Updated: January 18, 2017
Crete Hotels – Tips and Recommendations
- My favorite towns on Crete are Chania (beautiful, romantic, charming) and Agios Nikolaos (beautiful, relaxing, inexpensive). Knossos (just outside Heraklion) is the top historical site on the island.
- Elafonisi (a 90 minute drive from Chania) is the best beach on Crete and one of my favorite beaches in the world.
- The two best hotels on Crete are Casa Delfino Hotel & Spa in Chania and Blue Palace Resort & Spa in Elounda. They have a very different atmosphere so complement each other perfectly.
- My favorite budget hotel on Crete is the Mantraki Hotel Apartments in Agios Nikolaos – large rooms with kitchens (great for families), close to the beach, and super friendly owners.
- The best restaurants in Crete are Chrisostomos (Chania), Tamam (Chania), Avli (Rethymnon), Kastella (Heraklion), and To Karnagio (Agios Nikolaos).
- Recommended Tours: Hiking Tour of Samaria Gorge (great for transportation and pickup from Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos, Elounda) • Street Stories of Chania (walking tour of the charming Old Town) • Heraklion Bites and Sights Walking Tour (Heraklion is a great town if you know where to go) • Full Day Tour to Santorini (hotel pickup from Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos, or Elounda; you’ll get about 6 hours on Santorini to explore)
The 22 Best Hotels on Crete
Grecotel Creta Palace – Rethymnon
Grecotel’s munificent flagship resort on the Rethymno Riviera entices families, friends and fellow travellers looking for an encompassing holiday experience all in one place. It’s cosy, comfortable, casual .. yet classy .. and is all about what is good in a holiday resort. Grecotel itself suggests that it is a ‘paradise’ and they may not be far wrong. With 335 rooms some with private pools and an almost gluttony of bars and restaurants – including an impressive Sky Bar with its ‘floating boat lounges’ – the Creta Palace’s task is to cosset, entertain, wine, dine and massage its broad-based, yet demanding clientele with whatever they want – and then some.
Grecotel Caramel – Rethymnon
If there is one hotel that simply stuns with its minimalistic sumptuousness when you first experience it, then it is the Grecotel Caramel. This might just be the best hotel in Crete. Centred around the amazing confetti pool that vividly changes colour at night, Caramel’s accommodation consists of a meandering series of roomy suites set amidst lush gardens to two bedroom beach villas that offers, as management describes it “eccentric luxury on the beach”. Caramel caters to discerning visitors looking for that extra touch of exclusivity combined with personalised attention, discretion and tangible tranquility. A very 1uiet hotel. Best suited for folk seeking solitude
Amirandes Grecotel Exclusive Resort – Gouves
Amirandes is a sprawling, rather grandiose resort that caters to families and holidaymakers looking for a combination of everything in a pampered package by the sea. Part of the ever-caring Grecotel chain, the concierge here is meticulous, guest-tailored and impeccable. You will choose this hotel if you have kids, prefer a large cooling pool yet want to dip in the sea once in a while. Choose a villa by the sea or a room with a panoramic view and allow yourself to relax in self-contained comfort. Amirandes is close enough to Heraklion’s airport and of course to the Knossos Archaeological site to score mega points for convenience.
Aquila Atlantis Hotel – Heraklion
A business-oriented hotel, the expansive Aquila Atlantis promises comfort combined with efficiency and attracts a wide range of conference events and receptions. Travellers are welcomed equally and will be assured of hospitable pampering combined with sequestered comfort. Located very centrally to downtown Heraklion with its paved strolling streets and restaurants and within walking distance to the port, visitors will be guaranteed an exceptionally comfortable sojourn in the Cretan capital. The hotel breathes all-year activity, offers an indoor and outdoor pool and distinguished dining in its flagship Main Restaurant at lobby level.
