Santorini’s luxury tradition

A restored group of 300-year-old caves in Perivolas - once the homes, wineries and stables of fishermen and farmers - is now a complex of 17 luxury houses

Like many other Santorini families, it was in the 19th century, through trade in the noted wines of the island, that the local Psychas family developed a connection with Odessa on the Black Sea.

Manos Psychas, a sea captain, was born in Odessa, but when his job as captain of the Greek navy brought him to Santorini in the late 1950s, he was determined to renew his ties with his family’s island.

In 1969 Manos and his wife Nadia purchased a piece of cliff with cave dwellings and stables in the Perivolas area of the cliff top village of Oia. They had the vision of creating an idyllic retreat on their beloved island.

Faithful to the tradition of Santorini’s unique architecture, they have restored a group of 300-year-old caves that were once the homes of local fishermen and farmers.

With the help of native craftsmen and using the local stone, the historical setting has been gradually transformed. Manos’ son, architect Costis Psychas, and his father before him, spent several decades restoring ruined caves, creating a breathtaking complex of whitewashed houses – today a luxurious complex of 17 individual suites – that blend in perfectly with the shapes and volcanic grey shades of the cliff.

This was the beginning of Perivolas.

Since then, Perivolas has probably clocked up more travel-magazine covers than any other hotel, with its famous infinity pool spilling over Santorini’s volcanic caldera. But the hotel has always remained blissfully peaceful.

The restored group of 300-year-old caves, once the homes, wineries and stables of fishermen and farmers, is now a complex of 17 private houses.

The complex is set within an amphitheatrical landscape of curves stepping down to a central stone terrace, with a pool that flows over the edge of the cliff into an Aegean horizon.

Perivolas, the ultimate in laidback luxury, encompasses 14,000 square metres of vineyards, wild fig trees and abundant flora and is just a short walk from Oia, the most beautiful village on the island of Santorini.

Perivolas’ secluded location combines expansive views with the luxury of absolute tranquillity. Only the occasional toll of church bells or the purring of a fishing boat far below breaks the meditative silence.

Originally designed as a family home, the luxury accommodation of Perivolas still feels like a private residence.

Intimate in scale and atmosphere, every house is different. Built by native craftsmen using local materials, interiors embody Cycladic style, with its organic forms and smooth surfaces. Breezy rooms are naturally cooled by sculpted stone walls and vaulted ceilings pierced by skylights. Beds are built into snug alcoves, niches and archways are scooped out of whitewashed walls, low-slung sofas offset by hand-woven rugs and cushions in vivid fuschia and lilac.

Located at the entrance of the village of Oia, on the cliff side overlooking the Caldera, Perivolas is a 25-minute drive north from Santorini Airport.