Esperas Hotel: A Hidden Escape Along the Cliffside of Santorini
Like most travelers with wanderlust, Santorini has been a destination high on my bucket list for years. I mean, YEARS! I can’t even count how many times I fell in love with the sight of those colorful buildings built into the rocky cliffside, the bright white churches with royal blue domes grazing the sky, and the vibrant colors of the Aegean Sea sparkling in front of the sandy beaches. It’s nothing short of a fairy tale setting in the middle of the sea.
When my friend Stephanie and I decided to book a last minute girl’s trip to the Greek Islands, we knew we couldn’t pass up a stop in Santorini for a few days. To be honest, I had no idea where to begin to look for where to stay in Santorini, or that there were even multiple towns to choose from. After some research, we settled on staying in Oia for a few nights (followed by Fira for the other two nights in Santorini). In my opinion, not only does Oia have the best views of Santorini, but also it’s arguably the best place to watch the sunset on the whole island.
We wanted to be able to stay somewhere that we could easily walk in/out of town, watch the sunset near the caldera, and bonus points if the hotel had caves (which, apparently, is a popular thing to experience in Santorini!). Esperas Hotel in Oia proved to be the perfect location for us to stay during our trip—and it checked each thing off our wish list—so we were excited to check it out!
Getting to Santorini from Mykonos
After spending a few days in Mykonos, we took the early morning ferry from Mykonos Town to Santorini. I’ll admit, it did feel a little bit like we were being herded like cattle (and the cattle were some really horrendous, loud international tourists); but after a quick, couple-hour boat ride, we arrived safely in Santorini.
After an experience like that and getting shoved around by obnoxious tourists trying to rush off the boat to see Santorini for the day, I cannot even begin to tell you how happy I was to disembark and see a man from Esperas right at the front of the group of drivers holding a big sign with my name on it. Ahhhh... Our savior! Coming to rescue us from the hoards of people who were practically jumping off the ferry to be first in the taxi line! Normally, it feels pretty good to have a driver pick you up when you arrive to your destination, but this was a whole other level of feeling good.
We loved the fact that Esperas was able to offer transportation services to/from the hotel from the airport or ferry. It makes the experience totally hassle free and starts the day off on a good note! As excited as we were to get the show on the road, we still had a short drive ahead of us to get to Oia, which is located on the complete opposite side of the island from the ferry port. But, none of that matters when you have an experienced driver and lots of beautiful scenery to look at on the way!
Arriving at the Hotel
Once we arrived in Oia, the driver pulled up to a parking lot that was filled with other transport vans marked with various hotel names. He started unloading our luggage and I was super confused... I kept looking around for our hotel, but couldn’t see any façade with our hotel name in front of it. I asked our driver where the hotel was and he pointed towards a cobblestone pathway and said, "That way!". Coming swiftly down the pathway was a tall, skinny man carrying a moving dolly and some bungee cords. My mind was still lost, but it started connecting the dots after a few seconds.
“Well, no shit, Ana...” I thought to myself. “There’s no way that a car can get down the cliffside. We have to climb down some way...” And climb down a few flights of stairs is exactly what we did! After all, you’re not going to get breathtaking views of Santorini and not have to work for it...amirite?
So, Stephanie and I grabbed our purses as the bellman secured our luggage onto the dolly and we followed right behind him. As we huffed and puffed our way up and down those stairs to reach the hotel, we immediately laughed to each other and realized how this man was so in shape. Climbing some cliffside stairs 20+ times per day will give anyone a perfect body! But like I said, you can’t expect to have the best view in Santorini without working a little for it. And boy were we glad we did...
A Luxury Hideaway Where Cycladic Island Style Meets Elegant Simplicity
Once we got down to the main level of Esperas with our luggage in tow, our jaws completely dropped as we took a look around. There it was. That magical view we’d been waiting our whole lives to see was right in front of us. It made every single step on those stairs worth it.
After collecting ourselves (and our jaws from the floor), we headed into the lobby for check-in. We were given a warm greeting by the lovely staff members and immediately felt welcomed and at home. After explaining some brief in’s and out’s of the hotel, we were shown to our room.
Side note: We thought we were impressed by the bellman when he was carrying our luggage on the dolly to the lobby of the hotel. Well...to get down to our room...he had to ditch the dolly! He carried both of our bags above his head and still went down another 5+ flights of stairs. Can you imagine?! In the hot Greek sun! Those men WORK!
Esperas has a handful of different styles of accommodations ranging from sea view studios to spacious “houses” built right into the caves (some even coming with their own private outdoor jacuzzis). Since Esperas is built into the lower part of the cliff, you’re guaranteed to get a magnificent view of the Aegean Sea no matter what type of room you stay in. This was one thing that we really loved about staying here because there was no disturbance coming from any neighboring hotels. It almost felt like we were staying at a private residence with no one else to bother us.
We followed the bellman and the concierge to our room, which was located literally at the very bottom of the stairs—you couldn’t go any lower. We were full on sweating by now, but still blown away by the stunning view from our balcony and the decor of our suite.
Each of the suites and houses in Esperas is decorated and furnished with that traditional Cycladic Island style that everyone thinks of when you imagine Greece—a lot of bright whites and deep blue hues. It was the perfect touch of luxury with a hint of simplicity and elegance. And since our room was at the very bottom of the stairs, we had the most incredible unobstructed view of the sea. I couldn’t have asked for anything more beautiful to experience Santorini for the first time.
