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Santorini is arguably Greece's most dramatic and scenic island. Alongside Mykonos, it is probably also the most expensive to visit. It is possible to travel to Santorini on a modest budget but you do need to plan well.
To find cheaper accommodations, look on the west side of the island. Rooms overlooking Santorini's dramatic caldera are the most expensive. Those on the other side of the island — in Perivolos, Perissa or Kamari — are much cheaper and closer to the beaches. Or, consider renting a small apartment. A lot are available and they are cheaper than hotels when shared between friends or several couples. Plus, you can do some of your own cooking. You could also consider staying in a hotel or guest house without a pool — the island is ringed with great beaches.
The following budget-priced Santorini hotels offer accommodation that ranges from clean and spartan to almost luxurious.
The Hotel Smaragdi is a few hundred yards from Perivalos Beach, one of Santorini's famous stretches of black sand. It's far enough from this lively strip for a quiet night yet close enough to take advantage of the bars, restaurants and tavernas that stretch along it when you want them.
The family-owned hotel is a collection of attractive, ochre-colored, cycladic-style buildings arranged around a pool, a poolside bar and a café for light snacks.
There are rooms and suites arranged on two floors and they include seven different categories, from an economy style to several boutique and luxury suites. They all include free wi-fi, heating and air conditioning, hair dryers, satellite television, in-room phones, refrigerators and kettles. Most of the rooms have balconies or some outdoor space, though in the case of the budget rooms, that patio space may lack privacy. There is also quite a bit of comfortable seating in the pool and bar areas.
Unusually, for a moderately prices and budget hotel, you can arrange room service breakfast (though that's a bit pricey).
The hotel also provides free airport or port transfer on arrival provided you give 21 days notice of your arrival time. And it is close to local bus services for other parts of the island.
In traditional style, the whitewashed rooms and suites of this hotel seem to tumble over one another virtually to the edge of Santorini's caldera. Finikia Memories, formerly Finikia's Place, is by no means cheap, though it's still a relatively affordable option. Thankfully, breakfast is included in the room rate.
Finikia is a small village on the edge of Oia, one of the island's most desirable settlements. This family owned hotel is within easy walking distance of Oia's restaurants, bars and shops and it has a well regarded restaurant of its own.
The hotel has an assortment of double rooms and suites, all with private balconies or private terraces and sea or pool views. The fresh decor — whitewashed inside and out with splashes of bright blue or pink — is classier than you'd expect at the price. And all rooms are equipped with air conditioning, mini-refrigerators, free wi-fi, shower rooms and toiletries. The suites have a separate sitting room with a modern sofa bed.
If what attracts you to Santorini is its very ancient history, you can't get much closer to it than the Akrotiri Hotel. This traditional style hotel is about a short minute walk to the Akrotiri excavations. After Knossos, on Crete, these are said to be the best remains of a prehistoric civilization in Greece, including Minoan wall paintings.
So what about the hotel. Well, the prices are very low, even in the high season and that means you sort of get what you pay for. The hotel has no pool and no real beach to speak of — just a small rocky area from which you can ease yourself into a rocky-floored bit of sea. The hotel claims to be close to Santorini's famous Red Beach but it's a pretty rough walk over a rocky headland to get there.
There's a bus stop nearby with frequent buses to the more popular beaches and villages but if you are out and about late, you'll have to spring for a taxi.
Rooms are clean and reasonably equipped though the bathrooms and showers could use some updating and so could the traditional decor. There is air conditioning as well as central heating, all the rooms have balconies with sea views, refrigerators and stovetops. But with rooms available for around 50 Euros, depending on the season, this might just be an ideal budget hotel for older couples who want a quiet place near the island's famous Bronze Age site.
Hotel Maria Preka
Visitors regularly rave about this sweet little hotel on a quiet street near the black sands of Kamari beach. It's a pair of classic white washed buildings with blue trim, arranged around a smallish pool. Across the street, the more expensive Hotel Anassa is owned by the same family and guests at Maria Preka can usually use the Anassa's pool and small gym.
The Maria Preka has 23 units — 10 doubles, nine studios suitable for up to three adults and four apartments for up to four people. All were refurbished in 2013 and are large, light and fresh. As with most Greek Island accommodations, furnishings are simple but clean and adequate. Facilities include air conditioning, satellite TV, in-room safes, refrigerator and tiled bathrooms with modern showers. Wi-fi is available at the hotel but may not be available in all rooms. All have furnished private balconies. Sun loungers and umbrellas are available around the pool.
One advantage for travelers on very tight budgets is that all the rooms have cooking facilities of some sort. The hotel's website talks about fully equipped kitchenettes.That could be a bit of an exaggeration. Besides the refrigerators, the "kitchenette" may be as basic as a sink, a single electric burner hob and a kettle. Perhaps you can't prepare a three course meal but there's certainly enough there to boil an egg or toss together a light supper for one or two economy days. The hotel also serves breakfast for 6 Euros.
Kamari is one of Santorini's bigger villages, with restaurants, bars and shops for plenty of local distractions. And if you are really energetic, or want to earn a big, boozy lunch, this village is the gateway to the site of Ancient Thira, a steep hike uphill of about two miles each way on a paved road. If you have a head for heights, there are brilliant views up there along with extensive — though unexplained — ruins.
The Seaside Beach Hotel
If you like being right on the beach, this is the place for you. The 27-unit Seaside Beach Hotel and Restaurant has just the beach road between it and Kamari's famous black sand beach (black pebbles, really). This strip of beach road is packed with hotels, tavernas, bars and restaurants, cheek-by-jowl. So it's definitely the place to go if you like a lot of action and buzz.
The units range from budget doubles and seaview doubles through studios and small apartments. Most have private balconies and mini-kitchenettes with fridges and hobs, sufficient to cook up breakfasts or serve up children's meals. All have private baths or shower rooms, air conditioning, satellite television, hair dryers, safes and sea or pool views. They're equipped with kettles and coffee machines and several have traditional domed ceilings. There's daily maid service, too.
The hotel itself has a pool and jacuzzi, serves a buffet breakfast designed to appeal to global tastes and covers its beach with sun loungers and palm thatched beach umbrellas.
Kamari is a big village with good bus connections to other parts of Santorini and quieter quarters. If you are looking for a quiet, relaxing time, the beachfront here may not be for you until the off season but if you're attracted to lively places, you'll love it.