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Two Rooms with a Spectacular View: An Honest Review of Helianthus Suites on Santorini, Greece


What image comes to mind when you think of a trip of a lifetime vacation in Santorini, Greece?

For us it is enjoying the spectacular view of the caldera from a cave hotel perched on the edge of the cliff in the famous village of Oia, its iconic blue domes behind us as the sun rises (or sets) in a dazzling display.



Sunrise from Helianthus Suites, Oia, Santorini, Greece
Sunrise from Helianthus Suites, Oia, Santorini, Greece


After our time on the island of Naxos, we boarded the ferry and made our way over to the island of Thira, better known as Santorini. It was a much shorter ferry ride than the one we had taken from Mykonos to Naxos, and once again, we found ourselves disembarking in a mad fury off the giant ramp and onto land. What greeted us at the Santorini port was nothing more than a chaotic mess of busses, vans, cars and people.


We quickly moved off to the side and ventured off to find our driver. We had pre-arranged (and booked at an extra cost) a pick-up through our hotel in Oia, Helianthus Suites, but it was a matter of finding them among the chaos. Our driver waited off to the side holding a sign with the Helianthus Suites name and logo.


Soon after we found our driver, we loaded our bags into his van and were enjoying the much needed air conditioning as we waited for the vehicles blocking us to move. Within ten minutes we were making our way up the steep, winding road up the side of the cliff. Somehow, the chaos works. It was a picturesque and calm forty-five minute drive from the port to the center of the town of Oia. 


 

Do you know how to pronounce Oia?

The picturesque town of Oia in Santorini, most famous for its sunsets and blue domes, is pronounced EE-Ya. not Ohh-ee-Ah, as commonly thought.

 


The winding road from the Santorini Port, Santorini, Greece
The winding road from the Santorini Port, Santorini, Greece


The roads closer to the village of Oia, as with most towns perched on the edge in Santorini, are narrow and steep, and cars are not allowed on the main strip. Vehicles will park at check points along the route, in parking lots located closest to your hotel. Once we arrived in Oia and parked, we were met by Mario, the Helianthus Suites representative, and his impressively strong helper, who, without a word, swooped up our luggage, throwing them both over his shoulder, and was off. He maneuvered his way quickly through the narrow paths, and down the many, many steps to our room at Helianthus Suites.


 

Update: note that most booking sites continue to refer to the hotel as Helianthus Suites, the website has updated the name to Helianthus Dream Homes. The rooms continue to be referred to as the Prestige Suite and Honeymoon Suite.

 

We spent a wonderful four nights in Oia on Santorini, staying with Helianthus Suites, a traditional family-run cave hotel, literally perched off the side of the cliff. Keeping one eye on our bags, we followed Mario and braced ourselves down the short ninety-five steps, holding on to the walls so we didn't take a nasty tumble. You can spot the locals of Oia, Santorini very easily, their lungs and legs are accustomed to climbing the steps and don't need to brace themselves (or take a break).



The streets of Oia, Santorini, Greece
The streets of Oia, Santorini, Greece


The town of Oia in Santorini, is a very condensed village, with homes, shops, restaurants and hotels all intertwined in a chaotic web of staircases and hills. Having an unobstructed view of the caldera, like the one we had during our stay at Helianthus Suites, essentially means having to climb up and down a large number of steps each and every time. We knew this was going to be the case, and though we tried to “get our legs into shape” before the trip, we hadn’t taken into consideration the odd shapes and angles most steps in Oia have.


Most stairs were built according to the terrain on Santorini, meaning some steps were short, some high, some were angled, some were slanted, some were long and curved. No matter how in shape you were physically, or how many flights of stairs you could handle normally, walking up (or down) steps of inconsistent shapes and sizes, and often landing on an angled platform, would present a challenge for anyone.





