Oia , Santorini
Tel: 30 22860 71983
The Kapetanospito (meaning sea captain's house in Greek), built by the ship-owning Sigouras Sarris family, is as old as the Greek constitution and is one of a very few historic-preservation houses in Oia. By village standards, this is a very grand place, with its double-terraced front with false pillars of volcanic red rock, courtyard, and wide-plank floors; yet it's also typically Santorinian, with high vaulted ceilings and an interior partially carved into the cliffs. The hotel is split into two villas and three suites; although it's possible to rent the whole place to yourself. All the rooms have canopy beds and are crammed with antiques and local artwork. For those who prefer staying on the grid, this place is ideal: There's satellite TV, DVD and CD players, Wi-Fi, voice mail, AC—everything, that is, except a pool. But there are Jacuzzis in all three suites, and the village beach is only a ten-minute walk away. There's also an epic breakfast and a ten-percent discount at two of the best local restaurants, Ambrosia and Ambrosia & Nectar, because the hotel owners own them, too. You can also opt for über–room service on your suite's rooftop terrace. For those interested in some pampering, there's also an on-site Caldera Massage Studio.
Closed December to February.
Iraklio , Crete
Tel: 30 28970 41103
Unlike most new luxury hotels in Greeceboutique properties where Americans can be most assured of sharing their Greek experience with other Americansthe 212-room Amirandes, 20 miles east of Iraklio, is a classic Greek beach resort. Which is to say it is grand and glitzy (think a Minoan palace surrounding a palm-lined reflecting pool the size of Lake Erie) and offers just about every dining, beach, and sports option imaginable (archery, anyone?). Still, relative solitude is possible: 68 rooms have their own swimming pool, and the villa section, almost a hotel within a hotel, has its own private beach. The hotel beaches are better for sunning than swimming, as the water is shallow and rocky, but there is an Olympic-size pool, and plenty of people around it with whom you can practice a language other than your own.
Tel: 30 27520 70700
The decor here is minimalist chicwhy detract from the stunning views of the sea and the tiny island of Bourtzi? Rooms are decorated in soothing tones of cream and blue, and some have "Aero spa" tubs with skylights and private decks. Suites also feature Jacuzzis and living rooms. As for food and drink, the Circle restaurant serves upscale Mediterranean cuisine, while the Onyx Bar offers refreshment and music, courtesy of the house pianist and singer. The hotel's one drawback? There's no pool. Guests may, however, take the plunge at the Amphitryon's sister hotel, the Nafplia Palace.
Oia , Santorini
Tel: 30 22860 72041
You don't need a secret handshake to get in, but in an effort to discourage gawkers on what is, after all, Oia's main pedestrian thoroughfare, there's no signage on the front of the Andronis. What looks from the street like a restored sea-captain's mansion now housing a private club is in fact a 22-suite hotel that combines all the best elements of a Santorini cliffside stay. Its creative cave room design includes such elements as private plunge pools, beds raised on stone platforms, and Aegean views. An all-organic restaurant will serve your Greek salads poolside, where every day at sunset there's a private wine tasting. True sybarites will enjoy the massages (given in a cave, of course), and the strawberries and champagne that are part of a wholesome Andronis balcony breakfast.
Karavostasis , Folegandros
Greece 84 011
Tel: 30 22860 41610
More reliable ferry connections, featuring a twice-daily run of the high-speed hydrofoil from the mainland port of Piraeus, are transforming Folegandros into a destination for travelers seeking an unspoiled outpost. Surrounded by a midnight-blue sea and nestled amid arid mountains blanketed with wild thyme, Anemi's 44 accommodations are in two-story bungalows linked by stone pathways that wind through aromatic gardens. The heart of the hotel is the minimalist lobby, restaurant, and glamorous infinity pool. The suites, with private verandas and kitchenettes, have contemporary furnishings and vibrant photography that contrast with hand-hewn beams and oversized wood doors. The complimentary breakfast includes a blitz of fresh pastries, egg dishes, and yogurt with local honey and can sustain you into late afternoon. Nightfall presents the option to dine poolside, although the staff will gladly drive you the two miles to the island's main village of Chora. One of the Cyclades's oldest medieval towns, picturesque Chora is cordoned off to car and moped traffic and offers plenty of inexpensive dining under a lantern-lit canopy of trees.
Tel: 30 22860 41309
Built in 1993, the family-run Anemomilos was one of the first boutique hotels in the Cyclades to appear somewhere other than Santorini or Mykonos, and it has continued to please. For one thing, its setting is spectacular: From atop a sea cliff, the 16 studios (each with an open-plan sleeping-living-kitchenette arrangement) all boast views only slightly less panoramic than those from the caldera of Santorini. (For the best views, opt for a blue-line apartment, or just hang out at the pool.) Additionally, the management is unusually progressive: They have long offered, for instance, a room designed with disabled guests in mind—something about as common in Greece as a nonsmoking section in a restaurant. The room decor is simple, pretty much the same traditional white with blue trim as the exterior, but it goes well with the simplicity of the island, which is just hard enough to get to that you won't be bothered much by the types of people who, if they do travel at all, should really spend their entire time on Santorini.
Closed October through March.
Mykonos Town , Mykonos
Tel: 30 22890 28590
A Bellini thrust into your hand on arrival sets the tone at this adorable 17-room hotel, a ten-minute walk from Mykonos Town and close to the beach. It looks similar to the standard whitewashed cube with blue shutters, but inside it becomes clear someone cares. That someone is young owner Kriton Harakopoulos, who has decorated the place with drapes, planters, rugs, and other accents that add a homey chic. He also offers a cornucopian breakfast of croissants, pancakes, eggs, chocolate muffins, homemade bread, yogurt, and honey (served until early afternoon). AC, TV, room service (till nearly midnight), Molton Brown toiletries, and a floodlit freshwater pool with an adjacent bar complete the picture.
Closed October to April.
Imerovigli , Santorini
Tel: 30 22860 23641
You can still top out at over a grand for one of the new private-pool suites at this Santorini cliff-hanger, which is split into 16 traditional-style apartments and 12 eclectic suites. But price being a relative thing, it just may be the most undervalued place to stay on the island. The decor is art-hotel chic. (The red bathroom in one of the Jacuzzi suites registers at just below over-the-top.) The caldera views, from poolside or private patios, are better even than those from Oia. Manager George Karayiannis is always so cheerfully ready to deal with any request (You need to borrow a laptop for your stay? No problem, no charge), you almost wonder if he is really Greek. For some, the only drawback here are the steps, which are numerous even by Santorini standards. A few trips up and down them should add greatly to even the most fit guest's appreciation of the hotel's new restaurant.
Closed November through March.
22 Xanthoudidou Street
Rethymnon , Crete
Tel: 30 28310 26213
While some might argue that the best reason to visit Rethymnon is a meal at Avli's garden restaurant, others insist that an even better cause would be to stay in one of its seven stone-walled suites, hidden behind ancient facades along a cobblestone street. The suites have whitewashed stone walls and naturally finished exposed-beam ceilings, meant to evoke a 15th-century atmosphere, save the addition of a whirlpool tub, so that guests may enjoy a pleasure unknown in medieval timesbathing. Each suite has been individually decorated in a different color scheme, by someone with an artist's eye and a generous budget. The Brown Suite, with its veranda, is a favorite.
