The Small Venetian House

Chania, Crete, Greece Book from

A bijou (and great value) house rental for 2-4, in the heart of Chania's pedestrianised Splanzia quarter
If you're planning to stay a few nights in Chania, but want a bit more independence than a hotel can offer (or some extra space for a child or two), but without breaking the bank, then bingo - you're in luck. The owners of Milia - one of our favourite mountain hideaways in Greece - have put their former home onto the rental market, and it's a steal.

Spread over 3 floors, this diminutive 15th-century townhouse has been renovated with top quality furnishings, a clever layout and some cute decorative touches. You'll find an airy, beamed first-floor living space (with nifty BoConcept foldaway beds), and unbeatable Cocomat mattresses in the second-floor bedroom. Up top is a charming little roof terrace with glimpses of blue sea and tiled Venetian houses, while the ground-floor kitchen-diner has a great cooking space and a marble-topped table with retro posters evoking a 1950s Greek kafeneion. Best of all, there are free bikes for you to explore the old town, which is on your doorstep.

Oh, and if you weren't planning a few nights in Chania, you should. It's a lively, historic town on Crete's north coast, with a picturesque fishing harbour, imposing Venetian sea walls, great tavernas and music bars, a decent archaeological museum for history buffs, and pretty pedestrianised lanes with pastel houses and funky shopping. We love it.

Highs

  • The location, seconds from Splanzia's leafy square and aromatic bakery, could not be better; it's also very quiet at night
  • The roof terrace is a great spot for a sundowner - or for a home-cooked, lantern-lit supper
  • It is incredibly good value, and you can save further by eating in (but with so many excellent tavernas around, you may succumb)
  • Unlike most house rentals, there's no minimum stay
  • We appreciated the small but really useful touches like free bikes, high-speed WiFi, handy recycling bins
  • It's not all about city living: there are boat trips from the harbour, sandy beaches 1km away, and spectacular hikes within day-tripping distance

Lows

  • You can't drive to the front door (it's a pedestrian lane), and parking anywhere round here is tricky in summer
  • Lots of steep stairs make it less than ideal for toddlers
  • There's no microwave or dishwasher in the kitchen
  • The bathroom felt a little poky by comparison with the other rooms
  • Be aware that, after the initial meet-and-greet, you only get twice-weekly linen change (mid-stay cleaning costs extra); but owners Tassos and Mucki are on hand - and speak good English - if problems arise

Best time to go

The house is open all year, with July to mid September being peak months, though we would prefer April-June or late September to mid October, if you can manage it: temperatures are cooler and beaches far less crowded.

Don't rule out coming in winter (Nov-March), especially if you're more interested in history and Cretan food rather than sunbathing and swimming. It's much milder than northern or central Europe here, and the rooms have wall mounted heater units (which double as A/C in the summer). At these rates, and with further discounts available for long stays, you could come for a month or two and do a Cretan cookery or Greek language course.

Our top tips

Apart from the "Leather Lane" of Skridlof St. and Chania's slowly gentrifying covered market, don't miss Miden Agan on Daskalogianni St., a liquor shop and deli with over 800 Greek wines, many of them excellent and inexpensive.

If you plan to do much cycling, bring your own helmet: traffic here is unpredictable, and there are no cycle lanes. But it's worth it if staying more than a few days, to reach the beaches and maybe (if you're fit) cycle through the lovely gorge of Theriso.

Finally, remember that this is a friendly, homely set up: if you have spare novels, leave them here (or swop them); bring your own shampoo (only soap is provided); and if you stay more than 3 days, please water the flowers on the roof terrace!

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Honeymoon
Beach
City Style
Family
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique House Rental
  • 1 bedroom (+ extra beds)
  • Self-catering; restaurants nearby
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • 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
  • Bicycles Available
  • Laundry Service
  • Linen and towel change every 3 days
  • Board games
Room:

Rooms

As its name suggests, this is not a stately home, but a bijou 15th-century townhouse spread over 3 storeys, with one good-sized room on each and a roof terrace at the top.

You enter from a pedestrian lane into a large kitchen-diner, with tall beamed ceilings and butter coloured walls, whose exposed stone borders and salvaged marble handbasin hint at the Venetian masonry beneath. At one end is a smallish table with 4 of those petite wood-and-wicker chairs you used to see in tavernas across Greece, before the tsunami of cheap plastic hit. Framed 1950s posters for Fix beer and Noynoy milk complete the nostalgic feel... tempered, perhaps, by the shiny new guest bicycles and functional recycling bins at the other end of the room.

One flight up is the sitting room, similar in size and feel, with two tall windows over the pedestrian lane and two side windows to keep it bright and airy. The big sofa faces an 'entertainment table' with satellite TV, DVD player, sound box (CD, radio but no ipod dock) and - unexpectedly - a printer for those with their own laptop (WiFi is free). Two blue sit-on cubes metamorphose into the most stylish and comfy foldaway beds we have ever tried (we didn't actually sleep on them, but Tassos raved so highly we felt obliged to perform a test siesta) - well done, BoConcept!

