“A singular view of the caldera. Best deal in Santorini.”
I stayed with Antonis and his family at Kokkinos Villas for about two weeks. They serve a late breakfast (Santorini time!) and have had my o.j., coffee cake, and yogurt as late as 11 a.m.. They serve grapes from their own vines. Antonis gave me wine room service on my birthday, and helped me book a tour. Antonis’s sister made me a hot tea with honey and lemon when I caught a day cold. Their hospitality is limited only by my modest desire not to take advantage of their goodness.
Kokkinos Villas has very justly received favorable reviews. I will try to refrain from passing judgment on the traveler looking for a spa experience in the south Aegean, since the sea itself is the ultimate spa, but he should not stay at Kokkinos. Come to Kokkinos if you want to experience the essence of Santorini, namely, the caldera.
While the word “caldera” can be used to describe any part of the inner crescent of Santorini, since all of this area marks the serial collapsing of the ignimbrite center of the volcanic cone, most recently 2100 years ago, the “lip” of the caldera, the most staggering 300 M spectacle, sits directly beneath Thera. In other words, to have regular views of the eye-popping caldera, you must stay in the south part of the inner crescent. You simply cannot have view of the caldera if you stay on top of it in Thira, so be skeptical of hotels in Thira that advertise “views of the caldera”--such ads aren’t wrong, but they aren’t fully right, either.
Akrotiri is of all the towns in Santorini, the one most picturesquely situated for views of the caldera. In Akrotiri, you enjoy the awesomeness of the caldera, the rhythm of a small Greek village in the midst of Santorini-rama, without feeling rusticated. Thira is an easy 10 km punt away.
Standing on the topmost terrace of his Cycladic white, organically molded villas, the roofs of which are painted a flat olive and dissolve innocuously into the horizon of the sea, Antonis produced a sweeping gesture over the caldera and told me without a trace of embarrassment, “we don’t have a pool or hot tub...we have this.” The “this” is the awesome spectacle of the caldera, rising in sheer 300 m hulks of crazy red and brown and black lava piles from the cerulean blue Aegean. Santorini is not a harmonic white sand Greek island you should seek out if you want, like Odysseus on Circe’s island, to forget about life for a while: it doesn’t resolve into sand and sea and soft feelings. Santorini jolts you with the explosive powers of primal earth and makes you feel small. It reminds you at all times of life in both its glory and fragility. As I keep mentioning, Kokkinos Villas are uniquely situated for an experience of this awesome caldera.
Antonis knows his vista and location sell themselves to the enlightened traveler; he has little need to sell a bill of goods. He prefers to keep his villas at maximum occupancy and to keep cost low for guests. His reasonable rate allowed me to stay with him for more than two weeks. Antonis enjoys his villas, too, and I think it suits him to have guests who hang up their hats for a while, so he can relax, play with his family, and not worry about frantic turn-overs.
As for the accommodations themselves, I think it is important to underline that just because you will not find boutique lotions in your bathroom doesn’t mean the villas aren’t beautiful. On the contrary, they are simple and clean, which is precisely the Greek vision of beauty. All the same, it is Greek, not Spartan or baroque: you will find here a perfect accommodation to your needs rather than a minimization of your needs; your needs will not be multiplied into distraction. The beds, in particular, are romantically arranged: I enjoyed a queen size laid on an elevated Cycladic stucco platform with a molded headboard, pointed at the endless sea. I also enjoyed a private balcony that commands the caldera (and, incidentally, also has wifi--to be able to surf the net while staring at the remains of an eruption that destroyed Europe’s first civilization is not without some ironic charm). Other guests at Kokkinos share knowing glances with you: your wits both led you to the best deal in Santorini.
I have read sour reviews of the showers, and I want to say that the showers at Kokkinos are fairly typical European jobs, where a detachable shower hose can be used to reach the sink and toilet as well. The shower stall itself is small because it isn’t expected that all of the water will stay in the shower partition: the main drain is in the middle of the bathroom. So it shouldn’t be a source of cosmic anxiety if water from the shower should enter the main drain. That’s the way it’s made. All shall be well.
The last part I would add in praise of Kokkinos is a word about another dimension of the location itself, since this aspect goes under-appreciated in previous reviews. The fact that Kokkinos commands the only beach on the caldera deserves special notice: it’s called, simply, Caldera Beach. The ocean side beaches such as Perissa and Kamari and Kokkini are lovely and typical and gently sloping. But they aren’t awesome. They aren’t the ground zero of the largest volcanic eruption ever witnessed by humans. Caldera Beach is. Kokkinos Villas command Caldera Beach, a short descent directly below. You will also find there a mellow tavern; trees; sand to lie out; and a cliff to dive off. Of course, because this is the awesome side of the island, you have the best snorkeling in Santorini (Santorini Scuba Dive launches from here), since the caldera turns abysmally deep so quickly. Within steps off the shore, you are looking at the crazy underwater cliffs, lava flows, spewed out boulders, in short, the aftermath of the eruption.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC