“Style with a big smile at this chic and superbly serviced, family-minded hotel on the beach, 15 minutes from Chania”
Spread across a cluster of low-lying, Cycladic-style cubic buildings are 33 surprisingly roomy and well-conceived studios and suites. Equipped with cushy sofas, chilled lighting and ample cupboard space, and dolled up with quirky ceramic artwork, curly-whirly Marimekko fabrics and other beautiful designer bling, they are a positive delight to be in, especially compared to Crete's many identikit concrete boxes.
All have a kitchenette fitted with sleek corian worktops - ideal for rustling up simple snacks - and a furnished balcony or terrace with a choice of views.
In the ensuite bathrooms, Bisazza mosaic tiles add a sumptuous touch of colour, while walk-in showers, sunflower-sized heads, chunky squeak-free toilet seats, daily-laundered fluffy towels and a sweet-smelling selection of trendy Apivita toiletries add plenty of pamper factor.
Sea-View Studios are best for stunning sunsets from the balcony, looking over the pristine pool and sea to the rocky island opposite. These come with 2 adjacent single beds (or 1 queensize), plus an additional built-in sofa bed, suitable for a couple with child or 2 friends travelling together. Loved-up couples will prefer the Deluxe Sea-View Studios, with their queensize beds, sea view balconies, turn down service and cuddly peignoirs.
Garden-View Studios have the same layout and bed types as the Sea-View studios, but give onto a tree-shaded garden full of twittering birds. On our most recent stay, we (plus in-laws) were very happy in our 3 adjacent GVS, numbers 35-37, tucked to one side with sea-facing balconies (an unexpected bonus), though one night there was a bit of late-evening noise from the hotel's restaurant.
The larger Garden-View Suites can accommodate a family of 4, with a queensized bedroom and a living-dining room whose 2 sofas can be used as children's beds.
At the heart of the hotel is a gorgeous dining terrace with panoramic sea views, glassed-in against the summer winds. This is the perfect spot to start your day. Ammos’ buffet breakfast - a (highly recommended) optional extra - translates as a groaning table stacked with standards like cereal and toast and a bottomless pit of filter coffee, next to plateloads of Cretan specialities like melomakarona (spiced honey biscuits) and small pies called kalitsounia, made with soft mithizra goats cheese and crispy filo pastry. It's typical of Nikos' generosity that a few platters of surplus pies and biscuits are left out all day for grazing.
Dinner is served in the airy breakfast lounge or out on the vine shaded terrace - a privileged beachfront position and much calmer than Chania harbour. The restaurant serves delicious homemade Greek food cooked to perfection with local ingredients and fresh herbs (and with foreign guests in mind, so never too oily). Roast lamb with fennel, artichoke hearts with broad beans, grilled snapper with soft-as-butter potatoes - we loved it all, and ended up staying in almost every night (handy for all the kids, too, who played amongst themselves while we looked on from the terrace). The menu is reassuringly small, but there was always at least one vegetarian option. if you get the chance, try the marathopites - crispy pancake brittles made with fennel, ideally smothered in tzatziki - and papoutsakia, a rich dish of aubergines stuffed with caramelised onions and mince in a moist béchamel sauce. Open from early morning till very late, it's just what hotel restaurant should be (though understandably a little pricier than local tavernas); and handy for night-time arrivals, or guests adjusting to the time zone.
Alternative dining choices - including Nesaki, a cheap and cheerful pizza parlour, and Eden, a jazz bar serving veggie and organic snacks - can be found just down the road in Kalamaki, but the road is busy so it’s best to walk along the beach and then pop up onto the main road when you reach the harbour.
If you’re seeking more variety, ask Nikos to book you a taxi into Chania’s old town. Here you’ll find atmospheric tavernas like Tamam, housed in an old Ottoman bathhouse and along the narrow Zambeliou alley outside; Semiramis, serving a sumptuous range of Cretan specialities; or Monastiri, which is probably the best of the many waterfront eateries.
Alternatively you could rustle up something basic like a feta cheese omelette or a mushroom risotto on the kitchenette's 2-ring stove and just chill out with a glass of local Minos wine on the balcony or terrace of your room. There's also a fridge and kettle, and staff will even wash up your dishes next day if you smile nicely.
Ammos is great for children and is particularly suitable for babies and toddlers, with a sandy beach, shallow waters and a kids' pool. The staff are extremely kid-friendly (many have young 'uns themselves) and Nikos keeps an eye out for teenagers to make sure they don't disturb other clients. It's a pushchair-friendly property.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years)
Garden-View Suites sleep a family of 4; Sea-View and Garden-View Studios have twin/queen beds and a small sofa bed, so suit couples with 1 child.
English-speaking babysitting available at an extra cost. (see Rates)
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Occasional play- or dancing sessions for kids, supervised by a qualified, locally resident French lady, in the downstairs playroom
Self catering and children's meals are available. There is also a bottle steriliser, blender and microwave for guest's use.
The biggest onsite hazard is the pool, though the kids' section is walled off from the main pool. The closest shop for nappies etc is 250m away. There is a mobile phone signal everywhere.