Written by Daniel Scott
Photography by Nefeles Luxury Suites
19 October 2023
With its nine cave suites, ingeniously hewn out of the cliffside, directly opposite the caldera that makes this Greek island so distinctive, in the capital Fira, just staying in and feasting on the view is enough to make guests feel very special.
Our stay at Nefeles marks the midpoint of a week-long sojourn in Santorini with my two teenage daughters and, for us,l it proves to be the most relaxing part of our visit.
Arriving via a transfer from Oia, we are thankfully met by a burly porter with a trolley and escorted through the warren of Fira’s narrow, cobbled alleyways to the top entrance of the suites, secreted away, pretty much in mid-town.
The main entrance, which opens out onto another central alleyway, and the surprisingly spacious reception are about 75 metres below us, and we reach check-in via the property’s internal stairs, gawping at the glistening views of the Aegean as we descend.
We are met by a smiling Kostas Gousis, and complete our check-in over ice-cold lemon welcome drinks, while our bags are taken to our Grand Suite. We’re also given menus to complete for our breakfast, to be delivered to the terrace of the suite the following morning.
Located near the middle of the property, our two-bedroom, two-bathroom luxury cave suite feels like a design triumph, with a real sense of space and light achieved in the stylish interior.
A spiralling white stone staircase Ieads up to the second bedroom and aesthetically pleasing wave-like curves on internal walls, including the one delineating the shower area of the main bathroom, pervade, giving the suite a sense of harmony with its seaside setting.
The main bedroom, on the lower level, is fit for a king (and queen) with a large central bed clad in white linen, cushions emblazoned with fish motifs and rustic carved wooden bedside tables, with stylish lamps, on either side.
There is a large wooden wardrobe, including plenty of hanging space and a secure lock box, snuggly fitted into a wall cavity to one side. This is where we find robes, slippers and hot tub towels for all three of us. The main bedroom has its own air-conditioning and television.
The bedroom is at the back of the lower level of the suite and double doors lead back to the living area, also with its own air-conditioning and large television, as well as a bar fridge, Italian capsule coffee maker, kettle and dining table.
The main bathroom, off to the side has marbled tiling and black fittings, including a powerful rain shower, contrasting perfectly with the predominantly white decor of the suite. There is also a long seating area adorned with scatter cushions stretching along one side of the living area.
There are no curtains or blinds in the master bedroom or living room, allowing light and that magical view of the caldera to pour through the windows so one tip is to take an eye mask if you want to sleep in.
Upstairs, under a low curved ceiling, is bedroom number two, with two single beds (or another double) and a small separate toilet and shower behind frosted glass doors. It is the perfect snug for two teenage girls.
The entire property was renovated in 2019 and feels good as new. The mod-cons are impressive too, with the wifi signal and strength very good for a property tucked into a cliff, on a Greek island.
While the suite is luxurious and cosy on the inside, its open terrace is where we spend most of our time. You can never stop marvelling at the view, the colours of the Aegean Sea and the fragmented volcano caldera opposite changing almost hourly.
It is a rare treat to be able to lie back in the bubbling hot tub, part of which is outdoors and part of which is indoors and encased in glass to the rear, and watch cruise ships, ferries and tour boats criss-cross the view.
Breakfast is delivered at your pre-appointed time to the terrace and includes treats like Greek yoghurt with honey, platters of local cheeses and meats, fresh pastries, Greek salads and good, strong espresso coffee.
After a demanding fortnight travelling through Europe, my daughters and I cannot resist simply staying put on that terrace.
For our whole first day, we barely move from it, dipping into and out of the hot tub, lounging on the cushioned seating area built into the outdoor dividing wall and the suite next door, or relaxing in one of the two deckchairs reading or, in the case of the girls, Snapchatting to their hearts’ content in the autumn sunshine.
It is early October when we visit but the Greek Islands are still putting on fine weather, with temperatures in the mid-20s centigrade and a pleasant cooling breeze.
There are innumerable spots all around Fira, and up the coast at Oia, that can claim to be the perfect location for a Santorini sunset, but we don’t have to move from our terrace for spellbinding views of it.
Each evening we watch as the fiery orangey-red orb descends into the Aegean to the right of the caldera and behind the satellite island of Thirassia.
It is an easy and quick saunter from Nefeles to the many boutiques and restaurants that line the central alleyways of Fira. One afternoon, I’m happy to let the girls go solo shopping for jewellery and knick-knacks, and later, we wander to nearby Rastoni Concept, a trendy restaurant set over three levels, for delicious modern Greek fare.
Still, such well-appointed and sumptuous surrounds were really hard to leave, so we spent about 60 percent of our stay around our suite, feeling as if we had been given a quintessential taste of Santorini luxury. It’s truly a wrench to leave, and we only wish we’d had more than two nights to enjoy this lovely property.