The best hotels in Greece

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Just when you think you know Greece, you’ll happen upon another slice of coast, sail to another island, or stumble across yet another one of the best hotels in Greece – and your perceptions are flipped all over again. Big-hitting Santorini (bright-white churches topped by blue domes that melt into the sky) and Mykonos (dinky beach bars arranged around a Venetian harbour) get a lot of attention. The scrubbier, craggier islands of Crete and Corfu, and the smaller, more bohemian flecks of land such as Antiparos and Syros are much-loved, too.

On the mainland, Athens might be steeped in history but is always pushing boundaries with clever art, restaurants and bars. And across the whole country are some of Europe’s best hotels – from sweeping retreats for switching off to stays built into caves and low-key hangouts that put wellness at the forefront of everything. Here, Athens-raised Rachel Howard picks her favourite hotels in Greece, from her favourite island spots to the mainland must-visits.

Onar, Andros

Burnt out by the jet-setting life of an industry scion, Mateo Pantazopoulos built a few stone cottages overlooking Achla, his favourite beach on Andros, where he and his hard-partying pals could unwind. Fast forward two decades and this castaway fantasy has gone marginally more upmarket. There are now 15 elegantly spare houses, including five smart new villas with lap pools and planted roofs. But a challenging 9km dirt road is still the only way to reach the virgin bay of Achla (or, weather permitting, a 15-minute speedboat ride from Andros’ elegant Chora). Hiking trails lead into wetlands rustling with partridges, hares, and turtles, where you can cool off in lurid green rock pools. Most days are spent in a soporific daze, drifting to and from the beach and lulled into long siestas by a chorus of cicadas. Simple, summery dishes (tomato and basil bruschetta, sausage and potato omelette) are served at communal tables under giant plane trees. If you’re really lucky, a local fisherman will grill your supper around a campfire on the beach. {Booking now here}

Aristide, Syros

The 19th-century commercial and shipping centre of Greece, Syros is not like other Greek islands. And the Aristide is not like other Greek island hotels. In a sugar-pink mansion built in the 1920s, this nine-suite hotel is located in Vaporia, the most aristocratic neighbourhood in the stately port capital, Hermoupolis. While the original neoclassical features (patterned floor tiles, stencilled ceilings, huge picture windows) have been carefully preserved, interiors are jazzed up with intense colours, intriguing contemporary art, and modern designer furnishing. Sustainability guided every aspect of the restoration and operations, from the energy-efficient cladding to the locally made organic cosmetics (in glass containers, naturally). A fledgling veg garden provides ingredients for the à la carte breakfast and rooftop restaurant, where the short, seasonal menu (calamari, zucchini, black garlic aioli, poached fish fricassee) is as sensational as the sea and harbour views. With a series of artists’ residencies, workshops, and exhibitions, guests can also tap into the island’s surprisingly vibrant cultural scene. {Booking now here}

Perivolas, Santorini

A true original, Perivolas sums up the spirit of the Cyclades: simple, light, carefree. Built (and still run) by the Psychas family in the early 1980s, this instant classic was way ahead of its time. The curvaceous white ‘cave houses’ – sculpted from the cliff-face by native craftsmen, as they have done for centuries – sparked a revival of the village of Oia, which was all but abandoned after a devastating earthquake in 1956. But it was the wavy infinity pool, suspended above Santorini’s flooded caldera, that put the island on the map. While other hotels along the caldera can feel cramped and exposed, here on the very edge of Oia, there is space and privacy and calm. At the elegant restaurant, a converted wine cellar, every table feels like the best seat in the house. The recent addition of a small spa, sun-drenched gym, and yoga pavilion means there’s even less reason to venture beyond Perivolas. Why bother braving the Santorini crowds when you’re surrounded by so much natural beauty and good taste? {Booking now here}

The Rooster, Antiparos

The tiny island of Antiparos is a curious mix of go-slow wilderness and upscale Cycladic chic. Highfliers come and go to their modernist villas by helicopter, but hippies still hang out on the island’s campsite and party all night in the pint-sized port town. Straddling a peaceful valley overlooking Livadia bay, The Rooster bridges the two faces of the island beautifully. You could come here for a romantic escape, a wellness retreat, or even a family holiday. 16 stone villas, each with a private pool, are scattered among flourishing Mediterranean gardens. The vibe is more second home than hotel suite: tan-and-tawny interiors come with wine coolers and kimonos, and shady terraces with outdoor kitchens and showers let the natural surroundings sing. Although the location is remote, there’s plenty to fill slow days and star-spangled nights: sunrise salutations or sound baths in the House of Healing, a picnic on the empty beach, sunset margaritas in the open-air bar, seasonal Cycladic tapas in the Secret Garden, made with ingredients from the hotel’s organic farm. Should the urge to tap into your inner hippy strike, it’s only a ten-minute drive to the dinky bars in ‘downtown’ Antiparos. {Booking now here}