GDM Megaron Hotel – Heraklion
For a touch of solid, old-fashioned nostalgia fashioned out of marble and wood and offering warm, cosy hospitality the svelte and classy showpiece Megaron Luxury Hotel dominates the Heraklion waterfront in neoclassical glory. Refurbished in its entirety from a once derelict warehouse and now re-built with old-fashioned elegance in mind, the earth-textured interiors reflect an earlier time, yet loses none of today’s panache and pleasing intimacy. This places oozes class and would appeal equally to folk in business as well as discerning travellers. The Megaron is just that bit of old school special in Heraklion.
Lato Boutique Hotel – Heraklion
A modern and jazzy denizen of the Heraklion hotel scene offering stylish, relaxed sleeping and relaxing and commanding perhaps the best evening dining views in Heraklion. This flagship of a group that includes the sibling Olive Green Hotel dishes up a modern dash of luxury for romantic couples, business travellers and busy families. Located as centrally as you can get in the Cretan capital, The Lato Hotel is a wise spot to start or end your Cretan holiday as the Heraklion international airport is only a short cab ride away. Up there among the best without a doubt.
Olive Green Hotel – Heraklion
If best means less and clean equals green, this newcomer to the Cretan capital’s hotel scene comes up trumps. Re-furbished from the ground up this eco-green hotel blends metal, wood and greenery to create a space that assuages, calms and relaxes. Located close to the port of Heraklion and within walking distance of the capital’s vibrant night scene, the Olive Green Hotel has entered the top-end market without the luxury prices that often accompany high quality hostelries. Rooms use renewable energy and the philosophy is focused on environmental conservatism. Truly one of the best and greenest.
Porto Elounda Golf & Spa Resort – Elounda
The Porto Elounda Golf & Spa Resort is about golf, wellbeing and sport galore. This expansive all-inclusive resort is part of a superbly maintained trio of sister hotels occupying prime real estate on the shores of the Mirabello Gulf. You can check in any time you like, but you may never want to, or ever need to leave. Offering yachts to charter, scuba diving, soccer camp, water sports, tennis, shopping and even church, this is the ultimate one stop resort in Crete. Fitting for families and kids, sporty folk and the plain washed-up, its all here in this complete resort.
Elounda Peninsula All Suites Hotel – Elounda
If you are a president, prime minister, or rock star you will want to come the All Suite Hotel. It’s all about unadulterated exclusivity, luxury, and discretion. Constituting the second of the Trio of Porto Elounda establishments, this suites-only hideaway exudes wealth and privilege. Eschewing plain rooms, every living space here is a personalised experience and most have private pools, though you’ll have the luxury of a private beach. You will rub shoulders with the world’s wealthy here and may even hobnob with a world leader or two. And why not, if you deserve it?
Elounda Mare Hotel – Elounda
When you want the luxury, prefer the subtler side of vacationing and don’t want to take out a mortgage to relax, you will inevitably find your way to the Elounda Mare Hotel. This prize-winning smoother version of the Porto Elounda hotel triumvirate is the perfect antidote to life in the fast lane. Embracing its own distinct slice of the Elounda Riviera, the Elounda Mare Hotel is the subtler, lower-key and earthier sister of its siblings around the bay. Choose the Mare if you desire privacy, charm and friendly interaction with your fellow-guests. The Mare is the Yang to the Ying and Bling around the Bay.
Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas – Elounda
For ultra sumptuousness and the widest range of luxury accommodation options, look no further than the queen of Elounda, the venerable Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas. This eclectic collection of rooms, suites, villas tempt deserving punters with a dazzling array of options, themes and facilities. Winner of many accommodation awards, Elounda Beach simply excels without seeming to try. Draped along the prime coastline and punctuated by greenery and curated sandy beaches, this twin resort is distinguished by unparalleled personal service and attention to detail. Guests enjoy a most distinguished environment for either business or pleasure with the minimum of effort.
Elounda Bay Palace – Elounda
The distinguished Elounda Bay Palace is home away from home, offering relaxation amidst verdant greenery combined with subtle and refined luxury draped along the shores of the ever-blue Mirabello Bay. The twin sister to the adjacent ‘Beach’ the Bay is a member of ‘Leading Hotels of the World’ and promises and delivers cultivated hospitality and coutured refinement. Sharing facilities with its sister, this hotel offers a lower-key alternative luxury destination, yet not shirking on the level of luxury and comfort. Business folk will love the expansive conference facilities where commerce or science can be seamlessly blended with exceptional pleasure.
