Monday 5 August 2013

Spectacular Greek island retreat mixes traditional Cycladic architecture with contemporary design

Clinging to a volcanic hilltop in Oia, the Katikies hotel on the island of Santorini is a maze of white washed cubist buildings like a small, self-contained Grecian town, reports Jeanne-Marie Cilento.

THE design mixes traditional Cycladic architecture with a modernist aesthetic of clean-lined spaces free of decoration. Hewn from the rock face, some of the rooms are created from original 18th Century cave houses and others have been recreated with high arched ceilings. The simple, white interiors are a low-key backdrop to the spectacular views across the phosphorescent blue of the Aegean and Caldera.

Open a nondescript doorway on the cliff-top in Oia and you see the hotel unfolding beneath you in a series of terraces down to the toy-like boats sailing on the sea 300 metres below.

Against the buildings’ white walls, bursts of color like the magenta of cascading bougainvillea or the vivid green of a tree are like pieces of natural art standing out in a contemporary gallery.

The terraces of the ship-like decks that overlook the sea lead to airy rooms designed with a mix of contemporary furniture, island antiques and floating muslins. The only contrast in colour and texture are the pale marble bathrooms and wood of the parquet floors.

The architecture of the interconnected caves and small domed buildings provides the theatrical set to present the main actors of the show in their best light: the vast horizon and the luminous Mediteranean sea and sky. 

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