Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat

Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker

We almost didn’t go to Greece this summer. We had toyed with the idea a while ago. But it was too hard to choose the island, expensive flights, a plethora of accommodation choices… It was in the too difficult category. Then a friend mentioned he had booked an enormous villa and they had plenty of space. Could we join them?

Yes we could!

Even better, business class flights to Crete were cheaper than economy. I would almost call it a cheap flight! Although I wasn’t thrilled with the lounge or the food, another BA fail!

Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker

I have used Airbnb once to get a crash pad in London for a weekend and it was easy. The villa we had was also Airbnb. It was excellent! With Airbnb the beauty is that you get exactly what you see in the pictures. Hotel photos are always professional, wide angle and enhanced… Sometimes a little misleading? Airbnb photos are taken by the owners. The end result means the accommodation is almost better than expected! This villa is particularly great for a few couples/families as there were 3 separate buildings around the pool. Comfortable and practical, just one of the apartments had a weaker air conditioning unit than it needed.

Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker

A real benefit though, is absolute privacy. The north coast of Crete between Heraklion and Chania is littered with hotels and resorts. So much busier than the sleepy Peloponnese I have been to before. It was ever so pleasant to drive past it all and up into the foothills of the white mountains and our private enclave. No one spoke much English in the area. In fact I had to show a local pictures of the villa on Airbnb to realised the person I was trying to speak to was the owner! There were more goats than people. We could hear the calming sound of goat bells ringing as they grazed nearby! And the views and our own pool were perfect. Rural Greece at its best. So often Mr P and I will stay in a hotel abroad as it seems like it would be easier. But I really think we’ve been missing a trick. A good villa gives the luxury of peace and privacy that we value.

And because we had our own space and the only other people there were our friends…

Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker

We didn’t have to get up for breakfast, and there was no need to get up early to bag a good sun lounger.

We didn’t have to talk quietly, no one was listening. Apart from the goats, and the souls from the little roadside shrines that are so common in Greece!

Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & ParkerAirbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker

No one laughed that I had brought with me a unicorn. Because I blog. And we all know that every blogger needs a unicorn! Well they did laugh, until they realised Ursula was pretty cool!

Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker

We could play our own music at the pool and there were none of those rules about diving or not using at night. Importantly, squealing noisily when unicorn racing or water fighting was not met with tutting or raised eyebrows. Apart from when water landed in the wine!

Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Even with the unicorn racing racket, there was always space for quiet time or the odd conference call!

We could take a glass glass in the pool. That said, we did have to buy our own wine glasses from the local vineyard. The villa only had Raki glasses!

Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & ParkerAirbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker

There was no need to order more drinks, we just got them from the fridge!

We didn’t have to find a fancy roof bar with a sunset view. Because we had our very own! As well as an indoor and outdoor kitchen!

Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker

As a result the short trip was incredibly  relaxing! We didn’t rush anywhere. Time went slowly and blissfully. Some days we got to 4pm and someone would say, do you think we should just go somewhere! Just to ‘go out’. Or we would glance in the fridge and there’d be no wine (emergency trip to vineyard) or no water (trip to the village).

It is however impossible not to go exploring in such a beautiful place.  Here’s a few suggestions!

Seek out pink sand

Mr P was dragged out of bed before 7am in this search. And it didn’t disappoint. Elafonisi is beautiful and having the time to take a bit of a walk on the tiny little nature reserve island is a real treat. The island was happily beautiful and almost deserted. And the drive through the mountains to the south – quite spectacular! Balos Beach I think may also have pink sand, but one was enough! Read my full guide here.

Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & ParkerAirbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Eat local

By this I mean really local. Not the tourist restaurants of Georgiopoli, with pictures of the food! We were near the little village of Maza and the only place to eat is Costas. Locals and tourists dine together.  There is no menu. Rest assured you need no menu. Mythos and Retsina to start, followed by tasty mezze that just kept coming. Such great value and quality. Hearty greek food at its best! We also stopped at Elos on the way back from Elafonisi, a small village with big views and great local restaurants for lunch! We were the only tourists in Paradosiako and our salad, souvlaki and giros were second to none. The mini-marts in the nearby villages did us well for all other food. Such good tomatoes!

Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Drink local

There seems to be quite a wine scene in Crete.  And one such winery – Dourakis – was just down the road from us.  How very lucky! Maybe we wouldn’t drink it at home, but chilled and by the pool we rather enjoyed our Greek wine! There’s all manner of ‘interesting’ stuff in the supermarkets, but we paid a little bit more and enjoyed the local fayre!

Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Amble around Chania

It was really too hot to be sight-seeing on our way back from Elafonisi… But I can’t just drive past somewhere that is apparently pretty. It is actually a cute little Venetian port with bags of character. But it was teeming with tourists! I wanted to be out on a boat making the most of some breeze to cool me down!

Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Beach like a local at Marathi

A chance discovery the last time our friends had been in Crete was Marathi.  It’s not far from Chania but is better known by the Greeks than tourists.  And in the early evening it it quiet enough to enjoy some beach time and then dinner with a gorgeous view across to the mountains and the moon rise.

Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Take a dawn stroll at Kournas Lake

Not content with dragging Mr P out of bed by 7am once.  I actually did it twice! Clearly the best time to visit Kournas. It was just us and some geese. So much more beautiful when there’s no one around. It was a little like being in the Lake District – a gorgeous clear water lake surrounded by rocky mountains. As the sun rose the colour of the water turned azure.

Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & ParkerAirbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Stroll along the beach at Georgiopoli

Yes it’s busy with tourists, with rows of sun loungers. But the view out to sea is beautiful. And the sea breeze is quite essential on a very hot day. We parked near the Chapel of St Nicholas and strolled east, walking in the surf. The further we went the quieter it got, and actually there were very few people in the water! We also had our pick of places to have a beach beer.  Choosing eventually a local vendor rather than one of the hotel bars. Apparently all the tourists order the ‘big’ beer…

Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker

So Crete was a roaring success.  We were ever so sad to come home.  Our Airbnb was excellent and staying in a remote spot away from the tourist track was a pleasure! It’s a beautiful island to visit, especially away from the crowds! Happily it is easy to leave the crowds behind and to self-cater in a remote spot! It’s also a pleasure to go on holiday with friends. Normally it is just me and Mr P. But it was lovely to spend time away on holiday with friends too.

Airbnb in Greece: a Crete retreat - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Follow:
Share the love:

10 Comments

  1. September 8, 2017 / 10:56 am

    Love Crete so much – one of my friends lives out there and so I am well acquainted with Marathi beach! Next time I’ll definitely suggest heading out to Kournas Lake and Georgiopoli – your pictures of the landscapes there are incredibly beautiful. xx

    • September 8, 2017 / 11:24 am

      Thanks Tamsin – I would really recommend dawn visits to them as they are tourist hot spots but beautiful when empty!

    • September 8, 2017 / 4:49 pm

      It’s funny – we always do this in the UK, but never abroad, apart from if we are on some sailing event and it is booked for us! And hey presto – it’s excellent! I should always travel with some picnic wine glasses really…

  2. September 8, 2017 / 7:04 pm

    Anna this looks idyllic! We’ve started going down the Air BnB route a lot more recently and we’ve had nothing but a great experience so far. I must admit to owning a unicorn but sadly in the two months I’ve owned it, I haven’t been able to use it as everywhere we’ve been recently just hasn’t had the weather for it. Bring on the winter tropical holidays!
    Maggie recently posted…Moët & Chandon – A Champagne Tour of The World’s Most Popular ChampagneMy Profile

    • September 8, 2017 / 7:13 pm

      It gives so much more bang for buck and as it is someone’s home, there’s real luxury out there too. And no other people, yes! My unicorn is still languishing in Crete, will get a bigger one next year! Hope you use yours soon, if anything it justifies taking hold luggage for once!

  3. September 19, 2017 / 12:59 pm

    I love having my own space so I often do AirBnBs or villa rentals – had a lovely place in Ios a couple of years back with the family at the end of the season and it was so nice having lots of space and peace to ourselves and not having to worry about other people.
    Lucy recently posted…Erfurt and Weimar: A cultural weekend in the heart of GermanyMy Profile

    • September 19, 2017 / 4:13 pm

      I didn’t realise they could also so be such high quality, a world a way from dodgy homeledays from yesteryear!!

  4. September 21, 2017 / 9:22 pm

    So happy you are now sold on Air BnBs… I think they’re equally great for city-breaks or for holidays like this one. And unicorns are ESSENTIAL (she says, packing hers into her bag right this second!)

    • September 22, 2017 / 6:38 am

      I need to get another unicorn for our trip to India (private pool so I think it will be ok) but was thinking about maybe a swan instead!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge