Crete Lodging & Hotel Guides
Crete offers a huge amount and variety of holiday accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. There's a plentiful supply of cheap and cheerful pensions, camp sites and youth hostels geared to the needs of budget travellers and backpackers. Masses of mid-range hotels and apartments cater for the hordes of package holidaymakers who descend on the island each summer and you'll also find a generous helping of top of the range deluxe hotels likely to strain even the healthiest of bank balances.
It's risky to turn up on spec at any of the main tourist destinations without a reservation in July and August though you may strike lucky if you persevere and are prepared to take whatever is offered. If you visit outside the most popular months (June to September) you'll be able to get a discount of 50% or more on high season prices if you hunt around. But expect to pay top rates if you're visiting at Christmas or Easter.
Freelance camping on the beaches was common in the sixties but is now frowned on by the police and many of the islanders. There are plenty of well-equipped official camp sites dotted around the island's coastline but many backpackers still take the risk of camping out in secluded spots.
Breakfast is included in the room price at many of the island's hotels and the more upmarket establishments lay on in-house entertainment such as weekly Cretan nights with traditional music and dancing.
Package holiday accommodation is largely concentrated in the frantic seaside resorts of Hersonissos and Malia on the northern coast east of Iraklio. The beachfronts are lined with hotels of all standards but most are block booked by the tour operators months in advance. You'd be ill advised to pitch up in either resort in high season without a booking though you might find a last minute bed in Malia's old town which has numerous rooms and cheap pensions geared towards independent travellers rather than package holiday tourists.
The beautiful city of Hania has thousands of rooms available - in restored Venetian mansions, back street domatia and modern hotels - so you can normally be sure of finding a place to bed down for the night even if you arrive here in high season without a reservation.
If money's no object, check in at the super luxurious Elounda Beach Hotel - a truly world-class resort overlooking the beautiful Gulf of Mirabello. The hotel's wealthiest guests fly in by private helicopter for some serious self-indulgence at this no-expense-spared holiday complex where the deluxe suites have their own swimming pools and mini televisions are placed alongside the bathrooms mirrors.
The Creta Paradise Beach Resort Hotel, 14 kilometres west of Hania, is also in the luxury league with its own in-house orchestra, professional instructors coaching guests in various watersports and a mini zoo to keep the kids' entertained. One of the most delightful features of this hotel is that sea turtles use its beach to lay their eggs from May to June.
If you feel like escaping the madding mid-summer crowds head for one of the unspoilt mountain towns or inland villages where you'll find reasonably priced villas and rooms to rent in a more traditional environment than most of the beach resorts are able to offer. Make an overnight stop in the lovely mountain town of Spili, south east of Rethymno, or spend a night or two in one of the villages which pepper the spectacular Lasithi Plateau. There are inexpensive rooms at Agios Georgios, Tzermiado and Psychro (the nearest village to the famous Dikteon Cave where the king of the Greek god Zeus was reputedly born).