Elounda Island Villas

Elounda, Crete, Greece Book from Book from £88 per night

Simple, secluded apartments (for 2-4) with a tiny beach, on a rugged island off the coast near Elounda
The Gulf of Mirabello is one of the most picturesque stretches of coast on northern Crete, and one of the busiest. Elounda is hotel central, bustling with 5-star resorts and all manner of watersports within its enclosed lagoon. But just offshore, connected to the town by a causeway and an old stone bridge, is a little island which feels a world away. In Minoan times, this was a wealthy port: you can still see traces of the stonework beneath the surface of the clear blue sea. Now there's hardly any traffic at all: just 3 ruined windmills and an open-air taverna where, over breakfast and freshly brewed coffee, you can watch fishing boats chug home through the canal.

On this islet there is just one proper building - and there probably won't ever be more, given the strict planning laws that are now in place. It's a cluster of cubist Greek-style apartments: whitewashed and boxy, with paved patios, fragrant gardens, and olive and carob trees for shade. Inside each, the decor is simple and rustic. Not only is the resort family-friendly, it’s also family-run: you're warmly welcomed by artistic Lida and her parents Kiki and Ilias, who run the place with a laid-back, English-speaking ease. This spot makes a delightful, friendly base for an undemanding family or couple wanting to relax by the sea and explore some of eastern Crete, without spending the kind of money required by other Elounda hotels.

Highs

  • Fantastic swimming and snorkelling on your doorstep, and a sandy beach nearby with crystal clear waters
  • Great views from your breezy balcony over the sparkling sea
  • You share the island with just a handful of other guests, yet nearby Elounda offers bars, shops and boat trips to Spinalonga island
  • Kiki's breakfasts are superb
  • Excellent value for money

Lows

  • Children under 6 are no longer accepted
  • The cafe only serves breakfast, coffee and cakes; you'll need to head out for other meals
  • You really need a hire car to explore the area; Elounda itself is 15-20 minutes' walk away
  • The tennis court is neglected and in need of maintenance
  • Some of the local beaches get crowded in summer - but Lida can point you in the direction of hidden gems

Best time to go

The best time to visit Crete is between April - October, which is also when the hotel is open; though bear in mind that July-August can be very hot and very crowded. We went in early October and loved it - the perfect window between busy-ness and shutting down, with warm seas to boot.

Our top tips

Bring your own mask and snorkel, and a copy of Victoria Hislop's "The Island". This best-selling novel tells of a family whose life on and around Spinalonga is brought to colourful, and often tragic, life. Though somewhat harrowing, like all Greek tragedies, it leaves you feeling affirmed.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Wedding
  • Budget Apartments
  • 9
  • Self-catering (+ on-site cafe)
  • Kids over 6 welcome
  • Closed: 18 Oct 2018 - 10 May 2019
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Tennis Court
  • Motorboat hire
Room:

Rooms

The apartments are simply but adequately furnished, with plain pine tables and chairs, stone-flagged or tiled floors, cheerful cushions and curtains and a variety of built-in beds. The layout is open-plan and split level, with the bedroom (or bedrooms) half a floor higher than the sitting areas. Each apartment also has a simple kitchenette and a bathroom with tub (hand-held shower only); outside is a balcony or patio with glorious views over Elounda Bay. Electricity comes from photovoltaic cells which heat the shower water and power the eco-friendly lamps. There is no heating or air-con.

Features include:

  • Kitchenette
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • TV
  • WiFi

Eating

The family runs an open-air taverna serving breakfast, as well as drinks, coffee and cake during the day. You might prefer to buy supplies of orange juice, yoghurt, honey and nuts and do it all yourself in your kitchen: gas hob/oven, sink, fridge and basic cutlery/crockery. For provisions, the centre of Elounda is a 20-minute walk.

For dinner, we loved wandering a few minutes down the track to the delightful Kanali restaurant, shaded by tamarisks which overlook the canal separating Elounda Island from 'mainland' Crete. With colourful fishing boats buzzing past, it's the perfect setting for grilled catch of the day, super-fresh salads, baked veggie dishes and carafes of local wine (or bottled, if you prefer).

