Review: Canaves Oia Epitome Santorini

Review: Canaves Oia Epitome Santorini

NAME: Canaves Oia Epitome
LOCATION: Oia, Santorini
DATE: June 2021
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: This is now one of my favorite hotels in the world -- not only is this an amazing property physically that offers an oasis of calm in bustling Santorini, but the service is top notch as well.
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Want to receive extra benefits for your stay at Canaves Oia Santorini through Virtuoso, including complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, a room upgrade, and more? Contact [email protected] for more details. He may even be able to help if you already have a stay booked.

We spent five nights in Santorini at Canaves Oia Epitome. This is a spectacular property — I’d guess that this is easily one of the best hotels on the Greek islands, and one of my 10 favorite hotels I’ve ever stayed at. This hotel is so intimate, has incredible service, and it felt like an Aman, only better.

I think my mom summed it up best when she sat outside at the hotel watching the sunset while crying out of happiness — “I didn’t know places this nice existed.”

How & why I booked Canaves Oia Epitome

The 24-room Canaves Oia Epitome belongs to Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which has a loyalty partnership with World of Hyatt. This means that World of Hyatt members can earn and redeem points for stays, but only when booking directly through Hyatt.

Canaves Oia Epitome is a Category 8 World of Hyatt property, meaning a free night costs 40,000 points. This is Hyatt’s highest award category, but it was oh-so-worth-it. Award availability can be tough to come by at this property due to how small it is, so I was thrilled to be able to lock in two rooms — one for Ford and me, and one for my mom and her partner.

Our five night stay for two rooms ended up costing 400,000 World of Hyatt points. Yes, that’s a lot of points, but it was a great deal compared to the paid rate of 1,000+ Euros per room per night. The beauty of World of Hyatt points is that they can be earned through Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfers, so this stay put a nice dent in my Chase Ultimate Rewards points balance.

If you’re looking to pay cash for this hotel and don’t care about earning World of Hyatt points, I’d recommend booking through a Virtuoso agent, so you can receive perks like a room upgrade, a property credit, and more.

For some context on Canaves Oia Epitome, the property initially opened in 2018. It’s part of the “Canaves Oia” group, which includes a few properties in and around Oia, Santorini (most are part of the Hyatt & SLH collaboration). This is the most famous part of Santorini, and where the picturesque cliffs are.

Canaves Oia Epitome location

Canves Oia Epitome has a special location — rather than being right in the heart of the touristy area of Oia, it’s instead just a short distance away. It’s perched above the fishing town of Ammoudi, and feels incredibly private.

Ammoudi, Santorini, a short distance from the hotel
Ammoudi, Santorini, a short distance from the hotel
Oia, Santorini, a short distance from the hotel
Oia, Santorini, a short distance from the hotel

The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service to nearby attractions, though in reality it’s a pleasant 10 minute walk from the hotel to either Oia or Ammoudi, so Ford and I never took the shuttle.

Canaves Oia Epitome complimentary shuttle

Another awesome aspect of the hotel is that it faces west, so you have the best unobstructed sunset view in all of Santorini (you don’t get this kind of a view from the main part of Oia). I can’t put the sunsets here into words, they were beyond gorgeous.

The beautiful sunset from Canaves Oia Epitome

Canaves Oia Epitome check-in & lobby

The hotel picked us up from Mystique Santorini at around 12PM, which was just a five minute drive away. The hotel feels like it’s a world away from Oia in terms of how private and calm it is, which I loved.

Canaves Oia Epitome entrance
Canaves Oia Epitome exterior

Our check-in experience was great — Canaves Oia Epitome has a small lobby, and our information was processed in no time.

Canaves Oia Epitome lobby
Canaves Oia Epitome lobby

We were told that they were just putting the finishing touches on our rooms, and that they should both be ready within about 10 minutes. While we were waiting we were offered some welcome drinks.

