Casa Delfino

Chania, Crete, Greece Book from

The best collection of suites and apartments in Crete’s best preserved Venetian coastal town
No, you haven’t clicked on the wrong country - despite the hotel’s Italian name, this is Greece, or more precisely Crete. Chania, of course, was a major sea-port for the Venetians, who controlled the eastern Mediterranean from here until the 17th-century. Their beautifully-built harbour walls, merchants’ homes, arsenals and warehouses have survived to make the town a delightful base for any trip to western Crete, and a cut above any other Greek city.

The Casa Delfino matches this beauty in its 22 tastefully restored suites and apartments, all housed deep within a 17th-century mansion. Take a few steps off the bustling seafront and you will find yourself in a cobbled court oozing a peacefulness and style rare in Greek (or Italian) hotels. Marble tables and fer forgé chairs line an arched portico, while potted geraniums, tall cactuses and pebble-mosaics add colour. The bedrooms are no less sumptuous, with vaulted ceilings, marble floors, sitting areas and Jacuzzis in the suites. La dolce vita, Greek style…

Highs

  • There's a wonderful sense of seclusion, despite its proximity to the bustling waterfront
  • The larger suites are seriously impressive, with sitting areas, Jacuzzi tubs, mezzanine bedrooms, and private roof patios in some
  • Excellent, largely organic breakfast
  • There's a decent spa too
  • Very helpful staff, brilliantly led by Margarita (the owner's daughter)

Lows

  • Many rooms are dark - a blessing in hot weather but a bit gloomy in winter
  • Not all the suites have balconies; the addition of these would make them near on perfect
  • Light sleepers may be troubled by pedestrian street noise in summer - though you can shut the window and switch on the air-con
  • You need to book early for the Penthouse and Honeymoon Suites
  • It's expensive by Greek standards (but worth it!)

Best time to go

The hotel is open all year, and if you can manage it you’ll find Chania at its most appealing from March to May - shops are beginning to open up, but not too busy; the hills are in full spring colour. If you want to swim and sunbathe, try and come in June, early July or September, rather than August, when half of Greece is on the move. October is also a reliably good month; Nov to Feb are completely different - Chania reverts to being a Greek city, and the hills are snow-covered.

Our top tips

If you're hiring a car on Crete, try and drop it off before you stay here (or collect if as you leave); driving and parking near the hotel is really no fun. The hotel can arrange taxis from the airport.

Active types can hire a mountain bike (April-October) and cycle through the shady Theriso gorge; have the bike company take you and the bikes to the top so you can cycle down. Hotel staff can help sort this out.

Great for...

City Style
Family
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 23
  • Breakfast only (walk to restaurants)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: One-bedroom Suite

Rooms

Spread warren-like over the 3 floors and subterranean mezzanines of this imposing building are no fewer than 23 suites and apartments, varying hugely in size and shape. Some have a sitting area, others are split over 2 levels, a few have a second bedroom, and the Penthouse Suite boasts a private terrace with stunning views of the harbour. The ground floor rooms, which were converted from storerooms and cisterns, have vaulted brick ceilings, while others have exposed stone arches. The style is the same throughout: shiny marble or wooden floors, white-washed walls with small clusters of old etchings or prints, and striped yellow-green bedspreads of debatable colour co-ordination. Satellite TV, safe, minibar, air-con and hairdryer all work fine.

All the bathrooms are functional, with power showers, fluffy towels, plenty of hot water and pre-packed toiletries that didn’t leave me smelling of furniture polish. The more expensive suites have a Jacuzzi, a large oval bathtub and - in case the combination of these is too much for you - a bathroom phone.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Casa Delfino has a small kitchen which serves breakfast only, taken outside in the courtyard, or inside in the unlikely event of rain. Cakes, Cretan pastries, eggs, yoghurt, fruit and fresh orange juice tart up the standard offerings, while the excellent filter coffee is likely to have you lingering a bit longer than intended.

There's also a small bar by reception for pre- or post-prandial drinks. We relished a Cretan-brandy nightcap taken on the terrace of our room, between starry skies and glistening harbour lights.

For dinner, the old town of Chania positively teems with characterful, buzzing tavernas, the liveliest of which line the waterfront (be prepared to ignore the hawkers), the best of which are hidden up small alleys inland. I can recommend Antigoni (on the far end of the waterfront beyond the Porto Veneziano) for outstanding fish soup and seafood; Semiramis for better than average cooked food (butter bean stew, Cretan ratatouille called boureki and various pies); of the seafront places, Monastiri is the friendliest, the most wind-protected and serves the best food, including a ‘little devil’ (spicy sausage pieces) and a ‘nun’ (ice-cream, halva and fruit baked in an earthenware bowl). If you don’t mind a short taxi ride, book a table at the Thalassino Ayeri east of the centre, hidden down an unlikely lane but serving the freshest of fish.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee maker
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Visit Chania's atmospheric, part-pedestrianised old town, with its leather and jewellery shops, covered food market, and excellent little archaeological museum
  • Stroll around the impossibly picturesque fishing harbour and along the Venetian sea wall to the restored lighthouse at the end
  • At night, the harbourfront comes alive with buzzing bars tavernas; some have live Cretan music, with soulful singing and minor-chord lyra accompaniment
  • Explore the foothills of the White Mountains, with their limestone gorges, valleys full of citrus trees and slow-paced farming villages
  • Trek through the world-famous Samaria gorge (along with the crowds; open May-Oct) or the Ayia Irini gorge (fewer crowds; open all year); both are a full day’s hike catching a boat and a bus back
  • On nearby Akrotiri peninsula, visit the medieval monasteries of Ayia Triada (beautiful Italianate architecture) and Gouvernetou (remote setting with a nearby hermit's chapel)
  • Book a boat cruise to Kri Kri island just offshore, named after the protected chamois which inhabit this rock; there are stops for snorkelling and wreck views too
  • Sunbathe on the city beach at the western edge of town; or drive to white-sand Marathi near the airport
  • After all that exploring, unwind in Casa Delfino's spa with a massage or a dip in the Jacuzzi whirlpool. There's a steam room and relaxation area, too

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome, and Chania should keep children of all ages and persuasions amused for a few days.

The room price is normally the same whatever the occupancy, though you could try asking about reduction for under 12s.

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
7/
Food
9/
Service
8/
Value
8/
Overall

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