Helianthus Suites offers only two rooms, the Honeymoon Suite and the Prestige Suite. Situated right next to one another, both have an outdoor terrace, each with a private hot tub and spectacular views of the caldera. At the time of booking, we originally we wanted to stay in the Honeymoon Suite for the entire stay, but it happened not to be available for the dates we had planned to be in Oia, so we opted for two nights in the Prestige Suite, followed by two nights in the Honeymoon Suite.



View from bedroom, Prestige Suite, Helianthus Suites, Oia, Santorini, Greece
View from bedroom, Prestige Suite, Helianthus Suites, Oia, Santorini, Greece


Both suites are similarly decorated, with stark white walls, grey floors and muted tones, and both suites are equally spectacular. The indoor space of the Prestige Suite is a little more open than the Honeymoon Suite, with direct access to the steps up to the main village.


Guests enter the Prestige Suite from the large terrace, directly into the living room (the main space) with its curved ceiling. On one end, there is a kitchenette with sink, mini-fridge and coffee maker, a small writing desk and in between them, the door to the bathroom. Luxury amenities are available in the bathroom, including robes and slippers. Both bathroom and beach towels are also made available.


Just beyond the living room, across from the entrance, is the bedroom, separated by a dark curtain. The room is large enough to contain a queen sized bed, plus a side tables and storage space. As a cave hotel, the walls and the space stays cool, a welcome respite from the hot Grecian sun, especially during the summer months.



LUXURY TRAVEL TIP: At a cost of $50 Euro, Helianthus Suites will provide a bottle of house wine and welcome basket of fruits upon arrival, a luxurious way to begin your stay in Santorini. When booked through this site, a complimentary basket of products will be offered.



Bedroom, Prestige Suite, Helianthus Suites, Oia, Santorini, Greece
Bedroom, Prestige Suite, Helianthus Suites, Oia, Santorini, Greece


After Mario escorted us down the steps to our Prestige Suite that first day, he briefed us on what we needed to know and quickly left us to the quiet and serenity of our private terrace. As we began to settle in and unpack, we were greeted by three tiny kittens. Two were braver than the third, who hid in the bushes near the edge of the deck, and slowly approached us.


Other than some salty snacks we brought with us from Athens, we had nothing to give them, but they stepped hesitantly into the living room of our Prestige Suite at Helianthus Suites, and ate what we could offer. This began a four day relationship with not only these young kittens, but many other cats that lived in Oia.


From that point forward, we ensured we had plenty of cans of tuna, sardines and other canned fish available for them, and left it out when we had gone exploring for the day. Word spread clearly through the kitty-vine and some nights we were visited by half a dozen different cats. Much to our surprise, no matter the size or the age, each one of them was gracious and patient with the others, often letting the wee kittens finish eating first before helping themselves.






The older cats would come and go, but the kittens were almost always nearby, often sleeping on our doormat, eager for a full breakfast as soon as we were up. On our last day, we left them food outside and a note for the future guests to not be alarmed by their presence and to continue to feed them, if they were so willing.


After two nights staying in the Prestige Suite, we packed up our belongings and left them on the terrace. When we returned from a full day of exploring, they had been moved into the Honeymoon Suite, next door.

Similar to the Prestige Suite, guests enter from the terrace, but in order to reach the terrace, guests need to walk through the terrace of the Prestige Suite. When we first arrived in Santorini, guests were staying in the Honeymoon Suite, and we only saw them cross our terrace once.



UNIQUE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE: Looking for a unique and romantic way to see the iconic sunset in Santorini? Book a romantic sunset catamaran dinner cruise, sailing around the caldera, drinks in hand.


The Honeymoon Suite, is likely named due to the fact that it has a little more privacy than the Prestige Suite. Situated on a corner, the Honeymoon Suite has an unobstructed view of the caldera, a view of the cliff and nearby hotels and homes, and a more private outdoor hot tub.



