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Villa View

Santorini, Greece

Vertically craved into cliffs, Vora Villas offers an oasis of calm overlooking Santorini’s famed caldera. And K-Studio’s contemporary take on Cycladic design makes this micro hotel a destination in its own right

Santorini seduces with picture-perfect sunsets and dramatic drops into the deep blue Aegean Sea. Yet word has spread. All over the island, picture-snapping visitors squeeze in droves through cobbled alleyways to capture that sunset shot Instagram has made so desirable. An island reality, unless you’re staying at Vora Villas. For here, you almost believe to have the island to yourself.

“Vora is how I would want to experience the island,” says Yannis Bellonias, the local hotelier who spent 10 years searching for the right site to create his vision of the ideal Santorini hideaway. “The handmade finishes, the personal touch, the caldera view, the privacy – I wanted travellers to experience the island the way I did growing up.”

Inspired by his grandparents’ local home, Bellonias briefed Athens-based architecture firm K-Studio to design a small micro hotel with only three, exclusive villas to echo the calm, homely feel of their traditional house. “Cycladic design in its origin is very simple and functional. Not white and blue, as Greek tourism might have you believe, but rather a colour palette taken from the natural sediments of the island.” The earthy beige of stone, the dark grey of lava rock, these nature-based tones and materials form a soothing backdrop to the constant show piece: the spectacular caldera view.

“Vora is built for people who love design.” Bellonias highlights the handmade walls, at once cooling and caressing, the beautiful arches constantly framing new vistas. Each surface is easy on the eye, from Piet Boon fixtures to Ceppo di Gre stone or marble by Gascoigne and Vasaltis. Ceramics by Myrto Zirini and lamps of lava rock add a visual extension to the volcano context. Bespoke furniture is pared-back and minimalist in style, yet maximising on comfort. Sinking into the large bed’s Tempur memory foam mattress almost guarantees good sleep.

Especially in Omnikron, the smaller of the three villas yet the most traditional in architecture, as it’s built into an original cave dwelling. Retreating into a rock to curl up and sleep responds to the most primal human need of rest. In fact, the entire property feels like an antidote to the overstimulation of today’s lifestyle (and the overcrowding of the island itself). The exceptional location of the terraces offers shelter from the notorious winds, as well as peace and serenity away from unwanted eyes and ears.

With no communal areas, restaurants or bars – Vora defines a new understanding of contemporary luxury travel. Beautifully styled breakfasts, culinary delights and a refined selection of drinks are brought to the villas on request, to be enjoyed in the tranquility of your own haven. The private plunge pools top that sense of exclusivity: sipping cocktails while seabirds swoop with your favourite tunes playing on the Bang and Olufsen system, makes it hard to leave the premises. And while the initial appeal may have been to avoid the instagramming madness, you’ll be forgiven for posting your own jealousy-inducing images of the sunset, sans crowds.