The Radisson Blu Zaffron resort in Kamari, Santorini, opened its doors in July 2021. We were lucky enough to stay there the week after it opened. I had no intention of writing a specific review, but given the welcome and the much higher level of service received compared to other accommodation we tried on the island, I decided to do so.
We had booked a superior room using Radisson rewards points, but got an incredible upgrade to the villa with private plunge pool. I imagine this is quite exceptional possibly due to the fact that they were not yet operating at full capacity, but despite being a gold member I did not expect such a lovely surprise.
I must first say that I visited Santorini in the high season which I absolutely do not recommend. Not having followed my own rules, I found myself a victim of the fame of Santorini which often makes it comparable to a tourist trap. Fortunately, we found in the Radisson Blu Zaffron resort a small oasis where we could re-evaluate the experience of the island. If you are wondering what I’m talking about, I recommend you read the article Is Santorini worth it? It will help you set your expectations of Santorini to avoid disappointment.
RADISSON BLU ZAFFRON RESORT-LOCATION
The Radisson Blu Zaffron resort is one of the few 5 star hotels in Kamari, Santorini. Kamari is one of the most famous beaches on the island. The hotel location, although not on the seafront, is perfect, central and still within walking distance of the beach. Access to the resort is from a secondary road that is slightly disorienting the first time you arrive, but this protects it from the busy central streets.
Although the location of the hotel is excellent in the context of Kamari and the beaches, I would like to emphasize, without dwelling on it, that I do not recommend you come to Santorini and spend all your time in Kamari even if you travel with kids.
Santorini is not famous for its beaches for very good reasons. The views of the caldera with its typical houses carved into the rock are what makes it famous. Kamari is a good solution if you decide to spend a week or more in Santorini and then you can divide your stay between one of the hotels with breathtaking views in Oia and the Radisson Blu Zaffron.
RADISSON BLU ZAFFRON RESORT – THE OVERALL SPACE
The structure of the hotel is completely new, and this has allowed the architects to customise the spaces according to the hotel Radisson Blu identity, while maintaining a link with the location.
From an architectural point of view, the structure is really well designed, although I think they should have left more free relaxing spaces around the resort, the attention to detail makes it modern but welcoming. The entrance is majestic and would not look out of place in a grand Asian resort.
The reception has a very minimalist layout that focuses entirely on design which, with the curved ceiling, already recalls the typical cave houses of the island. The environment is spacious but it must be said that the hotel offers 103 rooms, so when the hotel operates at full capacity the space may be a bit small, but upon our arrival it proved to be perfect for excellent hospitality.
RADISSON BLU ZAFFRON RESORT – THE ROOMS
The hotel is made up of 103 rooms / villas with a variety of solutions, starting from lovely superior rooms with terrace, up to those with private plunge pool. We had the pleasure of a villa with private plunge pool.
Finding the right adjective to briefly describe the villa is not easy, stunning is reductive, luxurious is misleading and stylish too cold … this space is a welcoming retreat that invites you to relax and unwind. The villa is on two levels. Our villa was in the second row of buildings just to the right of the reception.
Ground floor space
There is a spacious entrance which leads to the upper floor, to the bathroom area and then opens to the living room which is accessed by two steps (there is a comfortable and large sofa bed for two, in our case used by our children). From the living room a large window leads to the covered outdoor patio and the plunge pool.
The bathroom on the ground floor is organised into three different areas: the toilet and showe occupy a small private area each, while the fluidly shaped sink acts as an elemental divider in the room. A wood and glass wardrobe with drawers and safe is located near the entrance, while the mini bar (which offers non alcoholic complementary drinks), a Nespresso machine and a large mirror are in the living area.
Upstairs is the large bedroom with a second bathroom and a terrace. The bed is very comfortable, with power sockets on both sides and small directional reading lights integrated into the wall. Also upstairs, the bathroom is divided into three areas, with the sink positioned on what looks like a beautiful slightly retro desk, with plenty of space to store extra towels and toiletries. Toiletries are from Korres and there are plenty of them by shower and sink. In one of the wardrobes I found not only an excellent hairdryer, but also hair straighteners from Babybliss!
