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Villa Ilias Caldera Hotel
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Reviewed 23 July 2014

On arrival, reception offered a cold drink and a friendly smile. The lady at the desk was eager to give us the best tips for making the most of our one night stay. We were given a daily newsletter which was a great touch with relevant information about what was on and where to go. The hotel was in a fantastic location, the room was clean and tidy and view breathtaking. Finally, we had to leave for the airport before breakfast service started, however the hotel staff accommodated us and ensured we were well fed before leaving. The only negative about this accommodation was that we had to leave after one night and couldn't spend more time there!

Room Tip: We had a room which opened onto the pool. This was cheaper than the others however offered the same view from the communal pool area as the more expensive rooms. The pool area was never very busy and there was always a quiet seat to sit at to enjoy the view. While we liked this, if you are someone who wants more privacy, choose a room on a different level to the pool.
  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank Nicola N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 July 2014

This hotel is very small, as many of the hotels are in Santorini. There are only about 14 rooms and the customer service is extremely hands on, which is very nice and helpful. A guy named George is the owner and he will contact you after you book online but there is also George who is basically the manager or concierge who will make any reservations and help you with your bags.

It is a very family run feel, even though they may or may not be family. The hotel does happy hours every other day (or so) with Greek wine and some customary Greek snacks/appetizers to help people in the hotel meet each other which is nice since it's so small. The breakfast is also fairly nice with some traditional Greek dishes, breads, etc. George made some nice recommendations for us for meals and for things to do - he even rented us an ATV which was the highlight of our trip. They have a deal with Tony's ATV rental and they will pick you up and bring you to their shop free of charge.

A few critiques - the pool is VERY cold, almost too cold to go in even with the very hot Santorini sun. The rooms are also fairly small and the bathrooms are extremely small. The hotel itself is not much more than the rooms and the little lobby/breakfast area and the beds are really hard but I think the customer service and location really make up for it. Firastefani is a perfect location because it is outside of the hustle and bustle of Fira but also close to Imerovigli which has some great restaurants, close to the bus stop and also a very convenient little market.

Overall I think this hotel, for the value, is very very good. The room itself as I said is not very impressive but you're not in your room that often and the views/balconys are amazing. I would recommend staying here for someone on their first trip to Santorini bc the personal touch and the customer service was excellent.

Room Tip: I paid up for the exclusive room - Room 1 has an amazing balcony view and a nicer/bigger bathroom but then we moved to Room 14 (as scheduled) which is the room all the way on the top which has 360 degree views and it is worth it. The view is incredible and it's very private.
  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
1  Thank nchristo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 July 2014

We had a room with a side view of the caldera. This gave us a view of the caldera and from our balcony we could also see over the other side of the island. The staff were very helpful and friendly.Cold buffet breakfast had plenty to choose from. There are no stairs down to the rooms like many of the other places which was one of the reasons we booked here. There were a few to get up to the room and also a few to get down to the pool but nothing major at all. Only 2 minutes walk is a store selling everything you may need (including beer,wine). I would have rated this higher but the bathroom was really on the small size. If you are elderly you may struggle to step into the shower/bath. Overall though excellent value for money.

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank 2012kim
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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, but they have the path to the pool which everyone uses right next to them, so bear in mind you will meet all of your fellow guests as they walk past your balcony!
  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
13  Thank RealGoneKid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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.
  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank NewZealandSascha
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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