Travel: Santorini & Kalestesia Suites!

Caldera view

I was debating how to start this post.

Should I go to the monologue “It’s been a long, little year and we’ve all been through it and so on”? Should I start with something more emotional? Do I need to justify travel to an amber country (despite the easing of restrictions?).

Then you thought? “Why Ali?” As a microplanner (#Taurus4Lyfe) who has lived alone throughout the pandemic, I consider myself responsible enough to be very discreet and cautious, and therefore feel no need to respond to anyone but my bank!!

Traveling is something I miss a lot. Visiting Prague and Venice in 2016 really opened my eyes to the treatment I receive for my ethnicity and weight when not in the UK, and so I’ve made it my mission to try to document where possible, as much as possible. Traveling as a fat woman/black woman in this big world – complete with great photos of course, where travel (both in terms of cost and luxury) should not be considered just an opportunity for skinny/white people, whom we often see prominently marketed in travel marketing materials. Anyway, that’s all enough. You are here for Santorini! I’m splitting the post into two as I’ve stayed in two hotels and want to make sure each one is given enough coverage.

Santorini

covid 19 administrative

Santorini entry requirements: double vaccination or rapid antigen test or PCR test. I had a double hit, but I also did a quick antigen test in boots just to be on the safe side.

Ensure that you complete the Greece Passenger Locator Form. www.travel.gov.gr

COVID test two days before returning to the UK: Done online! I asked for a test from Breaeassured.com The test arrived the next day. Pack it in my bag and book a Zoom appointment with a medical practitioner while in my hotel room (all in the instructions when ordering the test – very clear). Saves you having to run around looking for test centers abroad.

Second day home test kit: www.247hometesting.com

*curts*

Pool view from my room!

Santorini has been on the list of must-visit places for the longest time. Famous for being an exclusive luxury destination for celebrities, royalty, and VIPs (and it still is!), the island has opened itself up in recent years even more, offering affordable hotels, suites, and hostels just for us to visit and also have our fun on. Probably the best times to visit are from September onwards and during the winter, as it is quieter. Weather wise, the normal temperature is around 30 degrees, but I visited this time at a time when Greece was experiencing one of the worst heat waves they have ever experienced.

Santorini takes the shape of a crescent, and is actually made up of a group of islands including Thira, Asproisi, Palea and Nea Kameni, but to me, the most amazing fact about Santorini is…

It is actually an active volcano.

Yes. The island itself is a volcano, the only volcano in the world whose crater is in the sea. The islands that make up Santorini were caused by one of the worst volcanic eruptions in living memory. The last major eruption occurred 3,600 years ago and devastated the surrounding lands leaving the islands you see to this day. Everything else was submerged under the sea (giving rise to the inspiration/origin story of the hidden city of Atlantis, where the Mayan civilization was based in Santorini).

I’m sorry, but what a history! With that in mind, I decided to stay in two hotels overlooking the Caldera (the volcanic crater), the first was Kalestesia Suites in Akrotiri, and the second was Adamant Suites in Fira.

Now, choosing where to stay in Santorini was difficult for me, because every place looks great. Famous for its white, cube-strewn homes dotted with bright blue orbs, Santorini is a photographer’s dream and honeymoon fantasy, but how do you know great places when every place looks great?

Akrotiri and other areas of Santorini

Akrotiri is not as tourist-heavy as other parts of Santorini, largely because the area is known as a huge archaeological site. It is officially known as a prehistoric city because it is closely related to the Bronze Age and was a very important settlement of the ancient Minoan civilization, which was destroyed by a volcanic eruption and is often known as “Greek Pompeii”, because of the ash covering the entire area.

The best cities of Santorini (from a tourist perspective) are: Oia, VeraAnd Imerovigli And Frostefani, with Oia and Fira being the largest and most crowded cities with tourists due to a large number of restaurants with beautiful architecture and stunning sunsets.

Almost all the luxury hotels you see scattered all over Instagram are located in these four areas. Almost all hotels overlook the caldera – and therefore are more expensive. You can stay in hotels miles away on the other side of the island facing the caldera.

Staying on the edge of the abyss / caldera: Most expensive, famous caldera views, no beaches, sunset views.

Stay on the beach side: beaches! less expensive. The famous black sand beach. No caldera/volcano view.

