Arriving at Mrs Chryssana in Chania, Crete is like walking into an oasis of peace. Situated just steps from a glittering blue Cretan sea in Kolymvari, it was actually the most tranquil place I had ever been in my life. The quiet isn't deafening though, it's punctuated by birds calling and a gentle wind. It's a hotel where you can easily feel like you have the entire place to yourself. Even at the sparkling turquoise pool, the guests all mutually respect the air of relaxation that permeates the hotel grounds. Though not isolated by any means, you're just a 5 minute walk from the main road and it's markets, it has the feeling of being removed from the bustling heart of Chania where you'll find locals and tourist alike. From the pebbled beachfront, you can see villages dotting the hillside beyond Kolymvari and other hotels along the water. Turn around, and there are snow-capped mountains in the not too far distance, and you may even spy a traditional Greek domed church. Though somewhat removed, Mrs Chryssana is by no means isolated. If you're a bit more brave than me - rent a car! I barely trust myself driving in America, let alone in another country. However, I think I *may* have been just fine driving here. The roads are nicely paved and the signs are clear - in Greek and English to boot! Mrs Chryssana is the perfect starting point to see many unbelievable sights from ancient and modern Crete, The Cave of Saint John, Knossos Minoas Palace, Aptera, and Rotonda are all within an easy driving distance of the hotel. Have you ever wanted to see the oldest olive tree in the would? I know I have! There's an entire olive tree museum, as Crete's most famous export is olive oil. Trust me, I have been trying to figure out how to get some back home in just a carry-on for days now.
Crete has not been my first adventure in Greece, so I had an idea of what to expect with the aesthetics of the hotel. I forever love the stark whitewashing used in Greek design. Hello, it's a blogger's dream to have a crisp white room with amazing natural light! Each room is fitted with a balcony that looks beyond the green grounds to face the pool and sea. I love that nothing here is too cluttered or ostentatious. You have everything you want or need, and not a bit more. I'm a big fan of the more minimalist style you find in Greece. Lovely surroundings with pops of blues and golds here and there are so visually pleasant, and also add to the sense of peacefulness. A bit of the fun of traveling is being aware that you're in a different place. So I loved seeing the little Greek touches throughout the hotel that remind you that you are a world away from you normal life, in the heart of Kolymvari.
It is impossible to talk about Crete without talking about the food! Mrs Chryssana has a daily Cretan breakfast buffet with a little something for everyone - hello authentic Greek yogurt with honey and figs! What better way to start a day of relaxing by the pool or exploring Chania? I've tried to find the right words to describe just how fresh and real the food in Greece is, but I cannot put it into words. You just have to come here and try it for yourself! Trust me. TRUST ME. The trip to Crete is worth it for the food alone. For the salad alone! Something I appreciated so much about Mrs Chryssana is that there was always a pescatarian option are dinner. While you can absolutely let the staff know about any dietary needs, I totally forgot to mention I don't eat meat before I arrived. Typical. So I really was so happy to see an option (or 2!) for me every night. I'm going to be honest, most of the Greek I have learned here have been names of dishes (hello politki and boureki) - but now I can order anywhere in Greece! All of the other Greek I have picked up comes from the wonderful staff here. As I mentioned, when I arrived to Mrs Chryssana it felt like a peaceful sanctuary, but when I left it felt like home. The staff is so warm and kind, friendly and caring. I was sick one day and they all checked in on me - letting me know I could call on reception anytime for whatever I needed. I have never been so well taken care of at a hotel, and even just enjoyed getting to know the people there. My Greek and my knowledge of Crete are much improved because of how friendly everyone is here. Reception is also essentially available 24 hours a day during the high tourist season. Its very comforting being so far from home and knowing if anything happened (or for any reason) I could call.
If you decide to spend your entire trip to Mrs Chryssana at the pool, I wouldn't blame you! I was really tempted to do that too. That's the firs thing you notice when you arrive - these two aqua pool pools that are so inviting. I almost wanted to plop down right there on a sunbed and take a nap after my full day of traveling from London. There's a shallow children's pool and a pool for adults, both fresh water and both beautifully maintained. When I tell you the water is clear and not a leaf or petal in sight. The water is cool and crisp, a perfect escape from the midday Cretan sun. The pool area also has a small outdoor cafe area where you can sip on local Greek wines and snack on anything from tzatsiki with mint to margherita pizza while soaking in the rays.
The beach at the hotel's doorstep is beautiful and offers options for fishing, diving, snorkeling, and other water activities. However, when in Crete you ABSOLUTELY have to go to Gramvousa, Balos, and Elafonisi. I missed my Elafonisi trip because my allergies sadly followed me to Crete, but Balos and Gramvousa were unreal! Honestly, the whole reason I had Crete on my summer 2019 list was to see Balos in person. Not only is Mrs Chryssana in the perfect location to reach these destinations, but the staff will arrange tours for you. When traveling, you never know how things will really pan out until you arrive. Crete is HUGE. Again, rent a car. So, once you get here - you have the real idea of how far things are and have to come up with a plan to get to it all. I found myself becoming really overwhelmed thinking about how to get to Balos and trying to search for tour companies online that were reputable and cost-effective was stressful. After fretting about it for a day, I went downstairs and asked about excursions. 10 minutes later, mine were booked and all I had to do was show up at the bus pick-up point 5 minutes from the hotel. I told you this place was relaxing! The prices from the hotel were better than what I was seeing online too, and I didn't have to get myself to Kissamos post. In a 20 minute bus ride, I was there and ready to take both beaches. Absolutely do not miss them!
Getting to Mrs Chryssana from the Chania airport:
Hire a car (Mrs Chryssana staff can arrange)
By taxi (Mrs Chryssana staff can arrange)
By bus (take the shuttle from Chania Airport to Chania Main Bus Station and get the bus to Kolymvari - about an hour and a half total - but cheaper and a great way to see Chania!)