65 Athinas Street
Tel: 30 210 325 0900
You could stay in one of the few conventionally decorated guest rooms at the Baby Grand. But what would be the point? The wow factor here is that a group of graphic artists were let loose to turn an ordinary space into something uniquely playful, as you can't help but notice when arriving at the check-in desk to discover it is a Mini Cooper convertible. Fifty-five of the 79 smallish rooms are even more over the top, featuring a graffitilike decor with themes that range from the Smurfs to what appears to be a supermagnified rendition of the creatures you might find by looking into a microscope. The piped-in sound of birdsong in the hallways adds to the playfulness, as does the name of the restaurant, Meat Me, where, not surprisingly, burgers and steaks are prominent on the menu. Facilities include a small spa, gym, and swimming pool. The location, near Omonia Square, is within walking distance of the Acropolis, although the neighborhood is authentically seedy enough (no faux graffiti here) that you won't want to wander its side streets at night.
School of Fine Arts District
Mykonos Town , Mykonos
Tel: 30 22890 25122
Checking into the Belvedere for the first time, you'll feel like you died and went to somebody's first wedding. Everything's white, right down to the shoes on the staff. That fact—plus the poolside pose-and-party scene, the slick cocktail lounge, the Nobu outpost, the clientele of jet-setters and A-gays stopping off between Bodrum and the Hamptons—makes this a slice of South Beach in Mykonos. If you're here to take in the nightlife and rub shoulders with the fashion flock, the Belvedere is the best place to stay. That's not the only reason to check in, though: Service is above the island norm (Pablo will take excellent care of you at the pool), and rooms, though moderately sized and not as elegant as the public spaces, come with niceties that are rare in other Mykonos properties (flat-screen TVs, cordless phones and hotel-wide Wi-Fi, bath products from Korres, and firm mattresses. The least-expensive rooms look out onto shrubbery; spring for a better view, since the hotel is located at the top of town, a superb position for sunsets. That also means you're a few minutes' walk (assuming you don't get lost among the alleyways) to everything in town. And when you get sick of tzatziki, there's sushi at hand, too.
Closed November through mid-April.
Tel: 30 26240 22650
Fax: 30 26240 23166
A few minutes' drive out of town, the hillside Europa offers a lovely view of the surrounding mountains and the sea. All of the 80 rooms (including two suites) feature sliding glass doors that open onto balconiessome even look across to ancient Olympia. Modern touches include satellite TV and Internet access. A generous buffet breakfast is included. Aside from a tennis court, the Europa has a pretty garden.
9 Theofanous Street
Chania , Crete
Tel: 30 28210 87400
This 17th-century Venetian mansion, restored to a level of luxury that would make its original owner envious, is one street short of perfection. Sitting just in from one of the most attractive harbors in Crete, the hotel's views of harborside life are blocked on all but the uppermost floor by an intervening row of buildings. Inward-looking guests will be delighted, however, by the sanctuary of Casa Delfino's hidden courtyard (just right for breakfast in warm weather) and by the suites themselves. Although the smaller 4 of the 22 suites can more accurately be described as rooms, there is nothing quite so satisfying, in some of the larger ones, as a vaulted stone ceiling overhead and a flat-screen TV that allows you to watch CNN over the tops of your toes.
4 Capodistriou Street
Corfu Town , Corfu
Tel: 30 266 103 9336
A 17th-century, six-story mansion that was once home to a family of Corfiote nobles, the Cavalieri now has an elegant roof bar where young couples gather on summer evenings for cocktails and sunset-watching. The 49 renovated rooms are, well, boring, with standard-issue wooden furniture, clean but basic bathrooms, and upholstery in uninspiring earth tones. But since the hotel is set right on the Liston promenade in the center of Corfu Town, there's lots of excitement right outside. Book a room with a bay view during the right time of the year (Palm Sunday, Holy Saturday, August 11, or the first Sunday in November), and you'll be able to watch marching bands, schoolchildren, and priests parade beneath your window with the relics of St. Spyridon (who died in A.D. 348, and who supposedly performed miracles). One of the best rooms is No. 53—it has windows that face both the harbor and town—but film buffs will want No. 51, the room William Holden lived in while filming Fedora.
2 Leoforos Dimokratias
Corfu Town , Corfu
Tel: 30 266 103 9485
Maybe it's all the kids playing in the large saltwater swimming pool, or the cheery gardens filled with banana trees, climbing hibiscus vines, and hummingbirds, but it's hard to believe this property was once a cemetery. (No worries—the bones are interred elsewhere these days.) The hotel itself is unlikely to win any design awards; it's one of the least historic around, with a blocky building (half of it dates from 1958, the other half from 1968). The 112 air-conditioned rooms—with utilitarian furniture, flowery-print bedspreads, and matching drapes—are similarly unremarkable, although a refurb is planned this winter. Many of the accommodations have balconies with views of Corfu Town and Neo Frourio, a 16th-century fortress. A few also look over the Bay of Garitsa, which offers the opportunity to play "Guess Whose Yacht?" (When in doubt, guess the Sultan of Brunei, a frequent visitor.) The hotel is set just 500 yards from the town center, but it takes some work to get there, including navigating up stone steps and—Frogger-like—across the street while dodging horse-drawn carriages.
Elounda , Crete
Tel: 30 28410 41924
Rain is something you don't normally look forward to on a holiday, except possibly at the Domes of Elounda, a new hotel on the north coast of Crete where one of the architecturally inspired pleasures is the rainwater-style shower splashing down from beneath the high, domed roof of a couple-size circular Jacuzzi. Domes, as one might imagine, are a design element throughout the resort, which has the look of a Mediterranean village. Another visual constant are the earth tones throughout the 80 suites, all in two-story buildings and all but the junior versions with an hot tub as well. On a quiet stretch of gray-sand beach north of Elounda Village, the resort looks across the water toward the nearby islet of Spinalonga, the setting for British author Victoria Hislop's The Island.
Vathy , Sifnos
Tel: 30 22840 34000
A rarity in the Greek islands, the Elies sits directly on a beach, one that until 1997 was accessible only by boat. The shore curves around Vathi Bay, which is home to little more than the resort and a small fishing community. Built in 2004, the resort differs from other new Cycladian hotels in that its 23 rooms and 10 villas are spread out over so much property, it seems to form its own village (with the town square replaced by the pool patio). Because of the abundant space, the rooms are large—ten of them even include their own private pools. There's a spa, tennis court, and gym, a gourmet restaurant featuring Mediterranean cuisine, and daily olive- and wine-tastings, although the main activity seems to be finding a beach chaise lounge that will allow for optimum viewing of the yachts anchored in the bay.
Closed mid-October through mid-May.