Calestia Suites

This 3-star hotel is located in the cliffs of Akrotiri, which is incredibly calm and serene compared to other cities in the north. The hotel consists of a small number of individual suites which look a lot like duplexes/apartments and then the actual hotel rooms, with one suite having great caldera views.

Rooftop/upstairs area
the roof!

I stayed in the Elite suite which came with a hot tub (please…let me just imagine this time!) which is absolutely incredible. Incredible panoramic scenes. Entering the room, you will be met with an open plan living room/bed with all the amenities you would normally find: tea and coffee, minibar, hair dryer, cups, utensils, open wardrobe, etc. He advised me not to drink water from the tap (I don’t drink direct, unfiltered tap water anyway…) and instead was provided with a 2L bottle of ice water every day, which ultimately saved my life because it was HAWWWT. A king size bed overlooks a pair of double doors that open onto a private balcony with panoramic views of the volcano.

The layout of my suite was a mezzanine/loft, with a winding staircase leading me to a small sitting area where one could relax and quietly write or read. Opposite the reading area was a small door to crawl, which led to another private balcony complete with a hot tub. I’ll say, I felt like Alice in Wonderland trying to get through that little door–it’s not the easiest, and it wasn’t the most fun trying to crawl through the little door to get to the surface but we’re on the move.

The upper balcony is small but private, and the hot tub was amazing. I found it refreshing to be there most days, due to the extremely high winds making the sweltering heat a little better to deal with. I would probably have improved the air conditioning in the rooms because they were incredibly weak (especially at night) and too far from the bed, which made sleeping very difficult, even when both doors were open! I also found the pillow to be very uncomfortable to sleep on for some reason, but I think it could be due to a general difficulty sleeping in the heat from a defect in the actual pillows themselves.

Almost all rooms at Kalestesia come with hot tubs, with a main pool for guests to swim in and order drinks and food at the pool bar, which is also where I dined. The menu is simple, with everything but Greek salads and traditional Continental/American Gyros meals. It would have been nice to have the option to explore more Greek cuisine at the hotel, though.

Nik the Bartender and Michael the hotel manager were incredibly nice and helpful, taking my heavy bags up the hill and small stairs to my room in balmy heat. The staff were wonderful, and made me feel incredibly welcome. When you arrive, you have the opportunity to book things to do around the island, which Michael helped me do. I chose to book a 5 hour cruise around the caldera (available to view on the Santorini IG featured) which is incredible, Michael arranged transportation to take me to the yacht. Oh! Speaking of transportation, you can also arrange transportation to and from the hotel to the airport, at a cost of €35 each way paid in cash. In general, I had a great time. I wouldn’t refer to this as a 3-star hotel – I’d give it a strong 4, and if you’d rather stay in a boutique type hotel, this is right down your street.

In terms of accessibility, I’d say it’s fine. There are some ramps for wheelchairs and ground floor suites for those who don’t have access to stairs but in general the place is BOOTCAMP FIELD. The area itself is generally very hilly, so transportation is definitely needed, whether taxi or 4×4 kart (which I found to be a very popular mode of transportation there – for one person per person!)

breakfast!

Anything else to note?

I don’t know why I’m doing it myself (not because it’s a problem), but anytime I go away, I always look as straightforward as possible. I remember in Japan, I had a big goatee and it stuck out like a sore thumb, so I wasn’t surprised to notice the same here. In general, I found people very nice though I was annoyingly annoying to fits of staring and giggling from locals – men in particular when it came to my hair and body I guess? I noticed this first at the airport, then outside the airport, in the car on the way to the airport, and then in the local city where the hotel is located. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t stand it, and for the most part, I at least ignored the stare. It’s the laughs that I find a little unsettling. Perhaps something to consider.

For the most part, tourism is very multicultural, so it was nice to see a lot of brown and black tourists dotting around getting off the plane, I must have seen about 80 black women all in groups getting their luggage, which was honestly cool. To see them head to Hot Girl Summer for weekend getaways/weddings for the weekend and live their best life on a yacht, shake their ass! (Or so I suppose…).

All in all, I had a great few days in Akrotiri and I will visit this hotel again for sure. I’d give it a strong 7/10.

Check back soon for my review of the Adamant Suites!

Leave a Comment