The Honeymoon Suite at the Aigialos Hotel on Santorini
The Aigialos isn't so much a hotel as a collection of 16 luxury traditional houses, from the 18th and 19th centuries. There are plenty of steps to negotiate, making it a bit like a town within a town, here in a quiet corner of Fira – away from the action but close enough to walk to it. Almost all rooms have balconies or terraces with views of the caldera, and the rooms have all been individually remodelled using local volcanic stone. They range from Standard, Senior and Superior rooms, to Exclusive and Honeymoon suites, and the Voreas house with two double bedrooms, two bathrooms and a private veranda. Superb understated luxury.
If you want comfort and luxury but in Oia rather than Fira, then it is hard to beat the Katikies, which is a member of the Leading Small Hotels of the World and Small Luxury Hotels of the World. It's perched above the caldera, and one of its two pools has a fantastic cliff-edge setting. There's an open-air jacuzzi, library, bar, and choice of restaurants, with a range of rooms and suites, a massage parlor, private dining, and all rooms come with a mini wine-cellar.
This rivals the Aigialos as one of the best places to stay in Fira, although the luxury Tsitouras Collection is a short walk outside the town center. There are five totally private villas, built around the 1780 mansion that forms the core of the place. There are fabulous caldera views and all rooms have TVs, DVDs, CD players, a library, a complimentary wet bar, safe and direct-dial phone. There's a superb a la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you can consult with the chef and have a private 6-course meal, if you like.
Oia on Santorini
The delightful Keti is one of the best of the cheap hotels on Santorini, and certainly the best budget bargain if you want a caldera view. There are only 7 rooms, which all have a balcony with that fantastic view. The rooms are simple but very comfortable with tiled floors and light walls. They all have a TV, fridge, safe, phone, air-conditioning and a shower room with toilet.
The Loizos is a good-value choice in Fira, close to the town center and with a range of rooms, studios, superior studios, and apartments, all with bathroom, balcony or patio, phone, fridge, TV, air-conditioning and daily maid service. The hotel also has a pool, wi-fi, breakfast room (extra charge), and an airport or port transfer service. The room rates are really hard to beat.
Not far from the busy center of Fira, the 18-room Pelican is simple but excellent value, even in high season. An all-day breakfast is included, and there's free wi-fi too. The rooms are simply done but most are spacious, clean and tastefully decorated. All have TVs, fridges, phones, air conditioning, safe, and a private bathroom, and some have balconies overlooking the garden (try and book one of these if you can.)
Greece Travel Secrets visits the Cretan Botano herbs and spices shop near Matala in southern Crete in search of the herb man of Kouses.
Greece Travel Secrets visits the Zacharioudakis Winery near Ancient Gortina in southern Crete, and does a vineyard tour arranged by our guide from Go Crete.
Here's a very thorough and helpful city guide to Athens from the UK's Guardian newspaper, for anyone planning a visit.