Villa Athermigo in Crete might be exactly what you have been dreaming of for your holidays. Imagine a magnificently restored 18th century olive press, turned into stylish self-catering accommodation. Can you see yourself dipping into the swimming pool and relaxing in the shade of centuries-old trees in a garden brimming with flowers and herbs? Views over hills and olive groves… Peace and quiet: no cars to be heard, just birds singing and insects buzzing, a dog barking in the distance, voices of children playing in the neighbouring village. No pollution. No stress. The perfect setting for totally relaxing vacations. The actual olive press is a striking open space with a circular bar-style dining table hugging the old stone mill, comfortable couches by an open fireplace and several more corners to sit in. With bare stone walls, arches, high wooden ceilings, a skylight and surprisingly modern furniture, it looks magnificent, atmospheric and pleasantly funky. Spacious suites, three in total, are in adjacent cottages and reveal the same successful blend of old and new; they are stylish, gorgeous and definitely luxurious; and beautiful bathrooms, partly open-plan, are huge. You can rent the entire property, or book an individual suite. Did I mention this is paradise?
The beautiful suites and the gorgeous gardens, and the feeling of utter peace and quiet. This is the perfect hideaway.
The nearest beach is 5 km away. It tends to get crowded in the summer. If you want to discover some of the most glorious beaches of Crete, you should make it a day excursion.
1 double suite with wheelchair access (“Karydia”)
2 maisonettes for up to 4 persons, with 2 bathrooms (“Elia” and “Rodia”)
Prices for two persons from 180 Euro per night (including breakfast and taxes), and for the entire property from 500 Euro per night (taxes included). For a full overview of room rates, please contact Villa Athermigo.
Sitting room with a fireplace
Garden and terraces
Outdoor swimming pool (70 sq m)
Additional services (on request)
Private tour guide
When you book an individual suite, a traditional Cretan breakfast is included in the price. If you rent the entire property, you will get a welcome hamper with Cretan delicacies and you can use the little kitchen to prepare breakfast.
If you feel like going into total holiday mode, a professional cook can come to Villa Athermigo to prepare meals on request.
You should, however, definitely try some of the restaurants in the nearby villages. If you want to try the best of Cretan cuisine, you are definitely in the right area. I had some fantastic traditional food in the village of Douliana (2 km from the hotel), which is famous for its restaurants, and I also remember some great meals I’ve had in the past in the village of Vamos (about 4 km away). Also, closer by, in Gavalohori there are several Greek restaurants, but I haven’t tried any of them.
Children are welcome at Villa Athermigo, but because of the lay-out, I hesitate to recommend it for families with toddlers. “Elia” has a double bed on the ground-floor level, and there are two single beds on a small mezzanine. “Rodia” is also on two levels, with a double bed on the ground-floor level and twin beds on the first floor level. Neither feel safe for toddlers. It’s fine of course for babies who sleep in a cot (provided on request), and for older kids (and lazy teenagers!), Villa Athermigo will be heaven on earth. It will probably be hard to tear them away from the garden and the swimming pool, but of course you can take them to the beach as well and even treat them to a boat trip to see the Drapanos caves. If your chidren are old enough, you can also ask the staff of Villa Athermigo to book a guide for outdoor activities (hikes, mountain biking etc.)
It may be hard to beat the privacy of the garden and swimming pool, but you should also enjoy the feeling of the soft beach sand between your toes and the bliss of swimming in the sea. The beach of Almyrida is closest (5km) but it’s touristy. The best local beach is probably Kiani Akti (also called Glaros) north of Kalives, 9 km from Athermigo. As long as the northern wind doesn’t blow, the long sandy beaches of Georgioupolis are great (half an hour by car). With shallow waters, they are great for kids. You could also go for a swim in Lake Kournas (a few km inland from there) where you may come across turtles and water snakes (harmless!), and where you can rent a water pedalo. There are some beautiful beaches on the southern coast, definitely worth the one-hour drive. Glika Nera stands out. To get there, take a boat from Chora Sfakion or, if you wear good shoes, go on foot (30 minutes walking).
Head to Almyrida for scuba diving (there’s a PADI certified diving centre) or for boat trips with snorkelling and swimming included. There’s a sports club too, where you can rent small sailing boats, windsurf and kite surf.
The Old Town of Chania
Spend some time in the old town of Chania. Shop for cloths, shoes, beach accessories, handmade jewelry, arts and crafts in the pedestrian alleys. Go and see if there is an art exhibition or craft fairs in the Hassan Pascha Mosque. Visit the Maritime Museum of Crete and the Archaeological Museum of Chania. Pick a terrace by the water for drinks, and have dinner in one of the tiny restaurants in the pedestrian alleys.
Head to Vamos, one of the gorgeous historical villages in the area (5 km by car, less if you go on foot) for art lessons and workshops. “Cretan Creative Holidays” organises painting classes and workshops (watercolour painting, landscape painting and painting on silk), digital landscape photography workshops and, for those who play an instrument, music (song writing and recording) workshops.
Cooking classes and local culinary traditions
In Vamos you can also take part in traditional Cretan cooking classes. You can also sign up for visits to a cheese farm, a local winery and an olive oil press, a beekeeper, a traditional bakery and a sheep farmer. There are a number of half-day programmes, and for a more serious immersion in Cretan cuisine, there are one, three and five-day gastronomy workshops.
Villa Athermigo is in a tiny hamlet in the hills of northern Crete, in the province of Hania, about 15 km from the town. It is a wonderful rural area, featuring several beautifully preserved historical villages. The sea is only a few km from the hotel and there are several beaches nearby. They are ‘organised’, so perfect if you like to have a sun bed and an umbrella, less perfect if you prefer to be on a beach you don’t have to share with too many others.Read more about Chania
From the town of Chania, take the motorway in the direction of Rethymno and Heraklion. After about 13 km, take the exit for Vamos and Kalyves and follow signs for Vamos. After about 5 or 6 km, turn left towars Gavalochori. Then, after a bit over 2 km (1 km before Gavalochori) turn right towards Agios Pavlos. As you enter the hamlet, you see Villa Athermigo on your left. (There is a tiny parking space.)FIND IT ON THE MAP