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13 Nov 2017

Weekend in Santorini // ft. Skyfall Suites

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece

Our weekend in Santorini began just as the sun was about to set. We'd arrived at the idyllic and peaceful Skyfall Suites in the much calmer and less touristy area of Pyrgos, located in the mid to South Western part of Santorini (and also, interestingly, the highest point of the island).

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SKYFALL SUITES

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Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Skyfall Suites
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Skyfall Suites

We were served a glass of Prosecco each as we checked in, and then treated to a bottle of local white and a simple yet gorgeous cheese board as we settled into our suite to watch the sunset.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Skyfall Suites

In typical Greek fashion, Skyfall Suites is a stunning, whitewashed, minimal hotel with cave-like rooms ... and an incredibly unusual and enormous shower! Despite the simple decor, there was something really charming and comforting about our suite and it felt instantly cosy. It might have been something to do with the adorable kitchen area and teeny tiny dining room table and chairs:

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Skyfall Suites
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Skyfall Suites
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Skyfall Suites
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Skyfall Suites

Guerlain toiletries - not too shabby at all!

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Skyfall Suites
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Skyfall Suites
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Skyfall Suites
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Skyfall Suites

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PRIVATE BOAT RIDE
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The next day, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and spent some time just hanging out before being picked up by Pelagos Cruises and driven down to the port of Vlyhada (doesn't it sound like something from GoT?) for our private boat tour of the islands. Now, there are two ways you can do this: the first is to pay €150 per person to hire a catamaran...however, the caveat is that there will likely be a few other people.

The second option is to pay €600 total and charter a private speedboat to yourself. Our boat even had two bedrooms, a bathroom and a grill attached to the back - something the captain used to cook us an absolutely delicious local meal, complete with tzatziki he brought from home! Wine, beer and soft drinks were also included, and we were free to change the itinerary as we pleased. 

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Skyfall Suites
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, private boat rental

We passed so many stunning islands, volcanoes and rock structures on our trip. Above, the deep red rock of the gorgeous Red Beach. 

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, private boat rental
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, private boat rental
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, private boat rental

Get the look:

(This particular Jack Wills bikini is sold out, but they have similar styles as above)

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, private boat rental
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, private boat rental
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, private boat rental
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, private boat rental

Our boat ride ended with a gorgeous view of the sun setting directly into the ocean. Absolutely wonderful.

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OIA AND IMEROVIGLI
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On our second full day, we had no concrete plans so decided to check out the famous town of Oia. If you haven't heard of it, you've certainly seen it before - it's the setting for almost every Santorini photo on Instagram, especially that famous blue domed church with the pink bells (see the very first image in this post - you know the one!).




Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Oia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Oia
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Oia

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Oia

It was beautiful, yes, but also stiflingly hot and crowded. I'd love to return early in the morning when I'm sure it's much quieter and more of a relaxing experience.

Wanting to escape the hordes of other tourists in Oia (and also seeing that most lunch places were very busy!), we drove a short 20 minutes to the peaceful village of Imerovigli to enjoy a much quieter lunch at Aegean Restaurant.





Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Imerovigli

Get the look:


Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Imerovigli Aegeon Restaurant

The food was fresh, delicious and healthy and the view was utterly serene. The ideal place to stop for a bite!

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SELENE
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Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Skyfall Suites
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Pyrgos

On our final evening, we had booked dinner at one of Santorini's best restaurants, Selene. Conveniently, Selene also happens to only be a mere 3 minute walk from Skyfall Suites!



We arrived just before sunset and were seated at a terrace table in the corner with a perfect view. 

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Selene
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Selene
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Selene
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Selene
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Selene

I would highly recommend a dinner at Selene - the food is original, beautifully presented and delectable, service is impeccable and the atmosphere is very romantic.

Our final day, we had enough time for a scenic drive around Pyrgos and up to the highest point of the island where Prophet Elias Monestary sits, before enjoying a leisurely lunch right by the water at The Cave of Nikolas near Akrotiri beach. We had a mini seafood feast here and the lunchtime atmosphere being seated outdoors was lovely - buzzy yet relaxed.


Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Cave of Nikolas
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Cave of Nikolas
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Santorini Greece, Cave of Nikolas

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GOOD TO KNOW
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  •  You'll want to rent a car. It's really the most convenient way to get around the island, which isn't very large. It's unlikely any car journey will take you more than 30 - 40 minutes. We used the Europcar branch next to the airport and though there were no issues with the car itself, service was poor...just FYI. Leave yourself plenty of time to return the car at the end of your journey. We were left waiting around for half an hour for the 'owner' to get back and check some detail or other.
  • If you do opt for a boat tour you may well end up visiting the hot springs, a popular attraction. The further in you swim the warmer it gets, until the water is almost as hot as a bath. Do be aware though that this WILL likely stain whatever you're wearing a reddish brown colour (something we weren't aware of beforehand...and so therefore subsequently permanently stained our swimwear. Oops).
  • Oia does have some unparalleled views and beautiful scenery, however it is extremely overcrowded during the day and if you prefer a more chilled out neighbourhood where you can leave your hotel/villa and just walk around peacefully, I would avoid staying in the area. I found Pyrgos perfect for what we were after.
  • Imerovigli is a quieter, smaller neighbourhood than Oia but with very similar scenery, so if you're looking for the same epic ocean views surrounded by staggered whitewashed buildings, I'd recommend stopping here for lunch (or even staying in the area - there looked to be some great options).
  • Raki/Tsipouro is the local drink. You might get a small complimentary bottle before or after your meal (sort of like Limoncello in Italy). It's STRONG, but you can dilute it with water (it's not uncommon to do so).

Book your stay at Skyfall Suites here. Rates start at around £280 per night.

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19 Oct 2017

A Very British Hotel: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park

On my birthday weekend, Jarv surprised me with a staycation at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. Now, I'll admit that this post is a little delayed....my birthday's in June. 😳

I digress. The hotel was undergoing extensive renovations for the duration of our stay, meaning we had to utilise the ballroom entrance as the front was covered in scaffolding. So, I'm afraid I don't have any shots of the main entrance, though if you're curious, a quick Google search will reveal the beautiful, deep orange brick exterior and manicured hedges that are so traditionally British - it's very charming indeed.



Our room (a Mandarin room) overlooked Hyde Park. This was ideal: it meant we had all the privacy and peacefulness of the park outside our window, chirping birds being the only sound heard first thing in the morning, yet still had the convenience of all the shops of Knightsbridge at our fingertips, a mere few steps across the road on the opposite side of the hotel.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park

Our stay being a birthday celebration, Jarv ensured that the hotel went above and beyond to make it a weekend to remember. They certainly came through - my favourite flowers (bird of paradise) were placed in a vase by the window, a highly devourable (if that's not a term then it should be), full-sized matcha cake awaited me. It should be noted that I waited all of 30 seconds after the photos were taken to dig into it, and it tasted divine. A bottle of 2015 Sancerre sat chilling in an ice bucket. 

Perfection.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park

Jarv had one more treat in store for me later that evening: dinner at the hotel restaurant, Dinner by Heston. Having been lucky enough to enjoy some of his other renowned dishes in the past (snail porridge and Sound of the Sea), Meat Fruit was the one signature Heston dish I had yet to sample...and had been longing to!

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Dinner by Heston

So try it I did.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Dinner by Heston

Despite knowing exactly what was coming and what to expect, laying eyes on that dish was still a pure delight. Skin that looks so genuine, dimpled and textured; the perfect leaf handpicked by Heston's chefs to create a hyperrealistic looking fruit...then the joy of slowly cutting into it and revealing the soft, more-ish pate inside.

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Dinner by Heston

Whilst the rest of the meal was perfectly delicious and there were no complaints, the other dishes weren't particularly memorable. I'd recommend Dinner for a nice meal one time, but it's not somewhere I'm desperate to return to (except, perhaps, just to have meat fruit again).

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Dinner by Heston
Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park

In conclusion: The Mandarin Hyde Park was a beautiful setting for a celebratory staycation and a park view room is a fitting choice if you're looking for a peaceful getaway whilst still being in the heart of the action (in terms of shopping, that is). Service throughout the hotel was fine, though there was nobody at the end of the stay to help us call a taxi or load bags into the back of a car - perhaps the hotel staff were a little out of form with the Mandarin being under renovation at the time. On the other hand, the birthday touches in the room - cake, wine, bird of paradise flowers - were fantastic.

The room itself was lovely and very spacious, though perhaps a little simple and in need of renovation in some areas (the bathroom door squeaked and the wall/locked door separating our room from the next one was a bit thin - further sound-proofing is necessary. The view was wonderful and we both loved enjoying a morning coffee on the balcony.

Would I go back? Sure - I'd be intrigued to see how another stay (perhaps in a different type of room) at the  Mandarin Hyde Park compares once the renovations are complete in early spring next year.

Have you been before? What were your thoughts?

Euriental | luxury travel & style | Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park


Book the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park here from £720 *contains affiliate link - at no extra cost to you.