Visiting Oia Santorini must surely be on everyone’s bucket list, this instantly recognizable island is a true gem of the Aegean Sea. Whitewashed buildings are the backdrop to a vibrant blue sea, as clifftop faces are adorned with stunning abodes. Santorini itself is still an active volcano, probably the only volcano in the world whose crater or caldera is within the sea. This highly sought-after destination is the perfect place for a romantic haven, a relaxing escape, or simply just an awe-inducing getaway.
There SO MANY things to do in Santorini: discovering the delicious gastronomy, wine tasting, hiking from Fira to Oia, taking a boat tour of the island, visiting its traditional villages and beachside towns, exploring the ruins of ancient Akrotiri and of course viewing the world-renowned sunset. But the biggest decision you’ll make when visiting Santorini is not what to do, but where to stay. Accommodation is typically booked 6-12 months ahead on this popular island. If you’d like to know the best time to travel to Santorini, read my post on things to know before you book your trip to Santorini.
This comprehensive cave hotel guide will help you to find the most magical place to stay, especially if you’re looking for a typically luxurious Oia Santorini experience. And depending upon when you travel and how early you book, these luxury experiences are surprisingly reasonable in price!
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What are Cave Houses or Cave Hotels and Why Stay in One?
For a memorable and uniquely Santorini experience, fall in love with one of these spectacular and serene cave hotels. A cave house or cave hotel is an establishment that offers rooms that are built right into the cliffside, forming a cave.
Santorini’s economy in the modern era – when the island was reinhabited after the great Theran volcanic explosion – has been a maritime economy. Fishermen dug caves into the sides of the volcanic cliffs to protect their homes from marauders coming from the sea. The beginnings of these caves were discovered many years ago before being transformed into what they are today.
The picture is of the Lava Cave Suite (details below) which, in 1875, was owned by a sailor.
They are most popular in Santorini because this type of architecture is a traditional method and in pictures of Oia, you can see the rounded shapes of the cave houses and cave hotels seemingly all stacked on top of each other. Many have small private terraces with a private pool facing the volcano and looking out across the Aegean.
Cave hotels are great because they’re nice and cool inside, particularly helpful when it’s very hot during June-August. Coming back in after an excursion, a sigh of pleasure will escape your lips as the coolness of the cave hotel soothes you!
The interiors are usually designed with a simple and minimalist style. If you love the Santorini-blue of the church domes and the whitewash aesthetic, a cave hotel is the purest expression of this Santorini lifestyle.
It’s highly recommended to stay in a cave hotel in Oia for a unique experience of a historical form of Santorini architecture and design, built for the conditions of this hot and windy island, combined with unrivaled views of the most spectacular scenery.
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Best Luxury Cave Hotels in Oia
The sister to Aspaki Exclusive Hotel, Art Maisons Oia Castle Hotel is a beautiful boutique hotel based under the ruins of the famous Oia Castle. No two suites are alike, but all are beautifully designed with sculptured walls and marble floors.
The cave pool suites feature spacious living rooms, a comfortable cave-bedroom, and a heated cave-swimming pool. The hotel’s larger heated pool, with poolside service, spa, and fine dining restaurant is shared between guests at the Aspaki and Oia Castle Hotel.
You’ll never want to leave this Deluxe Seaview Suite for two with a cave-style hot tub. Lava Caves has free wifi, breakfast is included, it averages 9.8 out of 10 for its reviews of the staff and 9.4 overall.
While its only a three minute walk to the Oia Castle, you’ll probably be tempted to watch the sunset from the lave pool in your own room! With a living room, kitchenette and private patio as well as the indoor-outdoor hot tub you see above, this stylish new entrant needs to be booked quickly.
The Perivolas Cave hotel is the definition of laid back luxury and I can’t think of a more beautifully styled apartment – it’s like 21-century luxury Flinstones!
Home to 20 individual suites carved straight into the cliff. Each room is individually designed and offers panoramic views from the infinity pool over the caldera.
Located on the cliff high above the Aegean Sea, the Perivolos Cave Hotel is a little bit further from the center of Oia enabling you to experience the ultimate retreat away from the hustle and bustle. It will be easy to forget your stresses with the in-house spa facility as well as the steam bath and hydrotherapy massage pool on offer. This hotel is the epitome of modern luxury.
Canaves Oia (Canaves Oia Suites and Canaves Oia Hotel)
Canaves Oia Suites opened in 1995 after the success of Canaves Oia Hotels and has been transformed into a holiday haven of exquisite elegance.
Just a notch more luxe than Canaves Oia Hotel (below), the 12 Canaves Oia Suites come with their own private, heated plunge pool, a bottle of complimentary wine on arrival and of course, unbeatable sunset views of the caldera. For the ultimate cave-hotel experience, opt for the Executive Suite with a cave pool.
Canaves Oia Hotel first opened in 1985 after they transformed the 17th-century caves into designer-chic luxury hotel rooms. Nowadays the hotel has expanded to 18 hotel rooms and is recognized as one of the most sought-after properties to stay in Santorini.
With a minimalist approach to design and contemporary facilities, this elegant property is something to experience for yourself. Here you can take a spa treatment in the converted 17th-century wine cave or simply enjoy the atmosphere in the main pool which features a built-in jacuzzi and infinity pool. For a typical cave-hotel experience check out the Classic Suite.
Those who are looking for a more intimate experience will enjoy this small boutique with just 7 independent studios that are cut right into volcanic rock. Rooms are designed with a homely décor with each room curated to create a warm space for its guests. This cave-style hotel faces the caldera directly and most rooms offer heated outdoor jacuzzis.