Mèlisses, Andros

Allegra Pomilio was just 25 years old when she began hosting intimate culinary and creative retreats at her Italian family’s summer house on the deliciously underrated Cycladic Island of Andros. Demand for these deeply nourishing (and impeccably styled) retreats was so feverish that Allegra eventually found herself running a very private guesthouse for six months of the year. Slotted into the coastline at the bottom of a steep, unpaved road, the cluster of stone buildings is completely hidden from view. But lucky guests (Mèlisses sleeps up to 12, in four separate suites and apartments) enjoy wide-angle vistas of sea and sky, sun-dappled hillsides and herb-scented gardens. Two saltwater infinity pools seep into the blue horizon, and stone steps lead down to a secret jetty and a few deckchairs wedged between the rocks – perfect for early morning dips or idle afternoons. Bedrooms and indoor-outdoor living areas are simply but harmoniously decorated with antique armoires, carved wooden beds, art and cookbooks, vintage photos, and flea market curios. Every detail seems to have naturally found its place. But it’s the food that takes Mèlisses to another level. Weekly suppers, exclusively for guests, look as exquisite as they taste; the seasonal menu might feature green gazpacho, tomato fritters, and barbecued lamb, with most ingredients produced organically in the garden or on the island. Mornings might start with iced tisanes, Greek yoghurt, granola, baked apricots, just-laid fried eggs with sage, and a wedge of chocolate, pear, and hazelnut cake. Once you have tried a different three-course breakfast every day, you’ll never be able to look another hotel buffet in the eye. Rachel Howard {Booking now here}

The Vasilicos, Santorini

With just seven suites (all with mind-blowing views of Santorini’s fishbowl horizon), The Vasilicos has the intimacy and attention to detail you’d expect from a hotel that was not meant to be a hotel at all – yet it has established itself as one of the best hotels in Greece. Designed by bon viveur Vasilis Valambous as a summer house to host extended family and friends, restored by his daughter Daphne, and managed by her husband Makis, every inch of this terraced, cliffside residence has a story to tell. Bespoke beach towels feature a leaf print of the native metrosidiros plant. The homemade baklava is made to a secret family recipe. Bedside books are curated by Atlantis Books, a legendary local bookshop. The traditional architecture keeps the dazzling white rooms naturally cool in summer; there are heated pools for cooler months. Every door and window frames a different caldera view. Santorini’s volcanic landscape doesn’t just produce awe-inspiring vistas; it also yields astonishingly good wine. Private dining comes with expert wine pairings and minibars are stocked with award-winning wines from Vasaltis Vineyards, run by Daphne’s brother, Yannis. This is one impressive family affair. {Booking now here}

Kalesma, Mykonos

Understated is not a word usually associated with Mykonos, but the island’s vernacular architecture and pre-tourism way of life made a virtue of simplicity. Kalesma pays tribute to the soulful austerity of the Cyclades, spliced with an edgy modern aesthetic. Black and white interiors feature sand-blasted stone, weathered wood, and untreated marble, vamped up with horsehair lights by Apparatus, a Rick Owens double bubble sofa here and ceramics by Aleksander Vac there. The look is stealth wealth, the atmosphere one of discreet hedonism. All 13 suites and 14 villas have their own pool, so most guests don’t venture out to mingle at the open-air Aloni lounge before sunset. A fiery Burning Sun cocktail (mezcal, mastiha, grape juice, agave, and pepper) is a great way to kickstart the evening. There’s a weekly supper club exclusively for guests at Pere Ubu restaurant, where the wood-fired oven produces warm flatbreads to scoop up the crab and cauliflower taramasalata, and roast artichokes with house-cured anchovies, and smoky scallops with lemon and sage. One of the three Greek owners, Makis Kousathanas, Aby Saltiel and Sofia Kousathana, is often holding court, making you feel like a guest at a friend’s summer house (until a waiter slips you the eye-watering bill). {Booking now here}