Elounda Gulf Villas & Suites – Elounda
For a well-balanced combination of the intimacy of a private home and the luxury of a boutique deluxe hotel the family-owned and run Elounda Gulf Villas might just be the solution that visitors might be looking for. Draped languously across the verdant hillside up above Mirabello Bay, this serpentine collection of villas and suites is about as private and discreet as it gets. Intimacy, friendliness and meticulous concierge are words that sum up the philosophy of this delightful haven of holiday cheer. This peaceful retreat offers the intimacy of a private beach club along with curated customer care to make guests stay and smile a mile.
Blue Palace Resort & Spa – Elounda
For a grandiose holiday experience imbued with expansive and unlimited luxury overseeing magnificent island and sea views, look no further than the opulence of the Blue Palace Resort & Spa. This sprawling resort lies amphitheatrically draped over the hillside north of Elounda directly opposite the island of Spinalonga, a Greek national monument. With its own beach connected to the hotel by a private funicular track, you have in this deluxe resort a truly self-contained island within an island whence you may only reluctantly decide to leave. The Blue Palace Resort & Spa is distinguishable by its own palpable sense of timelessness.
Minos Beach Hotel – Agios Nikolaos
Lovers of art will be inexorably drawn to the heady culture and stylish scene of Agios Nikolaos’ luxury senior hotel establishment. The Minos Beach Art Hotel offers a cerebral mix of art, beach, sun, sand and wellbeing on an unparalleled pocket of land caressing the shores of Mirabello Bay. Located within walking distance of Agios Nikolaos, visitors can enjoy the soothing confines of a chic resort along with the bustling nightlife of a thriving town. Minos Beach will appeal to the selective and seasoned traveller and couples seeking to start their lives together or to cement their recent union.
St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas – Agios Nikolaos
Simple understated elegance and cosseted comfort perched on a private peninsula is what makes a stay at St Nicolas Bay a memorable experience. This compact resort enjoys close proximity to the little town of Agios Nikolaos and comprises a classy collection of rooms, suites and villas all within a stone’s throw of the sea. Catering to couples, honeymooners and incurable romantics you will discover just the environment you desire – from discreet suites to a whole house. For relaxing and escaping the crowds, St Nicolas Bay Hotel does it all in inimitable style and fashion.
Avli Lounge Apartments – Rethymnon (Old Town)
Chronic romantics will be drawn to the Avli Lounge Appartments for its heady mélange of Cretan, Venetian and Ottoman textures that lend themselves to the visual senses in a subtly sensual manner. This 1660-renovated mansion now gives guests the choice of large colour coded suites or cosier ‘olfactory’-coded mini suites. It’s a seductive and tastefully tempting package that comprises sleeping, dining and wining and where architectural history meets East and West within a space that you will not easily wish to leave. Re-birthed in 1987 Avli (‘Courtyard’ in Greek) deservedly enjoys its place as one of Rethymnon’s and Crete’s best.
Veneto Boutique Hotel – Rethymnon (Old Town)
Fastidious foodies who love an old fashioned ambiance will be drawn to the Veneto Boutique Hotel. Manifesting its Venetian connections, this hostelry with history is both a traditional hotel wearing one of Rethymnon’s best restaurants in one irresistible package. Nestling amidst the narrow alleyways of Rethymnon’s historical centre, this former Benedictine monastery is today a refuge for weary wanderers and a simply stunning, stone-laced refectory for discerning diners. Offering an affordable mix of rooms and facilities, a night or two spent between the walls of history at the Veneto Boutique Hotel could be well worth the choice.
