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Santorini treasures

Balmy nights and blue-domed days on Santorini.

Written by Daniel Scott
Photography by Katharos Villas

19 October 2023

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Our three-night stay at the Katharos Villas, at the edge of Oia, on beautiful Santorini, begins perfectly. Not only has our flight from London arrived early but immediately as we exit arrivals, the smiling Francesco Pugliese, owner/manager of Katharos Villas is waiting for us, ready to drive us personally back to the property.

This is a sign of things to come. Francesco and his brother Alessandro are the most impressive element of this family-owned Santorini accommodation. On arrival, Francesco sets us up on a joint WhatsApp group and bids us to contact him for any information and/or issues during our stay.

It’s a balmy night and the blue-lit heated pool in front of our villa is looking so inviting after our four-hour flight from London that it is our first port of call. Then, my teenage daughters and I decide to take a stroll toward the Aegean Sea.

Just five minutes down the hill we find one of Santorini’s most beguiling seaside villages, Ammoudi Bay, all lit up like a Christmas market. “Welcome to Santorini, girls,” I say, as we take a thousand Instagrammable photographs.

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If the six two-level villas that make up Katharos look grand at night, the view in the morning is literally dazzling, the morning sun bouncing off the brightly painted white buildings and low dividing walls between each self-contained unit.

The gardens around the property are beautifully kept, with rows of colourful potted flowers lining the edges of each of the six pool areas.

A free breakfast delivered on our first morning is another welcome touch and is taken on our veranda overlooking the pool and with views over the coast and sea.

 

Nearby Ammoudi Bay and Oia

On our first morning, we walk back down to Ammoudi Bay and through the fishing village along the cliffside path to a swimming spot. As it had been the night before, the water is inviting and turquoise enough for us to clamber over rocks for a swim. Santorini does have volcanic sand beaches (black and red), but those are on the other, southern side of the island.

However, you don’t come to Santorini for beaches, you come for some of the most picturesque villages, including white-walled, blue-domed churches, clinging to cliffsides, on the planet.

Oia is probably the most famous of those and it is a brisk 10-minute walk up the hill from Katharos Villas. Most of the time, one of the brothers who manage the villas will drive you up but honestly, after all the divine Greek cuisine, including the rich cheeses, pastries and yoghurt that you’re likely to sample, the odd walk uphill is to be desired!

Oia sits on the north-western tip of Santorini and is in position A for that perfect Greek Island sunset, as are Katharos Villas themselves, only with 99 percent fewer influencers and selfie-takers obscuring the view, which is pretty unforgettable! The big yellow sun slipping into the ocean behind the satellite island of Thirassia (also known as Therasia), and turning almost red as it does so.

We have a lovely seafood dinner at Ammoudi Bay fish tavern, including a delicious prawn saganaki, on the first night of our stay, with yet more standout views of the sunset. On the second, my daughters explore the boutiques in Oia, of which there are many,hidden away down steep curling laneways.

Katharos Villas’ personal touch

There’s no question that tireless manager Francesco is the star of any stay at Katharos. Every request or query is met with a “no problem”, “at your service” or “my pleasure” and he or his brother is usually available, even at relatively short notice, to help with transfers.

Francesco drops us off at 8.15 am on our second morning at an Oia meeting place for a volcano tour and is on hand later in the afternoon to run us back to the villas, when we return, around 5 pm.

Since we arrive at night, Francesco also makes sure we have some basic food provisions and he happily makes recommendations of places to eat to suit every mood/style and budget as well as suggestions for touring further afield.

 

The villas

Our two-level villa is designed in upside-down fashion, with the principal bedroom and adjacent lounge and largest bathroom downstairs – probably a cooler option during hot weather – and a fully functioning kitchen, with a second bedroom and bathroom, stylish moulded in grey, upstairs.

The kitchen has an induction stove and oven, Nespresso coffee maker, kettle, fridge and sink and all the utensils you’re likely to need.

This is the sort of accommodation to suit travelling families or larger groups on longer stays, who can book one or more villas and at least have breakfast chez-vous.

There’s a TV and wifi in the villa and a mobile phone, with Greek data coverage, for the room, from which you can access a personal hotspot when away from the property. That is a very helpful addition, at times.

It is hard not to relax at Katharos Villas, the setting, environment, design and above all the high levels of personal service and attention to detail make for a stress-free stay. For that, Francesco and the Pugliese family must take most of the credit, along with the villas’ excellent location.

 

katharosvillas.com
firstclassmagazine.co

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