Four Seasons Astir Palace, Athens

The ‘Athens Riviera’ was coined in the late 1960s with the advent of the Astir Palace, a Modernist landmark on the pine-fringed Vouliagmeni peninsula. Once the lair of sheikhs and starlets, the hotel languished under state management for decades before the Four Seasons swooped in to smarten up its act. The ritzy revival lives up to the hype and now oligarchs and influencers stake out the poolside sunbeds and destination restaurants. (Our favourites are Michelin-starred Pelagos and Avra bar, both tricked out with maximalist aplomb by Martin Brudnizki). Glamorous but minimalist guestrooms are divided into two wings – the more subdued Arion and livelier Nafsika – but our money is on the private bungalows with plunge pools hidden among the pines. There’s not much of a beach, but guests have this prime stretch of coastline all to themselves. The sea-view spa has a soothing hydrotherapy zone, bliss on a rare cloudy day after one of the restorative treatments inspired by Greek herbal remedies. Be prepared to pay handsomely for all this opulence. {Booking now here}

Amanzoe, Porto Heli

With its soaring colonnades and lashings of pale marble, Amanzoe bears more than a passing resemblance to the Acropolis in Athens. Ambitious, imposing, and yes, awe-inspiring, the main building is like wandering into a hilltop temple surrounded by water. At dusk, a firepit is lit on the floating veranda, just the spot for a sunset Martini. 38 stand-alone pavilions are embedded in the olive and cypress groves, with private pool terraces that overlook nothing but nature. Everything in the rooms is oversized yet understated, from the double-height ceilings to the twin dressing rooms, the complimentary minibar loaded with Greek treats to the sunken bathtub big enough for two. With four staff members to every guest, service is reverential but absolutely discreet. Although the gated grounds and private beach (a five-minute, chauffeur-driven ride downhill) are sealed off from the outside world, the 360-degree views of rolling hills and glittering bays create the impression that the entire Peloponnese is your playground. The vibe is serene to the point of sedate – but if you’re looking to switch off and be utterly spoiled there’s no better place in Greece. {Booking now here}

Ammos, Crete

It’s rare to find a family-friendly hotel that does not sacrifice style for baby-proof convenience. But Ammos – a boxy little number bang on a sandy beach just outside Chania – is the definition of offbeat cool. In the seaside restaurant, the high chairs are almost an afterthought among collectable pieces by the likes of Studio Mama, Martino Gamper, and Pierre Yovanovitch. Owner Nikos Tsepetis and architect Elisa Manola are not afraid of bold patterns and forms, used to brilliant effect in the undulating marble lobby and 33 colour-blocked rooms and studios. Works by contemporary Greek artists decorate the walls and the drought-resistant gardens are also a work of art. Tsepetis is as obsessed with good food as he is with good design. The all-day menu covers all the Cretan classics, but breakfast at ammos is in a league of its own – everything is made from scratch, from the viennoiseries to the sourdough and spinach pie. Throw in a pool full of inflatables, a wholesome kids’ menu, and a playroom with six hours of free childcare, six days a week, and you can see why so many grateful parents never miss summer here. {Booking now here}

Nikolaou Residence, Aegina

Less famous and glamorous than the neighbouring islands of Hydra and Spetses, Aegina has quietly attracted artists, poets, and aesthetes for decades with its radiant light, ancient ruins, and time-warp tavernas. Many of them were drawn to the island in the 1960s by Nikos Nikolaou, one of the great Greek painters of the 20th century. At his seaside home, Nikolaou hosted epic dinner parties almost every night, with the likes of César, Yannis Moralis, and Odysseas Elytis in attendance. Nikolaou’s nephew, the architect Theodore Zoumboulakis, has converted the dream house where he spent his boyhood into a guesthouse that revives the warm spirit and artistic temperament of his aunt and uncle. Surrounded by pistachio, fig, and pomegranate trees, the five studios are decorated with Nikolaou’s own artworks and antiques, bespoke furnishing and photographs by Zoumboulakis, and designer lights and objects from his family’s design shop in Athens. Nikolaou’s atelier (open by appointment to non-residents) is a beautiful time capsule, his paintbrushes, rare books, painted stones, and glowing nudes exactly as he left them. Across the road, a path through pine trees leads down to the sea. All this, only one hour from Athens by ferry boat. {Booking now here}

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