Elounda , Crete
Tel: 30 28410 90300
Many hotels claim that your every wish is their command, particularly if you have the potential to be a generous tipper. But the Elounda Gulf Villas & Suites may be the only one that will, upon request, fill your private pool with either fresh or salt water. Not everything here is perfectwhich is to say that the 18-villa, ten-suite property is not on the sea but on a hill overlooking Mirabello Bay. But beyond that shortcoming, if you consider it one, it's hard to imagine another property in Greece that does a better job of making guests feel the world is theirs. Once you've tired of the pool, for instance, you can spend some time in your private gym, or if you've already eaten at the hotel's restaurant, have a chef come in to prepare a mealwith or without salt.
Fiskardo , Cephalonia
Tel: 30 267 404 1200
If ferrying around the Greek islands can sometimes be exhausting, the answer is a resort like the Emelisse, which exists primarily as a place to bask in the Greek sunshine. Cephalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands, so it rarely feels crowded even when tourists are swarming its gorgeous beaches (which you might have seen in the film Captain Corelli's Mandolin). Guests of the Emelisse aren't likely to make it off-property—it's just a short walk to the sea, and the two pools are ideal for lolling (beginner diving classes are held in one). The 63 rooms are spread among 14 yellow stone villas, and their decor is minimalist and vaguely Asian, with wood furniture in clean geometric shapes, neutral fabrics, slate floors, and rice-paper lamps. Enterprising types might choose to swim in the nearby sea caves, play early-morning tennis, or even visit Fiskardo, the only town to survive the earthquake of 1953 (hundreds died, and it was considered an international humanitarian disaster). No cars are allowed on the property: yet another happy reason to stay put.
Closed from the last week of October through March.
26 Sofokleous Street
Tel: 30 210 524 8511
Tel: 800 337 4685
At first glance, this hotel three blocks from Omonia Square doesn't seem particularly compelling. Neither its cookie-cutter architecture nor its 133 "design hotel-style" rooms, with crisp white walls, pallid wood floors, and flashes of orange, amethyst, and hot pink, do much to get the motor running. But—and this is a big "but"—the value is not to be sneezed at. Especially if you're cool enough to take advantage of the scene-y rooftop pool and Air Lounge Roof Bar (with an Acropolis view), and young enough to have the burgeoning nightlife of nearby Psyrri high on your agenda.
Lourdas , Cephalonia
Tel: 30 267 102 3164
Native islander and local jeweler George Garbis built these four villas overlooking Lourdas Bay (on Cephalonia's southern coast) for his children—but instead of occupying them, the kids are using them to lodge guests. Once you stay here, you may find yourself wishing for a piece of the inheritance. The 11 apartments and one suite won't appeal to luxury-seekers; they're spare and simply furnished, with blocky Ikea-style modular furniture, simple landscape prints on the walls, and either tile or marble floors. Still, they're clean and comfortable, and the property surrounding them is a miniature tropical paradise, with lovingly tended gardens surrounding a pool overlooking the sea. The Garbis family members are also superb hosts—as well as treating you to their homemade wine, they'll be happy to educate you all about the island, from the capital of Argostoli (a 15-minute drive) to Mt. Ainos, where a wine festival is held every August.
Closed October through May.
Iraklio , Crete
Tel: 30 28970 41103
With a palm-fringed artificial lagoon as its centerpiece, this 212-room beach hotel, a dozen miles east of Heraklion on the former site of the Club Creta Sun, makes a dazzling first impression. The architecture of the main building, all arches and slender stone and wood pillars, recalls the palace of a desert prince. The rooms are not quite as princely, having a contemporary minimalist look, although some come with king-size beds plush enough to be worthy of any wedding night. Fifty-eight of the rooms even have private pools. Indeed, fabulous water elements abound here: Aside from the lagoon (along which you can enjoy a late lunch or sunset dinner), there's an Olympic-size main pool. Swimmers should come here rather than venture into the shallow and rocky ocean, although the guests in the villa section have the satisfaction of enjoying their own private beach. After all that sun, though, the best pool is probably the indoor one at the Elixir Spa, where Indian therapists administer Ayurvedic treatments.
Kommeno , Corfu
Tel: 30 266 108 8400
The site of the European Union Leaders Summit in 1994, this hotel on Kommeno Bay, about seven miles from Corfu Town, has retained its air of slightly haughty exclusivity. The property's secluded coves and gardens make it one of the most private on the island, and they surround—in addition to the 184 rooms in the main building—126 bungalows and villas, ranging from the exclusive (the Waterfront Bungalow Suite has access to a private "Famous Class" beach) to the super-exclusive (the Dream Villas have private splash pools) to the outrageously opulent (the Royal Pavilion sits on its own private cove). All have marble baths and are upholstered in summery pale or flowered fabrics. The rooms and villas have soaring ceilings, while the villas and suites have walk-in wardrobes. This place takes itself a little seriously; for example, men are kindly requested to wear long trousers in the Aristos and Mon Repos restaurants during the evening. But, for commensurate Old World service—a rarity in sometimes too laid-back Greece—sweaty legs are a price many are willing to pay.
Closed mid-October through April.
Pitsinades , Kythera
Tel: 30 273 603 3877
Kythira is farther south than the other islands in this group and is easily overlooked by many travelers—but it shouldn't be. Windswept, dotted with whitewashed houses, and surrounded by stunning views, the island has an unspoiled, slightly desolate feel that has led to rumors of its being haunted. Nowhere is that stark beauty more evident than in the car-free medieval village of Pitsinades, home to this restored 150-year-old house. Its six unique rooms are decorated with vaulted arches, stone mosaics, and blue-and-white pottery; the quiet patio is a perfect place to watch the sun set or have your first cup of coffee (homemade marmalade is served with breakfast every morning). After breakfast, guests often wander among the neighboring villages or take a 20-minute drive to the harbor and pebble beaches of Agia Pelagia.
Closed mid-September through mid-June.
4 Zampeli Street
Corfu Town , Corfu
Tel: 30 266 104 6500
The best value in Corfu Town. This apricot-painted 19th-century mansion, which once housed a consulate, now has 31 rooms. The interiors are charming if slightly fussy; the common areas have pink-and-white marble floors and carved wooden ceilings, and many of the guest rooms have large windows, cast-iron bedsteads, and heavy brocade satin curtains. The hotel's location on a quiet backstreet in town means no water views, but it's just steps away from the Spaniada. The spacious outdoor patio, shaded by a vine-covered trellis in summer, is a lovely place to linger over lunch.
Closed from December 15 through January 15.
Mykonos Town , Mykonos
Tel: 30 22890 20100
When an architect is given free license by a hotel owner to create a new look for a property—which usually happens only if the architect is the owner—the result is sometimes successful. And so it seems to be with the Hotel Cavo Tagoo, which was revamped by its owner, award-winning Greek architect and builder Paris Liakos. To the 69 existing rooms and suites, all updated to exude a minimalist Cyclades chic, 11 suites were added in summer 2008. The new suites have private pools and are adorned with art objects that are hard to ignore, such as a full-size, all-white sculpture of a donkey. The most interesting architectural element, however, is the way the natural surroundings are worked into the design—for example, a slice of cliff facade on display behind a glass wall in the lobby. The new, Mediterranean menu by chef Nikos Skliras seems to have passed muster, too, with the crowd settling in for the evening at the poolside tables (recently including designers Giorgio Armani and Jean Paul Gaultier and supermodel Karolina Kurkova). A shortcoming here is that the hotel is tantalizingly close to walking distance from Mykonos Town, but the walk requires guests to negotiate a narrow cliff-side road whose risk factor for pedestrians ranges from hazardous to deadly.