While Aris is a short walk to the beach and is close to the Oia center, it remains a respite destination for those looking for tranquillity. What Aris lacks in larger pools, it makes up for with the beautiful communal roof terrace perfect for relaxing, sun baking and taking in the sweeping views of the Aegean Sea.
Located just steps away from Oia’s best shopping, dining and tourist attractions, Maregio’s suites are a great destination for those who want to explore it all. The hotel offers 9 cave-style suites with contemporary style in a romantic and private setting. The best part is, each suite has its own outdoor heated plunge pool overlooking the caldera.
Take in the dramatic sunset on your private terrace and enjoy the in-house dining and spa services. Known for its peaceful ambiance, distinctive architecture and modern minimalist design, this hotel is the perfect dwelling for a romantic getaway in true high-class style.
With an abundance of options to suit your needs, the Esperas traditional houses have a range of cave-style rooms available from studios to multi-bedroom units. All abodes offer rustic-minimalist décor which involves whitewashed walls with blue doors with simple wooden furniture.
They have private furnished terraces with beautiful sea views and some even have outdoor jacuzzis or plunge pools. Situated in Oia, you are just a five-minute walk from the many restaurants and high-end stores. The cave-style pool with seating within is half-open to the sun. On the property, you will find picturesque terraces ideal for lounging whilst taking in the view.
For the ultimate luxury hotel in Santorini, Andronis cave-style suites are without a doubt a five-star experience. Each of the cave-style private villas and suites is unique in elegant style and includes a jacuzzi or pool. Guests can enjoy the world-renowned restaurant Lycabettus, luxurious spa, and an infinity pool overlooking the caldera.
If enjoying the view, the facilities and the stunning suites weren’t enough, Andronis also offer bespoke experiences for their guests too. Experiences include wine-tasting, a private photo shoot and shopping excursions to Mykonos by helicopter.
I love this very affordable find, a true Santorini secret! For the best of both worlds, why not experience a cave-house with all the luxury you could need that also offers the option for self-catering? And why should only couples get to experience cave hotels? This is a perfect option for a family.
The Blu Bianco cave-house is a two-bedroom home (one room for a couple and two singles in the second room) with true traditional Cycladic architecture. The cave-house is within walking distance from Oia’s town center but is also perfect for viewing the famous sunset over the whitewashed buildings from the comfort of your own place.
The Blu Bianco house comes with a private balcony and main terrace, inside you’ll find an open-plan living room with a kitchen, including all the amenities needed to make you feel at home. Other facilities available for use include a snorkeling mask, action camera, life jackets as well as laundry. So, if you’re after the freedom of self-catering, with the elegance that is synonymous with hotels in Santorini Oia, this is the perfect cave-style option for you.
Note: Blu Bianco is often misspelled as “Blu Blanco” on most booking sites!
Other Great Cave Hotels in Santorini
These four great cave hotels are close to Oia and distinguished by their wonderful views and great service. If you would like to see the pros and cons of Oia versus Fira, Firestofani, and Imerovigli, see my Where to Stay in Santorini guide.
Based on Firestofani, between bustling Fira and Oia, this superior hotel is the ultimate indulgence. With just five cave suites available, each of which is sophisticated with local architecture and artworks.
Complete with pool, wellness packages and bespoke services available, you won’t have to compete for the view at Tsitouras Collection.
Sophia Luxury Suites are dotted around Santorini, however, their Imerovigli location is the perfect place for a little more peace and quiet.
Combining the natural elements of volcanic stone combined with aged wood make for a serene cave-house environment. All suites come with a private plunge pool and uninterrupted views of the caldera and beyond.
Also situated in Imerovigli, the boutique cave-hotel of the Iconic Santorini has unprecedented facilities. The decadent cave-suite provides generous indoor space, caldera view terrace, and an outdoor pool, but the difference comes down to the elegant way in which the property is laid out.
Named Greece’s Leading Luxury Boutique Hotel at the World Travel Awards in 2019 it goes to show how highly this hotel is rated worldwide.
If you’re after a five-star experience with a more laid-back atmosphere, the Chromata Hotel is definitely for you. Based in Imerovigli, this hotel has a cave house available for rent, spacious enough for 5 people.
Within the double story house, there is plenty of space found both inside and out including a private terrace, outdoor plunge pool, sundecks, 3 bathrooms, and 2 bedrooms.
Where to Stay in Santorini
Not sure if a cave hotel or bustling Oia in Santorini is right for you? Perhaps you’d prefer hotels with infinity pools or private swimming pools? For a comprehensive guide about where to stay on Santorini, including the pros and cons of the nine main villages and towns on Santorini, see the other best hotels in Santorini here.
Further Links and Information
There are so many things to do in Santorini, Greece. See all of the best things to do in Santorini, from Get Your Guide here
For the things you need to know before you book your trip to Santorini, including the best time to visit Santorini, see my travel guide here
And for the third absolute must-do activity on Santorini, see my detailed post on the Fira to Oia Caldera Edge Hike here. This is quite possibly the best walk or hike in the world – and that’s a big call!
If you would prefer to spend more time wine tasting, join one of the most popular activities on Santorini – visiting the wineries! See my comprehensive post on Santorini wineries here.
To see what to do, where to stay, and how to see the Acropolis in Athens, see my Greek destinations here.
More detailed information on how to book transport, airfares, Athens to Santorini flights and how to get to Santorini more generally, accommodation and travel insurance is available on my Travel Resources page
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