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Desperately need help with my hotel options and big decision for Greece

At this point I think I've reserved so many hotels I need to start canceling but I'm so confused! We will be landing in Athens 4/30 (evening) and leaving out of Heraklion 5/15 (morning). Here's what I have so far:

Athens, Greece: Which hotel option? Amalia or Astor? We arrive after 9pm on 4/30, plan to take metro to hotel.
4/30, 5/1, 5/2, 5/3 and checking out 5/3 - Amalia Hotel ($673 total)
Checking in 5/3 and checking out 5/4- 360 Degrees ($301)
I couldn't get same hotel to take us 3 (considering budget too)
4/30- ($173) - Astor Hotel
5/1, 5/2, 5/3 and checking out 5/4- Astor Hotel

We will fly into Santorini from Athens. Santorini:
5/4, 5/5, 5/6, 5/7 and checking out 5/8 - Belvedere Hotel, Firostefani ($1,854)

We will take the ferry to Heraklio and rent a car from the airport to drive to Chania (pick up car from Heraklio airport 5/8 and return 5/13):
5/8, 5/9, 5/10 (and checking out 5/11)- Kydon The Heart City Hotel $600 Euro total (very nervous about parking situation here). Any better hotel options for 3 with car?

Here's where I'm really stomped. 2 options (we love the beach, relaxing and after this long vacation would be nice to just chill but we like sandy beaches too).

Option 1: 5/11, 5/12 (and checking out 5/13) Amira Luxury Resort, Adelianos Kampos $473 (so inexpensive compared to others on this trip) I have not read anything about this hotel in guide books. Seems new. Any thoughts on this area?
Option 2: 5/11, 5/12 (and checking out 5/13) this is I know a long day drive but so appealing, Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection $1,102 (gulp, expensive). There's a private pool which is calling my name because I don't swim in public pools. Is this very long day of driving on 5/11 worth it? Google says it is a 3 hour drive from Chania but if we stop I know it will be longer. Maybe we can swallow a third night, not sure?\

5/13, 5/14 (checking out 5/15 to fly out) Heraklio, Ibis Styles Hotel $346. Can we do a day trip from here to Knossos? Is Parking ok in this area? Thoughts? Better hotel options?

Help please! And thank you in advance.

Posted by
704 posts

Domes of Elounda is a first class luxury hotel, but in early May I do not think that the pool will be warm enough for swimming in. Check if it is heated. It’s not usual, but you are paying for luxury here so it’s a possibility.

Daios Cove is another 5 star with private pools and cheaper for your dates. But honestly, if you Google there are many options. Crete is full of beautiful resorts and it’s very common for resort hotels to offer a private pool option.

I would choose 1 hotel and stay there for all 5 nights that you have on Crete. It’s not a huge island and you will be able to see a lot and relax a bit too.

Posted by
31 posts

Thanks Helen. Do you have a recommendation in Chania where we could be on the beach and use the car to get around (and also see the Old Town)? All in one place for those 5 days?

Posted by
704 posts

I don’t have personal experience of that area but there is another Domes hotel there, Zeen Chania which has good reviews, a private pool option and is less expensive than Elounda.

Edit to add: Elounda does heat the pools in May but Zeen does not. Guess that’s the sort of difference you are paying for.

Posted by
1273 posts

On the day you ferry to Heraklion from Santorini you will get in between 5:30 and 7pm in the evening. There are several excellent locally owned car rental companies who work hard for your business. Chances are good that they will have the car at the ferry port which saves you the time and expense of getting to the airport. We always use AutoRental Crete but there are other very good companies as well. Other names would be Athenscars. Generally less expensive with older cars. and the Best Car rental, that's the name.

I would not really want to drive all the way to Chania in the dark while the road is good it is twisty and hilly in parts. You might be better off walking to the KTEL bus terminal which is close to the ferry dock. Take the bus to Chania you will arrive at least an hour before midnight so you can check into your hotel before midnight then wander into the old town where there will still be lots of tavernas open. One time we arrived at a waterfront Taverna at midnight and the waitress said to us "what are you doing here at midnight, you are not Greek" all that to say the tavernas stay open late to service the Greeks who tend to work quite late in the evening.
The Chania bus depot is a short walk to your hotel.
Do not bother renting a car until you have finished touring Chania you do not need the car until you decide to start visiting the surrounding countryside. Your hotel appears to be on the main road through Chania. There will not likly be any open road parking spots available on that road but I believe there is a public pay parking lot nearby. You can also drive around the streets behind the hotel there will be on street parking in that area. Competition for parking spots can be fierce but they are out there.You probably should ask your hotel for advice on parking.