Closed October 22 through May 14.
Tel: 800 325 3589
Tel: 30 210 333 0000
While some might argue for the Parthenon, more modern types agree that the most enduring luxury address in Athens is this 321-room hotel on Syntagma Square. Storied enough to include Winston Churchill and even Sting on its celebrity guest list, the imposing 1874 neoclassical structure got a rugs-to-rooftop renovation in 2003 that made the new marble bathrooms alone worth the stay. (What, one wonders, would Plato have made of the fog-resistant mirrors?) The service, as you'd expect from a hotel that caters to the jet set, is as good as you'll find in Greece. The most desirable rooms have balconies facing the square, with views of the Acropolis and the daily changing of the guard at the parliament building. For a better view, do as the local gods and goddesses do, and dine on stuffed calamari or a simple grilled steak at the Roof Garden restaurant.
Lindos , Rhodes
Tel: 39 051 234 974
If you'd like to stay in one of Rhodes's gorgeous 16th- and 17th-century Lindian sea captain's houses, talk to House of Wonders, an Anglo-French-Italian company (based in Bologna) that rents such places on behalf of their owners. Offerings include the stately Villa Beatrice, one of the largest and oldest houses in the village, with courtyards and terraces linked by tunnels, stairways, and bridges, and a private garden of olive and citrus trees. The smaller Villa Penelope, perched on the slope leading up to the acropolis, features a stupendous view over the Bay of Lindos and a lemon tree shading its jasmine-scented courtyard.
4 Efthimiopoulou & 6 Kapodistriou
Tel: 30 27520 25114
Tel: 30 27520 22010
Set in a restored town house on a pedestrian-only stairway street, this little boutique hotel has exceedingly rococo decor. Cupids frolic on the ceilings, and mythological heroes do battle on the walls, which are bordered with fruit and flowers. The rooms, in shades of rose and gold, feature soft beds draped with thin curtains, and in keeping with the over-the-top aesthetic, have more of those murals on the ceilings. Three suites boast Jacuzzis; try the "Suite of the Sun," with its gigantic bathroom and tiled balcony with a view of the bay. Service is efficient but not intrusive. Couplesprovided they're not die-hard minimalistsshould find the place the perfect little hideaway. Breakfast included.
Tel: 30 27210 73131
The hotel itself is pleasant enoughstone walls, terra-cotta roof, simply furnished rooms, but the picturesque location is the real draw. The Kalamitsi sits in an olive and cypress grove, and a narrow staircase leads down to a virtually private pebbled beach. Ask for an upper roommost offer a sea view. To get to the hotel, drive out of town (away from Kalamata). You'll pass the Voulas taverna (the sign is spelled half in Greek, half in English), and the entrance for the Kalamitsi is on the right immediately thereafter.
3 Vassileos Georgiou A Street
Tel: 30 210 322 2210
Named for the monarch who used to stay at this hotel during its heyday—along with Aristotle Onassis, Maria Callas, Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, etc., etc.—this annex to the former palace (now Greece's parliament building) aimed squarely at its old clientele when it did a gut-and-start-again reno in plenty of time for the 2004 Olympics. If obvious opulence is what you crave, this has the works: raw silks and velvets, ornate moldings, chandeliers, gilding, marble—and a private rooftop pool in the royal suite. The skylit Tudor Hall restaurant is a power-dining, expense-account kind of place with nouveau-Greek menus designed by Alain Ducasse and executed with organic produce direct from a farm in Crete. There are fabulous views of the city: top drawer on the top floor.
Tel: 30 27320 66300
One of Greece's most romantic destinations, Monemvassia village is the site of a medieval castle marooned on a rocky outcrop, surrounded by a tangle of stone houses. Camouflaged in the citrus-scented hills, the 27-room Kinsterna is only about four miles away, and equally romantic. Immaculately restored, the 500-year-old mansion is named for a Byzantine cistern system that still snakes through the property, sidestepping a lone orange tree and spilling springwater into an angular pool. Lounge chairs set up in stone alcoves welcome guests to bask in the stillness and gaze at the sea (only a 15-minute walk away). Interiors subtly bridge the Byzantine, Ottoman, and Venetian phases of the building's checkered history. Soothing pale grays are jazzed up by a mix of old and modern: richly textured kilims and antique chests, gold Kartell lamps and transparent Ghost chairs. Treats abound: Champagne is standard at breakfast, the first raid of the minibar is free, and there's a hot tub outside the sultry little spa. If you can muster the energy, explore the hiking trails on the grounds; the likable staff will pack you a picnic.
Oia , Santorini
Tel: 30 22860 71214
Similar in design-driven style and ambience to its better-known sister, the Katikies, which is a few steps along the caldera, this 19-suite hotel features a small outdoor pool (claim your lounge chair early) as well as an indoor spa pool, whirlpool bath, and steam room. In addition to poolside dining, there's the four-table White Cave restaurant, which, when the candlelight is casting shadows on the walls, feels so romantically retro that you almost expect the waiter to offer a special of rack of brontosaurus, prepared with fresh sage and a hint of rosemary. This is another hotel with an accommodating staff, who guests can reach no matter where they are on the island, via the cell phone they are given at check-in.
Closed November through March.
Tel: 30 22890 24094
The shortcoming—or saving grace—of this 40-room luxury hotel overlooking its own pebble beach on Ornos Bay is that it's not quite close enough to Mykonos Town to stumble back to after a night out. The ten-minute taxi ride brings you to a collection of Aegean-style rooms and suites that were originally meant to be a family villa and are still strongly imprinted with the personality of the owner, an art collector who obviously sees the property as a repository for his acquired works. That's why no two rooms are the same—whether furnished with Venetian mirrors or Philippe Starck Ghost chairs—and no doubt why they have appealed to such guests as fashion designers Jean Paul Gaultier and Ermenegildo Zegna. There's a practical appeal to these quirky digs, too, as the hotel is well equipped with the amenities every haute hotel guest desires: fitness center and spa, with a sparkly-tiled hammam; two swimming pools; a squash court; and a polished teak sailing yacht suitable for inviting up to 40 of the friends you meet during those nights in Mykonos Town. If any of the friendships become close, there is a little family chapel, and the fine-china atmosphere of La Meduse restaurant is perfect for reception dinners.—Bob Payne
Closed mid-October through mid-May.
Imerovigli , Santorini
Tel: 30 22860 24701
This neoclassical mansion, atop Imerovigli village overlooking the caldera, has nine rooms (four can be combined and rented as a private villa). The rooms come in shades of ocher, raspberry or apple, and are packed with antiques and heraldic flourishes. In addition to offering AC and standard in-room electronics (except Internet), the full-service hotel has a modern spa-hammam. Staff can charter you a yacht, chauffeur you a car, pilot you a helicopter, or organize you a wedding, which is something it frequently does. The restaurant, La Maltese Gourmet, is exclusive and good, and there are daily wine tastings for guests.
