Greek Delight: Calilo, Ios

Nestled in the yellow rocks of Ios, Calilo sits on a 1000 acre plot of protected land, around 35 minutes by car from the main town of Chora. The harbour village of Chora is the largest town on the island where thousands of visitors arrive each day by ferry from Santorini, Mykonos, Crete and Athens. Whether this is your first time visiting one of the Greek islands, or is part of your island hopping checklist, Calilo is a luxury resort that should not be missed from your Ios itinerary.

Ios offers a bohemian, slower paced tranquillity, which cannot be found anywhere else in this region of the Aegean and that is perfectly encapsulated as soon as you enter through the gates of the resort at Calilo. If all the world’s a stage, then Calilo is certainly the amphitheatre of Ios. This low-rise property is consciously designed so that no room has a spoiled view. Blending seamlessly into the cove of rocks, every design element has been passionately decided by owner Angelos Michapoulos and has resulted in a resort that stands out from the crowd. Handcrafted mosaic walls, rails and pattern tiles transform the hotel. Natural driftwoods are also incorporated into the design with wooden furniture used throughout the restaurants and pool area. Cut outs in the flat-rooftops of the building allow sunlight to spill into the restaurant space with shadows of the words ‘Love’ and ‘Hope’ decorating the floor. Beautiful quotes also occupy each table as part of resin displays and as table placeholders.

There are 32 suites across the resort, each individually designed and featuring vibrant floor to ceiling marble interiors and epic bathrooms with a drop-in bathtub. From one to three bedroom suites available on-site, Calilo is the perfect hotel for couples, families and groups of friends. Each room has ample opportunity to view from the hillside, but does not directly spoil the overall landscape. The Afterglow Cave Pond suite leaves you blown away and spoiled for choice. This two bedroom suite offers private sun loungers, two dining areas around the pool and surrounding a plunge pool and private covered cabana bed overlooking the blue waters of the Aegean. 

Calilo prides itself in its philosophical mission to “offer a product where architecture and art are used to uplift the lives of their guests by providing them with a joyful, positive, carefree and playfully quaint physical and emotional environment to relax, let their guard down, think less and feel more.” This distinctive ethos flows seamlessly throughout the hotel from the breathtaking sculptures that start at the main reception and appear throughout the resort, in the main restaurants, outdoor dining and pool areas, all the way to the private beach cabanas and surrounding grounds.

When you’re not making the most of your suite, head down for a beach day at the resort’s private bay and relax on one of the shady daybeds that line the waters edge. Enjoy fun and fresh cocktails and have access to the beach bar menu offering tasty light bites and Greek classics.

For those who wish to explore outside the resort are recommended to view Paleokastro (meaning old castle). This lies in the eastern part of Ios on the top of the island’s highest viewpoint. Take the road back from Pirgos , you will end up on the beautiful, winding, stone-paved road to Paleokastro. Originally constructed to protect the local population from frequent pirate attacks, this site is completely isolated with ruins allowing visitors a glimpse of what life might have been like during the Middle Ages. 

Ios is also home to more than 300 churches across the island, some built on the sites of ancient Greek temples. It is recommended to explore the church of Agia Irene at the port, or the church of Gremiotissa, where you can expect a magnificent sunset.

In the evening, dining at Calilo allows you to take in the ambience of the resort in a new way. Fine-dining restaurant, CHES is a must during your stay and allows you to sample the finest dishes with fresh ingredients from the island and locally sourced wines from the best producers across the Greek islands. With a menu consisting of 33 dishes inspired by the 33 Cycladic islands, this beautiful restaurant is a chance to sample a carefully curated eight course wine pairing menu in an intimate open kitchen setting.

The beauty of this hotel group continues outside the resort as the Michapoulos family own around 30 percent of the island.  For a more lively night time atmosphere head to Pathos. The sunset takes centre stage and compliments this open terrace Japanese restaurant and lounge bar. With the signature of the chef experienced in Japanese cuisine, Takis Sofopoulos, the Pathos restaurant invites you to savour small plates and bites.

Perhaps the resort’s only downfall is its accessibility. Arriving into Santorini on the earliest flight from the UK, there is still a chance of a long wait at the port for a ferry across to Ios. The first trip of the day is often quickly fully booked. If you’re deciding to island hop, consider your itinerary carefully and make the necessary adjustments so you can make the most of your stay at Calilo. For those wanting a speedier and seamless trip, Calilo offers private high speed boat (45 minutes from Santorini) or helicopter transfers (11 minutes from Santorini) for guests wanting to get to the resort away from the rush of the main tourist routes.

Ios remains a beautifully kept island, with welcoming and friendly locals. Despite the scheduled ferry load of visitors from across the globe setting foot on this island, Ios still manages to hold its Greek roots strongly. Others have noted the Ios as being a predominantly livelier party island, and although there are spots that highlight this experience, a lot of the island remains untouched and preserved with resorts like Calilo at the heart of its natural beauty.

Rates at Calilo start from £460 for a one bedroom Garden View Suite per night including breakfast. Visit to book.