Crete: our kid-friendly tour

06/09/2021

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This summer we decided to travel light and visit the north of Crete. We stayed in 4 hotels of the Little Guest collection, located between Chania and Heraklion. We chose these hotels because of the family friendly services they offer, but also because of their incredible design. Here we give you our impressions and advice.

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In order to spend as little time as possible in the car, we landed in Chania and left from Heraklion airport. We first thought of renting a car to make the stops between the hotels, but no affordable offer was available (the average rental rate to pick up a car in Chania and drop it off in Heraklion is €1.500 for 7 days rental). So we used the taxi service recommended by the hotels (count between €50 and €100 per trip). In the end it was a very good option as these taxis all had a child seat and were very comfortable.

 

First stop: Domes Zeen Chania *****

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From Brussels, it took us three hours to fly to Crete. We took off very early in the morning, so we opted for a first hotel located close to the arrival airport. It is a 20-minute drive to Domes Zeen Chania. Thanks to Little Guest, we had an early check-in and were able to enjoy our room as soon as we arrived at 11am, even though the hotel was fully booked. A gesture that we really appreciated.

We stayed in a Pavilion Suite with a private pool and sea view. After discovering the welcome colouring books on his bed, our 6-year-old son went for a swim in the pool in our room.

We loved the bohemian decor of our suite, in line with the rest of the hotel’s decor. Here design and comfort are one. The whole is made up of raw materials: wood, concrete, metal and stone. For the bed linen, cotton and linen are used.

The general feeling that emerges from this very singular architecture is one of immediate calm. The atmosphere is very cool, chic and at the same time relaxed.

The kids’ club is set up in the same spirit and has an indoor area and a large outdoor garden with a children’s pool and a Berber tent where children can enjoy the shade. It’s a very nice place where the children are looked after by dedicated animators and where they can also have fun with their parents in free access, every day from 1pm to 3pm.

We liked the intimate character of the hotel. The 100 rooms are each located in a contemporary and individual pavilion. There are no big concrete buildings here.

 

« We stayed in a Pavilion Suite with a private pool and sea view »

 

The hotel only houses one restaurant, but it offers different menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is very good. There is a well-thought-out kids menu. The ingredients are local and mainly organic. We were on half-board and the prices of the meals we took in addition were more than reasonable (8€ for the children’s menu and between €14 and €25 for the adults’ menu). The restaurant is set around the pool and has a beautiful view of the sea.

In the evening, the restaurant is illuminated by the many candles placed around the pool and offers a magical atmosphere.

The children’s club entertainers are on hand to keep the little ones amused while their parents enjoy their aperitif.

My wife loved the outdoor sports pavilion, which also has a view on the sea.

 

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The hotel’s beach is covered with a few pebbles and is sometimes caressed by large waves. That is why a lifeguard watches over the bathers. A few steps away is a popular spot for surfers in the area.

The hotel pool is very large and has several depths, perfect for children. There is no lifeguard at the pool, but swimming lessons can be booked for children. There are many free inflatable toys available at the pool.

Special mention should be made of the spa and the VIP treatment room, set up in an elegant tent overlooking the sea.

We appreciated the service and the attention to detail. For example, the hotel offers quality sunscreen and after-sun lotion from an elegant local brand in the bathroom. A Marshall speaker is available in the room, a mosquito repellent is also available in the room, a fresh fruit tray was offered in the room on arrival, a late check-out was offered etc.

Domes Zeen Chania exceeded all our expectations. It is a dream place to rest with your family.

 

Second stop: The Royal Senses *****

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To get to the Royal Senses, the second stop on our journey, the hotel had booked the same driver. It was nice to see him again, as he drove carefully, played a nice jazzy playlist and was very friendly with our son. We drove along the coast for an hour and 15 minutes and enjoyed the breathtaking scenery of rocky hills, vineyards, olive groves and azure blue waters.

As soon as we arrived, we were impressed by the architecture of the hotel, built into the hillside. The rooms overlook the bay and all offer a breathtaking view of the sea.

Everything here is family friendly. The children’s club is very nice and also offers a panoramic view of the sea. The entertainers speak several languages, including French and English. At breakfast, the entertainers meet the children and explain the day’s programme to them. Movie nights with snacks and popcorn and shows are organised.

The pools are all saltwater and there is a superb pool especially for babies.

But the highlight is of course the water park with its giant slides! The place offers a space for small children and another space for big children… and their parents. Thrills and laughter guaranteed!

 

« Everything here is family friendly »

 

We stayed in a sea view suite with a garden. Our son slept in a comfortable sofa bed and a partition separated the living room from the master bedroom. This room is particularly suitable for families.

The hotel has a small funicular to reach the rooms at the top of the hill. This funicular is very convenient (especially for young parents travelling with their prams) and entertaining for children.

I suggest you opt for the half-board package, which includes one meal a day in the buffet restaurant, in addition to breakfast. In this way, you will have the opportunity to try the other à la carte restaurants that the hotel offers. The food is really very good. Special mention should be made of the fish restaurant Asterias, which offers a breathtaking sunset and a menu with the catch of the day.

During our stay we met some nice French speaking families with whom we had a great time. It was great for our son to make friends.

 

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You should know that the beach can be reached in one minute by free shuttle. It’s not inconvenient, but it’s better to know. The beach is set in a cove that looks like an old marina and is very safe for children. Water sports such as jet skiing and parasailing are available at an additional cost.

Guests staying in the villa have access to King-size beds right on the beach.

The Royal Senses opened on 27 July 2021 and we stayed there on 17 August of the same year. At times we felt that the staff were still getting their bearings, but the staff were so friendly that this was quickly forgiven.

We had a great time at this hotel with its relaxing surroundings and incredible views. We would recommend it to families looking to relax in a very comfortable and refined setting, on a human scale as it consists of about 120 rooms.