Closed October to March.
15 Epimenidou Street
Iraklio , Crete
Tel: 30 2810 228103
This recently reinvented city hotelgone from dark to dazzlingwows with its public spaces more than it does with its 50 rooms. The minimalist glass, metal, and polished stone decor of the lobby and the upmarket restaurant, Brillant, is suitably trendy, and the view from the roof garden, looking out across the harbor at a Venetian fortress, is romantic enough, on a summer evening, to help elicit an "I will," no matter what the question. In all but the few larger suites, though, space is so tight that once out of bed about all there's room for is getting in each other's way. What makes that shortcoming forgivable, however, is the Lato's location, within walking distance of most of what's interesting about the city (Knossos excepted). The helpfulness of the staff is also noteworthy, beginning with their ability to find a parking space for you in a part of town that often seems to have none.
Lithakia , Zakynthos
Tel: 30 269 505 1305
Tel: 30 269 505 3491
Zakynthos Town was destroyed in the 1953 earthquake, but it was rebuilt afterward as an appealing waterfront hub with pleasant piazzas and a few surviving churches. The rest of the island—with the exception of some tacky resorts along Laganas Bay—is nearly as pristine as it was when the ruling Venetians branded it the "flower" of the region for its lush green interior. The Leedas compound takes full advantage of the natural surroundings: The five stone villas are set in national parkland, near a beach where loggerhead turtles bury their eggs in the sand each year. The property is also just across from the island of Marathonissi, where the owner, Dionysos Giatras, ferries visitors on his speedboat. He's also known to bring home fish for cookouts around the outdoor barbecue, and will arrange horseback riding or diving excursions. Less-adventurous guests can be found hanging around the pool or helping themselves to fresh produce from Giatras's organic garden. The stone-walled villas are plainly decorated, but all have kitchenettes and outdoor grills, perfect for preparing fruit salad and goat kebabs.
103 Thisseos Avenue
Tel: 30 210 626 0400
Tucked away up north in the posh suburb of Ekali, this pair of glass-walled, three-story, sixties-modern blocks would suit the sensibilities of a rich, sybaritic Buddhist. Amid grassy gardens with sundecks, terraces, and two pools, the 30 big, open rooms have dark bamboo platform beds, flokati rugs on travertine floors, white-paneled, backlit walls, and views of Mounts Parnes and Penteli. The spa, Ananea, offers Thai massage and hot-stone treatments, plus a sauna and hammam. It's not the most convenient of retreats—you have to walk to Kifissia for the Metro—but retreat it is. If someone plopped you down here blindfolded, you'd never guess where you were: Latin America? (the bar's called Pisco Sour); Ibiza? (it has a 24-hour DJ); the Hollywood Hills? (mod Med food at Avenue 103 and a Richard Neutra-ish aesthetic). Still, cultural confusion has never felt so luxurious.
4042 Ag. Fanouriou
Rhodes Town , Rhodes
Tel: 30 22 4102 5562
Milanese artist and collector Giuseppe Sala owns this beautifully converted 15th-century Ottoman town house. With its mix of Indian and Turkish furnishings and its courtyard garden of orange and apricot trees, Sala's ten-room B&B is an oasis of refined taste. There are no Jacuzzis or mod cons (although one room does have its own private hammam)—but thanks to the helpful, English-speaking managers, Efi and Spiros Dede, you won't want for much. The property includes three more secluded suites in the Gallery annex down the road, perfect for a large family or a group of friends. Breakfast is served in the courtyard, which in the evening functions as a small café serving drinks and snacks.
11 Litous Street
Tel: 30 210 892 9000
Located in the chic suburb of Vouliagmeni, sometimes known as the Athenian Riviera, the Margi is an 89-room design-driven hotel with a setting, between pine trees and the sea, that makes nearby Athens seem a long way off. The Moroccan-influenced style works best around the pool/lounge area, especially at night, when all is washed in candlelight. The magic of the setting is what makes it popular for wedding receptions, so check to see if any are scheduled during the time you want to visit, or be prepared to learn that Greek wedding celebrations go, loudly, into the early-morning hours.—Bob Payne
Lindos , Rhodes
Tel: 30 22 4403 1332
Occupying a traditional white house with a sunny shared courtyard, these ten apartments are fairly basic, but they're clean and set right in the center of Lindos. The beach at St. Paul's Bay is about a ten-minute walk away, and restaurants, bars, and shops are all nearby. The apartments, which accommodate two to four people, have simple, traditional sleeping platforms, cooking facilities, and air conditioning. The price includes a weekly maid service and change of linens.
Mykonos Town , Mykonos
Tel: 30 22 890 26 690
They overuse the word—Grace Suite, Grace Boutique Spa, State of Grace Restaurant & Bar, With Good Grace Gym—but it really is the right one to describe the cool serenity of this 32-room hotel just above Agios Stefanos Beach, about five minutes by taxi from Mykonos Town. The decor is minimalist, in every shade of pale, highlighted by a single oversize photo, backlit and printed on canvas, of some reposeful natural element. Room amenities are modern: All have Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs, and some have private terraces with hot tubs from which to enjoy the Aegean views. As might be guessed, this is not a hotel for the see-and-be-seen crowd but one that allows you to escape from Mykonos's nightly madness and relax, mostly by the pool (where breakfast is served, at whatever hour suits). The restaurant's bar is a perfect place to enjoy an evening cocktail, especially if the ever-thoughtful staff have advised you of the exact moment of sunset.
Kato Mili Street
Mykonos Town , Mykonos
Tel: 30 22890 22230
Tel: 800 337 4685 (Design Hotels, toll-free)
This 52-room retro pad right next door to the famous windmills and "Little Venice" evokes the 1960s—when Mykonos was a key jet-set party town and Ari and Jackie were regular visitors—thanks to an original structure by Greece's premier architect of that decade, Aris Kostantinidis. Inside there are walls of rough stone, turquoise and tangerine paintwork, Hessian drapes and op art prints, as well as space-age tables, and bucket chairs. Despite the lack of beach (there's a big pool) and dearth of views from the cheaper rooms, it's still a thoroughly hip place to stay.
Oia , Santorini
Tel: 30 22860 71114
Opened in 2007, the 18-suite Mystique is a sister to the Vedema, one of Santorini's better hotels—except it overcomes the Vedema's major shortcoming: an inland location that leaves it with no view from the caldera. Mystique's view, back toward the main town of Fira, which itself drips like white paint over the cliff's edge, is outstanding, as is its exterior, featuring traditional Cycladic architecture. (The room decor, however, is so simple, it tends toward the bland.) The pool is small even by Santorini standards, and there are few other places in Oia with as many steps. But make your way down and you'll be rewarded by the additional privacy those steps ensure, and by a modern-Med restaurant with a wine cellar, dug into the cliff wall, that boasts one of the most extensive selections on the island.