The air conditioning works magically without any noise across the two floors.
The outdoor area offers a covered patio with table and four reclining chairs, the plunge pool, and two very comfortable sun loungers. The outside is sunny for most of the day, therefore in summer the plunge pool is pleasantly refreshing. The external wall is high and borders on a secondary residential street. Tourists do not usually walk that area, and during our stay it was always very quiet.
Being a new structure just opened we found small details still to be perfected, but which will surely be addressed soon. For example, both shower doors let the water leak into the room, there are no towel hangers near the sinks and adequate lights for the mirror. Both big windows downstairs and upstairs are dressed with lovely black out curtains that work really well, but upstairs there is a window in the shower without cover which defeats the exercise a little. Nothing that would impact the great experience and that can’t be easily solved.
RADISSON BLU ZAFFRON RESORT – FACILITIES
Surely the most spectacular elements are the two swimming pools in the centre of the complex. I must say that it is not clear to me what the original project was and if they should have been different in some way. Two large swimming pools are certainly necessary considering the number of guests when the resort is fully booked, but at the moment there was no distinction for their use (such as adult only area and family or other). The depth is also the same in both.
While on the one hand the large swimming pools ensure space for everyone, in my opinion if they had been a little smaller they would have allowed a little more privacy for the rooms that overlook all around whose patios are really close.
That said, all around the perimeter of the pools are the most comfortable loungers I have ever lay on. Large and with mattresses so comfortable that you can spend the entire day on them. At the pool there is also a very attentive life guard, especially with children. During our stay they were still finalising some details and it was not yet clear where to get the towels for the pool, which on request they immediately provided us with, probably there will soon be a dedicated place.
On the side of the pool opposite the reception there is also a small bar serving drinks and small bites during the day, while on the reception side there are comfortable armchairs and sofas.
The resort will have two restaurants and a wine bar (plus the pool bar mentioned above), but at the time of our stay only the more informal of them was open: the Belloni trattoria, also used for breakfast. While we were there, we had the pleasure of talking to the restaurant manager who has an established business in Italy and decided to try this new adventure. He brought a chef from Italy and hired another Greek chef to create an Italian menu with Greek influences.
The breakfast I must say, was a delicious experience (of course with my Italian heritage I particularly appreciate cakes and sweet dishes at breakfast time). There is a small buffet, but you can also order hot dishes from an a la carte menu. The products were all fresh and of excellent quality and the service was very professional.
The same delight was also experienced at dinner. After so many Greek dinners on the seafront I decided to take up the challenge and try an Italian restaurant in Greece. We tried pasta and pizza and both crossed the line with flying colours. Well balanced flavours for the pasta, and a light and crunchy dough for the pizza. The only drawback is the prices, perhaps a bit high, but this is not the first time we talk about overpriced Santorini, right?
HOT TIP: we were at this hotel with our 5 year old twin boys. We all felt very welcome and all staff interacted with them in the most lovely way. The first feeling could be that this is not a place for families, but I actually think it is really one of the best choices. If you book a room with the plunge pool they can have some time playing there if at some point they get too exuberant. The two massive swimming pools also give you the opportunity to choose an area where they could potentially disturb other guests less.
Gym and Spa
We did not use the Spa or the gym, but looking at the gym it is quite small but well fitted out. Both are located in the basement to the right of the pools. There are also two very nice and well equipped manicure rooms.
In general we had a fantastic experience to which the staff with their genuine kindness and thoughtfulness were crucial, and I hope they have set a new level of service in Santorini where sometimes profits seem to prevail over basic customer service.
There are small details that still need to be perfected, but which I don’t think will be left unattended for long. The only drawback in my opinion, being a completely new structure, the common areas should have been a bit more generous, leaving a little more breathing space between the houses and the pools, and between the houses themselves, with more relaxation corners.
In low season I have seen rooms starting from less than £200. I recommend you to check both Booking.com and the Radisson.com website (through Booking you will not get Radisson rewards points but sometimes you could find cheaper rates).
RELATED: feeling overwhelmed of planning a family trip? Read this step by step guide for a stress free experience!
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