And there's no shortage of tavernas and bars in Elounda. 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 and peppered steak come recommended). A good budget option is Vacchus - serves simple homely fare at unbeatable prices. In nearby Plaka, several tavernas have wonderful waterside settings facing the islet of Spinalonga, but watch out for the prices.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Kitchenette
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
Eating:
Activity: Windmill near the hotel

Activities

  • On the islet, sandy Kolokytha Bay (10-min drive / 30-min walk) boasts the most beautiful turquoise waters; in summer, go before 11am or after 4pm to avoid the tour boats
  • Walk aross the land-bridge to Elounda's sand and shingle beaches (10 mins): sunbeds to hire, plentiful tavernas along the sea's edge and a smattering nightlife in summer for teens (and, why not, their parents)
  • Catch a boat from Elounda (or Plaka) across the lagoon to the rocky island of Spinalonga, with its Venetian fortifications and macabre history as a leper colony; go early (or late) to avoid crowds
  • Elounda offers watersports and some shopping, but for more choice, drive 10 minutes into Agios Nikolaos, a bustling town famous for its totally enclosed (and supposedly bottomless) fishing harbour - very pretty, but skip the touristy waterfront tavernas!
  • To get away from it all, point your hire car towards the rocky hills and olive-studded valleys. Aim for the tiny hamlet of Fourni, with its shady square (and taverna), its black-clad ladies and a line of ruined windmills above; or don't aim at all, just drive at will - Crete is full of heart-warming surprises for those who make the time

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Nightlife
  • Sailing
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Windsurfing

Kids

Children aged 6 and over are welcome, and the larger apartments can sleep up to 4 (with a combination of double and twin beds). We think it could work well for a family with teenage children, who can enjoy water sports and gentle nightlife in Elounda.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Any of V1 / V4 / V5 / V10 would be fine for a family of 4, who don't mind using the living room as the 2nd bedroom. Otherwise you can get 2 adjacent apartments.

Kids Activities on site:

There's a small sandy beach just outside, and tennis players can ask about the state of the court (avoid the midday heat, of course).

Families Should Know:

The apartments have unprotected steps and sharp edges.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 8 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

Lovely people. They looked after us excellently and helped us with restaurant recommendations and bookings, places to see, the best beaches, the loan of goggles, snorkels and umbrella and the hire of kayaks. Made us very welcome and contributed greatly to a lovely holiday.

9/10,

Lovely place; nice atmosphere, charming people and I would happily come back. Elounda is a bit pricey and touristy but this is a haven from all of that.

10/10,

Elounda Island villas is in a beautiful setting. The owners Leda and Kostas are perfect hosts giving all sort of information about places to visit and restaurants in Elounda. They are always helpful smiling and friendly. Breakfast with a sea view is delicious. We highly recommend this place.

10/10,

A little piece of heaven...will definitely be back!

10/10,

Absolutly loved our stay here. The area is rough and rugid, though within just 20 mins walk there's a village with restaurants, shops, pharmacies etc. Its a great place to unwind and relax. My husband and I stayed here for a week, and absolutly enjoyed the quiet, relaxed vibe. Lida and Costa were so welcoming, and we loved Lida's amazing cooking. Couldn't reccomend this place more. Come here if you're looking for paradise.

10/10,

Our host, Lida, was incredibly hospitable and made us feel immediately at home. Thanks to her intimate knowledge of the island we discovered beaches and coves we otherwise wouldn't have come across and benefited from great dinner recommendations we might not have stumbled upon. With it's quiet location, home-cooked lunches and laid back vibe, it was akin to having access to a private family holiday home.

10/10,

A truly delightful place. Beautifully simple but with everything you need. Completely peaceful location but within easy reach of restaurants and bars. Lida is a wonderfully warm welcoming host and nothing is too much trouble. Would highly recommend Elounda Island Villas for a few days of peace in a great location. Fab. Loved it.

10/10,

What we really liked: the atmosphere, tranquility, seclusion, service, tidy rooms, renovated and high standard bathroom, view, quiet (the rooster in the early morning hours didn't really help though), food, the small and not overcrowded beach within ten minutes walking distance which is great for swimming and snorkeling, the Canali Restaurant within five minutes walking distance with a lovely setting and great food.
What would have made it even better for us: a bed or window net against mosquitoes.

10/10,

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