It really is a huge amount of time driving to Elounda for such a short stay. You might want to consider driving to Rethymnon and visit the old town and Fortezza then head south about 45 minutes to our favourite beach area at Plakias. The blue flag beach is just over a kilometre long framed by the sea high mountains with little villages and at the far end sheer cliff faces. There are hotels in every price range.

Within a 3 km range there at least 5 other lovely smaller beaches. Check it out, its on your way to Heraklion and the beaches are great.

I do not know your hotel in Herklion. It is not in the central core but not too far away. Parking is likely to be hard to come by again ask your hotel for advice. There may be public pay parking close by.
You can certainly d o Knossos its just a few kilometers outside of town. You probably would want to see teh museum firs thats were most of the finds are displayed.
Here are some images of where you are going,
Archaeological sites Phaistos, Gortyz and Knossos.

Chania 2022.
Back in Plakias
Plakias 2022

Posted by
31 posts

Ohh such good advice! Yep I’ll look at the bus option. Do local car rentals also have automatic cars? That makes me nervous.

Posted by
1273 posts

Automatic cars are pretty rare in Greece. Stick shift is dominant. You need to start looking for a car rental now as choice will be limited and non existent if you wait much longer. A few years ago Autorentals Crete had an automatic Panda. It was really nice but last year they only had stick shifts.

I am afraid my, go too hotel Natalies rooms has been sold. In May this year the Natalies sign was still on the building but we could see no activity. I would suggest you adjust your sites for a hotel and search for a hotel inside the city walls. Its full of winding back alleys, period rooms and hotels and all the action is along the waterfront. I can assure you you will be much happier inside the walls than in the new city where your hotel is.

Begin your search with all properties on Theotokopolou street. Its just back from the harbour about a 2 minute stroll. You will be close to the action but just far enough away that its quiet at night. Another well recommended hotel is Amphora. You enter from a back alley but the room overlook the harbour so it can be a bit more noisy than Theo street. Studio Jason also has good reviews. We visited it for a look around. Its pretty much a tourist class hotel in the same alley as Natalies but the entrance is on the other side.

I do my research on booking dot com. Plug in my dates and search for a hotel in my price range and inside the city walls. Last year we choose a VRBO. It was just outside the harbour area on a high spot with views of the harbour. Everything was great price, location and well furnished with kitchen and on street parking. Not reserved parking but lots of it nearby. It was called old Venetian house. That is essentially what Natalies was like. She had 2, 400 year old Venetian houses. What we forgot was the bedrooms are on the 2nd or 3rd floor and the bathroom was on ground level. Funny thing 15 years ago that was not a problem.

Lastly parking. No cars in the old town. Parking lots are available at both ends of the waterfront old town. Nearest to Theo st is a small lot with free parking and there is lots of street parking nearby. It will be a challenge to get a spot but they are there, One time we parked about a half kilometre away and around 10 PM the street parking became available again so we just moved the car closer to Theo street.
Theotokopouluo Street

Posted by
10338 posts

For a good hotel in Chania, consider staying at Casa Delfino. We have not stayed here but multiple family members and friends have. Recommended by our local friends. We were in a rental house.

Posted by
31 posts

I made changes to our hotels/itinerary based on some good feedback. I didn't notice we were coming in from Santorini late afternoon and we definitely don't want to be driving across a foreign country right after.

Updated itinerary/accommodations:
Astor Hotel (Athens) - 4 nights (arriving late first night so will uber to hotel)
Cori Rigas Suites, Fira (Santorini)- 4 nights (arriving by flight)
Infinity City Boutique Hotel (Heraklion) - 1 night (arriving by ferry)
Kydon, The Heart City Hotel (Chania Town)- 2 nights (arriving by bus)--> Can someone give me info on using the bus to go from Heraklio to Chania?
Avra Imperial Hotel (Kolymvari, Chania)- 3 nights (picking up car from Chania airport, need automatic) -->using this as our "beach getaway but also want to explore surrounding beaches, any other "more affordable" options?
Ibis Styles (Heraklion)- 1 night (arriving by car, dropping off car at Heraklio airport)

I know this doesn't really allow time exploring Heraklion but to be honest Knossos doesn't appeal to me and Heraklion in general I'm ok with passing through it.

Posted by
1273 posts

In Heraklion get to the KTEL bus station, which is close to the ferry port. You probably want to get there about 20 to 30 minutes before departure time. Buy your ticket at the ticket window. Get your ticket and watch the electronic monitor which will tell you where your bus will be parked.
When the bus arrives the driver will open the baggage doors under the bus, I do not remember if I had to put our luggage in the bus or if the driver did it.
Away you go. The bus will likely stop at several places on the way to Rethymnon. Then will continue to Chanai. Print out a map so you know where to go to get to your hotel in Chania, Its probably not more than a 10 to 15 minute walk to your hotel from the KTEL bus station.