Sure enough, within a few minutes we were escorted to our rooms. As we were walked to our rooms one of the hotel employees said “I think you’ll really like your rooms, they’re some of the best here.”

Sure enough, both of our rooms had been upgraded to two bedroom villas. Suffice to say that our jaws dropped. For what it’s worth, this hotel seems to be really good with upgrades, as I’ve seen other reports of people getting similar types of upgrades. The property has just 24 accommodations, and nine of those are suites and 15 are villas. When booking through the Hyatt & SLH partnership you do receive a space available upgrade.

I suspect we really lucked out here — the hotel was sold out, and I’m guessing they mostly had the lower level accommodations booked. We were assigned rooms 104 and 105, which were right next to one another.

Rooms at Canaves Oia Epitome are on two levels — the lower level has some of the larger villas, while the higher level has the other rooms.

Canaves Oia Epitome lower level rooms

Many will appreciate how flat this property is. While there are some stairs between the main part of the hotel and lower level of rooms, the property is otherwise flat, making it easy to get around.

The only stairs at Canaves Oia Epitome

Canaves Oia Epitome two bedroom villa

Ford and I were staying in room 105, which was one of the last rooms in the lower row. I love how each villa has a stone wall around it, which contributes to a good sense of place.

Canaves Oia Epitome villa exterior

The second we walked through our “gate” we were blown away — look at this outdoor space!! We had a couch, a sitting area, a dining area, a large pool, and an outdoor shower. There almost wasn’t a need for the interior of the villa, since the outdoor space was so nice that I didn’t even want to go inside.

Canaves Oia Epitome villa outdoor space
Canaves Oia Epitome villa outdoor space
Canaves Oia Epitome villa private pool
Canaves Oia Epitome villa private pool
Canaves Oia Epitome villa private pool
Canaves Oia Epitome villa outdoor seating & shower
Canaves Oia Epitome villa outdoor dining area
Canaves Oia Epitome villa outdoor dining area

Nonetheless the indoor space was beautiful as well. It consisted of two floors, with one bedroom on the main floor, and then another bedroom on the “basement” level. Just inside the entrance was a small sitting area with a couch facing the TV and the two doors.

Canaves Oia Epitome villa living area
Canaves Oia Epitome villa living area
Canaves Oia Epitome villa entrance & TV

There was a lovely welcome amenity consisting of a bottle of local white wine, a bottle of water, and some whole fruit.

Canaves Oia Epitome villa welcome amenity

Also in this area were the minibar and in-room coffee machine.

Canaves Oia Epitome villa minibar
Canaves Oia Epitome villa minibar

Further down the hall was the first bedroom, which had a comfortable king size bed. This bedroom looked out directly over the terrace, and faced towards the sea.

Canaves Oia Epitome villa bedroom
Canaves Oia Epitome villa bedroom

Behind the bedroom was one of the bathrooms, with double sinks, and then a toilet and walk-in shower each in a separate room.

Canaves Oia Epitome villa bathroom
Canaves Oia Epitome villa toilet

The shower had excellent temperature control and water pressure, and had both a rainforest shower head and a handheld nozzle.

Canaves Oia Epitome villa shower

Toiletries were in Canaves Oia branded bottles, and I loved them, in particular the body scrub.

Canaves Oia Epitome villa toiletries

Down the stairs was the second bedroom, which almost felt like an entirely different residence. At the bottom of the stairs and to the left was a sitting area.

Canaves Oia Epitome villa lower level sitting area

Then there was another king size bed. The lower level felt like a cozy cave — it had little natural light, and instead faced a stone wall and some plants. While we slept the first night upstairs, we ended up sleeping downstairs for the rest of our stay, as we loved how dark the room got.

Canaves Oia Epitome villa lower level bedroom

The lower level of the villa also had a soaking tub and plenty of closet space in one area.

Canaves Oia Epitome villa lower level bathtub

Then back near the entrance on this level was a sink, along with a toilet and walk-in shower.

