The Olive Grove Estate

Gavalohori, Crete, Greece
Book from Book from £276 per night

Two luxurious sanctuaries in the green hills of northern Crete, each with 3 bedrooms, a private pool and dazzling views (sleep 4-6)

As we enter the gates to this wonderfully private estate, we spot 2 handsome villas overlooking an oasis of olive groves, citrus trees and wild herbs. Lavender comes first, a bright, contemporary house with pristine white interiors, great lighting, funky artwork and huge windows sliding open onto wide patios. 50m further sits Olive, the original house of the estate, with cool limestone walls and rustic interiors. Both villas have 3 bedrooms, spacious living areas, suntrap terraces and elevated pool areas to make the most of those divine views over the valley.

The project is the vision of Penelope, a Cretan by birth, and her Dutch husband Danny. After many years in assignments abroad, their dream came true when they bought the 2-acre estate back in 2010. They rebuilt the villas just in time to hold their wedding reception here; a lovely painting above the hearth shows them leaping hand-in-hand into the unknown. With sandy beaches 10 minutes by car, and the charming Venetian town (and airport) of Chania half an hour away, the villas make an easy and stylish summer escape for a family with older children, or for 4-6 friends.

Highs

  • The beautiful pools are a godsend in Crete’s fierce summer, and positioned to make the most of the views
  • The helpful caretakers, Peter and Anne, will point you to the best tavernas, shops and boat trips, or cook for you if you like
  • Top-spec facilities include Bosch dishwasher, a juicer in Olive, a walk-in wardrobe in Lavender, Nespresso machines
  • There are arty touches too: bright paintings, fresh-picked lavender, locally crafted ceramics
  • The pretty-but-sleepy village of Gavalohori, 10 minutes’ walk away, has a couple of great tavernas

Lows

  • The villas are only 50m apart, but each has its own pool and parking spot
  • The third bedroom in both villas is the shorter straw - best for kids
  • Mobile signal is patchy, but WiFi is good
  • The nearest sandy beaches (Almyrida and Kalyves, 5-10 mins' drive) are both quite small

Best time to go

We think Crete is best in May-June or September: days are hot but not uncomfortably so, the sea and pool are warm enough for swimming, and the Apokoronas landscape is still lush until mid June. If you are coming in July or August, Lavender's underfloor cooling system will keep you chilled, and there's usually a breeze on both pool terraces. April is a good option if you're more interested in sightseeing and wild flowers than in swimming and sunbathing; October is great for end-of-season swims and cosy evenings beside the fire.

Our top tips

For some monastic calm and a secret swim, head past Chania airport to the Venetian-era monastery of Giagarolou (or Agia Triada), with its handful of welcoming monks (note: restricted opening hours; wear long sleeves). Then continue up to the empty monastery of Gouvernetou (or Agios Ioannis). From here a clear 45-minute path leads down, past a cliffside chapel and a mini-gorge, to reach an azure sea-fjord hidden among sun-bleached rocks. Take sandals to get in and out.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Villas
  • 2 villas for 4-6
  • Self-catering (restaurants nearby)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • 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
  • Concierge Service
  • Maid service and linen change 3 times/week
Room:

Villa Lavender

Lavender is the larger of the two, with a muted grey-white palette and an inverted layout. The spectacular pool terrace sits at the top, with views to the distant sea. From here you step into an airy, open-plan living space with L-shaped sofa, a superbly equipped kitchen (including a temperature-controlled wine fridge) and indoor dining table, and a laundry room which could come in handy. Picture windows slide open to a further outdoor living space, with wicker chaises-longues under a khaki wooden pergola.

Stairs lead down to the 3 bedrooms, which feel tranquil and rather Zen, with Swedish Duxiana beds and underfloor cooling. The master bedroom sits alone on the middle level, with kingsize bed, blackout blinds, a vast walk-in dressing room, an ensuite bathroom with tub and separate rain shower, and 2 balconies (one Juliet, the other with loungers).

