Accommodation in Oia
Esperas Hotel is one of Santorini’s best known and most attractive hotels, with a clutch of awards from Trivago and Trip Advisor. It belongs to the Yades group of Greek Historic Hotels, a member of the organization Historic Hotels of Europe.
It’s located at Oia, on the brim of the Caldera opposite the crater, just above Ammoudi, with an unparalleled view over the Aegean Sea.
The hotel’s history begins in 1989, when a successful Athenian doctor decided to buy an old ruin of a house, with land and a view to the sea. When suddenly several hitherto invisible ‘yposkafa’/dugout houses came to light on the property in the course of works, the project changed course and in 1992 the Hotel Esperas, one of Oia’s three hotels, was born. In 1999 the doctor’s daughter, Julia Marvelou, took over the hotel’s management.
By now everybody has heard of the famous Santorini sunsets and how they have become a ‘cash cow’ for some locals in the tourist business. As evening draws closer, dozens of coaches transport crowds who scramble to find a perch on the west side of Oia where they can admire the sight, applauding the last act as the sun plunges into the sea.
I watched the display from the Esperas Hotel’s verandas, which I found to be perfectly situated. Being one of the most western of Oia’s buildings, the hotel’s view is magical and unobstructed.
Oia’s fortress stands to the left, forming a ‘balcony’ where most people try to gather, and as if they were in a theatre, they watch the sight in comparative silence and clap at the spectacle’s conclusion.
Just below, the ruins of a cluster of yposkafa, as if sliced into the cliff, illustrate the traditional architecture of the Caldera’s houses as well as the fury of the 1950s’ earthquake. The path with its steps to the tiny port of Ammoudi is further down. There earlier in the day you will hear the muleteers’ calls: ‘De la xo de (start); ‘Na psou na’ (halt); ‘de vre de’ (hurry up); ‘de tho de (change of route), as their mules carry tourists down to the beach where the fishermen have their caiques. But at sundown, motor and sailing yachts foregather to marvel at the show from their level – the stalls.
At this moment too, at the Esperas Hotel, far from the madding crowd and noise, we had an almost private viewing of the sight, as if we were in a box, the theatre’s most privileged seat!