Villa Ippocampi

Koutouloufari, Crete, Greece
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Villa Ippocampi

Koutouloufari, Crete, Greece

Small, welcoming adult-only hotel near Crete's north coast, set in a walled garden with a sparkling pool

Small, welcoming adult-only hotel near Crete's north coast, set in a walled garden with a sparkling pool

In the hillside village of Koutouloufari, with views down to Crete’s busy north coast, Villa Ippocampi makes a surprisingly blissful retreat for a relaxed summer holiday or an off-season escape a deux. The owners are a Greek-Dutch couple: Nikos, who originates from the village, and his Dutch wife Lydia who has lived on the island since 1984.

Laid-back and restful, the white Cycladic-style building offers 13 simple but stylish suites of various sizes, each with a kitchenette. Set in a walled garden planted with lavender, bougainvillea, geraniums and a towering palm tree, it gives onto a lovely pool and poolside café serving coffee, cocktails and light meals till sunset, after which peace reigns.


  • Really personal service and friendly welcoming atmosphere - many guests are return visitors
  • We loved the simple but attractive blue-white décor, pepped up with pink flowers, ceramic jars and flickering lanterns
  • Very peaceful and private, thanks to the hedges and walled gardens, plus a lovely pool
  • Lying between the sea and mountains, low-key Koutouloufari offers a handful of authentic eateries and informal cafes frequented by locals
  • Excellent proximity to local shops and tavernas, as well as three lovely villages


  • The commercialised resorts of Hersonissos, Malia and Stalida are only 5km away, but easily avoided
  • No restaurant – the poolside cafe serves breakfast and light meals until 9pm, but for a proper dinner you’ll need walk to nearby places
  • The terraces of the ground-floor suites at the front look straight onto the pool area, so lack privacy
  • No kids under 12 means maximum tranquillity for couples
  • On our last visit, we noticed noise from passing mopeds

Best time to go

To avoid the crowds, try to visit in shoulder season (May-June or September-October) when the days are sunny but not too hot (ideal for hiking) and the sea still warm enough to swim. During high-season (July-August), the island swarms with visitors, while in low season (November-April) most tourist facilities close down completely. The hotel is closed from November-mid April every year.

Our top tips

Take The Island by Victoria Hislop with you. An award-winning novel based on the leper colony past of nearby Spinalonga, it sets the scene for your surroundings and is an excellent read. Also, let the family recommend nearby beaches, restaurants and places of interest.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 13 suites
  • Poolside café (+ walk to restaurants)
  • Over 12s only
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car recommended
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym


We stayed in a Penthouse Suite on the top floor - definitely our favourite and recommended for romance. Light, airy and open-plan, it has a whitewashed wood-beamed ceiling, a sitting area with fireplace, and an elegant king bed. Bougainvillea flower heads had been arranged to form a heart on the bed, and there was a vase of fresh flowers on the table and bottle of white wine in the fridge, so it all felt very welcoming. It opened onto a terrace with a table, sunbeds, and sea views. The bathroom was simple but functional, with a spacious walk-in shower and a horde of delicious smelling toiletries.

The other suites are more rustic, done in classic blue-white Cycladic style. Most are 1-Room Apartments, which have a double bedroom and a living room with built-in sofas that can be made into beds to sleep additional people. The 2-Room Apartments have a second twin bedroom. All have tiled floors (the nicest ones are terracotta), tiled bathrooms, Korres toiletries, hammocks on the terrace, whitewashed walls, and simple wooden furniture, some of which is whitewashed. Doors and shutters are Grecian blue, as are the sofa covers.

Features include:

  • Minibar
  • Safe box
  • WiFi


Ippocampi has a Cycladic-style poolside café open 9am-9pm for a la carte breakfast, drinks and light snacks - including sandwiches and Greek salads using Nikos and Lydia’s home-produced olive oil. Their specialities are Dako (Cretan bread with tomatoes and feta), and Italian coffee, tea, fresh juices, bruschetta, croissants for breakfast and Greek yogurt with honey.

Each suite has basic self-catering facilities - a small kitchenette with hot plates (but no oven), a kettle, filter coffee machine and fridge. Guests will find them useful but they're better for preparing snacks than meals. There is a small shop and bakery within easy strolling distance, and upon arrival you’ll find a bottle of mineral water and wine in your fridge.

For eating out there are plenty of options, staff can advise their favourite places.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Kitchenette
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian options


  • Swim and sunbathe at one of the nearby beaches: we liked the quiet coves at Sarandaris, west of Hersonissos’ main beach, and also the sandy bays just east of Malia (where you can see ancient slipways cut into the sea rocks); but if you don't mind company, there is a sandy strip at Limanakia (with umbrellas) and the main harbour (with watersports)
  • Explore the hillside villages of Koutouloufari, Piscopiano and old Hersonissos, all within walking distance and packed with friendly small tavernas and cafes - a world away from the commercial resort of Hersonissos; they can recommend bike rental companies
  • Drive up to the Lasithi plateau, a fertile plain known for its unspoilt rural villages and white-sailed windmills (though most have notw lost their sails); plus, a short hike uphill, the Diktean Cave - where, according the Greek mythology, Zeus was born
  • Check out the archaeological site at Malia - Lydia can arrange a private guide to show you round the ruins of this Minoan palace, dating back to 1900BC
  • Visit the archaeological site of Knossos (5km southeast of Heraklion), to explore the 4000-year-old Minoan Palace, a labyrinth of frescoed rooms built around a vast central courtyard
  • Crete is a wonderfully diverse island with plenty to see and do. For a more comprehensive guide, check out our destination guide

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Scuba diving
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Waterskiing
  • Windsurfing


A grown-up hideaway. Over 12s only.

Kid Friendly:


Villa Ippocampi lies in the peaceful hillside village of Koutouloufari, 1km above the busy north coast resort of Hersonissos, and the adjacent resorts of Malia and Stalis (Stalida). It is 30km east of Crete’s capital, Heraklion.

By Air
Heraklion airport (25km) is the nearest, served by daily flights from Athens throughout the year, and by charter flights from most European capitals in summer. Another option is Chania ins western Crete. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.

From the Airport
We'd recommend hiring a car (see below).

By Sea
Heraklion port (30km west) is served by daily overnight ferries from Athens’ port, Piraeus, on the Greek mainland.

By Car
To explore the region better, you really need to hire a car - see our car rental recommendations.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through

More on getting to Greece and getting around


  • Heraklion Nikos Kazantzakis 25.0 km HER
  • Chania Souda 180.0 km CHQ


  • Beach 1.0 km
  • Shops 0.2 km
  • Restaurant 0.2 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 4 independent reviews from i-escape guests


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