If you're looking for a low-key stay on what is perhaps one of the most Instagrammed islands in the world, Kamari should be your port of call. It's a seaside village in the southeast of Santorini at the foot of the Mesa Vouno mountain, meaning that, unlike most places on the island, you're beside a (black-sand) beach instead of perched atop the caldera (the volcanic rim).
Bellonias Villas is by far the most beautiful hotel in Kamari. On the quieter end of the beachfront promenade, it has all the trappings of luxury while being entirely unpretentious. Serenity prevails here, thanks to the judicious use of natural wood and stone throughout, with muted colours picking up the tones of the surrounding landscape and lanterns decorating the pool area.
It's the staff that make the place, though - gentle, welcoming and unobtrusive at every turn. This is clearly noticed, as the volumes of returning guests attest.
Bellonias Villas offers a villa-style stay within a hotel housing 26 modern suites of varying sizes complete with kitchenettes. White walls and clean lines mean even the smaller options feel airy and spacious, while you'll find traditional Cycladic elements throughout, from curved, cavernous ceilings to soft linen.
Some of the duplex villas have terraces with sea views and none of them ever feel cluttered - a result of the carefully chosen furniture and cool stone floors. Beds are so comfortable, you'll have to drag yourself to the pool, and that's not something we ever thought we'd say.
What's for breakfast?
A lot. The menu is extensive and the portions generous. Think American-style pancakes dripping with local honey, traditional kayana eggs with smoky feta cheese and, for more virtuous guests, acai bowls, fresh fruit platters and porridge swirled with tahini.
How about lunch and dinner?
Beachfront Elia restaurant dishes up modern Greek fare featuring the usual suspects (octopus, calamari, Greek salad) but with a twist. We loved the local fava-bean purée with caramelised onions so much that we ordered it three times. The unquestionable highlight, however, has got to be the lobster orzo - a creamy delight and one of the best dishes we tasted in Santorini. A helpful sommelier will guide you through the wine list, but we say, go local; Greek wine is fantastic.
Is there a bar?
For more buzz, you'll have to wander further down the coast road, but Bellonias' poolside bar is the perfect spot for a quiet nightcap after a day on the beach. It's relaxed and peaceful enough so that you can hear the waves, and the staff will happily chat to guests over an exquisitely mixed Old Fashioned.
The pool is the best part of a stay here. Even though the beach is on your doorstep, you'll find it easy to while away hours on reposeful loungers under the chalky-green olive trees, occasionally summoning the eternally polite staff for poolside snacks and local rosé. This is one of those spots that looks exactly like it does in the pictures.
Within a short walk I can find...
Plenty. Bellonias Villas is situated on the main "strip", but don't let that conjure up any images of lairy teens and vodka-jelly shots. It's a bustling promenade with traditional tavernas, gelaterias, gift shops and a few lively café-cum-bars in which to sit and watch the world go by.
Things I should know
As a guest you have access to the private beach area. Trot down early to get a spot and order drinks and snacks right to your sun lounger.
It's also close to the airport. Enjoy the spectacle of planes landing and taking off over the sea, while being far away enough that it isn't a noise disturbance.