Photo: The picturesque harbor of Hersonissos - KHL
Slowly I am working myself through the fabulous Greek islands. After visits to Patmos, Mykonos, Santorini, and Kos it´s now the turn of Crete, the largest island in the Greek archipelago. Over 100 gorges, stalactite caves, gigantic mountains with picturesque villages and, of course, lots of fantastic beaches. That´s why over 3.5 million foreigners visit Crete every year.
Photo: The beach close to the Elysium Boutique Hotel - KHL
It is early October and yet wonderfully mild. On my transfer to the Elysium Boutique Hotel in the village of Analipsi in the North of Crete, the driver tells me that the season will end in a few weeks. „Most people here are living from tourism. Many families own olive trees to have another source of income or at least for their own consumption.“ Oh yes, olive trees are EVERYWHERE in Greece!
Photo: How about chilling at the poolside? - KHL
After a 20minute drive from the airport of Heraklion (with lots of charm of the 70s…) I reach my destination, the edgy Elysium Boutique Hotel („adults only“), decorated with five stars. Rather small, puristic and no nick-nack. I receive a charming welcome by very handsome young ladies (yes, this is Greece). From the lobby, I look through the bar to the pool and can even spot the Meditarrenean Sea in the background. The Elysium Boutique Hotel is pretty close to a small sandy beach. So – off to my room to unpack. There are only two floors and a total of 66 rooms which are likewise rather puristic, but equipped with all amenities. Oh, there is a Nespresso machine, so let´s have coffee on the large terrace with a sideward sea view. Feels so good! I had missed the sound of the waves so much. WiFi is free of charge and works well so I take a few photos to post them on Instagram. All good, I am totally relaxed and looking forward to the next few days on the island of Crete.
Photo: Breakfast in bed at the Elysium Boutique Hotel - Trésor Hotels
What to do first? Maybe a stroll along the beach. There is a cute little orthodox church just next to the sea, very Greek indeed. The beach is rather narrow but very long, mostly sandy and with pebbles here and there. The guests of the Elysium Boutique Hotel can enjoy sunbeds and umbrellas without charge. Swimming may not be attractive for everyone at this time of the year, but a beach walk is so relaxing. Many people are enjoying the hotel pool with sunbeds and thick white beanbags, chilling at its best.
Photo: Ready for a swim? - KHL
You can have underwater massages on beds in the pool - loved it! - and have one of those tasty Greek salads at the BLISS Café and Restaurant just next to the pool. I try it out for dinner. „Most of our products are local“, says Dimis, the very friendly waiter. Olive oil, Greek bread with sesame, white and red wine, and of course fresh fish and seafood, everything tastes great. I listen to the sound of the waves (again…) and enjoy the very cool ambiance. I could sit here for hours.
Photo: Voilà - Greek goodies presented by KHL :-)
Photo: The Elysium Boutique Hotel in all its glory at night
„Don´t miss the old part of Hersonissos“, recommends the charming PR lady of the Elysium Boutique Hotel. I order a cab that takes me to Hersonissos in roughly 15 minutes (cost: 15 EUR – October 2018). The new part of this city right on the beach is rather touristy. There are cafés, bars, restaurants and even erotic shops along the car-free beach promenade. Time for a quick lunch. I have another Greek salad at Skippers, a chic little open-air restaurant with tables just next to the sea. I enjoy fresh, natural smoothies and have a nice small talk with the owner before heading to the old part of Hersonissos by cab (7 EUR – October 2018).
Photo: Lunch with a view at Skippers - KHL
Locals and tourists are sitting on the terraces of cafés and restaurants, slow movement at its best. I am sipping an espresso in the Diamantakis Bakery, Coffe and Sweets enjoy some of the almond cookies and a tasty espresso for only 3 EUR, and have a nice chat with the owner (almost everyone here speaks very good English, so nice). „We don´t have WiFi here, but just ask in the little boutique next door, the owner is a good friend.” That works and I can again post a few photos on Instagram. Maybe I should have some digital detox more often…!
Photo: Greek sweets have NO calories! - Diamantakis Bakery, Coffee and Sweets
Old Hersonissos is located in the mountains and a lovely British couple had recommended walking back instead of using a cab – a great idea indeed! I walk back all the way down to the sea, with stunning views of the mountains. Everything is so peaceful here.
Photo: Nature, nature, nature on the island of Crete - KHL
Photo: Can`t get enough of all the flowers - KHL
Photo: What would Greece be without cats? - KHL
What is yet missing? Fitness and wellness, of course. The Elysium Boutique Hotel has a small gym with a pretty cool design, so let´s have a quick workout. As a reward, I enjoy a massage in the spa, where I am greased with a mix of pomegranate and olive oil. „This is great for men in particular,“ says the therapist. Other than that, local oranges, Greek coffee (supposed to be a fantastic antioxidant) and … Raki, the Greek hard liquor! „That relaxes your muscles,“ says Eleni, the charming spa manager. Who knows, if you stayed here for a few weeks this might be the perfect fountain of youth.
Photo: So relaxed after my massage in the spa - KHL
Yoga is likewise offered at the Elysium Boutique Hotel. I get to know Eva. She has been practicing yoga for 8 years and became a teacher 3 years ago. „Yoga has changed my life“, says the handsome young lady. She tells me that guys, too, are attending her lessons. That´s good to hear. I am sure Eva will show them how effective many „asanas“ are even for men. „I am happy about all the love that I am getting back from my „pupils“. Oh well, yogis and yogini are really special people. Eva shows me a few of her yoga photos and I realize how much I still have to practice to just get a little bit closer to her level. What a wonderful woman!
Photo: OMG - Eva`s yoga skills are simply out of this world! - Eva Karakoudi
Ah, before I forget … breakfast! The Elysium Boutique Hotel is offering an awesome buffet to start your day, with a fantastic service (I love it so much when I am automatically served an espresso). You can enjoy, of course, a typical Greek breakfast which is like a brand on its own. Among other ingredients, it contains traditional yogurt, honey, sesame bars, tahini, local marmalades, olive oil and olives, pies with local veggies, fresh fruit, herbal drinks, and coffee. What a great energy booster!
Photo: Breakfast is ready! - Trésor Hotels
My summary: The Elysium Boutique Hotel is ideal for all who wish to spend a quiet holiday without kids in a modern and puristic ambiance. As usual, I would never travel during the high season – too many people, too hot. However, May, June, September and even October are great months for a wonderful vacation under the Greek sun. And Greek hospitality is hard to beat! As nice as it is to enjoy the sun on the beach or at the poolside, don´t miss to drive around. You can rent bikes and cars almost everywhere, and even book excursions to historic Knossos, the capital city of Heraklion, boat trips and much more. I realize that I have only seen a small part of this big island, so I will be back for sure to explore more.
I have visited more properties of Trésor Hotels and Hip Hospitality, please have a look:
Photo: Bar and lobby at the Elysium Boutique Hotel - KHL
Photo: Lunch with sea view at the BLISS Café and Restaurant - KHL
Photo: So good - a water back massage in the pool! - KHL