When people think about Greece, a lot of times they opt for the touristy Santorini or Mykonos. This time we headed somewhere authentic, full of charm, and much more off the radar. We flew into Heraklion and started driving west and then down through ancient villages, orange orchards, and winding mountainous roads south to Moni. Surrounded by staggering mountains, olive farms, gorges, and views to the sea, we made our way to the Monastery Estate Guesthouse which was originally built in the 1830's. Olive oil producers, wine makers, and shepherds occupied the village dating back to the 13th century! The renovated rustic guesthouse has 5 spacious self catering apartments but are soon opening 12 more all equipped with private pools and views of the Lefka Ori mountain range. Each morning we enjoyed our feast of a fresh Cretian breakfast with home made jams, juice, a variety of toasts, meats, local olives, and of course, delicious feta. The guesthouse offers modern amenities but with a traditional feel where you can walk around the grounds admiring the fresh fruit (lemon, grape, chestnut, pomegranate, and fig) all of which grow directly on the property. Each apartment has a spacious living room, a comfy bedroom, and a private terrace with brilliant views. The fully equipped kitchens also make it super easy to load up on local produce at the market and cook at home.

From the guesthouse you can hike down to the Monastery, surrounded by orchards and a steady hum of bees busy in the flower bushes. Around here you can explore the Byzantine Chapel of Saint Nicolas and the Panagia Kera Chapel.  You can continue along to hike the Agia Irini Gorge where you adventure through staggering cliffs along a riverbed. From Moni you can drive just a few minutes south and be in the adorable Cretian beach town of Sougia where you can have a real local experience. The coastline is dotted with traditional restaurants and sprawling patios right on the ocean. The mountains slide down into a heap of turquoise and cobalt blue endless water. 

Monastery Estate Hotel: Venetian Harbor 

The main hotel resides in the stunning harbor town of Chania- Monastery Estate Hotel Venetian Harbor. The hotel is just steps away from the Ahmet Age Mosque with views of the iconic lighthouse. In 2015, the 16th Century Mansion of a Venetian nobleman was renovated into a wonderful holiday hotel. With a garden patio, Turkish Hamam, and unique Arabic design- the hotel is one of a kind. The spacious and modern equipped suites are built into the ancient building but fully luxurious and comfortable. Some have private patios with outdoor jacuzzis while others include rooftop terraces with panoramic views of the Old Town. Surrounded by the picturesque harbor, beautiful boutiques, and hundreds of restaurants- you won't find it hard to stay busy here. You are also only an hour away from the mesmorizing Balos Beach. 

Caitlin CollinsComment