Hilltop Villas

Near Heraklion, Crete, Greece Book from Book from £191 per night

High in the hills above Heraklion, 2 villas (sleeping 4-7) in the grounds of an organic farm, with home-cooked food to order

What we love about Hilltop Villas is their unique and quirky combination of working Cretan farm and well-equipped holiday homes. You get private pools, air-conditioned bedrooms and proper kitchens; plus orchards to explore and delicious organic suppers to order. Perched in the hills above Heraklion, 15 minutes' drive from the beach and 20 from Minoan Knossos, they are set amidst gnarled olive trees and aromatic gardens. Two villas are for hire (one sleeps 4-5, the other 6-7), and a third is the family home and communal guest space. Inside they're homely and comfortably furnished, but it’s the views that blow you away. Poolside terraces and wraparound balconies overlook the rolling plains around Knossos and the rocky foothills of Mt. Ida - a breathtaking setting for alfresco dinners.

The best thing about these dinners is you don't have to cook them yourself. Owners Miltos and Stella serve up delicious Cretan home cooking on request (the first meal comes free, to whet your appetite), or they'll fill your kitchen with fresh farm produce if you prefer. They have created a wonderfully peaceful environment and will do everything to help you enjoy it.
Covid update: see our Flexible Booking Policy.


  • The hilltop location has to-die-for views: you feel like an eagle on your private hilltop
  • The food is straight from the farm and totally organic: it doesn’t get fresher than this
  • The farm has 50 acres of tranquil grounds, with fruit orchards, bee hives and a (road-going) miniature train
  • Both villas are set in lovely leafy gardens planted with lemon trees, bougainvillea, lavender and mint, with several outdoor seating areas plus a pool and barbecue
  • They are tranquil and totally self-contained; you really start to feel as if you live and belong here, as opposed to being a tourist


  • The rural setting means you're neither by the beach nor in Crete's true wilds; but it's close enough to both
  • Interiors are dated, but comfy
  • You'll need to hire a sturdy car - and be prepared for some steep tracks
  • There's a 5-night minimum stay - but you really need this time to settle in and unwind; most guests stay 1 or 2 weeks

Best time to go

The spring (April and May) and autumn (late September and October) months are warm but not too hot, and much quieter than the midsummer season. However, if you'd prefer to go when it's scorching, aim for August, when there's a festival in Heraklion with open-air theatres and concerts. The villas normally close during the winter months (November to March).

Our top tips

This is a great spot for reading by the pool. Pack a copy of Crete by Barry Unsworth (published by National Geographic Directions) for an insight into the excavation of the Minoan palace at Knossos, plus a wealth of knowledge about the island in general. And if you want to leave terra firma, ask Alex if he can take you out on his boat - many guests mention this as a real highlight.

Great for...

  • Boutique Villas
  • 2 villas for 5-7
  • Meals by arrangement
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 1 Nov 2022 - 31 Dec 2022
  • Outdoor 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


The two free-standing villas come with open-plan living spaces, full-height French windows and wraparound balconies to maximise the awesome views. Best of all, each has its own pool, dining terrace and barbecue. Miltos runs a construction company and prides himself on the quality of his fixtures and finishings. There's A/C for the summer and huge wood-burning stoves for chilly autumn or spring evenings; well-equipped kitchens and spacious living rooms with sofa, armchairs and TV-DVD players. Built in the 1980s, they do show some signs of their age, but they are comfy and functional.

Perched on a pine-shaded hilltop, looking down over scattered villages and rolling farmland, the smaller villa (sleeps 4-5) is the pick of the pair. The 3 bedrooms (1 double, 1 twin, 1 single) are set at the back of the villa. Decorated in sunshine yellow, the master bedroom has a brass four-poster bed, romantically cloaked by muslin drapes, plus a spacious ensuite bathroom with a shower. Two doors down, the cream twin room is basic but comfortable, with terracotta floor tiles and chintzy touches; it shares a bathroom with the small single room. There is also a small library.

300m down the hillside, and tucked out of sight, the larger villa (sleeps 6-7) consists of a main house for up to 7. Craggy stone walls surround the swimming pool; pine and fruit trees provide ample shade. Living areas open onto a vast balcony, which offers a stunning panoramic of the Ayios Sillas plains. The master bedroom is romantically decorated, with cerulean blue print curtains surrounding the four-poster bed, a wicker chair, and an ensuite bathroom. Across the hall, the split-level triple bedroom has a single bed on the main floor, and an open-plan attic mezzanine containing twin beds. The ceiling of this is quite low, so it's best suited to children. This triple shares a bathroom with an additional single room, also on the main floor, and an extra single bed can be provided.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Barbecue
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Dishwasher
  • DVD player
  • Extra beds
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Internet access
  • Iron
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Satellite TV
  • Terrace
  • TV


Prefer to self cater? The villas' kitchens are spacious and well equipped in terms of utensils and basic ingredients (herbs, olive oil, bin bags, sponges etc are provided). Both have gas cookers, electric stoves, coffee-makers, kettles and toasters (rare in Greece), as well as dishwashers - heaven on a group holiday. There's no shortage of shady spots to dine al fresco (or inside if it's chilly); and each villa has its own barbecue. There's a supermarket 1km away in Malades, but one of the highlights here is the hospitality: the owners leave fresh produce for the guests - fruit from the gardens, olive oil from the farm, home-made marmalade and freshly laid eggs.

