Eleonas

Zaros, Crete, Greece Book from Book from £86 per night

An agrotourism settlement in the mountains of southern Crete, with 20 rustic cottages, a tranquil pool and a great taverna
Eleonas, meaning 'olive grove' in Greek, is a collection of pastel-painted cottages, sprinkled amongst a wonderful fruit and olive estate in southern Crete. Set in a stunning location, against a backdrop of dramatic rocky peaks at the foot of Crete’s highest mountain, Psiloritis, it's close to the sleepy village of Zaros but still feels wonderfully remote.

The 20 stone cottages centre on a lovely pool and taverna serving authentic Cretan home cooking. Popular with local Greeks, Eleonas is also a working farm. They grow their own fruit and vegetables, produce olive oil, and keep goats and chickens. Guests are welcome to help feed the animals, and can also take cooking lessons or learn how to milk the goats and make cheese. It’s a great choice for those searching to escape commercial tourist resorts and urban chaos, and a fantastic set-up for families, who are as warmly welcomed as everyone else. One of our favourite finds in Crete.

Highs

  • Within walking distance of a lovely lake and a dramatic gorge for picturesque hikes
  • Ideal for families: cots, and sofabeds in the cottages; a kids' pool; a safe environment for older kids to run free; farm animals to feed and bikes
  • The cottages - though they look a bit boxy from outside - are cool and cosy inside, with local furniture, private terraces and open fires in winter
  • A good base for visiting the archaeological sites of Phaestos and Gortys, and the unspoilt beaches of Crete’s glorious south coast
  • Exceptionally good value for money

Lows

  • Not a lot going on in Zaros, so Eleonas could feel rather isolated and sleepy (a high for some)
  • Unless you want to go into Zaros, you'll eat all meals at the 2 tavernas (they are very good but could get repetitive)
  • You really need a car to explore the surrounding area, unless you’re a mountain bike fanatic
  • The nearest beach is a 30-minute drive away

Best time to go

To avoid the crowds, try to visit in shoulder season (May-June or September-October) when the days are sunny but not too hot and the sea still warm enough to swim. During high-season (July-August), the island swarms with visitors, while in low season (November-April) most tourist facilities close down completely although Eleonas is open all year.

Our top tips

A 30-minute drive away, you can swim and sunbathe at beaches on Crete’s stunning south coast, which gives onto the Libyan Sea. Choose from Matala (known for its red cliffs with caves), Kokkinos Pirgos (made up of fine sand) or Kalamaki (rockier). Or head for Agia Galini (32km), then take a local boat to the lovely unspoilt beach of Agios Pavlos.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Cottages
  • 20 cottages
  • Restaurant + bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Stone Cottage

Rooms

The 20 warm and homely stone cottages are pitched on a hillside amidst beautiful olive groves. Each has a wooden beamed ceiling, terracotta tile floor and traditional Cretan furniture - mainly wooden, with simple one-colour fabrics. Outside, you'll find a small seating area looking out beyond the olive groves to the mountains. Honeysuckle, bougainvillea, roses and vines adds to the feeling of privacy.

Single-storey Stone Cottages have a bedroom, a living area with a single sofabed and open fireplace (logs supplied free of charge), a small kitchenette and bathroom with tub. Cottages with Attics are double-height with a wooden mezzanine-level master bedroom and balcony.

The 2-Bedroom Cottage have a double bed, 2 single beds and space for extra beds in their living rooms. The open-plan single-storey Stone Cottages with Jacuzzis have Jacuzzi tubs in their bathrooms and are best suited to couples.

With fresh mountain air and total peace and quiet, we slept extremely soundly. We liked the idea of returning sometime between autumn and spring, to light the log fire and cosy up for a few days.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Barbecue
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Fridge
  • Hairdryer
  • Hifi music system
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

One of the highlights of staying at Eleonas is the food, prepared from mostly home-grown produce. Meals are served at the central taverna, which is popular with Greeks from across the island, and a 5-minute walk from the furthest cottage. You can either eat inside by the log fire, or out front on the stone terrace surrounded by geraniums, with mint scenting the air, and cats idling in the sun.

Breakfast is an impressive buffet spread: freshly squeezed orange juice, homemade yoghurt and cheeses, various types of homemade pita, fritule, freshly made bread, cakes and biscuits, local honey, and homemade jam and marmalade.

Lunch and dinner menus feature authentic Cretan cuisine, and you can have full meals or snacky options. We had delicious katsohiri (homemade goat's cheese), followed by a rich kokkinisto (cockerel stewed in red wine and baby onions), and finished with a small carafe of raki.

Each cottage has a small kitchenette. Upon arrival, you’ll find a welcome carafe of raki, some Greek coffee, Greek mountain tea and a bowl of fruit. The kitchenettes are for preparing snacks and coffee rather than meals, but parents will find them extremely useful. Handily, there are 3 supermarkets in Zaros.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Swim in the pools then join a cookery demonstration (4-12 people) to learn about local cheese making and how to bake bread, pita and other traditional Cretan dishes
  • Walk to Lake Zaros, ringed by eucalyptus and pine trees, and home to fish, ducks and turtles. It’s overlooked by a waterside taverna and a restful café, and there’s a small playground for kids
  • Hike up the Gorge of St Nicholas - an easy enough 2-hour walk, following a path and clambering over rocks in parts. Enthusiastic hikers might continue up a steep path to Rouvas Forest and the Church of Agios Giannis. Ask for a map at reception before setting off
  • Hire a mountain bike (Eleonas has 20) and wind your way through olive groves to Zaros, a sleepy Cretan village with two churches, a handful of cafes and tavernas, bank, post office and watermill
  • Visit Phaestos archaeological site, where the ruins of a Minoan palace date back to 1600BC, or Gortys (13km), which incorporates Greek temples, a Roman forum and amphitheatre, and a Byzantine basilica
  • Spend a day in Heraklion on Crete’s busy north coast. Explore the pedestrian-only Venetian-era old town, and visit the excellent Archaeological Museum and the Crete Historical Museum

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Archery
  • Cooking classes
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Mountain biking
  • Playground

Kids

A lovely retreat for families, with lots of space and rural surroundings. The heated outdoor pool and farm animals are bound to amuse, as are the sandy beaches nearby. All ages are welcome.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

We'd recommend the Cottage with Attic if you're a family of 3 or a 2-Bedroom Cottage for families of 4 or more. All cottages have simple kitchenettes.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available - request in advance (additional cost).

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • Baby bedding
  • High chair
  • Baby bathtub
  • Pushchair
  • Bottle warming

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

Children's meals:

Each cottage has a basic kitchenette (with hot plate, crockery and fridge). The taverna is great for families, serving a kids menu, high tea, half portions and takeaways. There are cafés nearby and a supermarket 1.5km away.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Kids pool (heated during shoulder season)
  • Main pool (heated during shoulder season)
  • 2 soft playgrounds
  • Playroom
  • Children's DVDs
  • Farm animals: goats, rabbits, chicken
  • Football court
  • Table tennis

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Lake Zaros, 1km away, has a big outdoor playground plus fish, ducks and turtles
  • Kamihis Farm Experience (5km) - become a farmer for the day, look after chickens, bees and goats, ride the donkey, make cheese and traditional Cretan pies
  • The beach is a 30-minute drive away
  • There are hiking and mountain biking paths nearby - hire bikes from Eleonas

Families Should Know:

There's a mobile phone signal everywhere in the property. As the settlement is built on a hill, there are a number of steps to be aware of.

Distances:

  • Airport: 55 minutes
  • Doctor: 20 minutes
  • Shops: 3 minutes by car (Zaros)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 35 independent reviews from i-escape guests

9/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

Loved the staff, especially Manolis!

10/10,

What a truly perfect place to stay. Our family of four, with kids aged 7 and 3, were here for a week in early June 2017. Eleonas is just as wonderful as all the reviews say - delicious food, gorgeous setting, very comfortable, private and tastefully done-up cottages, tonnes of play opportunities for kids, and excellent friendly service. But as well as those big ticks, it's the small things that make it perfect: our small kitchen came stocked with coffee and amazing herbal tea grown in the gardens; the breakfast was the best I've ever had, complete with a vat of freshly squeezed orange juice, another of scrumptious Greek yoghurt, and perfectly done eggs. The cottage was cleaned and the beds made every day. Manolis provides an excellent suggested itinerary of beach trips and walks for the week. Aanything you might need, from a sun umbrella to armbands, candles to mosquito repellent tablets, is available to borrow. The gardens smell delicious, the pool is heated, the kids can bounce on the trampoline or slide into the ball pit while you're waiting for your third or fourth course of a very tasty, well-priced meal, and all is quiet but extremely friendly and accommodating. Generous host Manolis and his family and staff work very hard to think of every tiny detail, and how to make it as great as possible. To us it seems like very good value indeed, especially now that we are in our second Cretan holiday rental, costing the same but without the breakfast, gardens, clean sheets or blow up shark! We stayed in the very top cottage. It was a steep but rewarding climb up from the taverna, and it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. If I had one tiny tip for Manolis, it would be to buy a couple of yoga mats to lend out...but that's just me!

