Eleonas (Crete)

Zaros, Crete, Greece
Book from GBP Book from £126 per night

Eleonas (Crete)

Zaros, Crete, Greece

An agrotourism settlement in the mountains of southern Crete, with rustic cottages, tranquil pools and a great taverna

An agrotourism settlement in the mountains of southern Crete, with rustic cottages, tranquil pools 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 22 stone cottages are centred around a taverna serving authentic Cretan home cooking, the adjoining main and kids' pools, plus an adults-only pool (for over 16s) in a 'quiet zone'. 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
  • We love the newer stylish stone cottages - each with a private plunge pool or hot tub
  • 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
World Favourite Family Hideaway

    Best rooms for families

    We'd recommend a Mezzanine Cottage if you're a family of 3 or any of the 'Two Bedroom' options for families of 4 or more. If you're 2 adults and 2 kids, then opt for the cottages with private outdoor heated pools (they have at least 2 single beds and 1 double). Most cottages have simple kitchenettes.

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

Some equipment may need to be requested in advance

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

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 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
  • Pool Table
  • Table tennis
  • 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

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Cottages
  • 22 cottages
  • Restaurant + bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Babysitting
  • Creche / Kids Club
  • Car recommended
  • Parking
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
  • Laundry service
Room:

Rooms

The 22 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 with prettily coloured fabrics. Outside, among honeysuckle, bougainvillea, roses and vines, you'll find a seating area looking out past olive groves to the mountains; some cottages have their own plunge pool too.

Entry-level Stone Cottages with Terrace have a bedroom, a living area with a single sofabed and open fireplace, a small kitchenette and bathroom with tub. Mezzanine Cottages are double-height, with a wooden mezzanine-level master bedroom and balcony. The Two Bedroom Mezzanine Cottages have a double bed, 2 single beds and space for extra beds in their living rooms. The open-plan single-storey Deluxe Cottages with Hot Tub have Jacuzzi tubs in their bathrooms and a hot tub on their terrace.

Families - and couples wanting more space and seclusion - will love the private pool cottages. The Deluxe Stone versions have one bedroom and a double sofabed (plus space for a rollaway), while the Suite versions have two bedrooms (1 double, 1 twin - or you can convert the twin into a sitting area). Both have private walled courtyards with loungers and a lovely little pool which is heated in the cooler months.

With fresh mountain air and total peace and quiet, you'll sleep soundly whichever you choose. We certainly did; and can thoroughly recommend visiting at either end of the season, lighting the fire (logs are supplied) and cosying up for a few days.

Features include:

  • Hairdryer
  • In-room treatments available
  • Safe box
  • 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
  • Barbecue
  • Coffee maker
  • Fridge
  • Kids' meals
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian options
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
  • Wine tasting

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-March) most tourist facilities close down.

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.
Kid Friendly:

Location

Eleonas lies on the southern slopes of Mt Psiloritis, 1.5km outside the peaceful village of Zaros, and 42km southwest of Crete’s capital, Heraklion.

By Air:
Heraklion Nikos Kazantzakis (45km) lies northeast of Zaros. It is served by daily flights from Athens the year through, and by charter flights from most European capitals in summer. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving this airport.

From the Airport
You could catch a taxi, but we'd recommend hiring a car (see below).

By Sea:
Heraklion port lies 42km northeast of Zaros and is served by daily overnight ferries from Athens’ port, Piraeus, on the Greek mainland.

By Car:
To explore the region better, you really need to hire a car - see our car rental recommendations.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.

More on getting to Greece and getting around

Airports:

  • Heraklion Nikos Kazantzakis 45.0 km HER

Other:

  • Beach 25.0 km
  • Shops 1.5 km
  • Restaurant 1.5 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 23 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

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Rates for Eleonas (Crete)

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