A stone’s throw away from the heart of Oia (pronounced Ee-ah) lies the peaceful oasis of IKIES Traditional Houses. “Oasis” is used purposefully here.
Only a few minutes on foot will get you to “the marble road,” Oia’s main drag. Shops abound, but you will find some of the best views and boutiques only by deviating into the little alleyways.
A common Oia misconception is that the town is filled with blue domes when in fact there are only three—they just happen to be the focus of all the pictures taken there. The rest—white, with pops of Grecian blue from hotel pools, doors, windows and finishes—add the colour that makes Oia one of the most photographed towns in the world.
Of course, it is no surprise then that Oia is also one of the most visited towns. Before noon, hordes of tour buses and cruise-ship passengers spill onto the crowded street. But this is no matter because you are at IKIES and have explored the unique magic of Oia before the scorching sun and curious tourists appear.
IKIES Traditional Houses sits at the tip of town, surrounded by other luxury hotels. The traditional cave houses sit baked into the cliff and are an incredible blend of old style and new quality, thanks to a 2015 renovation. Your day starts with a knock on the door, signalling breakfast is ready—not in a communal area but already laid out on your private terrace, to be enjoyed with a spectacular view of the Aegean Sea and the heart of Santorini.
The collection of houses that make up IKIES were bought one to a few at a time by the owner, who cohesively combined them through common themes. Each house is named after traditional professions in Santorini—for example, “The Captain,” “The Antiquarian,” “The Cook” and “The Winemaker”—and each lives deeply in its theme.
The Captain’s house was, indeed, originally the home of a popular Santorini captain. In the Cook’s house, you’ll find an oversized piece of art that outlines a famous Greek recipe for fried eggs, spelled out in original Greek. The Antiquarian’s room features a beautiful metal mural that is an ancient quote about the sun bringing joy and happiness—it reads the same forwards and backwards. The Winemaker’s house (also known as the honeymoon suite) is abound with vines hanging from the wooden panels on the large terrace. It features an antique wine vat as décor in the bedroom and a private bath/pool.
Even for those staying at the Winemaker’s, the hotel pool fits the bill perfectly and is a mandatory amenity for visits between May and September. It overlooks the picturesque clifftop town and is a perfect way to end an eventful day exploring the busy town, in absolute peace and quiet.
Strolling into town on our last day at IKIES, we overheard a tour guide point in the hotel’s direction and say, “Don’t go there, there are only hotels” to a group of 20 or more visitors. We smiled widely.