10/10,

SUPERB! The accommodation is excellent, the setting stunning, the food far too good and the service fantastic. One of the best, most relaxing and enjoyable weeks holiday we have ever had and we would recommend Eleonas to couples, families, lone travelers...

10/10,

We had a great time in Eleonas. The staff are very attentive and the facilities in the hotel are fabulous - we particularly enjoyed the pool and the food, and our 2 year old loved the play room and playground. It was a lovely opportunity to meet other families too. It was less rustic in feel than I picked up from the review - this was perhaps due in part to the fact that it is no longer a working farm, so it wasn't possible to feed the animals etc on site (they still provided this as a paid option at a nearby farm).

9/10,

This is a really lovely place to stay. The setting is pretty, you can spend the day chilling by the pool, on the terrace, or do some lovely local walks and we were also given some great ideas for trips out. Everyone who works here is so nice and friendly and nothing is too much trouble. In general it's a great place to go with kids, ours (6 and 1.5) loved it. Food and wine is great too. Loved it.

10/10,

Eleonas was a great recommendation! Manolis and his family have created a wonderful base for exploring the mountains (maps with a good range of walking routes), cuisine (we did a cookery course with his mother) and culture of Crete. Delicious food (half board recommended) and the service was friendly and impeccable. Facilities for families excellent, the cabins are well appointed, there is a football pitch, indoor play area and trampoline for younger children, and Zaros is one of the livelier villages and a good base for exploring southern Crete. We wish we'd stayed longer and cut short stays elsewhere, but will be back.

10/10,

We had the most wonderful stay at Eleonas. The location is stunning, right up in the hillside, where all you can hear are the bells from the nearby monastery and from the sheep and goats wandering past. All the staff at Eleonas made you feel at home and nothing was too much trouble. You feel as part of the family when you are there. The food was just incredible - all home made and locally sourced or home grown. A truly wonderful and unique place to stay and one that we will certainly be returning to.

10/10,

Absolutely loved our stay at Eleonas. It had the most warm and welcoming atmosphere, super host and all staff extremely helpful and attentive. The cottages are wonderfully traditional and spacious and the wine, fruit and coffee are lovely extra touches. The facilities are very good, pool, playground, football pitch, plenty for our son to explore when back from a day out at one of the secluded beaches on the south coast.
Especially loved the traditional Cretan feel of Eleonas with pretty flowers and herbs growing all around. The Greek dancing will be a highlight of the holiday I'm sure. Couldn't fault it and would certainly love to come back in the near future for more!

10/10,

We really enjoyed our stay there. Beautifully conceived, I understand 10 years ago. These accommodations at Eleonas were a pleasure - great base location for town, beaches and natural explorations. Loved the terrace and restaurant.

10/10,

Loved the natural environment that has been created. Outdoor courtyard was beautiful for eating under the olive oil trees. Staff were excellent, friendly, warm, and genuine. Felt very unspoilt and has been sympathetically buillt into the mountain side.
Kitchen/ette could do with being a bit better equiped or modernised but is’ authentic' so still works. Cottages were spotless and fresh/felt liked recently cleaned and bright. Daily turn down and cleaning is a plus.
Tap water is drinkable do no need for the additional expense of buying bottled water
Great visit to the local working farm – children have the opportunity to ride on a truck off road/milk the goats/collect eggs and feed the animals/learn about the workings of the farm and management of the land, plus cook up produce from the farm on an open fire (including eggs they had collected)
No mosquitos (which is a first for Greece) as area frequently sprayed
I would really recommend Eleonas for families with children of all ages.
Was safe and friendly, especially great for pre schol/pre teen.

9/10,

{{ review.rating }}/10, {{ review.firstName }}Anonymous{{ review.countryName ? ', '+ review.countryName : '' }},

Rates for Eleonas