These Dreamy Villas on Santorini Take Inspiration From Traditional Cave Dwellings

Embedded within a dramatic, volcanic landscape, the villas of Vora Santorini feel like minimalist cocoons.
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Carved into the volcanic cliffside above the Aegean Sea, Vora Santorini in Greece comprises three villas designed by Dimitris Karambatakis and Marianna Stavridou of K-STUDIO Architecture. "We wanted to celebrate the inherent energy of Santorini island itself, and its longstanding local architectural traditions and techniques, in a contemporary way," says owner Yannis Bellonias. "The basic element of the design was to bridge tradition with contemporary life."

"The design of the building takes the shape of the cliffs and harmonizes perfectly with the environment," says Vora Santorini owner Yannis Bellonias. "The property has been designed in order to have each villa enjoy the same amazing views, but at the same time, have total privacy."

The story of Vora is one of duality: inspiration drawn from old cave houses on the island harmonize with modern, minimalist finishes. White limewash and pale linens contrast with charred wood and blackened gun metal, creating a chiaroscuro effect. "We focus on the details to achieve the perfect balance between the island’s geography, local tradition, and contemporary design," says Bellonias. He describes the understated luxury as Cycladic minimalism—the interiors serving as a light, airy cocoon.

For his own home nearby, Bellonias transformed a cave dwelling into a three-bedroom getaway featuring pressed cement walls and skylights that bring light into the serene interiors. 

With its breathtaking views and soft curves, Vora evokes a sense of calm, but also vitality. "The energy of the island is so powerful," says Bellonias. "The volcanic rock landscape with its drama, its vineyards, and the sulfur in the ground gives you an energy that you can feel only when you visit." 

The island brings him back to his childhood, he says—the local products, the dishes he learned from his grandparents. "We are more than just a place to stay. From meals cooked by a private chef and bespoke cocktails made to order, to excursions to lesser-known parts of the island, everything is tailor-made for each guest," says Bellonias. "We have applied the same attention to detail to the experience of staying here as we have the design and build of the actual structure of Vora."

The entrance to Villa Omikron reveals a series of arched openings.

The living room steps out to a veranda with a heated spa tub.

"We’ve created the interiors to offer understated luxury features," says Bellonias. "It can be called Cycladic minimalism."

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Inside Vora Santorini, you’ll find Zirini ceramics, Piet Boon fixtures, Gascoigne and Vasaltis marble, Ceppo di Grey stone, Trizzo and WM lighting, and Bang and Olufsen sound. "All of it is naturally embraced by the traditional, white interior walls and the black volcanic rocks of Santorini," says Bellonias.

The main bedroom of Villa Ro includes a freestanding tub made of local black marble.

Villa Alpha features a luxurious, walk-in shower.

Small and intimate, Vora doesn’t try to appeal to the masses. Because of that, Bellonias says he can put an incredible amount of energy and effort into the details and the guests’ privacy. "I love it because it’s a place where you can experience the magic of Santorini, yet avoid the crowds," he says. "I searched for years to find my perfect site in order to bring my vision to reality and share the authentic Santorini of my childhood with guests. There’s nothing else like it on the island."

"Since I am local, I know the island very well," says Bellonias. "I was looking for years in case there was a property for sale in the particular area, below the monastery, which in my view is the best spot to enjoy the view of the caldera cliffs and the volcano. And finally after years of searching, I found it! I love it because it’s a place where you can experience the magic of Santorini, yet avoid the crowds."

 "If you look at it from a profile view, then you see that the building is like a part of the
mountain," says Bellonias.

Rates at Vora Santorini start at €600 a night, including breakfast.

Project Credits:

Architecture, Interiors, and Cabinetry: K-STUDIO Architecture
Structural Engineer: XKS Stathakopolous
Civil Engineer: George Tziotis
Landscape Design: Voutsinos Stellos

Lighting Design: Hallo - Athens


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