Prefer to be spoilt? It almost seems churlish to cook when you could be eating home-made Cretan specialities. Miltos's wife, Stella, offers a vast array of traditional dishes Monday-Saturday (on request, at additional cost). Prepare for your day by the pool with a hearty continental breakfast (fruits, yogurts, cheese etc), all of which are produced by the farm or locally. At lunchtime, hop aboard the train to the communal villa and dine alfresco on salads, cheeses and moussaka. Then return in the evening for a 4-course feast accompanied by local wine, served on a candlelit table by the pool.

Prefer to eat out? There are several tavernas within a short drive, and Heraklion (12km away) has a wealth of restaurants and bars where you can mingle with the bronzed and beautiful Cretan crowds.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Dishwasher
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • In house cook
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Microwave
  • Organic produce
  • Oven


  • Wander around the 50-acre farm - explore the tranquil fruit orchards, visit their nearby bee hives, then go horse riding along a trail from the nearby stables (5 minutes away by car) before cooling off in your private swimming pool

  • Persevere through messy concrete sprawl into the heart of Heraklion, Crete's bustling capital (15 minutes' drive), to sip iced coffee around the 17th-century Morosini fountain, and explore the Venetian sea walls and fortress

  • Don't miss the excellently revamped Archaeological Museum nor, of course, the Bronze Age palace of Knossos (20 minutes' drive away), the Minoan site where most of the artefacts on display came from

  • Head to the beach: Agia Pelagia is beautiful but bustling, Ligaria is equally stunning but more secluded (both are about 30km away)

  • Or drive to the south coast - it's only an hour away - to see the ex-hippy-hangout of Matala and the stunning seas of Komos

  • Hire a bicycle in nearby Kokkini Hani (4km away) or hike up the nearby summit of Giouhtas, sacred to Zeus. Further afield, the 2450m-high Mt. Ida conceals the cave where Zeus was brought up

  • Take the kids to a water park - Water City and Aquasplash are both 30km away - or show them the octopi and sea horses at Thalassocosmos (www.thalassocosmos.gr)

  • Play a round of golf at the picturesque Crete Golf Club (30km away)

  • Go wine tasting at a local vineyard. Boutari (www.boutari.gr) near Skalini offers organised tours with an audio-visual presentation and is popular with tour groups, or Alexandros can arrange a visit to a smaller, less commercial vineyard

  • Help Stella prepare your dinner, and pick up a few Cretan cooking tips

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Tennis


Children of all ages are welcome. Kids will love the heavenly gelato on offer and watching the goats being milked nearby, so this is an ideal place to holiday with a young family. Cots are available free of charge.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Either villa works; the larger villa sleeps up to 7; the other sleeps 4-5. They both cost the same (for 4-5 people), with a small extra charge for each additional person. Both bathrooms have a bathtub.


Babysitting is available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

  • 3 cots
  • High chair
  • Bedding
  • Night light

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

See Eating: you've got the best of both worlds here, with self-catering facilities (including blender, microwave and kettle) and meals provided as well as local food delivery. There's even a dishwasher

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming pool
  • Children's DVDs

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Tennis court in the estate
  • Horse riding 3km away
  • Beaches
  • Farm animals
  • Waterpark and aquarium 25 minutes' drive away

Families Should Know:

The pool isn't fenced, otherwise there are few hazards


  • Airport: 20 minutes
  • Doctor: 15 minutes
Kid Friendly:


The villas are in central Crete, 12km south of the capital Heraklion, off a steep road above the village of Malades, overlooking the Ayios Sillas plain and suburbs of Heraklion.

By Air
From April to October, there are charter flights from various airports to Heraklion Nikos Kazantzakis Airport (15km away). There are also year-round scheduled flights to Heraklion via Athens. Click on the links below for details of airlines serving these airports.

From the Airport
Most people drive (see below), but the owners can arrange transfers if required - enquire when booking.

By Boat
Alternatively you can fly into Athens and take an overnight ferry from Piraeus (Athens' port) to Heraklion. There are daily or near-daily departures.

By Car
You'll probably want to hire a car on Crete, as it's a large island and there's no public transport to the villas - see our car rental recommendations.

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

More on getting to Greece and getting around


  • Heraklion Nikos Kazantzakis 15.0 km HER


  • Beach 15.0 km
  • Shops 1.0 km
  • Restaurant 2.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 2 independent reviews from i-escape guests


We found the villa really good and Alex was a great host. He was very responsive and gave some good recommendations and advice. He also delivered meals to us at the villa - great quality and good value. The noise from the crickets was the only downside to the stay, but that's not the hosts problem!


I would wholeheartedly recommend Hilltop Villas. My wife and two boys had a truly wonderful fortnight. Alessandros and his family could not have been more welcoming and friendly. The cooked meals they provided were delicious (better than restaurant), the ice cream from their shop was outstanding and we were even shown round their museum in the town.

The villa itself has a beautiful location looking down the valley, and is very peaceful and totally private, and the pool is a good size - great for family fun. Inside the villa, the 3 bedrooms are decent, but because of the mezzanine in two of the bedrooms the layout is slightly unusual. The master bedroom perhaps feels a bit cramped as a consequence. Elsewhere the interior is a little bit tired, and perhaps some judicious updates of decor / kitchen equipment might help. But who goes to Crete and spends the holiday inside?


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