Elounda Island Villas

Elounda, Crete, Greece Book from

Simple, secluded apartments (for 2-4) with a seasonal taverna and 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 delicious courgette cakes and tzatziki, 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. Not only is it 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 demanded 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 home cooking is superb - not much choice, but authentic and better quality than most of Elounda's flashy restaurants
  • Excellent value for money

Lows

  • Decor is simple and rustic, rather than contemporary chic
  • Children under 6 are no longer accepted
  • The on-site taverna only serves light meals, and usually closes in the evening (but room service may be available)
  • 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

Take a copy of Victoria Hislop's "The Island", a best-selling tale of a fictional family whose life on and around Spinalonga is brought to colourful, and often tragic, life. It may not be the most sophisticated read but, like all Greek tragedies, it leaves you feeling affirmed.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Budget Apartments
  • 9
  • Self-catering (+ on-site taverna)
  • Kids over 6 welcome
  • Closed: 3 Dec 2016 - 11 May 2017
  • 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 also runs an open-air taverna serving a few Greek-Mediterranean dishes à la Alexopoulos - baked vegetables, Cretan pies, salads and smoothies - which were among the best we tasted in the area, and very reasonably priced. If you make the right noises, Kiki will factor your appetite in when she does her morning's cooking.

Breakfast is also available here - but you might prefer to buy supplies of coffee, 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
  • Kitchenette
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
Eating:
Activity: Windmill near the hotel

Activities

  • On the island itself, sandy Kolokytha Bay, boasting the most transparent and turquoise waters in the area (10-minute drive / 30-minutes walk). It's best to go before 10am or after 4pm, to avoid the high season tour boats. On the way there are other enticing inlets and coves for great snorkelling (bring your own mask and snorkel). Or you can just relax around the villas, reading on your balcony
  • Cross the bridge and within 10 minutes you reach Elounda's sand and shingle beaches (with sunbeds to hire) and plentiful tavernas perched along the sea's edge. In season, there's enough nightlife to keep teenagers (or adults) amused for a few days
  • You can 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. Again, try and go early (or late) to avoid crowds
  • Watersports are also available in Elounda, and there's some decent souvenir shopping, too. Or 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 don't eat at any of the waterfront tavernas!
  • To get away from it all, point your hire car towards the hills and follow winding lanes past olive-studded valleys and tiny hamlets of black-clad ladies; aim for Fourni, which has a plane-shaded taverna at its centre and a line of ruined windmills above. Or don't aim at all, just go native and 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...

9/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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