Driving up to the entrance of Andronis Concept in Santorini you half expect to see Blofeld and his cat gliding out to greet you across the polished concrete floor.
Set on the highest point in Santorini, above cliffs a younger Roger Moore could scale in a tuxedo, the place has the sleek, private feel of a Bond villain’s HQ.
While buildings in Santorini are traditionally white with accents of blue, this luxury hotel is built with curving lines from grey and clay concrete. From the ocean you can spot the buildings around it from miles away, but Concept (as it is known – there are three other Andronis hotels on the island) blends in with the sunbaked hillside, which probably makes it all the more appealing to its jet-set clientele – including Orlando Bloom and Katy Perry, who are rumoured to have stayed last summer.
Inside you won’t find any trapdoors with sharks underneath them, but you will find discreet, five-star luxury, views of the Aegean sea that’ll knock your socks off and some of the best food on the island.
Andronis Concept is the third Santorini Hotel by Mr Miltiadis Andronis, a Greek hotel magnate who began his career as a hairdresser.
Located on a slim, rugged stretch of island connecting Santorini’s capital Thira from the Northernmost town of Oia, Concept looks out on a stretch of deep ocean which formed when most of island exploded away in a volcanic eruption 400 years ago (volcanologists predict it will happen again, but not for around 2000 years, so you’re all good to book.)
With a circular design and 24 rooms fanning out towards the sea, the feel of the place is boutique but spacious. This is a novelty for Santorini, where the teetering, clifftop towns mean most hotels, even luxury ones, are built in a stacked-up hugger-mugger style.
At the centre of the hotel is a stylish black infinity pool, the longest on the island, as well as an enormous spa and hair salon. There’s also an hotel vineyard with an open air kitchen where you can do wine tasting, as well as a helipad in case, like Mr Bond, you need to arrive (or leave) quickly.
Other than the multi-room family suites, which have larger pools at the back, every room has its own ocean-facing infinity pool – the west-facing terrace views are pretty stunning at any time of day, but things really reach take-your-breath-away level at sunset, when the sky turns pink and the banks of yellow caldera sway in the breeze.
Inside the rooms the design is akin to a very smart, open plan cave with white walls, a large shower room and some amusingly retro stacks of books to read (including a 1970s book we found in ours called ‘the Art of Magic’)
But as ever, it’s those little things which make all the difference, including a hand-written weather report delivered to the room each evening (chances of sunshine = generally high) and the option of a bespoke alcohol-free minibar if you’re having a dry holiday. You can even call ahead and dictate the size of your bath towels.
The over-arching theme of Andronis Concept is wellness. Alongside the enormous spa menu and free 9am yoga class, most dishes on the menu at the hotel restaurant Throubi are free from refined sugar and low in fat, so you come away feeling full but not stuffed. Think ultra-light dishes like red sea bream with wild greens, string beans and lemon, or wholemeal spaghetti with sea urchin and ouzo.
Things to do
We were there for three days and divided them up into land, sea and spa.
Concept sits on the stunning hiking trail between the historic towns of Oia and Thera, with views over the cliffs to the sea below. We turned left and walked for around 45 minutes to Thera (hot tip: it’s very exposed so don’t forget high factor sunscreen and a big bottle of water) to explore the narrow, white painted streets and little boutiques.
Another great way to see the island is on a boat trip, which the hotel can arrange, which includes lunch, drinks and a trip to the volcanic springs in the bay of Agios Nikolaos.
Then there’s the glorious and spacious spa, which includes an underground cave pool and a hamman area. If that won’t relax you then nothing will.
Rooms from £460 per night B&B, visit AndronisConcept.com for further details