But, in 1982, two energetic, eco-minded locals decided to bring it back to life. Using private and EU funds, they reconstructed old houses, reintroduced livestock and replanted terraces. Stream water was piped in, solar electric panels were installed and a smooth road has replaced the bumpy track. You'll find 14 beautifully restored stone houses with simple bedrooms and bathrooms, a spacious communal dining room, and a warm welcome from gentle Giorgos, tireless Tassos and their hospitable helpers. If you enjoy the simple, slow pleasures of life – home-grown food, country hikes, stunning views – you will never want to leave.
- We loved the total seclusion, high in a wooded valley, and a world away from the crowds on the coast
- There's great flora and fauna, including vultures, orchids and dozens more endemic flowers
- The delicious, organic, home-grown food typefies that famously healthy Cretan diet
- The absolute serenity: no cars or telephones (though you can get a faint mobile signal) - just birdsong and the wind in the trees
- The rooms are simple, especially the bathrooms
- A solar system provides some electricity (you can charge phones), but not enough for TV, radio or hairdryers in the rooms
- It's best in summer, as an escape from the heat and crowds; from Oct to April it can be rather cold and dark
- Not suitable for those who are uncomfortable with heights, or who have mobility issues
Best time to go
Our top tips
Don't miss the cave of Ayia Sophia, with a historic chapel hidden inside where locals sheltered from religious persecution; it's a good hour's walk downhill from Milia (leave enough energy for the return climb).
- Mountain Hotel
- 14 rooms
- Restaurant (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Beach Nearby
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Car essential
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
The rooms are spread between the scattered stone cottages of the village, and reached by cobbled steps and steep paths (bear this in mind when packing!). In some cases you get a little cottage to yourself, in others you get half a house, divided into floors or sections. But you always have your own small bathroom, either in the room or just outside, with flush toilet and simple shower. Little changed from the Cretan shepherd homes they once were, you’ll find thick, crudely-built walls, tiny windows, simple wooden or iron beds with firm mattresses, a light-it-yourself wood-burning stove (it’s chilly up here even in April), woven bedcovers and blankets, a table and bench in the larger rooms, and a few rustic tools (for decoration only – you’re not expected to till the fields!).
Most of the rooms have either twin or double beds, but there are Triple Rooms and Family Apartments available, too. All bathrooms have a handbasin, mirror and hot-water shower, powered by natural gas boilers. Eight of the rooms have fireplaces and all the others new and effective wood stoves.
You’ll probably spend more time in the communal sitting-dining room than in your bedroom – partly because it’s brighter and more spacious than the bedrooms, and partly because of the excellent home-made food and drink on offer. There is a small sound system in the restaurant with a good collection of Greek, jazz and world music .
First off, the drink: sage tea, camomile infusion, mountain tsaï (an eastern Mediterranean herb of the sideritis family, if you’re interested) and good ol’ Liptons and Nes are all freely available from a DIY honesty bar. Too healthy by half? Try a shot of raki (local grappa), clinked with true Cretan hospitality against the glasses of your hosts, and subsequently struck off your bill.
Now for the food. Seasonal vegetables, free-range eggs, healthy meat … everything is grown on site, without pesticides or fertiliser, and served fresh. On an autumn visit we enjoyed oven-baked chestnuts and potatoes with herbs, served alongside a tender joint of pork and some juicy butter beans. In spring we tasted boiled horta (like dandelions), paschal roast lamb with crisp-sautéd spuds and crunchy salad. There's a mean chocolate cake to round the meal off.
A word of warning: as everything is grown locally or brought in from Chania, you should give plenty of warning about any special dietary requirements you may have.
- Organic produce
- Vegetarian options
- Relax with a book or enjoy an evening of merriment with fellow guests (often accompanied by raki and music)
- There are 6 waymarked trails from your doorstep: one leads down to the chapel of Ayia Sophia, set in a cave above the Topolia gorge (3 hrs round trip); another takes you over the ridge behind Milia and down the spectacular Sirikari gorge, with its nesting vultures (5 hrs, taxi back)
- Enjoy the wildlife around: pipits, wagtails, finches and herons hide in the riverine woods, while we identified over 20 species of orchid on the slopes below Milia
- Explore the west coast by car: don't miss the idyllic sandbanks of Elafonisos (go early to beat summer crowds) and the monastery of Chrysoskalitissa, and if you want offbeat beauty head to the ancient hilltown, medieval fort and Roman-cut springs of Polyrinia
- Other treks further afield include the spectacular southern coast path (E4) from Paleochora to Souyia via isolated coves and the Greco-Roman ruins of Lissos; the peaks of the White Mountain - from Omalos, 2000-metre Gingilos is a steep but rewarding 6-hour circuit; and the lesser-known but lovely Ayia Irini gorge (5 hrs)
- Take a tour of Kissamos, with transport and lunch provided (7 hours, stopping for swimming, lunch and coffee) passing through Kedrodasos beach and other hidden locations in western Crete
- Try your hand at a cooking course, or a weekly wine tasting session. Wines are paired with local dishes shared between table for 6
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Plantlife / flora
- Traditional cultures
Parents with very active young children under 6 should be aware that many guests who stay here are looking for a calm and quiet escape. Having said that, it's an ideal getaway for nature-loving kids and teens, who can explore mountain trails, climb rocky outcrops and say hello to the animals.
Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
Family Apartments sleep 4 in 2 bedrooms, the Triple rooms and Suites could also work for families.
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
Babysitting available by arrangement.
Baby cots available on request.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Milia is in western Crete, high in the mountains about 30km south of Kissamos (also called Kastelli). The nearest village is Vlatos (about 5km).
Crete has two main airports, Chania (also called Hania, 60km away) and Heraklion (also called Iraklion, 190km away) with regular buses connecting the two. There are also year-round flights via Athens. Click on the links below for a list of airlines.
There is a overnight sailing every evening from Athens (Piraeus port) to Chania-Souda port. There are also occasional sailings from Gythion (Peloponnese) to Kastelli, also called Kissamos (30 km).
From the Airport/Port
From Chania it is a 2-hour drive, the first hour heading west along the north coast to near Kissamos, the second winding inland through the spectacular Topolia gorge and past Vlatos village. The hotel can book a taxi for i-escape users at a very favourable rates.
For car hire see our car rental recommendations.
Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.
More on getting to Greece and getting around.
- Chania, Souda 60.0 km CHQ
- Heraklion, Nikos Kazantzakis 190.0 km HER
- Beach 30.0 km
- Shops 10.0 km
- Restaurant 8.0 km