Canaves Oia Epitome villa lower level sink
Canaves Oia Epitome villa lower level toilet
Canaves Oia Epitome villa lower level shower

Wi-Fi in the room (and throughout the property) was fast and free, and housekeeping was excellent as well, and came twice a day. I have nothing but good things to say about this villa — this is easily the most luxurious accommodation we’ve had in Greece.

In particular I also loved the sunset views from here.

Canaves Oia Epitome villa sunset view
Canaves Oia Epitome villa sunset view

Canaves Oia Epitome pool

The focal point of Canaves Oia Epitome is the west-facing infinity pool. All the restaurants and public areas of the hotel surround it, and it’s picturesque.

Canaves Oia Epitome pool
Canaves Oia Epitome pool
Canaves Oia Epitome pool
Canaves Oia Epitome pool

Since the hotel is so intimate, there were always plenty of seats available around the pool, so there was no need to play games to reserve seats. Service at the pool was also incredibly attentive — we were always brought water, and then could also order drinks, food, or anything else.

Canaves Oia Epitome pool drinks

It was nice to be able to work from the pool, and equally nice to sit here in the evenings and enjoy the sunset.

Canaves Oia Epitome sunset view
Canaves Oia Epitome sunset view

Canaves Oia Epitome breakfast

Breakfast at Canaves Oia Epitome was served daily from 8AM until 11AM, and was a feast. All rates include breakfast, and you can either dine in the restaurant, or for a tray charge of 10 Euros, you can instead dine in your suite or villa.

The main restaurant is lovely, and has a bar, and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. Of course we always ate outside, given the perfect weather.

Canaves Oia Epitome bar
Canaves Oia Epitome restaurant
Canaves Oia Epitome restaurant
Canaves Oia Epitome restaurant
Canaves Oia Epitome restaurant
Canaves Oia Epitome restaurant outdoor seating
Canaves Oia Epitome restaurant outdoor seating
Canaves Oia Epitome restaurant outdoor seating

Breakfast was a la carte (you can find the breakfast menu here), and was out of this world — not only could you order as much as you wanted, but they more or less pushed you to order more food and drinks, and try everything on the menu. The quality and variety was extraordinary. Personally I think breakfast in Greece is the best in the world, and this might just be the best breakfast I’ve ever had in Greece, which is saying a lot.

Breakfast always began with a fresh basket with bread and pastries being brought out each morning, along with homemade jam. The selection rotated, and each item was meticulously explained.

Canaves Oia Epitome breakfast bread & pastries

Then there were a variety of drink options, ranging from the fresh juice of the day, to freddo cappuccinos, to Greek coffee, to hot cappuccinos.

Canaves Oia Epitome breakfast drinks
Canaves Oia Epitome breakfast drinks
Canaves Oia Epitome breakfast drinks

The food was simply incredible, from acai bowls, to yogurt parfaits, to fresh fruit, to cheese plates, to the tart of the day, to Greek scrambled eggs, to egg white frittatas with avocado, to Greek omelets, to avocado toast.

Canaves Oia Epitome breakfast
Canaves Oia Epitome breakfast
Canaves Oia Epitome breakfast
Canaves Oia Epitome breakfast
Canaves Oia Epitome breakfast
Canaves Oia Epitome breakfast
Canaves Oia Epitome breakfast
Canaves Oia Epitome breakfast
Canaves Oia Epitome breakfast

Mmmm…

Canaves Oia Epitome dinner & in-room dining

We never ate at Canaves Oia Epitome’s signature Elements Restaurant, but we did have a dinner at the casual restaurant, room service lunch, and drinks at the hotel.

While not cheap (you can find the drink menu here), the cocktails at Canaves Oia Epitome were exceptional, and the attention to detail was amazing, down to the ice cubes having the hotel’s logo on them.

