Short-term rentals are in Greece to stay. So says global demand, and so confirmed Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias last week, calling the sector a part of the country’s tourism product. While the owners of home rentals took a hit during the pandemic, causing many to switch back to renting out their properties long-term, the strong comeback for tourism this year will likely urge others to list their houses.
From luxury flats with Acropolis views to glamping situations and real homes, Greece boasts short-term rentals in all shapes and forms. One standout trend, which manages to combine the luxury feel of a fancy hotel and the quirkiness of some rentals, seems bound to boom in 2023: the sea-view cave houses.
Among several updates recently launched by Airbnb on their site is a “trending” category, containing their most viewed high-rated listings. One of the first properties in the category is a Santorini cave house, featuring the three must-haves of the island; a sea view, a whirlpool, and almost sculptural rounded corners and arches. The bedrooms are built inside the rock on the slopes of the caldera, and once housed a bakery. An article by Condé Nast Traveller, listing their top nine picks from the Airbnb trending category worth booking in 2023, explains that “the original cistern is now an illuminated cocoon-like cave bedroom.” Earlier this year, meanwhile, they named the same property one of the “coolest Airbnbs in Europe.”
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Most of the cave houses (iposkafa, in Greek) you’ll see on holiday home rental sites are located on Santorini, where homes have been built into the rock for centuries and transformed into hotels for decades. But you’ll also find listings on other Cycladic islands, such as Mykonos, Tinos, Paros, and Milos. Temptingly instagrammable, they are increasingly catching the eye of bloggers, influencers, and foreign media.
Interestingly, according to recent reports, the number of homes built into the rocks of the Cycladic islands is rapidly increasing. While they could previously be found on Santorini and rarely on a few more islands, they are now being built at other destinations for several reasons. The least exciting reason is a provision in the building code allowing these cave homes built on steep slopes to exceed local size limits by 50%. Other more inspiring reasons for the trend are the often-spectacular views and the lower energy demand that comes with an earth-sheltered home.