Casa Vitae – Rethymnon (Old Town)
Popular with honeymooners and chronic romantics in need of a rustic getaway, Rethymnon offers the discreet Casa Vitae for those looking for a “House of Life” (its name in Latin). The open courtyard provides for an airy, relaxing oasis amidst the narrow backstreets of old Rethymnon. Uniquely for the city, this old Venetian castle house stands detached and replete in its former glory and offers a small selection of tastefully decorated and utterly relaxing suites just three minutes walk from the buzz and karma of the centre of the Old Town
Casa Delfino Hotel & Spa – Chania (Old Town)
Casa Delfino feels like a relaxing home wasy from home deep among the historic houses and mansions of Old Chania. This grandiose structure is a welcoming oasis from the sometimes-busy bustle of the Old Town. Here the discerning traveller will find a welcoming refuge from a cosy, modest room to a presidential suite and yet be just a stone’s throw from the harbour and its throbbing day and nightlife. In a town where accommodation shouts from every corner, Casa Delfino whispers its wares quietly and delivers upon its promise of a romantic hideaway laced with history and tradition.
Domus Renier Boutique Hotel – Chania (Old Town)
Blending timelessness with modernity, this more recent arrival to the Chania boutique hotel scene welcomes, seduces and restores tired travellers to tranquility. It’s pedigree owes itself to history – to the 17th Century Renier family who hosted politicians, diplomats and generals long before it opened its doors to selective visitors to Crete. Imbued with an indelible sense of the past the conservative number of rooms here combine, style, simplicity panache and punch in an eclectic combination of earth-tone materials and colours of the Venetian past. Stay here if you love intimacy, privacy and comfort packaged in the solidity of the past.
Serenissima Boutique Hotel – Chania (Old Town)
Serenity, luxury and relaxation are this boutique hotel’s motto and they are good enough reasons to spend a few days cocooned in the memories of Chania’s Venetian past in tasteful, yet minimalistic comfort. Classically furnished rooms of stone and wood remind of another time. The walls and arches of this once Venetian manor promise solidarity, familiarity and superiority in an enviable mélange of architectural influences. The Serenissima Boutique Hotel – consciously borrowing the moniker of the Mediaeval Most Serene Republic of Venice – has earned its place in among the top hotels of Crete. Taste, tradition and history combine to provide unique, yet modern Cretan luxury.
Where To Go On Crete
If I had a week on Crete I would spend 3 days in Chania (with day trips to nearby beaches and attractions), 3 days in Agios Nikolaos and Elounda, and 1 day in Heraklion (with a visit to Knossos).
Chania is a great city with a wonderful Old Town. It has tavernas strung around the crescent shaped waterfront and hotels and shops on the streets and alleys back from the water’s edge. A good beach is walking distance from town and even better ones are a short bus ride away. Chania is a good base if you want to do the Samaria Gorge or make a day trip to the beaches of western Crete (like Balos or Elafonisi). That said, it’s easy to spend 2 or 3 days here and not get much farther than the great traditional restaurants found just outside the town center. Best Hotel: Casa Delfino Hotel & Spa
Rethymnon is similar in some ways to Chania but has a little less charm and is not nearly as developed. There’s a good beach a short walk from the center of town. In summer it has direct ferries to Santorini (twice a week) making it a convenient stop if you’re going to the Cyclades. Best Hotel: Veneto Boutique Hotel
Heraklion is not picturesque like Chania or Rethymnon (some areas are a little rough and ugly) but it has a working class charm and Greek flavor that many of the tourist towns lack. The city is home to the best museum in Crete and the must-see historical sight of Knossos is just outside the city. If you’re catching an early morning ferry to Santorini you’ll probably spend a night here whether you want to or not. Best Hotel: Aquila Atlantis Hotel
Agios Nikolaos is my 2nd favorite town in Crete and a good base for exploring eastern Crete. It’s a beautiful town with a pedestrian friendly waterfront. Good beaches are nearby and the popular small town of Elounda is a short bus ride away. This is a great area to spend a few days relaxing and unwinding as it’s much less busy than Chania, Rethymnon, or Heraklion. Best Hotel in Agios Nikolaos: St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas • Best Hotel in Elounda: Blue Palace Resort & Spa