Canaves Oia Epitome cocktails

Our first night we decided to eat at the hotel’s main (more casual) restaurant, since Ford had just landed from the United States, and was a bit tired. Furthermore, it’s kind of hard to even want to leave the hotel in the evenings given the sunset views you have from here. You can find the all day dining menu here.

We had a Greek salad, Greek spreads, the open falafel sandwich, and the rigatoni, and all were tasty.

Canaves Oia Epitome dinner
Canaves Oia Epitome dinner
Canaves Oia Epitome dinner
Canaves Oia Epitome dinner

We also had room service lunch one day while we were hanging out by our private pool — what a nice setup!

Canaves Oia Epitome room service
Canaves Oia Epitome room service

Canaves Oia Epitome Elements Restaurant

Elements Restaurant is Canaves Oia Epitome’s fine dining restaurant, and it’s open most nights for dinner. You can find the dinner menu here. The restaurant is located to the side of the pool, though we never ended up eating there (we had a reservation for the last night, but ended up being too tired, and decided just to stay in).

Suffice to say the restaurant is a gorgeous setting, especially with the sunset views.

Canaves Oia Epitome Elements Restaurant
Canaves Oia Epitome Elements Restaurant
Canaves Oia Epitome Elements Restaurant

Canaves Oia Epitome gym & spa

Canaves Oia Epitome has a gym and spa setup. The gym is small but functional, with a treadmill, bike, and free weights. It’s located immediately below reception, and can be accessed 24/7.

Canaves Oia Epitome gym
Canaves Oia Epitome gym

Then there was a single spa treatment room there. If I had one constructive criticism of the hotel, it’s that the spa could be more impressive. That being said, I don’t typically get spa treatments in Greece anyway (there’s other stuff I’d rather do), so that didn’t impact me one way or another.

This isn’t a hotel to visit if you’re looking for an amazing spa experience, but then again I’d say that’s true of most boutique hotels on Greek islands.

Canaves Oia Epitome spa

Canaves Oia Epitome service

Physically Canaves Oia Epitome is stunning, but what really elevates this hotel to the next level is the people. I’ve written in the past about how polarizing Greek service can be — when it’s bad, it’s pretty bad, while when it’s good, it can be among the best in the world. This hotel definitely fits in the latter category.

For one, the hotel gets all of the basics right. There wasn’t a single service lapse, which is to say that servers were always prompt and attentive, when we requested something to be brought to the room it was always done quickly, when we arranged a transfer it was always available as booked, etc.

Then there’s the genuine warmth and attention to detail of the staff at this property, which simply can’t be understated.

The real superstars of the hotel were Evi and Konstantina, two of the ladies who consistently served us at breakfast. Their positive attitudes and smiles were infectious. Not only did they always remember our preferences, but they had such a genuine passion for hospitality. They treated us like guests in their home, and when we checked out of the hotel it was hard to say bye to them, because they were so kind.

Even beyond them, though, service at the hotel was flawless, and felt a lot like what you’d expect at an Aman — we were never asked for our room numbers, housekeeping was timed around when we had breakfast or other activities, etc.

Just to give a further example of the attention to detail, it became chilly after sunset the night we ate outside at the pool. Not only did they offer us blankets to keep us warm, but they color-coded blankets to each of our outfits.

There was literally no room for improvement when it comes to service at this hotel, and it’s not often I say that.

Bottom line

Canaves Oia Epitome is an exceptional hotel. The hotel manages to be a relaxing oasis in otherwise bustling Oia, offering access to the popular sights while still giving you somewhere to retreat to. Not only is this a physically stunning property, but it has unbeatable service, food, and drinks, to match, plus Santorini’s best sunsets. I’d highly recommend staying at this property if you can swing it.

Gosh, I really do love World of Hyatt’s partnership with Small Luxury Hotels of the World. I’ve had some amazing hotel stays thanks to it.

Has anyone else stayed at Canaves Oia Epitome? If so, what was your experience like? Or anyone planning a stay there in the future?

