We decided to escape to Crete’s newest five-star boutique hotel, the Asterion Suites and Spa – a hidden sanctuary situated on an idyllic sandy beach on the north-west coast of the island. The newest edition to the Louis Hotel Group, I’d been lucky enough to visit two of their sister hotels in Cyprus, so I already knew that we were going to be enjoying the best coastal views and welcoming hospitality, which the Louis Group seems to effortlessly excel at this.
The last time I visited Crete it rained, a lot. This is what happens when you plan a last-minute girl’s trip in late November and are hoping for a miracle. I’ve since learnt that even at this time of year, this amount of rainfall was highly uncharacteristic – so I relished the opportunity to visit this beautiful Greek island again in early September. Disappointed I was not. Returning to Crete this time as a couple, we were looking for a relaxing, laid back yet sophisticated holiday where we could dip in and out of activities as we pleased whilst bathing in the Cretan sunshine and soaking in scenes of the always mesmerising Aegean Sea.
After an easy flight from Gatwick to Chania airport we were picked up and whisked off to our abode, although already dark, the twinkling lights of the island and the warm evening air were welcoming during our 30 minute transfer. Arriving at the hotel we caroused down a palm tree lined walkway where its tranquillity put us at ease, and we were feeling relaxed.
A light, modern and elegant lobby with earthy toned stylish furniture was well enjoyed with our hot towels and a delicious complementary green smoothie. Already we felt the intimate luxury that only a boutique hotel can offer – serenity complimented with earnest and attentive service. Checked-in within moments, we bumped into George – the hotel manager, who has an abundance of joviality and care – seeing as it was rather late, he personally ushered us into the restaurant for dinner to make sure we were well fed. It’s the personal touches such as these that turn a trip into a holiday.
The hotel offers 67 rooms, all with views of the sea or gardens, we had opted for a Cosmos Superior swim-up room and I cannot recommend this highly enough, it made our stay that extra bit special. Entering our room was like opening a fabulous birthday present, we were very happy. Understated luxury and contemporary minimalist décor are mixed with stylish muted hues intertwined with Cretan stone.
Essentially this was not a room but a suite – a large living and dining area to one side and a bedroom with an enormous bed to the other, with the softest of cotton sheets and most unctuous of pillows. Once again Louis Hotels shows it knows what luxury is, and this is the attention to detail. Our room provided us with a personal mini speaker to allow us to listen to the music we personally love, indulgent bathrobes, USB ports by each bedside, luxury toiletries in the bathroom and a walk-in shower so large that you could entertain-in should the urge take you.
Opening the terrace door, I let out a little squeal of joy – our own access to a private pool shared only by 4 adjoining rooms, the water shimmered in the subtle lighting of the moonlight, and I couldn’t wait for the morning to be horizontal on the day bed made for two and to truly unwind.
That first ray of sunshine that hits your face on holiday is always magical, one seems to soak up the happiness, with clear blue skies and not even one of those pesky clouds in the sky, this was not the Crete I had met before. As I always say, a holiday breakfast should be a buffet breakfast. Sitting down, we gazed at the aqua marine sea for the first time as we sipped on velvety barista coffees. For a smaller hotel the selection was vast. My handsome companion, a vegetarian (no one is perfect) delighted in freshly made to order omelettes and fruit, I gorged on a mountain of pancakes and bacon. The last time I sipped on such aromatic orange juice was in California over a decade ago, I think the Asterion may have trumped it: pure sunshine in a glass. Long lazy breakfasts here start the day perfectly, the staff so warm and welcoming, nothing was too much effort.
The Pool and Beach
The pool is the hub of the hotel, looking directly at the beach and sparkling sea. One can choose from plush sunbeds with comfortable rotund pillows, a casual beanbag, or if you’re feeling cosy a double cabana with your loved one. Exposed wood, natural stone floors, eclectic exuberant music and a fully stocked cocktail bar give off real beach club vibes, there will be no children cannonballing here. All of Greece and its islands are the masters of iced coffees, perfect for your poolside caffeine hit. Those more daring can sample one of the bar’s cocktails – perfectly balanced, my Pina Colada (or three) was fresh and vibrant and set me up dreamily for the evening. For sea lovers the private beach is at your disposal where you can lounge under an umbrella and let the gentle waves lull you into a laissez-faire state.
