There was not a hint of tragedy in either of Samantha Norton's visits to the Greek island of Santorini, mainly because she chose to vacation at The Tsitouras Collection, which she reviews here...
With picture perfect views this former school house overlooks the azure blues of the Aegean Sea. My first ever glimpse of this property and its infinity pool drew a gasp of pure delight. The moment I stepped though the roped door to this spectacular hotel will stay with me forever. I have since been back, and writing this makes me realise I am long overdue a visit to this beautiful hideaway.
This unique retreat was created in 1985 by renowned art collector Dimitris Tsitouras when he bought an old mansion which dated back to 1780. He had intended it to house his extensive art collection and for it to be a place to host friends when they came to visit. It was these personal guests who encouraged Dimitri to instead turn the house into the sumptuous boutique hotel that it is today.
There are five individual rooms or “Houses” -each carefully curated with bespoke furniture, paintings and sculptures from their private collection. The House of Sea even boasts a Picasso.
Each room is stunning, but none feel like a museum. Having stayed in both the House of Porcelain and the House of Nureyev, I can say I felt totally at home and comfortable. I was however in awe of the beautiful pieces of art and furniture scattered everywhere, everything felt so bespoke and it was such a privilege to be staying amongst it all. I think also, what really gave Tsitouras Collection that magic touch were hosts George and Eleni. Their love and passion for both the hotel and the area shines through. Any need was met in an unobtrusive manner, you felt like every detail was taken care of without feeling like someone was at your shoulder constantly. Their whole team just gave seamless service from breakfast to cocktails by that perfect pool to dinner - if you chose to eat at the hotel. If you wanted any recommendations, George would take care of everything, from making reservations, to booking taxis, and even requesting the best tables. Every detail was sorted. All I needed to do was relax, and enjoy the incredible surroundings.
Both times I visited I chose to stay for a full week, rather than a few days here and there as seems to be the norm in Santorini. The first time was really just due to sheer luck having found the hotel online and I tend to prefer to decamp in just the one place if I only have a seven-day window for a break. The second time was because I knew exactly how gorgeous it was and I didn’t want to stay anywhere else. I guarantee if you only book to stay here for one to two nights on your way through to somewhere else, you’ll kick yourself for not booking longer.
The beaches in Santorini have black sand, due to the volcanos. If you haven’t visited them then they are of course worth a trip. However, the pool at Tsitouras is just too beautiful to leave for very long. On both occasions myself and my travel companion almost always had the place to ourselves, so it felt more like staying in a private villa - only better. Ice buckets with silver tongs are brought for your water, or wine. Quiet beats of Lana Del Ray (or whatever your preference) accompanies you in your poolside lounging. I felt like a film star on a photoshoot. Zero stress and gorgeous views. Due to my love of lounging, and the feeling of such glamour and indulgence I think all seven days bar one (the obligatory day trip to Oia) were spent in a state of bliss at that pool.
Breakfast also deserves a special mention. As this is a small hotel, you can have breakfast whenever you choose. This I LOVE. No need to set an alarm to get to the buffet before all the bacon has gone by 10 am. You just wake up, have a think, ‘hmm do I want breakfast now or in an hour?’ Pick up the phone and say,”Hi, can I have breakfast? whatever time that may be. Breakfast at Tsitouras is divine! It is brought to you on huge wooden trays, an array of delights such as fresh fruits, daily pastries, eggs, toast coffee and juices, set up wherever you would like to have it. You can select to indulge by the pool, on the veranda (if you’re in The House of Nureyev), or outside your rooms overlooking the caldera (if you’re in the other Houses). Even the teapots are antique and personal favourites of mine.
Attention to detail here is incredible. Everything at Tsitouras Collection is designed to make you feel special, it’s classy, bespoke, unpretentious, friendly and simply pure joy.
If you are feeling extravagant or just want to make sure you are undisturbed throughout, there is a private villa. This, sadly, I have not yet tried, but I have seen it and I aspire to stay there. Hashtag future holiday goals! And Jean Paul Gautier did his ice bucket challenge from here so clearly it’s got credentials.
I cannot believe I’ve got so far into this without a sunset mention. Anyone that’s been to Santorini knows the sunsets are incredible, with those pink skies reflecting off the white buildings, casting everything in a gorgeous peachy glow. Forget battling the crowds at Oia, your ultimate no filter shot can be had right from the pool at Tsitouras Collection. With a nightly sunset cocktail and those incredible views, it’s the perfect way to start your evening.
This was, and remains to this day my most favourite of holidays. The service was faultless, and the hotel is just so very special. It will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me that I cried when I left on both occasions. There’s a tangible feeling of the heart and soul that’s gone into creating this incredible hotel. It’s a place of relaxation and beauty which I long to return.
For more information or reservations visit www.tsitouras.com