Closed mid-November through mid-May.
16 Filellinon Street
Tel: 30 210 327 3000
A short walk from central Syntagma Square, the New Hotel, opened summer 2011, is part of art collector Dakis Joannou's stylish Yes! Hotels group, whose other properties include Periscope, Semiramis, Twenty One, and Kefalari Suites. The 1950s building (formerly the Olympic Palace Hotel) has been completely renovated by brothers Humberto and Fernando Campana, a Brazilian design team critically acclaimed for turning cast-off materials into works of art. Here, the cast-offs include many of the original fixtures and furnishings. Pieces of old wooden chairs, for instance, now form sculptures, and the bathroom mirrors are in jagged shapes post–wrecking ball. Greek architectural students added their own spin to the 79-room property by designing three unique looks for the guest rooms, focusing on Greek folklore, the amulet known as the evil eye, and old Athens as represented by collages of postcards. The effect, in a hotel with all the modern amenities, is less discordant than it might sound, and overall, it goes down as easily as the huge breakfast that's included in the price.—Bob Payne
Agios Nikolaos , Zakynthos
Tel: 30 269 502 7632
Tel: 30 269 503 1400
The isolated location—and the fancy service—of this family-run hotel would make a perfect setting for an Agatha Christie novel. The Art Nouveau–style mansion contains four suites, and the classic wood-floor-and-antique aesthetic throughout may be a bit fussy (enough with the dried flower arrangements…). Yet the rooms have lovely views of the sea and the little port of Agios Nikolaos. The property is set far from the island's crowded resorts, and those who prefer linen tablecloths and an extra-attentive staff will find what they want here. The traditional village of Volimes, the Blue Caves, and the much-photographed Shipwreck Beach (where the remains of a 1970s shipwreck are hunkered in the sand) are all nearby. The Nobelos family takes pains to cater to your every need: Boats and bikes are for hire, there's twice-daily maid service, and breakfast is served on the patio overlooking the water.
Closed for Christmas.
7 Leokoriou Street
Tel: 30 210 331 2950
Chic hotels are such a new idea in this neighborhood that guests often have to show taxi drivers the way, but this 11-room jewel box is worth the effort to find. The neighborhood is Psyrri, once the haunt of the downtrodden and the unsavory, but now a fast-rising, if still somewhat bohemian, center of Athens's most happening bars and nightclubs. And Ochre & Brown is only a block or so from the heart of it. The hotel is within easy walking distance of central Athens's most interesting sites, including the Parthenon, about ten minutes away. While minimalist-cool stylish, the rooms are small, the best of them being the junior suite, with a terrace view, barely, of the Parthenon. The breakfast (no buffet, this) and the service make up for it, though, with the kind of pampering one would expect when there are less than a dozen rooms to look after.
Tel: 30 27520 21565
Situated near the harbor and above a café of the same name, this tiny seven-room pension occupies an early 1900s building that once housed the police department. The clean, homey rooms (with showers only) have tile floors and comfortable beds; some have balconies. It's a great choice for families, as the rooms have fridges, there are sleeping lofts for children, and the owners are friendly and accommodating. The fine breakfast includes fresh bread and thick Greek yogurt with honey.
Tel: 30 22890 23396
Tel: 646 233 3271 (U.S. reservations)
Once they check in, guests say they don't want to leave this 21-room oasis within (somewhat distant) sight of the sea. Although that may have something to do with the ten-minute walk back into Mykonos Town, along the busy main road that runs by the front of the hotel. But it's also true that the free-form pool, with its hammock and lounge chairs within easy range of the poolside bar, makes the property a particularly pleasant sanctuary at which to wile away an afternoon. All the rooms were renovated in 2007 and now feature requisite boutique-style, minimalist, white-on-white decor. The variance in room sizes makes it worth ponying up for a more expensive category, such as an executive suite complete with whirlpool bath, full kitchen, and balcony.
Closed October through March.
Katouna , Levkas
Tel: 30 264 507 1782
Attached to the mainland by a causeway, Lefkada is a popular destination for Greek tourists who drive over to enjoy the renowned beaches (especially Porto Katsiki, considered by many to be the best beach in the Mediterranean). But the traditional mountain villages, set among forests and olive groves, are just as lovely as—and much quieter than—the shore. The Pavezzo Country Retreat, set on a hillside in the small town of Katouna, occupies just such a place. Each of the seven 19th-century stone villas has a unique layout and feel; the options range from the cozy, beam-ceilinged Ligaria Cottage (which the proprietors compare to "the house of Snow White") to the posh, spacious Villa Honeymoon, with its privately gated entry and its own olive-shaded swimming pool. Two purpose-built villas (Agioklima and Agrabelia) were added in June 2007. Decor throughout is traditional, with whitewashed walls, simple wooden furniture, and breezy nets suspended above the beds, but the air-conditioning and DVD players will remind you that you're in the current century. The 2007 renovations also added the Rahma spa with a hammam, Jacuzzi, and gym, as well as the Nove Cento restaurant, which serves upmarket Greek cuisine.
Closed November through March.
Makratika , Paxos
Tel: 30 210 342 0531 (Oct.April)
Tel: 30 266 203 2450 (MaySept.)
The best way to experience Paxos would be to rent a tiny villa nestled among some of the island's 300,000 olive trees (for info about villa rentals, contact Ileana Von Hirsch at the London-based Five Star Greece rental agency: 44-20-8422-4885; email@example.com; fivestargreece.com). But booking one of the 27 apartments at this family-owned hotel (one of only two on the island) is the second-best option. The no-nonsense units are equipped with the standard comforts (A/C, TV), and all have kitchens and balconies or verandas. Three of the units overlook the central pool where visiting celebs (including Jude Law) have frolicked. The pool complex also has a hot tub, kiddie pool, and small playground—but the showstopper of the property is the dining room, housed in the original 1893-built home where the owners' ancestors lived.
Closed October through May.
66 Diligianni Street
Tel: 30 210 623 0650
A neoclassical mansion dating from 1924, when this northern district was the country escape for rich Athenians, the Pentelikon still radiates quiet glamour. The hotel has undergone steady renovations for much of the past two years, but the 101 rooms are still utterly traditional in style, with swagged drapery, dark wood armoires, and leather wingback chairs. It nevertheless sidesteps McGrandhotel decorating pitfalls with clever lighting and user-friendly room layouts; fourth-floor rooms are the most desirable for their chalet-style sloping ceilings and sweeping views over the city. Possessing a near-bucolic pool surrounded by emerald lawns, as well as a gym, a sauna, and an uncannily friendly and helpful staff, it's a sweet retreat from the smoggy bustle below. The two dining options include the perpetually Michelin-starred French-Med restaurant, Vardis.