 

Third stop: Grecotel Amirandes *****

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The decor of the Grecotel Amirandes left us speechless during our stay. Indeed, the hotel is built right on the beach and offers an exceptional view of the sea, which is even better at sunset.

The hotel is only 15 minutes away from Heraklion airport, which is very convenient when travelling with children. A few times a day you can even see a few planes in the sky, but it is not disturbing.

The decor and architecture of this boutique hotel is perfectly integrated with nature and consists of local materials, such as Cretan dry stone, recognisable by its grey-ochre colour. The same goes for the food, which is mainly sourced from the nearby farm owned by the hotel.

On arrival, we were delighted to learn that we had been upgraded to a 2 Bedroom Sea View Villa with Private Pool. Paradise! Welcome pastries and games were placed on our son’s bed on the ground floor. Upstairs, the master bedroom has a terrace that opens onto the sea.

While staying in the villa, during our entire stay, we enjoyed our own beach pavilion located on the best part of the beach.

 

« The decor and architecture of this boutique hotel is perfectly integrated with nature and consists of local materials »

 

The Grecotel Amirandes offers 5-star service and facilities. What struck us most was the kindness of the staff, especially towards our son. Whether it was the gardeners, waiters or chambermaids, they always had a kind word for him. This kid-friendly policy is reflected in the smallest details. In the restaurant, all children’s dishes are offered. Every day, our son received a different gift in his room: a balloon animal, a t-shirt with his name printed on it, etc.

The kid’s club is free. Four entertainers keep the children entertained, including Aude, a 21-year-old French girl with a broad smile and a dynamic personality. Our son Achille went to the kids club every morning and had a lot of fun. He would do crafts, plant beans in the garden or go on treasure hunts.

In the meantime, my wife took the group aqua gym class and worked out at the gym, while I checked my e-mail.

 

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In the afternoons we spent time with our family at the beach or in the pool of our beautiful villa. We also played tennis. While I exchanged balls with my wife (€11/hour for the court rental), our son Achille took a private lesson with an instructor from the hotel (€65/hour).

Every evening at 9pm, the hotel’s amphitheatre is transformed into a mini-disco! The mini-club entertainers have fun with the children and their parents performing crazy choreographies.

The half-board buffet is very elegant and very good, which is rare for a hotel buffet. The à la carte restaurants are very democratic and offer refined cuisine. Special mention should be made of the sushi in the Asian restaurant, which after a few days provides a variety of culinary delights.

We really had a wonderful time in this confidential hotel which met all our expectations and even more!

 

Last stop: Domes of Elounda *****

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The Domes of Elounda is aptly named: it dominates the eponymous bay like a heavenly dome. Built on a cliff, the hotel offers an incredible view of the sea and the surrounding hills.

The resort can be reached by small golf carts, or on foot for the more athletic.

During our stay, the hotel was occupied by a majority of French, English and German guests.

At the kids’ club, an animator speaks French. The activities are varied and mainly dedicated to children under 6 years old. The architecture of the crèche and the kids-club is very nice, but some of the games and equipment could be replaced.

The older children and teenagers like to meet in the large garage, which has been converted into a games and meeting room. In this industrial setting, table football, billiards and video games promise great fun.

Not far from the children’s club, an organic vegetable garden has been set up, where the chefs come to pick herbs and vegetables to use in their recipes.

A big party is organised on Saturday and Sunday evenings, in the CORE space, a new space inaugurated in summer 2021. In a barren desert-like setting, children’s games, food trucks and designer shops create a magical atmosphere.

Our room was located in the same part of the resort. It was a contemporary 1-bedroom villa with a private pool. Our son was in the living room and the sofa bed he slept on was very comfortable. On the terrace there is an outdoor kitchen where you can have private dinners hosted by a chef, or cook for yourself if you opt for a longer stay. A mini-market in the resort allows you to do your shopping. This type of villa also exists in a 2-bedroom version. The other part of the resort opens onto the sea. This allows guests to experience two completely different atmospheres and to vary the pleasures.

My wife really liked the two outdoor gyms, which face the sea and are protected from the heat by a wooden sunshade.

 

« A big party is organised on Saturday and Sunday evenings »

 

The hotel’s beach is very safe and can be reached through a small pedestrian tunnel under the coast road. The beach is located in a bay surrounded by fine sand. The water depth is particularly suitable for childrenand there are no waves. For children, inflatable water toys and armbands are available. A water sports hut offers the opportunity to try water skiing, paddle boarding or motorboat riding for a fee. You can also rent a 30 hp boat that you can drive without a licence.

At the beach, pool and in your room, free bottled mineral water is available.

The hotel has several swimming pools and shaded paddling pools especially designed for babies.

The staff are very attentive and as is often the case in Crete, the food is very good. We really liked the grill restaurant serving mature beef, but also the fish restaurant on the beach. The latter is the perfect spot for a sunset dinner.

 

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The buffet restaurant has a bohemian feel and is well kept. When you stay on full or half board, the « dine around » option allows you to discover some of the picturesque restaurants located in the hotel’s vicinity. A great local and authentic initiative.

Our son who dreamed of fishing was not disappointed. The hotel concierge organised a trip to the sea on a small fishing boat. Led by a local fisherman and his son, the trip took us to some lovely coves. We caught 9 fish and were treated to a snack of fresh fruit. I highly recommend this experience which will cost you €60/hour.

We took the boat from the port of Elounda, a 10-minute taxi ride from the hotel. Elounda is a small harbour town where it is pleasant to walk through the narrow streets full of typical restaurants and traditional shops.

Staying at the Domes of Elounda is a guarantee of a pleasant family stay and of exceptional views of the natural beauties of Crete.

 

Thank you Little Guest!

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