Elia Hotel & Spa

near Kolymvari, Crete, Greece Book from

Eco-friendly spa hideaway, plus adjacent villa for 4-8, nestling in olive groves near to Chania and west Crete’s best beaches
Get-away-from-it-all fans will love this rustic hotel, which seems as firmly rooted in sylvan groves as the world’s oldest olive tree down the road in Vouves. The views over Kolimbari bay are timeless and tranquil; the rolling hills scored with hikeable footpaths and unexpected waterfalls. This is a genuine hideaway, in every sense: owned by the grandson of a doughty resistance fighter who hid allies here during the Battle of Crete. But any difficulties finding it are smoothed away like magic by the warm welcome from Giorgos and staff.

The pastel houses have been carefully renovated to expose stone walls, stunning fireplaces and ceilings held aloft by honey-coloured beams. Alongside the antiques are plenty of modern comforts: plumped up four-posters, breezy air con, flowery terraces and an on-site spa where you can chill out with face and body therapies, from detox and massage to seaweed and mud baths. And, if you can stir yourself, some of Crete's most delectable beaches - Falassarna, Balos, Elafonisi - lie within an hour's drive.

Highs

  • Sweet slumbers serenaded by the sough of wind and the twitter of birds
  • Friendly and informative staff handpicked from the surrounding villages, and always there to help
  • A bumper crop of blurb about things to go, do and see
  • Turkish bath, massages, mud baths and other delights of the spa
  • The koulourakia biscuits and other fresh-baked Cretan pastries for breakfast
  • A beautiful pool with a view, peacefully tucked away

Lows

  • Hard to find – take our detailed directions and keep your eyes peeled for signposts amid the long spring grass
  • Minimal meal choice – but if you don’t like what’s on offer you can usually order something simple, like an omelette or a Greek salad, instead
  • Absence of privacy – most rooms are clustered around the reception and dining terrace; request rooms furthest from here, or book the separate Villa Elanthi, which has its own gardens and patio
  • You'll want a hire car: no tavernas nearby, and not much going on in the local villages

Best time to go

The hotel is open from April to October. Hikers love to come here in spring when temperatures are cooler, and the hills are alive with butterflies and flowers. June and September are good periods to visit if you’re keen on visiting Chania’s sights or lazing on the local beaches without the crowds. Folk who love a lively atmosphere should come in August when nearby Chania throbs with life and the packed hotel is full of visitors from around the globe, getting together for lively and prolonged dinner sessions.

Our top tips

Take a copy of Christopher Somerville's excellent "The Golden Step" - an account of his walk across Crete, starting at the monastery of Chrissoskalitissa. One of the steps to its door is said to be made of gold, but only the pure of mind can tell which one . If you go to Elafonisi beach, you can visit the monastery en route.

Great for...

Eco
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Spa Hotel
  • 9 rooms + 1 villa
  • Restaurant and bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room: Deluxe Suite

Rooms

Coiled like a snail around a central terrace, which is blessed with plenty of vine- and bougainvillea-shaded seating spaces, are the 3 standard rooms, 3 superior, 1 deluxe room and 2 deluxe maisonettes which make up this bite-sized country hotel. Some of them (2 superiors and 2 deluxe) have a private veranda or balcony offering views past blood-red geraniums to Crete's hazy-blue north coast; and there are plenty of sitting areas in the gardens for other guests.

Interiors cannily marry olde worlde aesthetics with a decent level of comfort. Expect wooden floorboards or rustic quarry tiles, patches of exposed stone, painted brass bedsteads (some on the narrow side) or larger wooden frames, and thick walls with small windows protected by shutters and iron grilles. Pretty details include porcelain door handles and fresh roses from the garden, and there's a liberal scattering of practical touches: a kettle to make hot drinks, plenty of surfaces and niches to set up a laptop or set down a tray of olives and ouzo, loads of bathrooms smellies to lather with, and lots of fluffy towels.

