Why travel to one of the top proposal, honeymoon, and all things elopement-related, destinations on the globe, as a single, you ask? I’m not sure either. However, as I researched which Greek Island should be my first, via the better-than-google conduit of every single Greek I know, it was fairly unanimous that if I hadn’t been to the Island yet, I should certainly go.
Choosing which whitewashed hotel and which infinity pool was difficult. The many-a-cliff-top villas may vary only slightly in substance, if not in style. Picking a hotel for it’s accessibility on an Island so vast and so low in demographic density, is as futile as attempting to narrow them down by “sunset views” or their iconic, pristine interiors. So I took an alternative approach. I searched for the homely stay which would allow me to experience The Real Greek. And so I found: Remezzo Villas.
You owe it to yourself really, to spend a week, or even a few nights with Vassilis and his family at Remezzo Villas. If you stumble upon this hotel then look no further. Months of poring over where to stay, culminated in a self-intervention only once I reached the stage of pulling out a bag of popcorn to resume researching at my screen one day. Arriving to an extremely well chilled glass of wine, after landing in Athens at 3am, and jumping on a boat for four hours – which I took it upon myself to prematurely hop off of, claiming we’d arrived two hours early, before running back on and realising that wasn’t our Island – has nothing to do with my assessment. That was simply a bonus, as was the household pet Mr Figgs, possibly the speediest 14 year old pup I’ve met, who gallivanted across the villa’s stone patio as we waited for our room. Other than his pitter-patter there was no sound around us – only space. The view on the patio outside the villa’a reception affords you at eye level, an endless view of water and cliffs. The sight, as it all glistens back at you, is stilling.
The Room: If you are a woman reading this review, you will understand the value of good bathroom space. If you are a man, travelling with a woman, you’ll appreciate the value of bathroom space. In summary: bathroom space is key. The rooms are spacious, and are generous double-rooms, versus trying to prove that they are, by fitting a double bed in them. And they are pristine. I have never visited a hotel with a turn down service twice daily, and not the sort where your belongings are all rearranged into piles and places you hadn’t wanted – no, here, if possible, they seem to follow your movement so you feel as though you are simply a neat person yourself! Everything is done subtly and with utmost care. The abundance of lighting, placed perfectly to accentuate the nuances of the rustic interior keeps to the room a natural glow and earthly feel.
The stay: Leave your room. As tempting as it is to cozy into the simple, chic Greek architecture and modern luxuries of a flat screen TV with the sea-view minimised into the frame of the open window behind it, still, leave your room. It will afford you a morning bask on your balcony, or at the villa’s pool, which although not huge, is services by sun beds spread spaciously around, or on a slightly raised patio if you want that little extra space from the splash. All this however is outshone entirely by Alice, the matron of the hotel, who I later learn began running Remezzo over 20 years ago with her husband. Hearty, homemade breakfast spreads are served each morning on the breakfast patio. They resemble those three-course-and-upwards dining experiences, where you’re constantly forgetting you’d ordered another plate, as just when you think “that was it”, out comes the next tray with mama Alice’s Greek delights. No two breakfasts are the same, so don’t cave into restraint and say “I’ll try that tomorrow”, accept that you will be full until dinnertime two days from now, and sample the breakfast. You’ll remember it at future hotels as you sludge overheated plasticine in the form of scrambled eggs onto your plate.
The highlights: I realise that I am my mother’s daughter when I hear myself speaking at times, and as eventual as it may seem, I never run out of questions. Yet, nothing seemed too much to ask of Vassilis and Kalypso, running the everyday management of the hotel. With a real interest to share with you what they can, they are more than well versed on all the best beaches, restaurants and sights to visit, as well as those to avoid. Couple with that, the contacts they have who hold them in as high esteem as their guests do, you are ensured to receive the best accommodation at the places they recommend. Vassilis is a well-sprint of must-sees and must-dos (and is very honest about the “must nots” which had me scrapping half my research picks, as he smiled and let me know they were the choice of rookies). By the end of the trip you feel like you’ve stated with a family, despite the villa being spacious and diverse enough to give you all the room to relax you need.
It was only on our last day that I noticed a wedding party were staying at the villa. Such is the seamlessness of how it is run, to give each guest an individually catered stay. I was sitting by the pool and found myself giggling as a gentleman recited his humorous best man’s speech. Noticing my reaction, he asked me what I thought. I asked him to read me some more, and told him he should include something in Greek. He said he would be sure to ask around the hotel, and I wondered if it would reenact My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and he’d learn to say something wholly inappropriate under the impression it roughly translates as Greek for mazel tov. And that, if I had to pick one, was the moment I realised I had picked the perfect place. Travelling from Santorini outside of the guise of a romantic holiday could actually be displacing. Yet, it was far from, here at Remezzo. You find yourself lost in idyllic utopia. Swept into the serenity. That come high water or wedding party, you might not even know it, because instead, you and you alone, are lost in paradise.
Top Dining Picks: Santorini is at no dearth of sunset views, least of all from its restaurants, however for a bias for the best good and dining experience, with the beautiful backdrop as simply a wonderful bonus, our favourite picks must be Kapari Wine Restaurant, Selene, and the Luxury Andronis Restaurant.
Kapari overlooks the Caldera to Oia so can watch the sunset, and apart from wondering if it is one of those dine-in-the-dark experiences, once the sun had set and only the ample outdoor lighting surrounds you, the experience is flawless. The food is rich; a menu of modern takes on classic dishes with unusual combinations that work well: their grilled octopus and rack of lamb are executed to perfection.
What stole the show for me, was our visit to Selene Restaurant in Pyrgos. Travel a little away from the stacked up venues-with-a-view of Thira, for this slightly isolated, but breathtakingly set restaurant, and you will rearrange the rest of your trip, to visit again – I can guarantee this. Having opened in 1986, it has climbed from 94th to 82nd on the New York 101 Best Restaurants Worldwide list. As one of, if not the only restaurant which locally sources all its produce; ingredients which burst in flavour on their excellently crafted dishes, it sets itself apart from the steep competition of the island’s gastronomy. The lemon scented fava with squid, tubes of linguini filled with rooster, a light cheese foam, and dotted with the island’s signature Santorini tomatoes, olives and capers, the white eggplant salads and celestial desserts culminate to perfection with the flawless wine pairings which the sommelier offers.
I say “how to travel to Santorini whilst single” – there should be nothing single about you if you visit the restaurant at Andronis Luxury Suites. Set upon a rock, it screams decadence, and also screams that if you are visiting in a pair, and unmarried as of yet: thou shalt be proposed to (if not doing the proposing). I was partaking in neither side of the equation, so was able to focus un-distracted on the food offering. If immaculate service, and what must feel like the most exclusive view on an island made up only of views, is what you seek, then search no further. If you come for the gastronomy, I would veer away from classic dishes such as the lamb and steak, which pale in comparison to the seafood offering which seems to be their speciality. Santorini is already beautiful, but a seat at the Andronis table, will make you feel King for a day. And who doesn’t wanted to be treated like royalty, especially if they’re not getting a proposal!