Worth getting out of bed for
Crete might be the keystone of Western civilisation, but the hotel makes a strong case for whiling away a day within its shapely walls. Before breakfast, salute the sunrise with a yoga class or charge your senses with a dip in the Aegean-facing pool. If you’re feeling the effects of a long journey, make a beeline for the Jungle Spa, where the therapists are experts at eliminating fatigue in all its forms. On a hot day, ask for an alfresco massage, which will put you within earshot of the lapping waves. If you have kids in tow, they’ll be in equally adept hands at the kids’ club, where they can let loose in the miniature village or splash away in a dedicated pool. There are educational offerings too, including painting workshops, conservation classes and kids’ cooking lessons. There’s also a supervised sleepover in teepees, giving parents a chance to have a night to themselves.
The concierge can arrange tastings of Cretan wine and olive oil, ceramic workshops and private walking tours of Chania’s picturesque old town. Foodies will relish the Tastes of Crete cooking class, held in a 17th-century farmhouse. You’ll start by visiting a local market with the chef, using the fresh produce you pick up to prepare an authentic Cretan feast for lunch. For a dramatic coastal hike, head to the wild Gramvousa Peninsula, where hills covered in henna-red soil descend to the white beach and bright-blue waters of Balos. Falassarna Beach is one of the best spots for kitesurfing, and is famous for its soft sand and crystal-clear water. Mountain biking, horse-riding, diving and sailing can all be arranged by the concierge.
The Lighthouse of Chania is the old town’s most famous landmark, cresting the wall of the Venetian harbour since the late 16th century. It was given a facelift in the 19th century by Egyptians who had occupied Chania in support of the Ottoman Empire.
If you’re looking for a laid-back lunch spot try the bustling mod-Mediterranean restaurant Pallas, which occupies a waterfront building dating from 1830. Opt for a spot on the rooftop for a high-end shift in ambience and stunning views over the old Venetian Harbour. The menu is full of hearty Cretan fare with an Italian influence, adding plenty of cured meats, fresh pasta and creamy risotto into the mix. Chania has countless seafood restaurants, but ask a local for their favourite and there’s a good chance they’ll send you to Neoria, where you can eat overlooking the boats bobbing in the harbour. Everything from the crispy calamari to the grilled sea-bass is a winner, and there are plenty of choice wines to pair them with. Oinopoieio offers the classic taverna experience, serving no-nonsense Cretan fare and bang-for-your-buck local wines by the carafe. You’ll find all the classics here, including zucchini flowers, stuffed peppers, fried snails and succulent braised lamb in a red-wine reduction. For a taste of modern Crete along the waterfront, have dinner on the pared-back terrace of Salis, where head chef Afshin Molavi deconstructs traditional island cuisine. The farm-to-table food is complemented by an award-winning wine list that runs to 900 labels. If in doubt, ask the excellent sommelier, who’s a veritable fount of knowledge.
The building that plays host to Boheme has been standing since Venetian times, when it was home to a cell of monks belonging to the Monastery of Saint Francis. Fast forward several centuries and it’s one of the best cocktail bars in town, serving divine wines and devilishly good cocktails. Take your drinks out to the terrace, where you can sit beneath a tree that’s at least 400 years old.