View from kitchenette window, Honeymoon Suite, Helianthus Suites, Oia, Santorini, Greece
View from kitchenette window, Honeymoon Suite, Helianthus Suites, Oia, Santorini, Greece


The indoor space it covers may be the same square footage as the Prestige Suite, but the layout is more condensed. Entering through the slightly smaller terrace, guests walk directly into the kitchenette, with sink, mini-fridge, and coffee maker. The view from the kitchen window at sunset is phenomenal. The bathroom is located near the main entrance, equipped with the same luxurious amenities as the Prestige Suite.


Directly ahead, the bedroom rests beyond a small doorway, with the same queen sized bed but less space for storage. To reach the bedroom, one must pass the circular staircase that leads to the second level, where there is a small reading nook and upstairs balcony. With many cozy spaces, the Honeymoon Suite is perfect for couples.



Breakfast, Oia, Santorini


Regardless of which suite we had booked, breakfast was included while staying at Helianthus Suites. The kitchenette was equipped with plates, cups and cutlery, which came in handy for snacks and leftovers, but breakfast was served at a nearby café.


Located directly across from the parking lot where we were first dropped off when we arrived in Oia, the Tramonto Lounge served us a delicious breakfast of eggs, toast, feta, coffee and pastries.


 

UPDATE: Breakfast is not longer included in the price of the suite, but is available as a daily served option in suite for a cost of $15 Euro per day, per guest. This can be arranged with Helianthus Suites directly after booking.

 





The only "disappointment" we experienced while staying with Helianthus Suites in Santorini, was bad timing. Through our research, we had read dozens of reviews who mentioned the owner Kiki, each raving about her unparalleled attention and sweet gestures during their stay.


It just so happened that Kiki was away during our stay at Helianthus Suites, and though we did communicate via email and with a sweet welcome call, we didn’t get the chance to meet Kiki in person and experience all that her reputation entailed.


 

TIP: When staying or exploring in Oia on Santorini, note the colour of the steps. If they are white or stone, it is a public area, but if they are grey, you are entering private residences or hotels, so beware.


While on our private terrace, enjoying the outdoor hot tub in the Prestige Suite, we had tourists not only wander down the private steps from the village, but onto our private terrace. Trying to capture a unique view of the sunset, they ignored the signs and kept descending the steps, oblivious to the fact that they were in a private residential area. They were shocked when we altered them to this fact, and quickly departed.

 


View of the terraces of Helianthus Suites, Oia, Santorini, Greece
View of the terraces of Helianthus Suites, Oia, Santorini, Greece


Drones are prohibited in Oia, yet we heard them every day in the early mornings. Sipping coffee on our private terrace (or balcony) overlooking the water, we watched the sunrise. It was bright and calm and it would have been perfect, save for the constant buzz of drones overhead. As photographers, we can appreciate the type of footage that a drone can capture, especially in a location as beautiful and unique as Santorini, but one must respect the locals and their rules.


 

Note: We only link to products and services that we have either used or would use, all opinions expressed are our own. Some may be affiliate links, with which we may receive a small commission for purchases made.

 





View from the Honeymoon Suite balcony, Helianthus Suites, Oia, Santorini, Greece
View from the Honeymoon Suite balcony, Helianthus Suites, Oia, Santorini, Greece


We thoroughly enjoyed our time exploring Santorini (especially Oia), and very much loved our time staying at Helianthus Suites, and can easily see us returning one day. No matter where you wander or choose to stay, remember that you are a visitor who has been given the privilege of exploring someone else’s backyard. Respect it like it was your own. Efcaristo Helianthus Suites!


 



 

Helianthus Suites, Oia, Santorini, Greece

Overall Ranking - 4/5


A comfortable and luxurious stay in an iconic village.

Helianthus Suites offers two very unique stays in the heart of the famous Greek village of Oia on the island of Santorini. As a traditional cave hotel, guests can experience a truly unique stay with dazzling views of the Santorini caldera. Perfect for couples, these suites offer a little luxury and solitude in a very popular tourist destination. As with any location in Oia, be prepared to walk and climb, but know it is 100% worth it.

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