Conversations (20)
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  1. Carl Guest

    Stayed at the exact same villa two years ago with my family. We can't wait to go back this year. Love this property but the stars of Epitome are the workers!

  2. GJR Guest

    @Ben - Would you choose this over Mystique for a 3 night stay next month? Never been to Santorini before. Young and can handle the stairs. 255K + $500 for Mystique (Allure Suite) vs. 120K Hyatt points. I am very torn.

    1. Mike Guest

      I'm at the Empitome now and just came from the Mystique prior.

      Choose the Epitome hands down. We did take advanatge of the 24hr free shuttle to Oia Centre via Whats App, and within 5 min there was always a driver waiting.

      Food and pool are lackluster at Mystique. There was also an odd sulpher or sewage smell in all the outdoor spaces.

  3. JT Guest

    Hi Ben, curious if you had considered any of the other Canaves properties or visited other than the Epitome? Heading to Santorini for the first time in September, and have both Canaves Suites and Epitome booked for the same - deciding which one to keep (or if worthwhile to split the stay). Thanks!

  4. BookLvr New Member

    That outdoor dining area is SUPER cute! I love small hotels with personality, and 2 bedroom villas/apartments are perfect.

    We are in the early stages of planning a Greece 2022 trip and I am hoping to find something similar, though since I anticipate I will be traveling with a couple college students, I might book our Santorini stay in Fira so they can go off and do teenager-y things on their own in the evening.

  5. @Orlijr Gold

    I ate dinner here 2 years ago. Nice property, but way-way out of the way... I prefer their other property right near the center of Oia. Incidentally, I just returned from Greece on Saturday. Took a Seabourn cruise and I can not say enough about how well organized it was. Cheers!

  6. Luis Diamond

    Looks really nice but geez, that's A LOT of points to burn. Sucks that Hyatt doesn't have 5th night free like the other programs.

  7. Ari Guest

    Hi Ben.

    This was a great review. You mentioned it was one of the best hotels you’ve ever been to, which got me wondering…..which hotels exactly are on your Top 10 list? It would be interesting to know (and to be able to read any reviews you’ve posted about them in the past).

  8. Michael Guest

    @Ben, how was the pool temperature both at your villa and the main pool?

  9. Morgan Gold

    Ben, I do find it interesting and maybe even an ethical dilemma but when only 1 or 2 people (those 2 sleeping in the same room) staying in a room, is it almost wasteful to request or accept an upgrade to a 2 bedroom or higher suite etc?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Morgan -- Personally I don't see any dilemma here at all. It's not like the hotel has the ability to resell a villa day of (at least not with any sort of reasonable yield), so it's not like we were displacing others. While we would have happily shared a single two bedroom villa, I certainly wasn't going to complain to be given two!

    2. Morgan Gold

      @Ben - Yeah fair that's a good point.

    3. Super Guest

      Completely agree with Ben here. There is no dilemma - it's not his responsibility to know the hotel's guest load and reject an upgrade. If the hotel upgraded him, they did the math and found it to be acceptable for everyone, otherwise they wouldn't have upgraded him in the first place.

  10. Tom Guest

    Looks very good, but I don't think this is hugely unique amongst Santorini hotels other than the partnership with SLH/Hyatt, there are many really spectacular properties in Santorini. Andronis Arcadia comes to mind as a pretty similar location to this but arguably better facilities, and food too, judging by those photos. I'd take any of the more modern hotels in / around Imerovigli for the sunset views over this (Grace, Cavo Tagoo, Andronis Concept, OMMA,...

    Looks very good, but I don't think this is hugely unique amongst Santorini hotels other than the partnership with SLH/Hyatt, there are many really spectacular properties in Santorini. Andronis Arcadia comes to mind as a pretty similar location to this but arguably better facilities, and food too, judging by those photos. I'd take any of the more modern hotels in / around Imerovigli for the sunset views over this (Grace, Cavo Tagoo, Andronis Concept, OMMA, etc.). Basically the less full of Americans looking for a bargain on points, the better the service generally is to be able to compete...

