I’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot this summer, exploring Italy (posts here), experimenting with some crazy Alpine sports in Austria (posts here) and partying in Mallorca with On The Beach (posts here). It’s been amazing and I’m struggling to adjust to being back home for a long period of time (and getting back into the swing of things Uni wise).
However, if I had to pick one favourite trip, it would have to be my most recent adventure to Crete in Greece, where I stayed at the incredible St Nicolas Bay resort.
As the largest of the Greek islands, Crete is a popular destination for travellers of all kinds – offering both the party lifestyle in Malia and a more chilled, sun-soaked getaway in the smaller surrounding towns. Danielle and I flew to the island’s capital Heraklion and began our 45-minute journey along the coast to our home for the next week. Starting our journey off in style, we were picked up in the swankiest taxi I’ve ever seen – and made for St Nicolas Bay…
The resort itself is set on the cliff-face and so offers incredible panoramic, peaceful views of the ocean. Everywhere looked completely ‘Instagram’ ready, which as you can imagine – puts two visiting bloggers in their absolute element.
I’ve never felt quite so relaxed and at home in another place before and from what we gathered from speaking to other guests, I wasn’t the only one.
Everything you could possibly wish for was catered for. Fancy an evening watching Mamma Mia under the stars? St Nicolas Bay have an open roof cinema offering just that (although I can’t always guarantee it’s Mamma Mia). Want to experience a chilled evening with cocktails listening to a DJ set on a platform in the sea? You can do that here (as we enjoyed one evening) – completely with strawberry shots, crisps and champagne. Wine tasting by the pool anyone? That’s just another activity they offer. Despite the luxurious element of the resort, we never felt like we didn’t belong and there was always something we could get involved in.
Often in places of such beauty, there always seems to be an unforgiving factor – whether that’s the food or perhaps some unwelcoming staff. Luckily, I’m pleased to say that neither aspect featured in this resort, with both boxes receiving a big ‘tick’ from me.
Within the resort itself, there are several dining offerings for guests – all of which are included within the half-board package and each have a different speciality cuisine. Danielle and I sampled all of them throughout our stay (you know, for blog purposes) and our resounding favourite was The Minotaure – a poolside, candle-lit intimate venue with a Japanese theme to their menu. The Salmon Teriyaki is worth a try, as is the Lobster Risotto – which Danielle sampled for three nights on the trot (so it must be good).
For a more authentic experience, The Greek Kafenion offered a mix of local dishes and traditional decor (which photographed beautifully in the evening) – with a weekly hosted evening showcasing the very best the area has to offer, in terms of food, music and dancing. A light sea breeze meant that you could enjoy the warm evenings without feeling too flustered – and join in with the dancing (if you fancied).
The breakfast spread each morning was rather spectacular, with a plethora of incredible sweet treats, pastries and puddings – as well as your usual cooked breakfast, cereals and juices. They were very good at catering for gluten-free eaters, with special bread and cereals which were separate from the ‘normal’ stuff – and were happy to tailor any ordered item to your specific preferences. As the week went on, we were greeted like old friends as we sat down for breakfast – and despite the luxurious nature of the resort, we felt welcome, relaxed and right at home. Nothing was too much trouble, nothing was overtly pretentious and the clientele were a real mix of young families, older couples and a wedding party (we wish we could have stayed to have a nose at this – what a fab location for it).
Cocktail wise, the hotel had a very extensive selection – again, which we sampled rather overzealously throughout our stay (for blog purposes). My favourite was the Strawberry Daiquiri (as ever) though Danielle swore that the Cucumber Martini was the best thing she’d ever tasted.
Although we ate out each evening, during the day – all we wanted to do was laze by the pool, read books and snooze, so getting all dressed up and going out for lunch didn’t really appeal. Luckily, the room service menu offered a massive selection of lunch options – which we enjoyed from the comfort of our own villa! I think this was my favourite part of the day – an assortment of different breads, skewered chicken and some of the best chips I’ve ever had!
If you fancy stepping away from the resort for an evening, the town of Agios Nikolaos is just a 6 euro taxi ride away – and it offers a vast selection of small, independent restaurants. On our final evening, all we wanted to do was eat pizza – so we found the cutest little Trattoria and loaded up on carbs (oops).
As always, I’d had a nosey on the website before we visited and was inundated with photographs of gorgeous hotel rooms with stunning sea views. When we arrived however, expectations of our accommodation were immediately blown out of the water as we were escorted (via a rather plush golf buggy) to our new home – one of the incredible Thlassa Villas. Slightly set back from the main hotel and restaurants, these one and two bedroom villas are rather romantically set in the cliff face and feature the most amazing panoramic views of the ocean.
Every morning, we’d slide open our doors to reveal the sound of the waves lapping against the rocks – which is honestly the most calming noise in the world to me. Without using too many superlatives and sounding ridiculously OTT, I can only describe this place as an oasis of luxury. I don’t think my photographs quite do the beauty of the resort justice, but if I was in the market for a honeymoon or wedding destination, this would be the first place I’d look.
St Nicolas Bay is located about 40km away from Heraklion airport, which we didn’t mind at all as it meant a gorgeous drive with insane views along the winding cliff face roads. You can opt for a private transfer (which costs around 105 euros one way) from the airport to the hotel, or there is a shuttle bus run by a travel company (it may be Thomas Cook – but don’t quote me on that one) which offers a cheaper alternative. Either way, it’s very accessible to get to and there were three other couples on our flight from London Gatwick heading to our resort!
Although St Nicolas Bay offers a wide variety of activities, food and drink – if you’re staying longer than a couple of days, it’s always nice to get out a little and explore the surrounding area. Agios Nikolaos is the nearest town and we loved venturing there for a day’s shopping or a few evening cocktails to round off another session of tanning. Filled with a mix of really affordable, yet lovely little restaurants and more expensive places (such as The Piano Bar – right on the top of the cliff), it makes for the perfect place to take some time out, chill and people watch.
Much to my surprise, the shopping there is superb – tiny little market stalls and nooks offering unique leather handbags and creations, shops showcasing thousands of bracelets (for 2 euros each) and pharmacies stocking the most amazing beauty brands we don’t get in the UK (I came home laden with a ridiculous amount of products I don’t need).
Overall, we had an absolutely INCREDIBLE time in Greece – so much so, I’m pining to return (especially when editing the above pictures). Usually my travel experiences are jam packed with trips, excursions, early starts and zero infinity pools – so this was a very welcome change. I felt relaxed and at ease from the word go, returning home feeling refreshed and ready to get back to reality. Everything you could ask for in a holiday!
Thank you to the team at St Nicolas Bay for making our stay so wonderful.
Have you ever been to Crete? Do you like the look of the St Nicolas Bay resort?