How to spend your time here
Watch the sunset
You haven’t been to Greece until you’ve experienced a Greek sunset—and the epic sunsets in Santorini are some of the best you’ll ever see. If you walk through any town of Santorini, you’ll start to see people crowding the streets around 3-4 hours before the sun even begins to set. No joke. People are that serious about catching the best sunset views in Santorini, especially in Oia. They also applaud as the sun goes down. Not joking about that either...
One very popular place to see the sunset in Oia is the Castle of Agios Nikolaos (also known as the Byzantine Castle Ruins). While I highly recommend visiting the castle during your stay (and the earlier the better), you will see that the crowds there start lining up hours before the sun starts to set. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like waiting with hundreds of other people around me for hours. Not worth it, in my opinion.
That’s where Esperas steps in!
Because this hotel is built right into the cliff—which you can actually see from the castle ruins—you basically get a completely unobstructed front row seat to watch the sunset. It really DOES NOT get better than that.
One night, we bought a bottle of wine at a bodega and drank it on our balcony while toasting the sunset. The night after that, we enjoyed the sunset view from the pool level after hanging out at a nearby restaurant. Both experiences could not be beat—AND there weren’t a ton of tourists around to kill the vibe. It really is the best place to watch the sunset in Oia, in my opinion!
Have breakfast while looking over the ocean
This might have been my second favorite experience after the sunset. A very tasty complimentary breakfast is provided to every guest who stays at Esperas. The best part is that you get to choose when and where you want to have your breakfast as long as you order it by a certain time the night before. That means if you want to have your breakfast at 9am while sitting out on your balcony (which is what we did), it will be delivered to your balcony hot and ready at 9am sharp. The menu is pretty extensive and the food was always very delicious!
Relax in the cave pool and sun deck
During peak season, Santorini can get pretty hot during the day. It’s nice to know that there is a refreshing cave pool to dip into and relax right outside your door. Go relax by the pool on the sun deck, sit in the shade and order some lunch, or sip on a smoothie at the pool bar while you cool off for the day.
Walk into town for a bit (and eat lots of pita gyros)
I’m not going to lie. At first, I was wondering if the location of Esperas would be “too far” from the things that we wanted to do in town. After all, we didn’t have a car and needed things to be within walking distance. If you look at the map, or even catch a glimpse of the hotel from the Castle of Agios Nikolaos like I said earlier, you’ll see that Esperas is basically at one end of Oia in addition to being at the lower part of the cliffside.
After spending a few days in Oia and seeing the massive crowds that Santorini can attract, coming back to our place at Esperas was like a dream come true. It was the perfect hidden escape from the crowds and noise of the town. Since it’s located on one end of town, it’s very easy to get to the city center with just a short walk. It's really ideal, especially for people who are looking to have a quiet getaway in the middle of the noise.
When you do make your way into town, just make sure you stop to eat as many pita gyros as humanly possible. My favorite place in Oia was a restaurant called Pitogyros. It’s something I still dream about and miss about being in Greece. *mouth watering*
Eat at Elinikon Restaurant and Check Out the Windmills Nearby
Stephanie and I stumbled across this hidden gem during our trek to the hotel when we were checking in. To be honest, we only went there because we were hungry and had a mad craving for some tzatziki. It turned out to be some of the best food we had during our entire trip in Greece. Every dish we ordered was so outstanding that we literally came back here every day that we were in Oia. They also have an adorable rooftop bar that makes for a great spot to watch the sunset!
Once you grab a bite to eat there, you can walk over to see the old windmills that are right next to it. The best part is that the restaurant and windmills are located just at the top of the hill on the way down to Esperas. It’s a great pit stop on the way back to the hotel or on the way out into the town.
Other notable mentions:
- Take a boat ride around Santorini
- Hike from Oia to Fira (another popular town about 2 hours away by foot)
- Tour a winery
- See the Red or White Beaches
- Experience the popular nightlife during peak season
- Book other excursions through the concierge
Good to know information
- If you’ve read this far, you know that there are quite a few stairs to get down to the hotel from the top, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes.
- Reservations for the Greek Islands book far in advance and very quickly, especially during peak season. If you’re thinking about visiting, make sure to do your research with good time on your side.
- Ask the concierge or booking staff if you can arrange transportation to/from your point of entry into Santorini. It is completely worth it and saves the hassle of trying to figure it out on your own.
- Because Santorini can get very crowded, I recommend getting an early start to see the town—the earlier the better to avoid having hundreds of people in your photos. Plus, the sun won’t be as hot in the early morning so you won’t feel like you’re melting.
- If you want to avoid crowds and excessive heat, consider going during a shoulder season (just before or after the peak season in June-August).
Esperas proved to be the missing puzzle piece in our search for the perfect location for an epic girl’s trip to Santorini. This luxury boutique hotel is truly a hidden gem of Oia and I highly recommend it to travelers who are looking for simple-yet-chic elegance, outstanding customer service, unbeatable views of the Aegean Sea + sunset, and a great value for what you’re paying. We can’t wait to return to Esperas on our next trip to Santorini!
For more information about this hotel, please click the link below
Thank you to Esperas Santorini for hosting our stay. And a special thank you to all of the incredible staff members who made our visit spectacular. This post may include affiliate links, which comes at absolutely no cost to you. All proceeds go directly back into maintaining this website and making it better for you. All opinions are my own.