Standard accommodation is pretty roomy, but if you like more space it’s worth paying a bit extra for the superior and deluxe accommodation, where additional perks include chunky four poster beds, comfy Cretan daybeds, and baths instead of walk in showers. Some rooms are split-level maisonettes, with a double bed up on a steep-laddered gallery and a daybed or two below; and most have space for a dining table with those classically Greek wood-and-wicker chairs (varnished in brown rather than blue, in keeping with the earthy theme).

Guests who value privacy should request a room furthest from the main terrace, or splash out and book Villa Elanthi, a 3-bedroom detached house with private garden and sea view terrace a short stroll from the main building.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Toiletries
  • Tv

Eating

The breakfast table is stacked with a yummy and ample selection of local pies and pastries, nuts and Greek yoghurt, buns and cereals. This is one of Elia’s big pleasures - although the filter coffee tends to be a bit weak, so if you like yours strong and plentiful, cadge some sachets and make your own.

The restaurant is open at lunch for light meals, salads and snacks. The local cook conjures up a mean horiatiki (Greek salad) and a peerless spanakopita (spinach pie), as well as classic yemista (peppers, tomatoes and aubergines stuffed with rice) and Cretan dakos (rusks soaked with olive oil, tomatoes and crumbled cheese). It's almost enough to make you vegetarian, if you aren't one already.

There’s only one choice of evening meal – you’ll see this dish of the day chalked up on a board at the entrance. Made with locally sourced ingredients, the food is simple but copious - think beef or rabbit stifado, chicken in orange, boureki (Cretan ratatouille) - and is served in a cosy, wood-beamed, stoned-walled dining room at a long wooden table where you’re guaranteed to make new friends. If you prefer to dine tête à tête, you can sit out at one of the smaller tables on the terrace and be serenaded by the romantic throb of frogs croaking in nearby ponds.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Relax in the Turkish bath, steam in the sauna, or head to the spa for a seaweed wrap, mud bath or hydromassage with rose petals and jasmine oil; ask about their 1- to 5-day programmes
  • Beat stress with one of the many energy and therapy classes, including shiatsu, sotai (a Japanese movement therapy), yoga and reiki, taught by English-speaking practitioners from Chania
  • Take a self-guided walk through citrus and olive groves to a nearby waterfall or Byzantine chapel; hike through the Deliana gorge; or pay your respects to the world’s oldest olive tree at Vouves, a short stroll away (1000 years older than the Acropolis, according to some)
  • Sunbathe on the glorious tropical beach of Balos on the Gramvousa peninsula (1 hour's drive plus a short hike, or by day cruise from Kissamos): its fine grained sands are lapped by sparkling turquoise shallows

  • Beat the crowds to the sandbanks of Elafonisi in Crete's southwest corner (1 hour+ by car): sun-warmed shallows, kid-friendly sand dunes and plenty of parasols
  • There are more accessible beaches at Afrata, Menies and Falasarna, as well as the busy sandstrip of Kolimbari just 10km away
  • Saddle up at Zefiros horse-riding club at Akrotiri, the other side of Chania (30-45 mins away)
  • Explore the westerly foothills of the White Mountains by car or on foot: the ancient hilltop fortress of Polyrinia and adjacent gorge of Sirikari make an excellent day trip, as does the south coast path between Paloechora and Souyia; tougher day hikes include the world-famous Samaria gorge (open May-Oct) or the shorter Ayia Irini gorge (open all year)
  • Visit the picturesque Venetian harbour and bustling street markets of Chania, popping into the archaeological and naval museums or booking a ride on a glass-bottomed boat

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Yoga

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome at Elia and the larger maisonettes make excellent family rooms. The pool is popular with kids of all ages and parents with younger monkeys who need to let off steam will love Elia's extensive grounds. Lack of food choice could be a problem for parents with kids who are picky eaters.
Under 2s are free in parents' room; for older children, extra beds cost extra.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available, Family Rooms

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
9/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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