The top floor houses the main bedroom, whose twin beds come with zippable Cocomat mattresses - the undisputed king of Greek sleep comfort, and devotedly ecological too. There are down duvets for winter, light bedspreads for summer (all whiter than snow); Starck ghost chairs and a mini chandelier for a touch of tasteful bling. The adjacent bathroom is small but clean and functional, with a glass shower quadrant and not much elbow room.

Features include:

  • Air-conditioning/heating
  • Bicycles
  • Cd player
  • Coffee maker
  • Cots Available
  • DVD player (on request)
  • Extra beds
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Iron
  • Oven
  • Radio
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi

Eating

The open-plan kitchen is sensibly laid out and fairly well equipped: electric oven, 4 rings, sink, fridge-freezer, plenty of surface space and most of the bits and bobs you could need (juicer, grater, sharp knives etc) - but no microwave or dishwasher. There's a kettle, a briki for cooking up Greek espresso, and a filter machine too. Come in spring or summer, and Tassos and Mucki might have left some fresh fruit from their gardens on Chania's suburbs.

If you've got the energy, you can carry your breakfast or dinner up 3 flights of stairs to the roof terrace, where a wooden table with 4 chairs and 2 oversize lanterns awaits. Beyond the potted pink geraniums and oleander, you look over the jumbled old-meets-new roofscape of Chania to a strip of blue sea. There's also a utility room with a small sink and additional crockery to make life a bit easier.

If energy is in short supply, wander out to Splanzia square for coffee and backgammon under the vast plane tree, or fresh bougatsa (custard pies) and spiced biscuits from the bakery. Continue a few paces up Daskalogiannis St. to Kouzina EPE ("Kitchen Inc."), where owner-chef Despina Polaki serves a predominantly local crowd her delicious, no-frills Cretan tapas. Favourites include pies stuffed with lapatho (sorrel), marinated anchovies, and chochli boubouristi (sautéed escargots with onions, tomatoes and courgettes) for the adventurous.

If you tire of that, or if it's closed (which it does quite early on some evenings), Tassos' top tips include Karnagio by the Great Arsenal for family friendly Cretan fare (fresh orange juice for the kids, good wines for the parents, delicious stuffed aubergines and fried cheese); and The Well of the Turk for more exotic Middle Eastern and Moroccan cuisine (watermelon salad, couscous with nuts and dried fruit, chicken tagine).

Features include:

  • Coffee maker
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Breakfast hamper on request
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Explore Chania's charming old town: a maze of pedestrianised alleys brimming with shops, incense-laden churches and colourful Ottoman houses, some reinvented as live music bars or weaving workshops

  • Stroll round the pretty fishing harbour, enclosed by the mighty 500-year-old Venetian sea wall and lighthouse; of the many boat trips, the best are with Captain Nick to the island of Ayii Theodori, a wild goat sanctuary with great snorkelling too

  • Grab the guest bikes and cycle along the seafront to the sandy beach of Nea Hora (1km west), or east into Koum Kapi with its smaller beach and lively bar and café scene

  • The city's Archaeological Museum (closed Monday) is the best outside Heraklion; and if you're into history, the Minoan-Hellenic-Roman hilltown of Aptera is only 15km away.

  • Escape the city into the spectacular White Mountains, which reach over 2,000m and are snow-capped for 6 months of the year; popular hikes include the Samaria Gorge, Europe's longest and deepest, and the 2,080m summit of Gingilos (for experienced hikers only); both are easily arranged by public bus or private tour

  • Or, on the Akrotiri peninsula beyond the airport, take a hire car or taxi to the Orthodox monastery of Giagarolou (or Ayia Triada), inhabited by a few black-clad monks and open to (appropriately dressed) visitors in the morning and late afternoon; beyond it is Gouvernetou hermitage, with a wonderful footpath past the cliffside chapel of Katholikon to an azure sea-fjord. These are easily combined with the gorgeous sandy beaches of Marathi or Stavros

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome, using one or both of the 2 foldaway beds in the living room. Given the steep stairs, it's not ideal for toddlers - but having said that, the neighbourhood is very safe and partly pedestrianised. The lane right outside the house is car-free, which is a godsend. We think it would be best for a couple with one or two children in the 4-12 year range, or with a baby.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The normal set up is to use the sitting room for 1-2 children on foldaway beds, while the parents sleep upstairs in the main bedroom. However if you want to stay up later than the kids, you may want to reverse that - the foldaway beds are surprisingly comfy.

Kids Activities nearby:

Children will love Captain Nick's boat cruises from Chania harbour - besides swimming and snorkelling, he entertains them by catching starfish and squirting octopuses. Adventurous families can also book tailored excursions into the White Mts for hiking and mountain biking. If you want to cycle around town, or to the city beaches (1km), you will need to hire additional bikes for the kids (there's a bike hire shop on Daskalogiannis St.). There's a water park at Limnoupolis, about 8km away.

Families Should Know:

The stairs are steep and there are no stair gates. The windows in the first-floor living room are quite low (about half a metre). The roof terrace does have a perimeter wall, however (about 1m high)

Distances:

  • Airport: 20 minutes
  • Chemist: 1 minute
  • Shops: 1 minute
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

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

{{ review.firstName }}{{ review.countryName ? ', '+ review.countryName : '' }},
Feedback is only from guests who have booked and stayed through i-escape

Rates for The Small Venetian House