821 Odyssea Androutsou Street
Vathy , Ithaca
Tel: 30 26740 33496
There are scores of "Vathy"s in the islands (it means "deep"), but this one is Ithaca's port and capital. Here you'll find a pale-blue traditional building designed by the German architect Ernst Schiller in 1811—it's the area's newest and most unusual hotel. Not to be confused with the German-based ArtHotel chain, Tsimaras is a three-hotel, family-owned operation with a great deal of style (its properties include the Emelisse Art Hotel on Cephalonia). The open-sided entrance terrace is made from village stone, downlights add to the atmosphere. Inside, there's a stark white Marrakech-meets–Clockwork Orange lounge, and 19 charming rooms and suites with white walls and furniture, pleasantly patterned bedspreads, drapes, and lampshades; it's all a few cuts above the narrow pine bed and whitewashed poured concrete that's standard in the islands. There's room service till midnight, which you might not need, seeing as you're in the port with its alternative dining options.
22 Charitos Street
Tel: 30 210 729 7200
With no views to speak of, and rooms about as large as you'd expect to find aboard a submarine (in both cases, the penthouse suite excepted), this contemporary design hotel may be more suited for solitary business travelers than couples on vacation. But if you want to explore upscale Athens, much of it found among the designer boutiques, higher-priced galleries, and trendy clubs and restaurants of the Kolonaki district, it would be hard to find a better location to base yourself, or a more hip address. The 22-room urban retreat gets extra points for its creative approach to overcoming its limitations. In place of balcony views, there is a rooftop periscope, operated from the street-level bar, that allows you to explore the Athens cityscape, as you can also do while lying in bed because there's an aerial photograph affixed to the ceiling of each room. Or for those times when a view is just what you don't want, roll down the remote-control blinds, scoop up a handful of the bedside chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, and settle in with a loaned DVD.
Oia , Santorini
Tel: 30 22860 71308
In the 1970s, owner Costis Psychas and his late mother had the prescience to buy a group of 300-year-old cliff-side cave dwellings, formerly owned by local fishermen. This was a time when nobody was coming to Santorini, let alone Oia, because it was still all about Mykonos. Having lovingly restored the houses one by one, Psychas now has the 20 most desirable rooms and suites in the Cyclades—each of them curvaceous and white, with fascinating nooks and crannies, local antiques, handwoven fabrics, wood-accented domed bathrooms, and divine private stone terraces. It's all so spare and tasteful, you probably couldn't find a travel magazine that hasn't featured Perivolas. Outside, an infinity pool melts over the cliffs, and everywhere you look there are wild figs, vineyards, geraniums, and bougainvillea. There are no TVs, but there is AC; there are no minibars, but there are kitchenettes with wine, water, and coffee. Breakfasts are bountiful, home-baked, and available late. Service is perfectly discreet and efficient. Be warned, you need to book several months in advance. No children under 16 allowed.
Closed November to March.
Skinari , Zakynthos
Tel: 30 269 503 1241
Tel: 30 697 205 5711
Cape Skinari, the northernmost tip of Zakynthos, is the setting for this rustic, inspired property. The three Potamitis brothers—Adonis, Dionisios, and Nikolaos—started out the new millennium by converting two former flour windmills into suites for guests. The circular stone-walled structures, each two stories high, sit on a cliff top with lavish views of the cobalt sea below. Stairs set in the cliff lead right down the rocks and into the water. A traditional stone building with four spartan double rooms was added in 2003, but hold out for one of the windmills. It's amazingly quiet—except in August, when the brothers lead vacationing Europeans on nonstop motorboat trips to the Blue Caves (whose grottoes are spacious enough to swim in) and nearby Shipwreck Beach, perhaps the most photographed beach in all of Greece.
12 Riga Fereou
Rhodes Town , Rhodes
Tel: 30 22 4108 9700
The most modern hotel in this ancient city, the Rodos has 60 plush, contemporary units with satellite color TVs, minibars, and phones (the 30 suites even have Jacuzzi tubs). Many have views over the Old Town, which is a few minutes' walk away. The staff is warm and attentive, and the amenities include a large outdoor pool, fitness center, sauna, steam room, solarium, and massage. The cozy Lounge Room is a comfortable place to relax with afternoon tea; the Lobby Bar is great for cocktails. The hotel has two pleasant restaurants, one of them outside by the pool.
Costa Navarino , Messinia
Tel: 30 27230 96000
Messinia is a ravishingly remote corner of the southwest Peloponnese that's a four-hour drive from Athens (or one hour from tiny Kalamata airport). It was well under the radar until the advent of Navarino Dunes, a 320-acre Mediterranean-hugging resort that's part of the ambitious Costa Navarino developmenta modern take on a classic agora of shops, restaurants, cafés, and a cavernous spa flanked by two hotels. The 321-room Romanos is more exclusive than the neighboring Westin Resort, with low-slung buildings wrapped around a series of seductively lit lagoons. It's aimed squarely at couples, with poolside cabanas and plunge pools in nearly all its ground-floor rooms. Dark wood and polished marble interiors are quietly understated relative to the glitzy clientele. The range of activities at both properties is exhaustive, but the main attractions are the half-mile sandy beach and 18-hole golf course. Food at the various multi-ethnic restaurants (which include Greek, Italian, and even American diner fare) is fine, but breakfasts make a bigger impressiona smorgasbord of local produce, perfect cappuccinos, and eggs any way you'd like. Though occasionally out of their depth, staff are always enthusiastic.
Rhodes Town , Rhodes
Tel: 30 22 4103 4561
This picturesque hotel, on a quiet cobbled street in the Old Town, occupies an A.D. 1300 sandstone building with flagstone floors, wooden beams, and medieval-looking wrought-iron chandeliers. Some of the inn's 13 double rooms have verandas or balconies, while others have stone archways; all include welcome (if rather incongruous) amenities such as phones, hair dryers, color TVs, and air conditioners. The property also includes self-catering apartments, studios, and more lavish suites. Breakfast is served in the roof garden with a view of the harbor and Old Town; the restaurant serves traditional Greek fare for lunch and dinner, along with local wines. The bar has an impressive 800-year-old stone fireplace, where guests can warm themselves on chilly nights.
Sami , Cephalonia
Tel: 30 26740 22824
Family-run is often a virtually meaningless epithet roughly translatable as "not Marriott," but at this adorable 49-room place on the less touristy part of Kefalonia, near the Drogarati and Melissani Caves (and the ghost village of Dichalia where much of Captain Corelli's Mandolin was shot in 1999), it is apt. You can become acquainted with the brothers Dorizas on their Web site; then, if you stay here, they'll leave a handwritten welcome letter with a bottle of wine in your room. By the time you leave, they'll have become your friends. Simple whitewashed rooms have A/C, satellite TVs mounted on the wall, Greek-key-design bedcovers, and either balconies (get a seaview one if you can) or direct garden access. The grounds are lovingly tended, including the pool, children's area and tennis court; there's also a sand-and-pebble beach. A breakfast buffet is included in the rate, and a pool bar open till midnight serves light meals. But it's not about the facilities so much as the ambiencemasses of repeat guests bear out that the Dorizas family is getting things just right.
Imerovigli , Santorini
Tel: 30 22860 21300
You have to be impressed with this 20-room creation of the upstart but upscale Grace Hotels Group (they are also on Mykonos and in Newport, Rhode Island), if for no other reason than as a latecomer, it still managed to bag one of Santorini's best locations. Perched on the side of the caldera in Imerovigli, it offers the kind of views that are most helpful in defining romance. The rooms and suites—some with plunge pools, the ones farther down the caldera tending to be more private—are all well conceived, although the white-on-white decor has become so pervasive as to seem upscale-ordinary.
