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Living Like the Gods: Top Hotels

The new, post-Olympic, EU Greece with its boutique hotels, luxury villas, sybaritic spas, and sophisticated nightlife overturns most of the Zorba-era conceptions of "Spartan" Greece. The days of the bare cottage, the creaky apartment, and the shabby motel have come and gone. Of course, many travelers still want hotels that deliver on the simple—or rather, simpler—life.

These chosen Greek getaways may lack worldly amenities but compensate with other luxuries—an abundance of sand and sea, perhaps, or stunning mountain views and other natural enhancements.

At these places, the greatest luxury is knowing you don’t have to do anything except maybe notice how the water in the pool color-coordinates with the sky. But, today, Greece has also a much more stylish side, and not only in Mykonos and Santorini.

Some new Greek resort Xanadus would not only please the gods but might even make them blush a bit. Several such temples of hedonism, including the Elounda Mare and the Elounda Beach, are nestled on the Elounda peninsula on the coast of Crete. Others, such as the Princess on Skiathos, are set amid a flurry of resort action and nightlife.

At their skyward rates, you expect world-class service and accommodation, but the vibe also comes with an easygoing elegance that is distinctly Greek, plus amenities that set the gold standard. Satellite TV, Wi-Fi, gyms, bars, restaurants, lounges—all these are to be taken for granted at top resorts.

Some of the other amenities to expect include: your own villa or bungalow, swimming pool, and slip of beach or waterside terrace; a sumptuous marble bathroom with whirlpool, steam room, and/or sauna; a spa with treatment pools and a full range of services; tennis courts and golf courses; a full array of water sports like windsurfing, parasailing, snorkeling, and boating; and a helipad for those harried, overworked CEOs.

Although accommodations in Greece can vary from grand hotel to country house, all happily provide the quintessentially Greek quality of filoxenia, or welcome—easygoing, heartfelt hospitality.

Greek Chic

Aigialos, Santorini, the Cyclades. No need to venture out to view the jaw-dropping sunset over Santorini’s caldera—a cluster of sumptuously restored 18th- to 19th-century village houses in Fira are the perfect perch.

Semeli, Mykonos. Traditional furnishings and elegant surroundings evoke the high Mykoniot style.

Marco Polo Mansion, Rhodes, the Dodecanese. Live like a pasha in a 15th-century Ottoman mansion fitted out with all the trappings—plush carpets, cushioned divans, and canopied beds.

Elounda Mare, Elounda, Eastern Crete. The first of the superluxe Greek resorts, this is Relais-&-Chateaux fabulous.

Tsitouras Hotel, Santorini, the Cyclades. Like stepping into the pages of Architectural Digest, this Firostefani redoubt has welcomed the likes of Nana Mouskouri and Jean-Paul Gaultier.

Corfu Palace, Corfu, Ionian Islands. Lush gardens, a sprawling pool, and a sea view from every room complement huge marble baths and elegant furnishings.

Updated: 01-2014

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