drinks which we intended to do anyway. The sea was crystal clear and great for swimming.

Only suggestion we would make if staying at Villa Ilias, book early. We booked in February for our stay at the beginning of June and could not get a Superior or Executive room as they were already booked. We opted for the side view Standard room which gave superb views from the large windows (which opened right out) but we did not have a balcony and really missed this. The room was nicely decorated with good curtains and bedding - "small but beautifully formed" - Room No 3.

Recommend the Catamaran Sunset Cruise - very well done - nice people, great captain and crew, the food was very goodwith local Santorini wine, beer, etc included. Left at 3pm and got back to Oia about 9pm - even the music as the sun set was just right - I'm sure everyone was very happy with what was offered.

Had a great stay at Villa Ilias, would highly recommend, and sad to leave.

Room Tip: Book early and choose Superior or Executive with caldera view.
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank NewZealandSascha
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
43 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 July 2014 via mobile

My wife and I stayed here for three nights on our honeymoon. We had a room with a Caldera view and a balcony. The location is perfect as it is away from the crowds of Thira but close enough to walk. The view is amazing. Showers are a little tight but good enough. The bed was big and comfortable. The staff here are very friendly. When we came they offered us water, juice and a snack. The staff then told us about the island (where to eat, where to see the best sunset, where the beaches are). They also set up activities for us and had a nice welcome gift. Breakfast was the best we had in Greece with a nice selection of cakes, quiche, and juices. After our first night, my wife and I already decided that we would love to come back here.

Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank Joe S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Orange, CA
Level Contributor
27 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 July 2014

We stayed here four nights in July. As other reviewers noted, this is an excellent location - easy walk via pedestrian path to Fira but far enough out to have quiet and serenity. Beautiful view (everyone stopped along the path to take pictures!). Mary in the office was quite helpful to give suggestions on activities and answer lots of questions. There is a mini-mart 3 minutes walk away for snacks and drinks. Views were stunning. The bathroom was quite small and dated even by European standards, so if you are a big man you may be uncomfortable. But overall a great value and wonderful stay!

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank redoctober30
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bellevue, Washington
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 July 2014

Short answer is that when I logged in to write this review, my first instinct was to re-book for another visit. Santorini is a uniquely gifted island, and Villa Ilias makes the experience absolutely perfect. Among the features noted in other reviews: 1) excellent location - easy walk to the main town but far enough out to have quiet and serenity; 2) wonderful staff who double as breakfast hosts, concierge, and ambassadors of Greece (thank you, Mary and George!); 3) very nice facilities - breakfast patio sheltered from wind, rooms with caldera view and pool. We were a family of 4 and stayed in the "cave room" with a private bedroom plus two additional twin beds and small kitchen, and had drinks every night on its patio. Fantastic choice for either couples or families or solo - the first night the hosts put out food and wine and invited the guests to meet each other. Happy and peaceful; optimum place to enjoy the caldera view...

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank chuck c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
21 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 July 2014 via mobile

My husband and I stayed at Villa Ilias for four nights last month and it was wonderful. Centrally located and accessible straight from the road, so no lugging your bags. We started off in a room with a side view of the Caldera and then moved to the room upstairs which has a larger balcony and full view of the Caldera. That's the room you want if you can get it. The staff are so helpful and lovely, George is the owner but the main team at reception were Mary, ( another) George and Persephone, who were extremely helpful and knowledgeable. The location is excellent because you are not quite in the thick of the hustle and bustle of Fira but close enough to walk down. The only slight problem is the small bathroom in the first room but overall Highly recommend.

Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
2 Thank Chaggith
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
91 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 July 2014

What a view! What a perfect place. Even though it was 9 months ago I can still feel the sunshine and imagine myself sitting on that balcony!! We had a room on the corner, above the pool, looking out over the caldera. We were able to eat out breakfast on our little balcony and it was also the perfect place for a drink in the evening. The staff were very helpful and ensured we were booked on transfers to and from the accommodation. Our room was very pretty, clean and comfortable. The location is perfect, far enough away from the busily 'city' center and well placed for walking in both directions. We were able to watch the cruise ships arrive, and leave, so knew when not to walk down to Fira! Stay here - you will not be disappointed:)

Room Tip: Corner room above pool level
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank JennyBednarz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Villa Ilias Caldera Hotel

Property: Villa Ilias Caldera Hotel
Address: Firostefani 84700, Greece
Region: Greece > South Aegean > Cyclades > Santorini > Firostefani
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#3 Romantic Hotel in Firostefani
#3 Family Hotel in Firostefani
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:3 star — Villa Ilias Caldera Hotel 3*
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Damigos family has been a part of Santorini history for over a century. Villa Ilias is the former residence of one of our ancestors, George Ilias Damigos. It is built on this specific location to capture breathtaking views that are unique only to Villa Ilias and perched 1,000 feet above the Aegean Sea and the most famous volcano in the world. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Villa Ilias Hotel Firostefani
Ilias Hotel Firostefani
Villa Ilias Caldera Hotel Santorini/Firostefani

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