“A luxurious villa-hotel hybrid: secluded suites, villas with infinity pools, and views over the Med, all alongside very attentive service”
There are 17 villas and 15 suites at the main hotel, and a Beach-front Villa a short drive away; all of them light, sleek and spacious. You get lots of marble floors, a tasteful combination of antique furniture and modern designer pieces, oriental rugs, sumptuous Italian fabrics (in earthy neutral tones), freshly-cut flowers and, to avoid that cookie-cutter feel, some offbeat touches like a saxophone hanging from a ceiling, a leopard-skin chair, or a life-size mural in the marble bathroom.
Despite this, nothing is too ‘precious’ and one immediately feels at home amid the elegance. The rooms are also remarkably peaceful, with no road traffic hum and so little noise from your neighbours that you begin to wonder if they’re still there. Choose between a suite for 2-4 (like a large hotel room with sitting area), a pool villa for 4-6 (2 storeys, with kitchen and private pool), a spa pool villa (with kitchen and private infinity pool, sauna/gym), or the villa set on the beach (2-storeys, with kitchen and private pool).
Suites come in 3 categories. The Deluxe Senior Suite has 1 ensuite bedroom, a living room and either a balcony or terrace with sea or garden view, while the Deluxe Family Suite has 2 ensuite bedrooms and balconies with sea views; these suites share a pool. We're yet to see the 1-bedroom Massage Suite which features a private pool, a massage room and a steam bath.
All the pool villas are 2-storey and have a fully-equipped, open-plan kitchen, and a private swimming pool (not heated) with Jacuzzi. Elounda has 2 bedrooms with spacious ensuite marble bathrooms and inviting wooden loungers on the terrace, Aegean and Mediterranean have 3 large bedrooms and floor-to-ceiling windows that capture panoramic views.
The glamorous spa villas each come with a private, seasonally-heated infinity pool with built-in Jacuzzi, plus a sauna, a steam bath and gym room. The 1-bedroomed Deluxe Spa Pool Villas have the added flexibility of turning the living room into a bedroom with an extra single bed and its own bathroom. While the Executive Spa Pool Villas are set over 3 storeys and have 2 ensuite bedrooms and grand non-slip sun terraces with wooden sun-beds, a dining table and a wicker sofa. The Presidential Spa Pool Villa, with 3 spacious and airy ensuite bedrooms, is more secluded, and larger, but the flagship villa, the jewel in Elounda’s crown is the 4-bedroom Royal Spa Pool Villa. It makes regular appearances in glossy mags and, unless you're super-rich (or super-prolific in the family way) is more of a lure than a realistic consideration.
We’re yet to see the Beach-front Villa, with 4 bedrooms, but as the name suggests, it’s located directly on the beach (next to the hotel’s beach club), just a 7-minute drive from the hotel. The villa’s highlight is its huge garden (1500 sq.m) that features a large pool, a shaded patio and a kids’ playground. Plus it opens directly onto the beach, and has access to all the hotel's amenities.
If you’re staying in the suites, a buffet breakfast is included. If you are villa guests, you have the option of taking it privately or raiding the buffet, as you prefer. Those in the Beach-front Villa get breakfast brought to them daily, and can eat on their terrace overlooking the waves. Being served an organic breakfast with locally sourced ingredients in a glass-walled dining room overlooking the sea is, well, wonderful. So much so, you might be tempted to ask the butler to return for the evening meal. Or at least to shop for it and stand by, while you attempt taramasalata in the gleaming kitchen. Easier still, you can hire a chef to sort that out for you. High on romance, they’ll even set up candlelight and throw fresh flowers in your pool if you ask - nothing is too much.
Alternatively, head to the hotel’s Argo Restaurant - the candlelit tables by the pool are atmospheric and the food, thought not cheap, is very good and a cut above the fare in the touristy Elounda town restaurants. Try the fish soup for starters and the loukoumades (sweet bread doughnuts) to finish, both traditional Cretan dishes served alongside more trendy Med offerings such as mushroom risotto with pine kernels and parmesan or pork fillet in honey and sweet wine from Samos. There’s a children’s menu and the occasional mezé evening.
Ask your waiter to recommend a bottle from the outstanding wine list, which includes several astronomically priced French vintages, and of course champagne (this is the sort of place you drink it for breakfast). Round off with a nightcap at the adjoining Argonauts bar and stroll home. It’s not far.
On Argo’s rooftop veranda, Daphni serves creative gourmet cuisine and affords stunning views over the bay. It is open alternate nights for dinner only, and can be reserved for private dining and celebrations.
For more choice, it's a short drive into Elounda, which has a huge choice of restaurants and bars. Favourites include The Ferryman on the waterside (try their slow cooked lamb and the stuffed vine leaves) and Lotus Eaters for seafood (the grilled prawns, steamed sea bass with soy and ginger and peppered steak all come recommended). A good budget option is Vacchus, which serves simple homely fare like gigantes (butter beans) and pork chops at unbeatable prices.
Children are welcome, but must be supervised at all times. There's a fab Cool Kids Club and Cool Creche (open three sessions daily 6 days/wk April-June, Sept-Oct, and 7 days/wk July-Aug; free of charge in the club, for a cost per session in the creche, and if staying for lunch, all ages are charged). Kids up to 12 years are free of charge in the suites. Wonderful staff will go out of their way to entertain the kids and learn their names, kids toiletries can be supplied.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
All villas are family friendly and have plenty of both indoor and outdoor space; the Beach-front Villa offers a little more privacy, and has a kids' playground in its garden.
Available on request
Available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Children's menu in the restaurant, baby food and high chairs all available – and very thoughtful staff. Room service is also available in all room categories if mealtimes don't suit your children's schedule, plus those in villas can hire a chef to prepare meals for them
Villas can have a special transparent child-proof fence erected around the pool - ask when booking. Some pools are heatable out of season at an extra cost. Most villas are on 2 floors so do ask about the layout if you have small children. Stairgates are not provided