Down on the bottom level are the second and third bedrooms. The larger has double/twin beds and a private sitting room with arched windows onto its own sunrise terrace. The smaller bedroom is tucked away at the back, with twin beds, a shower room and one window - best for younger kids, perhaps.

Villa Olive

Faced in warm limestone, Olive feels a little more rustic, with a more conventional layout too. You enter on the middle floor into a lovely open-plan kitchen-living area, with beamed ceilings, a big stone archway and a small balcony. There’s a study, a bathroom and a small twin bedroom at the back - handy if you want your little ones nearby in the evenings. Outside, the main terrace overlooks the pool and gazes out over the lush orchards and the blue strip of Souda bay beyond.

The top floor houses the 2 master bedrooms, each with Coco Mat beds, ensuites, sloped ceilings and neutral interiors. One is a twin (but can be made into a double) and has a small balcony; the other is a double and has a large, sunny terrace. The lower floor is the pool area, with loungers and a shaded dining table, as well as a toilet and a small kitchenette for refreshments during the day.

Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Explore the lovely Apokoronas region: rolling olive- and cypress groves dotted with wild flowers, snow-capped mountain views and sleepy villages; Gavalohori (1km or 10 mins' walk) has outdoor kafeneia, whitewashed lanes and a small folklore museum
  • Nearby beaches include Almirida (5km) - with 2 sandy coves, watersports, boat trips and seafront eateries - and Kalyves (10km); but both can get crowded in summer. Georgioupolis (20km) has endless sands and kitesurfer-friendly winds
  • Visit Chania's gorgeous old town (30km): set around a Venetian harbour, its car-free streets are lined with boutiques, while its covered market is a cornucopia of healthy herbs and cheeses
  • The Akrotiri peninsula (40km) has 2 jewels: Marathi (bleached sands & excellent fish restaurants) and sickle-shaped Stavros (sheltered shallows, family friendly)
  • Hike one of Crete's famous gorges: diminutive Farangi (at Stilos) is nearby, dramatic Imbros is an hour's drive south, while spectacular Samaria is the longest day out
  • The Minoan-Greek-Roman hilltown at Aptera (15km) has visible city walls, well preserved cisterns and a Turkish fort
  • Other historic sites include the tragic Orthodox monastery of Arkadi (1hr) and the huge Minoan city at Knossos (2hrs)

Kids

All ages are welcome, but we think it's best for older children (6 and over) due to the many steps. Villa Olive has a twin bedroom on its ground floor which may be useful for smaller children. The owners ask that you supervise youngsters carefully - though of course the pool terraces and various balconies are balustraded.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available

Babysitting:

English-speaking baby-sitters can be arranged

Baby equipment:

There's a highchair and one baby cot. Anything else - pool toys, games, plastic crockery - you'll have to bring.

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

Kids Activities nearby:

There are several sandy beaches nearby (Almirida, Kalyves) and boat trips from Chania (27km). The nearest water park is at Limnoupolis near Chania (32km). The owners or caretakers can put you in touch with companies which arrange mountain biking, trekking and other activities for families - but don't underestimate the severity of Crete's White Mountains.

Distances:

  • Airport: 30 minutes
  • Hospital: 20 minutes
  • Nearest shop: 2 minutes' drive / 10 minutes' walk
Kid Friendly:

Location

The Olive Grove Estate is just outside the village of Gavalohori, in the Apokoronas region of Crete. It overlooks Crete’s north coast, 5km from the beach at Almirida, 27km east of Chania and 45km west of Rethymno.

By Air
Chania is the closest airport, served by daily flights from Athens through the year, and by charter flights from most European capitals in summer. Heraklion airport is further, but has a few more flights (mostly charter).

By Sea
Chania’s port, Souda, is served by daily overnight ferries from Athens’ port, Piraeus, on the Greek mainland.

From the Airport or Port
You will probably want to rent your own car, as the estate is on the edge of a small village with little public transport - though it does have shops and restaurants - see our car rental recommendations.

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

Airports:

  • Chania 40.0 km CHQ
  • Heraklion 120.0 km HER

Other:

  • Beach 5.0 km
  • Shops 0.5 km
  • Restaurant 0.5 km

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