Dinner at the Asterion is relaxed yet sophisticated, with two restaurants to choose from – Matter where they also serve breakfast or 35 ° the Cretan a la carte gourmet experience. Based on the farm-to-table culinary ethos, the chefs showcase their creativity in reinterpreting traditional Greek dishes with a modern twist, using local ingredients carefully sourced from regional artisanal producers. Dishes of delight included light as air spinach and feta pie, langoustine ravioli with a lobster bisque and the most tender octopus I have ever sampled served with a bean mash. We sipped on exquisite local wines and shared a decadent caramel mousse between us, as we gazed at the decorative fire that flickered in front of the shore. During our four nights stay we easily could have dined here each night and enjoyed enough variety to keep our foodie needs met.
Whilst pool lounging, we lapped up complimentary head massages which convinced us that visiting the hotel’s Orion Spa was a must. The state-of-the-art sanctuary offers a holistic wellness concept and range of relaxing, energising, and rejuvenating treatments using traditional Cretan ingredients and natural products sourced from the island itself such as olive oil, aromatic herbs, and aloe vera.
The Vegetarian and I entered a beautiful white domed private room with two massage tables for our Cretan couple’s massage. After being individually asked what our trouble areas were and desired pressure was, we melted away under the expert hands of our therapists and breathed in the soothing organic candle vapour. Sixty minutes of bliss and we were both tranquillity personified. For those wanting an extra luxurious experience, the spa also features a seaside gazebo for bespoke treatments by the beach.
In a nutshell Chania is a great destination for a short getaway or for a longer trip. Easy to reach from the UK with daily flights, it is also the perfect size to explore and feel that you’ve become a friend of the island.
At The Asterion we enjoyed a unique break that was both authentically local and effortlessly cosmopolitan. Being a little further away from the main holiday strip allowed us to enjoy luxurious serenity whilst still being able to explore our surroundings. A stay at The Asterion will leave you pampered and rejuvenated and feeling like you’ve discovered a hidden gem.
EasyJet holidays offers seven nights at the 5* Asterion Suites & Spa on a Bed and Breakfast basis for £766 per person including 23kg of luggage per person, transfers and flights from London Luton on 1 May 2023.
To discover more, visit: asterionsuitesandspa.com
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All imagery courtesy of Louis Hotel Group / Asterion Suites and Spa.
Five things to do near Chania
1) Winery Tour
Take a winery tour in the Pontikiana Village, that allows you discover a family legacy spanning over eighty years. With 150 acres, the vineyard produces award winning wines from local grapes and international varieties from around the world. We enjoyed a delicious local lunch under the trees and sampled five unique wines, I even bought a bottle of the Meursault to take home.
2) Agia Marina
A short taxi ride will take you to Agia Marina. Here you can spend some hours doing more typical holiday activities such as browsing the shops, grabbing a coffee or indulging your inner daredevil and partaking in some water sports in the peak summer months. There is an abundance of restaurants to dine at but I’d highly recommend choosing one on the beach and watch the sunset, just as we did.
3) Botanical Park
A trip here offers the opportunity to understand the regions microclimate and the formation of Crete with hundreds of plants and animals across twenty hectares of land. Visitors can tour the park along paths of unique natural beauty, showcasing the beautiful scenery of the area.
4) Chania Old Town
Chania Old Town is one of the most photographed landmarks on Crete – it has the charm of old Venetian architecture, food, music and stunning views of the harbour. The best way to experience the old town is to simply wander around and observe the buildings and soak in the vibrant atmosphere. Enjoy a coffee and sweet treats at one of the cafes and watch the world go by.
5) Dancing Lessons
The hotel is very happy to arrange a lesson with a local instructor, where you can even dress in traditional outfits. Dancing has always been a part of Cretan culture and you can explore the historical village of Alikianos whilst you do it.