Travel Guide: Where to Stay in Crete

The last leg of our amazing Grecian vacation was Crete, one of the largest and most interesting of the Greek Islands. It’s a place I’ve wanted to visit since I was really young, so it was amazing to visit Crete and have the added bonus of staying at Paradise Island Villas, which truly does feel like you are in Paradise.

After a five-hour ferry ride from Mykonos, we were picked up by Paradise’s staff and whisked away to a part of Crete called Anissaras in the North East, not very far from Heraklion. From the second we entered the gates at Paradise Island we felt like we were at home.

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The property is beautiful and covered in bougainvillea vines and flowers throughout, creating bright pops of pink and purple at every turn. We walked into the main lobby which is Grecian chic and decorated in shades of white and glass, giving it a Greece-meets-Miami feel and that’s where we were greeted by Eleni, who took every measure to create a great trip for us throughout our stay. After she gave us a delicious glass of Cretan white wine, we departed to our villa.

The villas are truly extraordinary and each has its own feel to go along with its name. The villas are named after the Greek gods, and we were placed in the Hera villa, named for Zeus’s wife who was known for her beauty.

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The villas are two-floors and have tons of different balconies to take in the views. We loved that we had a beautiful spiral staircase between the floors, and the feminine touches throughout the villa that related back to mythology. It was as if the room was decorated for a modern Hera that loved the conveniences and modernity of contemporary luxury while still appreciating the rich history of Greece and its mythology. The master bathroom is marble with a wonderful bathtub. There are also two other bathrooms, making getting ready a breeze. We had a full kitchen and dining room with a  crystal chandelier and draped white chairs, that was such a nice touch also.

The beds were super comfy and the master bedroom had a four-poster bed. The linens were soft and crisp and our villa was immaculate. The ceilings were high and there was tons of natural sunlight throughout because of all of our balconies and windows.

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There were high-end touches throughout to ensure a luxurious stay. This included the pillow menu, the ability to change your mattress from soft to more firm, olive-oil based bath products.

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Our backyard was to die for. In addition to the hotel’s amazing shared amenities such as its beautiful pool and gym, we had a lush private backyard with its own plunge pool and beach chairs to take the sun.

I loved walking through the property and hearing birds chirping and owls cooing and looking at the yellow and red hibiscus flowers, succulents of all shapes and sizes and of course, the bright purple and pink bougainvillea vines.

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Our first morning we went to the gym to burn off some moussaka calories from the night before and then went back  to our room, changed into bikinis and swam in our private pool and took the sun, which was just blissful. The backyard is covered in flowers and giant palm trees and even some olive trees.

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Crete is known for its wine production, and the hotel is near their wine country (pictured above), so after a day in the pool, we drove out to the vineyards to sample some organic wines, which was also a great time.

The second night at the hotel, they hosted a barbecue for the guests. Now, take out preconceived notations of an American barbecue. This is way, way better. After sipping on a glass of white, Cretan wine, out came homemade tzatziki and pita bread that was to die for. Next came a Greek salad, pork and chicken souvlaki, lamb, Greek burgers, french fries and other amazing food, that you could literally eat until you had your fill. It was such a nice way to experience Greek cuisine.We ended the night with ouzo, because obviously. Then, we went night swimming in our private pool, because obviously, again. One thing to note: the bar and restaurant at Paradise Villas has a really great, and eclectic, selection of local wines.

Breakfasts at Paradise Villas are really nicely done. We ordered omelettes two of the mornings, and they were giant and fluffy and full of flavor. Their iced coffees are the best we had in all of Greece, so we had lots of them every morning after our trip to the gym. We had a super early flight on the day we left and Eleni was sweet enough to arrange breakfast delivered to our room at 5 a.m. so that we could have the last taste of Crete before heading back to New York, which just goes to show the efforts they take to make your trip above and beyond.

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On our last night, the hotel arranged for a cooking class with a couple who grew up in Crete. They picked us up at the hotel after we spent the day at the beach and we headed to their home, where they taught us how to make all of our favorite Greek dishes. After cooking lamb, spinach pie, Greek pasta, dolmades, zucchini fritters and tzatziki, we sat down to eat it all, which was truly a highlight of the trip. Above, we are making phyllo dough and cutting it into strips to make Greek pasta while sipping on some homemade rosé. It was a great way to end the trip and learn to make Greek dishes that I’ve been making ever since I’ve been home.

Paradise Island Villas provided a luxurious and relaxing vacation that was just what we needed after being in Mykonos. If you’re looking to visit Chania, you may want to book oath hotel on that side of Crete as it would be hard to reach from Paradise Island, so I suggest staying here and then moving to that part of Crete.

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