Katikies Garden, Santorini
Taking up residence in an 11th-century Catholic monastery, Katikies Garden is a tranquil retreat tucked away among the lanes of Santorini's capital, Fira. Hidden down a cobbled street in Fira's Venetian neighbourhood, its monastic arches and pebbled flooring are far removed from the whitewashed cave-like buildings Santorini is famous for, but it's no less magical.
Both couples and families will find this an irresistible hideaway, an oasis of relaxation amid Fira's snaking alleyways. The hotel manages to effortlessly marry the past with the present, with wine tasting experiences happening in its medieval wine cellars that once stored the Pope's wine, while the fountains, floral displays and blooming gardens are designed to mimic ancient philosopher Epicurus' garden in Athens.
Head up to the rooftop infinity pool, however, and the view is unmistakably Santorini, with the big blue sky, glittering Aegean Sea and volcanic caldera unfolding before your very eyes. This is Santorini – both its past and present – at its most endearing.
Katikies Garden, Santorini
The hotel's collection of suites embody the white theme that Santorini is famous for, while rose, gold and teal tones add characterful colour throughout the rooms, while the dark-wood flooring is a classy contrast. Clean lines, cosy alcoves and open-plan living areas are just some of the contemporary features, while the black and white checkerboard design of the bathrooms is striking. Hanging plants and floral fabrics only add to the hotel's desire to create an extension of Epicurus' legendary Athenian garden.
No matter what room type you plump for, every suite has an outdoor space with either garden or sea views. Some come with the addition of a plunge pool or private garden (or both).
Every guest is also given their own mobile 'wish phone', which is like having the hotel's concierge on speed dial wherever you go. Whether it's room service or you want tips on which of Fira's tavernas to spend lunch at, the hotel staff will help with pretty much anything.
Katikies Garden's main restaurant, Selene, reflects much of the hotel's philosophy in blurring Santorini's past with the present. The setting is spectacular: you'll have breakfast and dinner in the former monastery's peaceful courtyard, surrounded by cream-coloured walls, floral blooms and a gently trickling fountain.
Breakfast is a selection of hot dishes accompanied by a delicious spread of pastries, fruit and juices. Come the evening, the menu itself is a feast of dishes that aim to reinvent Mediterranean cuisine using ingredients unique to Santorini and the wider Cyclades. The swordfish carpaccio is faithfully made in the way of the fishermen on the Italian island of Elba, milk-fed lamb is accompanied by Santorini's iconic white aubergines and the caramelised apple tart is paired with vinsanto (the island's most famous wine) and almond ice cream.
The Selene Antique Wine Caves date back to medieval times and it once used to store wine bound for the Vatican. The hotel's organised wine-tasting sessions are your chance to discover why these were the Pope's favourite vintages, including Santorini's world-class dessert wine vinsanto. The resident sommeliers will also tell you more about Santorini's history of wine and the unique grape varieties you can find on the island.
Katikies Garden is right in the heart of Fira, Santorini's capital, and its secluded atmosphere means you can be as close or as far away from the action as you like. The capital is well worth a wander, its warren-like alleys sprinkled with small boutiques and restaurants that are perfect places for lunch.
Santorini is also known for the hiking trails that web its volcanic landscapes and one of the best connects Fira with the glamorous village of Oia, a six-mile route that passes tiny villages and skirts the rim of the caldera along the way.
Back at the hotel, its rooftop infinity pool is a wonderful place to relax with magnificent views of the caldera and its pool bar will keep you refreshed throughout the day with a range of cocktails. Selene, the hotel's restaurant, also offers a range of cooking classes that revolve around traditional Cycladic cuisine, as well as olive oil tastings and the chance to try some of the food unique to Santorini.
There is no dedicated kids' club at Katikies Garden, but children do get their own perks, including a special turn-down service with their own robes, slippers and bath products.
Katikies Garden's A.SPA is a luxurious sanctuary framed by magenta-hued bougainvillea and emerald foliage. Using Ligne St. Barth's famed line of plant-based products, you can pamper yourself with any number of soothing massages, facials and full-body treatments. Most of the therapies draw on the Mediterranean, both with its traditions and ingredients, whether it's a full body massage using avocado oil or warm shells or a pedicure with fresh papaya mousse.
Where is Katikies Garden?
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