How To Book Hotels in Greece and the Greek Islands
- Book far in advance for the most popular islands (Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, Crete). Many of the best hotels are fully booked 6 months in advance.
- Map your hotel and pay close attention to location. On most islands, you want to be walking distance from the main towns not out in the middle of nowhere.
- Use street view to get a sense of what’s immediately around the hotel.
- Check to see if the hotel is adults-only or family-friendly. Many hotels are either kid-friendly or the exact opposite.
- If you’re traveling as a big group or staying for longer than a week contact the hotel directly to enquire about special deals.
Q. What is the best website for booking hotels in Greece?
Booking.com – My current favorite for booking hotels. Free cancelations for most hotels makes it easy to plan a trip. Great rates too. The verified reviews on the site make it especially valuable. It also has good maps (most of the time) and detailed pages on individual destinations: Santorini Hotels • Mykonos Hotels • Athens Hotels • Crete Hotels
Hotelscombined.com – Good for finding last minute deals.
Both websites have been around for years and are very reliable.
I typically use these sites to find the hotels with the best rates and then phone or email them directly to see if they’ll match the price I found online. About half the time they’ll offer the same rate. And even when they don’t you can ask detailed questions about any concerns you might have which can be helpful if you’re traveling with kids or a large group. Also, if you’re a member of a hotel rewards program then you’re more likely to get points if you book directly rather than through Booking.com or Hotelscombined (though whether that’s worth paying a little more is obviously dependent on the details).
Booking your hotel in advance is absolutely mandatory if you’re visiting Santorini or Mykonos between June and September – or any Greek island in July and August. For May and October booking just a few days in advance is usually fine. On other islands showing up without a hotel can be half the fun but that doesn’t apply to Santorini which is incredibly popular from June to September.
And one very important note: If you want to stay at one of the best hotels in Santorini or best hotels in Mykonos then you do need to book very far in advance to ensure you get a room. I recently spoke to the manager at Grace Santorini (September 2016) and she said they are taking reservations for 2017. And for weddings people are enquiring about 2018 and 2019.
For certain, there are many exceptions and it never hurts to look for last minute availability. But if you have your heart set on a particular hotel then you should book as far in advance as possible (i.e. 4 to 8 months before your trip).
If you do arrive on Santorini without a hotel reservation during high season take anything you can find for the first night and then look around for a better place once you’ve put down your bags. If there are hotel owners meeting your ferry at the port they’re an easy way to get a place to stay and a free ride into town. Be aware if they say you’re staying “right in Fira” you’re still probably going to be outside the town a little way (often in Karterados). If you’re really concerned about location get them to point to the hotel on a map. Almost all of these hotel owners are legitimate and trustworthy, though, as I say, they will fudge a little on the true location of their hotel.