Hotel Review: Bellonias Villas, Kamari, Santorini in Greece
When Yiannis Bellonias decided to develop Bellonias Villas – the hotel his mother first opened in 1983 – into Kamari’s first boutique hotel, he was told it was a terrible idea. After all, Santorini’s boutique hotels were all on the opposite side of the island – the desirable side with the breath-taking sunset views.
But fast forward 3 years and the risk has paid off; Bellonias Villas is one of Kamari’s most popular hotels and has an impressive repeat booking rate of 60%. Kamari has also grown in popularity, firmly establishing itself as a relaxed alternative to the crowded towns of Oia & Fira.
When tourists meander down Kamari’s beach-side strip – the black sand a lingering reminder of the island’s volcanic history – Bellonias Villas is the property that stops people in their tracks.
I lose count of the number of people who peer in enviously, snapping a picture of the crystal-clear swimming pool, perfectly framed with white sun loungers and large black lanterns.
The sophisticated design of the pool area is one of Bellonias Villas’ most iconic features; the white poolside cushions blend effortlessly with the whitewashed guest rooms, and hot pink Bougainvillea blossoms offer a burst of colour.
It’s also the perfect place to relax, and I enjoy many an afternoon watching dragonflies skimming the water whilst sipping an ice-cold Mythos beer. If you prefer the sea, the hotel’s private beach is a hop, skip and a jump away (or a few steps if that’s too energetic).
You could easily spend a week relaxing at Bellonias Villas, alternating between a pool day, a beach day, and enjoying pure tranquillity in their massage suite. But, “you can’t visit Santorini without seeing the sunset at least once”, the attentive staff remind us after a few days of being horizontal.
The sunset is one of the reasons over 2-million people flocked to Santorini in 2018, a number which saw the mayor cap the number of cruise ships allowed to dock each day.
The hotel can arrange bus transfers to the town of Oia to watch the sunset, and we head there on our third night. The sun casting its orange glow over Burnt Island in the middle of the caldera (a sea-filled crater caused by a huge volcanic eruption) is just as beautiful as you’d expect and is not to be missed.
The rich history of the island is also worth exploring, and the hotel can arrange tours to ancient archaeological sites, traditional Greek villages, and wineries.
There are 25 studios and apartments at Bellonias Villas all with a fully equipped kitchenette (as seen in most Greek hotels). Each room has a unique layout, but all feel light and airy with soft white linens.
We stayed in the split-level Maisonette suite with a cosy bedroom on the upper floor which opened out onto a private rooftop terrace (perfect for sharing a bottle of wine in the evening).
If you want to really splash out, the Honeymoon Suite comes with a private outdoor hot tub. Rooms at Bellonias Villas also smell divine thanks to reed diffusers from Greek skincare brand Olive Era, who also provide the bathroom toiletries.
The hotel’s Elia restaurant has diners flocking from all sides of the island, but Yiannis Bellonias never set out to create a destination restaurant, his focus was on sourcing fresh and local produce for guests. But, word slowly spread and the busy restaurant is excellent choice for experimental Greek food.
The A La Carte breakfast (available until noon) served beach-side was a highlight of my trip; a coffee and the sound of soft lapping waves, were the perfect way to wake up each morning. Food is made to order and if you’ve got breakfast included (highly recommended) you can order as much as you like from the menu.
My favourite dishes included; Sunny side up eggs with feta cheese and tomato salad; pancakes with bourbon butter and honey; the warm butter croissant (the best I’ve eaten outside of Paris) and the local Greek yogurt with seasonal fruits.
When home-time looms, the airport is a mere 10-minute drive away with direct flights (approx. 4 hours) straight into London Gatwick. But you won’t stay away for long, not if the 60% repeat booking rate is anything to go by.
Rates at Bellonias Villas start £145 per night, based on double occupancy.
Address: Kamari Beach, Santorini, Greece 84700