Hotel review

Kapsaliana Village Hotel Review: A Historical Adventure in Crete

Crete is a majestic island which, despite its number of tourists, is totally unspoiled and wild. Feeling remote and off the beaten track here is easy; there is only one main road, the coastal road, which runs east to west.

Descend south anywhere and you are on winding mountain tracks; Flanked by endless olive trees, you’ll stroll through the occasional village, often home to a shady plaza, a friendly tavern, and a few Cretans sipping strong coffee or cold beer.

The hotel

You will need a car to get to the Kapsaliana Village hotel – follow one of the aforementioned winding tracks for about an hour from Heraklion or Chania, the two main airports in Crete, and you will reach the small village of houses workers renovated.

Both old and new (the village itself dates back to 1763), the buildings that made up Arkadi Monastery have been tastefully modernized to retain and celebrate all of their wonderful features; the sensibility is evident everywhere and speaks to the architectural background of Myron Toupoyannis who bought the village in the 1990s. The 22 comfortable and cool rooms all have distinct and unique features of the site’s previous incarnation – a wine press à olives has been transformed into an office, for example.

It is a work in progress, because Toupoyannis continues to rely on the 22 existing chambers; a recent addition was a larger home for families or groups of friends with its own private pool.

The mill at the Kapsaliana Village hotel in Crete

The mill and the estate

Walking around the hotel grounds is an adventure in itself, as you discover the crumbling ruins of a 16th-century worker’s house or turn a corner to be faced with an incredible view. Kapsaliana sits at a vantage point in the mountains, cooler than the seaside towns and villages, and blessed with that hot wind day and night. Goat bells play soft background music as you stroll the hotel aisles.

At the heart of the village, three majestic rooms make up the monastery’s olive oil mill; the rooms house an impressive collection of antiques and artefacts from the village and the mill itself. One of the areas has been transformed into a private dining room and olive oil tasting room; you are surrounded by huge amphorae and the imposing ancient stone walls are lit by candlelight. You could call it a museum; he feels much more alive than that. Rosemary bushes abound, providing a permanently heady scent to the whole place.

Food and drinks at the Kapsaliana Village hotel in Crete

Eat and drink

On an elevated terrace in the center of the village is the hotel’s main restaurant; shaded by a sprawling tree, for breakfast you can choose from a range of local specialties – from crispy, crispy olive oil pancakes to thick yogurt with Cretan honey, dense tomatoes and sweet melon cucumber ; a variety of local cheeses and meats and amazing home-made preserves. The food is exquisite and honest, almost completely homemade, and you can be as austere or as fancy as you like.

In the evening, the same space turns into a charming restaurant with tablecloths and flickering candles. The game is heightened in the evening, with dishes that draw inspiration from Cretan specialties, utilizing the island’s bounty of fresh fish, carefully raised meats (Cretan beef is highly prized), organic vegetables and unusual forage finds. .

There are a few taverns nearby which offer typical and decent Cretan cuisine with some local specialties. “Το Καπηλειό” is quite traditional with tables and chairs across the street at a quiet intersection in a nearby village. Hospitality is at the heart of the Greek mentality; Maria is the welcoming owner, even though stray cats give her value for her money. She has an amazing and dangerously delicious collection of local liqueurs; try the locally made sausages – a coarser version of the typical loukaniko, made with vinegar instead of wine and spiced with cumin, perfect with a refreshing plate of tzatziki and a piece of bread, washed down with a nice tasting local wine.

The swimming pool at the Kapsaliana Village hotel in Crete

What to do?

There is a good variety of activities to do in the area and further afield; Crete has a lot going on and would require a number of visits to cover even a few areas. That said, lying by the central and tranquil Kapsaliana swimming pool might be the number one activity for some; there are plenty of sun loungers and umbrellas and you can glimpse the Aegean Sea when the wind separates the foliage that grows around the pool.

For those who like a little more than just lounging, due to its mountainous location and wild surroundings, the region offers incredible hiking experiences. Plan at least two liters of water, a factor of 50, a hat and good walking shoes or sandals.

If you fancy a bit of culture, Heraklion is a bit of a drive but has an amazing new archaeological museum. Closer, the archaeological site of Eleftherna is about 16 km away and features the ruins of Hellenistic buildings, Roman structures as well as an early Christian basilica, testimony to the multicultural past of the island.

Rooms start from £ 157 per night. The hotel is suitable for children but would not be suitable for disabled / less able people;

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