  11. Clem Platinum

    Woah this looks amazing! I'll totally add that to the bucket list!
    Speaking of bucket list, Amanzoe is also right there at the top for me. How would you compare the 2 properties? Canaves is a fraction of the cost, but rooms look significantly nicer at Amanzoe, so wondering how you'd compare them in terms of service etc.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Clem -- That's a great question. I'd say Amanzoe had all around better facilities, and in particular the beach club is very impressive. That being said, I thought service at Canaves Oia Epitome was more personalized, and the property also felt more intimate.

      One other consideration here is being in Porto Heli vs. Santorini. What makes Canaves Oia Epitome unique is that it's so close to one of Greece's most popular tourist destinations. For...

      @ Clem -- That's a great question. I'd say Amanzoe had all around better facilities, and in particular the beach club is very impressive. That being said, I thought service at Canaves Oia Epitome was more personalized, and the property also felt more intimate.

      One other consideration here is being in Porto Heli vs. Santorini. What makes Canaves Oia Epitome unique is that it's so close to one of Greece's most popular tourist destinations. For those who haven't been to Santorini, that's a huge selling point. For those who have been to Santorini several times before, it might be a drawback.

      For example, I'd love to return to Canaves Oia Epitome, but I also have little interest in going back to Santorini anytime soon, since I feel like it now fits in the "been there, done that" category for me. Porto Heli in general is much more relaxed and laid back.

    2. Clem Platinum

      @Ben thank you! I was wondering if the price difference between the 2 properties' base rooms can be justified, but then Amanzoe's room are 4+ times bigger so I guess that would be it. Thanks also for the insights about location, very good to know!

  12. JoePro Guest

    Nice!
    We're splitting 3 nights in Santorini in October before returning to the Maldives a third time. 1 night here, 2 at Santorini Sky. Now I'm hoping I didn't make the wrong decision splitting the stay.

  13. VT-CIE Gold

    How lucky (!) you have been to experience some of the warmest hospitality the world has to offer: Fogo Island Inn in Canada, Singita Boulders in South Africa, the Aman Sveti Stefan, and now Canaves Oia Epitome in Greece. You also help make it more attainable for folks through loyalty programs. Isn’t this what they are meant for?

  14. pstm91 Platinum

    Easily one of the best on the island. How flat it is, the sunsets, and the service are cherries on top. Glad you got to experience the villas!

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Clem -- That's a great question. I'd say Amanzoe had all around better facilities, and in particular the beach club is very impressive. That being said, I thought service at Canaves Oia Epitome was more personalized, and the property also felt more intimate. One other consideration here is being in Porto Heli vs. Santorini. What makes Canaves Oia Epitome unique is that it's so close to one of Greece's most popular tourist destinations. For those who haven't been to Santorini, that's a huge selling point. For those who have been to Santorini several times before, it might be a drawback. For example, I'd love to return to Canaves Oia Epitome, but I also have little interest in going back to Santorini anytime soon, since I feel like it now fits in the "been there, done that" category for me. Porto Heli in general is much more relaxed and laid back.

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Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Morgan -- Personally I don't see any dilemma here at all. It's not like the hotel has the ability to resell a villa day of (at least not with any sort of reasonable yield), so it's not like we were displacing others. While we would have happily shared a single two bedroom villa, I certainly wasn't going to complain to be given two!

1
Mike Guest

I'm at the Empitome now and just came from the Mystique prior. Choose the Epitome hands down. We did take advanatge of the 24hr free shuttle to Oia Centre via Whats App, and within 5 min there was always a driver waiting. Food and pool are lackluster at Mystique. There was also an odd sulpher or sewage smell in all the outdoor spaces.

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