Insight /

Crete

Just Back From Crete

Director Matt Fisher takes an in-depth look at Crete and discovers a range of characterful hotels and authentic experiences that will work perfectly for your next foray to this rugged Greek isle.

Matt Says...

“I was surprised by how rural much of Crete is. There are some built up areas, but the majority of the island has a lovely rustic vibe, built on the traditions of old. As the island is sizeable, it has other industries other than tourism and that’s clear in the rows of olive and citrus groves, ceramic studios and agricultural land. This of course makes it a totally unspoilt destination for hiking, biking, farm-to-table experiences as well gorgeous beaches for the classic beach holiday.”

    Kapsaliana Village & the West

    If you’re a fan of rustic-chic décor then you’ll find Kapsaliana hotel very pleasing, located one hour and 20 minutes from Heraklion airport. A collection of stone buildings that was once a 17th century hamlet and olive oil mill, surrounded by verdant nature with mesmerising views down to the sea, Kapsaliana is a peaceful idyll.

    On top of this, Kapsaliana’s rooms, suites and villa are of a very high standard, characterised by chunky walls, beamed ceilings and original stone arches. With a range of room types, you can pick a terrace, sea view, private pool or all three. There’s also the hotel pool to relax by, flanked by fragrant Mediterranean shrubs and an excellent organic restaurant which serves refined retakes on Cretan traditional cuisine. In the area, exploring is encouraged with bikes ready to go – recommended is a visit to the 14th century Arkadi Monastery, a trek through the Platania Gorge to waterfalls and a trip to beaches, just 8 kilometres away.

     

     

    Elounda Resort, Cayo Exclusive & Northern Crete

    Probably one of the more well-known areas of Crete, Elounda is where you’ll find high end resorts, clustered around the beautiful bays of the Elounda Peninsula. We’d recommend two in particular. Established hotel Elounda Mare has a traditional, secluded feel; bungalows and cottages with private pools are scattered around the lush gardens. Décor is refined with a nod to local craft and the large pool is certainly the place to be seen, although amid the crashing surf and rocky shoreline, sculpted swimming platforms allow you to feel at one with nature.

     

     

    Located on a quiet corner of the Elounda Peninsula is design hotel Cayo Exclusive. With biodynamic architecture and blissful views of Spinalonga and the sea, Cayo is a great choice for families with older children and teens. The majority of the suites come with pools and the hotel is walking distance of authentic seaside town Plaka, giving teens breathing room if they’d like to explore Plaka, just five minutes from the hotel.  Highly recommend is the hotel’s farm experience which is a hands-on rural day out where you’ll pick vegetables, make cheese, drink raki and enjoy a long-table meal which pleasantly stretches into the late afternoon.

     

    Eleonas Village Houses & Central Crete

    Authentic, family-run, good value and extremely welcoming, Eleonas Village Houses is a hidden gem of a hotel for those that love off-the-beaten-track, active escapes without the frills. A labour of love, Eleonas was built from scratch by owner Manolis and his family, slowly adding to it, year-on-year and his passion shows through, not just for only Eleonas but for the surrounding area too. Whether you’re a couple or family, Manolis is very knowledgeable and hands-on and can suggest a host of activities from walks, wine tasting to cookery classes, all with a very localised, Cretan flavour.

    You’ll stay in simple, stone cottages (some have two bedrooms and pools) which make the most of their rural surroundings and views; inside the décor is fuss-free and without pretension. Mini kitchens will give the flexibility to prepare small meals and snacks and the restaurant serves lovingly made home cooked dishes, created from the farm garden. Families will love the two pools, table tennis and playground and nearby archaeological site Phaestos gives a glimpse of life in the Bronze Age.

     

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