Closed November through early April.
Mykonos Town , Mykonos
Tel: 30 22890 27466
Traditional architecture and personal service are the keynotes of this 50-room lodging. Big, sunny rooms with beamed ceilings or whitewashed arches have floral or plaid curtains, sparse but comfortable upholstered furniture, satellite TV, minibar, and AC. An infinity-edged swimming pool overlooks the rooftops and is bordered by a bar, and there's also a Jacuzzi and a small gym. The restaurant is worth a visit even if you're not staying here; it's in part of a renovated patrician house and has an airy trad charm without being hokey in the least. It's also a nice spot for breakfast. Rohari is just above town, next to the Belvedere, five minutes from the port and Megali Ammos beach.
48 Charilaou Trikoupi Street
Tel: 30 210 628 4400
Tel: 800 337 4685
Most objects in the 52 rooms here are amoeba-shaped and electric-ice-cream-colored—because this is Karim Rashid's first hotel, and that is what he does. If that's your bag, you'll love the curvy bubblegum-hued couches, lime walls, and blue-glass floating sinks in the (mostly tubless) bathrooms, and you'll adore the six bungalow suites with their remote-controlled drapes, private garden, and easy access to the striped, kidney-shaped pool. Owner Dakis Joannou uses the place as a gallery for his important collection of post-pop art, school of Koons (whose Cicciolina period is splashily represented). It's all visually incongruous in posh, leafy Kifissia, which some consider its charm. Note: Even if Rashid's aesthetic isn't you, stop in for the international finger food at trendy chef Yiannis Loukakos' eponymous restaurant.
36 Stefanou Padova Street
Corfu Town , Corfu
Tel: 30 266 103 6300
Finally, a boutique hotel for Corfu. And it's a serene little beauty, too. On a quiet side street just a few steps off City Hall Square in Corfu Town, the Siorra Vittoria (named for the daughter of the original owner) is two rooms in a separate building and seven more in a three-story mansion dating back to 1823. A sense of a bygone era has been retained in all the rooms, but the one of greatest appealfor those willing to navigate the narrow, circular staircase to the top flooris the Junior Suite Vittoria, with its exposed-beam ceiling and view of the "new" fortress, completed in 1645. Further adding to the Siorra Vittoria's sense of sanctuary is a hidden garden where one can linger over an aperitif while only blocks away people are bargaining for T-shirts that proclaim "Aristotle is my bitch."
2 Kleomenous Street
Tel: 30 210 729 0711
Though hotels on Omonia and Syntagma squares are generally considered to have the most central addresses, this modern, family-owned 154-room hotel secretly has the better location. The surrounding neighborhood of Kolonaki is a terrific shopping district, but here you're also at the foot of Lycabettus Hill, one of Athens' nicest, least touristy sights, with a peaceful little square with a playground for kids. The hotel's decor is anodyne but unobjectionable in colors of taupe, blue, and brown; external rooms have comfy carpets and balconies with stellar views. There's a Zen-like spa with a hammam that opened in May 2005, an exquisite little rooftop pool, and Le Grand Balcon restaurant, from which to admire the floodlit Agios Georgios chapel atop the hill over dinner. The latter two facilities are seasonal.
Kato Zakros , Crete
Tel: 30 28430 23739
Set amid a grove of shade trees less than ten minutes' walk from the beach, these eight stone-built apartments are so tranquil that the height of activity is a nap in a hammock. Although of relatively recent vintage, each air-conditioned apartment, with kitchen and veranda, has an appropriately rustic look, complete with a decorating scheme that relies heavily on farm instruments. A word of warning, though: Profess even the slightest boredom, and Stella and her husband, Elias (who are perhaps overly enthusiastic hikers, having trekked even in the Himalayas), are likely to lead you along some of the area's many, sometimes challenging, trails, or even happily lend you Elias's climbing ropes.
Chora , Folegandros
Tel: 30 22860 41237
Folegandros's main village, Chora, sits on a cliff overlooking the Aegean and has several hotels with views almost as dramatic as those along the caldera on Santorini. Among the newest is the 14-room Fata Morgana, a few hundred feet along the cliff from the center of town. The hotel looks across a terraced hillside that falls away steeply toward the sea, and worthy of this view are the pool and its patio, possibly the best place on the island to watch the sun set. The rooms, most of which cluster around the patio, are each hung with local art and decorated by the hand of an artist, making them pleasingly different from one another. Now if they could just evolve the service, which, for Americans at any rate, is a bit too laissez-faire.
Closed October through April.
Firostefani , Santorini
Tel: 30 22860 23747
About as far as you can get from whitewashed, Cycladian monkish cells, these five suites and a villa are the work of art and antiquities collector Dimitris Tsitouras—whom you can credit with putting what he calls "the Pompeii of Greece" on the upscale travel map in the first place. Collaborating with British interior designer David Hicks, Tsitouras has filled the suites, all featuring typical Santorini vaulted cathedral ceilings, with choice pieces from his collections. Hence you'll find Venetian mirrors and Murano-glass chandeliers, Biedermeier chairs, Russian icons, 16th-century nautical maps, and even a rare Picasso ceramic relief. The result is incredible. An early adopter was Gianni Versace, who rented the whole place for a month—you can extrapolate from there to get a visual. Whether you pick the House of the Sea, House of the Winds, House of Portraits, House of Porcelain, or House of Nureyev suites (each named after the principal theme of the collection within) or the newest addition, the three-bedroom Tsitouras Villa (the family's own house, with the best antiques of all), you'll have plenty of luxuries: CD and DVD players, satellite TV, a free bar, and silver-service breakfast. The friendly staff is headed by Tsitouras's daughter Eleni.
Closed November to January.
Costa Navarino , Messinia
Tel: 30 27230 95000
Messinia is a ravishingly remote corner of the southwest Peloponnese that's a four-hour drive from Athens (or one hour from tiny Kalamata airport). It was well under the radar until the advent of Navarino Dunes, a 320-acre Mediterranean-hugging resort that's part of the ambitious Costa Navarino developmenta modern take on a classic agora of shops, restaurants, cafés, and a cavernous spa flanked by two hotels. The family-friendly Westin Resort is livelier and more laid-back than The Romanos next door. Its 445 rooms are done in pale wood and exposed stone, with blissful tubs positioned to make the most of pool, golf, or sea views. Frazzled parents unwind at the swim-up bar, while the little ones run amok in the spiffy waterpark, bowling alley, and giant sand castle equipped for sleepovers. The range of activities at both properties is exhaustive, but the main attractions are the half-mile sandy beach and 18-hole golf course. Food at the various multi-ethnic restaurants (which include Greek, Italian, and even American diner fare) is fine, but breakfasts make a bigger impressiona smorgasbord of local produce, perfect cappuccinos, and eggs any way you'd like. Though occasionally out of their depth, staff are always enthusiastic.