On his recent holidays one of our editors spent a few days on the wonderful Island of Crete and stayed at Monastery Estate Retreat. Check out his experience!
Disclaimer: The reservation was paid for in full by us and in order to keep the experience as genuine as possible and the hotel was not informed about our intention of preparing this article at any time.
Built in 2019, Monastery Estate Retreat is the most recent addition to the Monastery group, a chain of boutique hotels in Crete. As there is more to Crete than its (amazing) beaches, we also wanted to experience the mountain air, and decided to book 2 nights at the Premium Suite with private pool and mountain view. In addition to this type of room, the hotel had Junior Suites with private pool and mountain view, Senior Suite with private pool and olive grove view, a Honeymoon suite with private pool and mountain view and Junior Suites (without private pool) .
After about 1:30h along the island’s winding roads, we finally arrived in the small village of Moni, in Southwest Crete, and realized that the name “Retreat” was really fitting. Those who choose this hotel are not looking for the hustle and bustle of Chania or Heraklion, but an idyllic place to relax, with the mountain and olive trees in the background.
On arrival we were immediately greeted by two staff members who promptly asked us if we wanted something to drink and quickly brought us a bottle of sparkling and still water. Check in took place extremely quickly and efficiently. We were asked if we had any plans, and we agreed that we did. That we were going to stay by the hotel on the first day and, on the second day, we were planning to go to Elafonisi beach (1:30 more on mountain roads, but well worth it). We were told that if we found the beach with too many people, we could opt for another one, less known, but equally good, nearby. We were also informed that it would be preferable that both meals in the hotel restaurant and breakfast (not included) were booked in advance, as there might not be a table. After that they gave us the suite keycard and wished us a pleasant stay.
Upon arrival we were immediately impressed. I know what you’re thinking: “sure, a private pool, when it’s 34 degrees it will feel” – using a modern Portuguese expression – “like the last Coca Cola in the desert”.
Although the private pool is a must, what impressed us the most was the aesthetic element. Let’s put in this perspective: If that suite was our home, we wouldn’t change anything. In addition to the layout (very similar to the Six Senses Douro Valley suite where we stayed last year), with a “vertical” organisation of space, the combination of industrial style with minimalist furniture and natural materials was spot on.
The “living area” was large and comfortable, with a Nespresso machine (for coffee addicts like us, it’s always a joy to see one). The bed was super comfortable and, not being huge, it was more than enough for us.
The bathroom was large, functional and very aesthetically pleasing (that black toilet ???). The amenities were, according to my lovely lady, “on par with the best”.
Outside, where we spent most of our time, privacy is totally guaranteed. Although the wall is relatively low low, the clever way the hotel is designed makes it almost impossible to peek into the your neighbour suite unless you are right at the door.
About the pool: Its is private and not private at the same time. Each suite does not have a private pool per se, but rather a restricted area, in a pool that runs through all the suites. If the neighbour on the left side was in the water at the same time as us, there wouldn’t be much privacy. We thought it wouldn’t cost much to make a more intrusive partition than a simple net.
Still, with the infernal heat we didn’t care at all. The pool was about 1.40m deep and about 2m by 2.5m. More than adequate for a suite for 2 people. Oh and the idea of placing the semi-suspended beds over the pool is very nice. We ended up spending the first day just relaxing there.
Because we enjoyed being at the hotel so much, we ended up deciding that, instead of leaving early for breakfast outside, we would try asking to be taken to the suite, in time for a morning swim. And so we did. There were several pre-made suggestions or the possibility of “do-it yourself”. We ordered a “Crete” option, with traditional cheese, sausages, olives, a sweet puff pastry and a savory one. The lady opted for a do-it-yourself and ordered scrambled eggs with bacon and mushrooms (“very good”) and a bowl of Greek yogurt with dried fruit. Both options were accompanied by coffee (or cappuccino), natural orange juice, a basket with bread, jams, traditional biscuits, chocolate cake and more sweet and savory pastries. The cost of €12 per person seemed quite fair to us considering the quality, but it would make more sense to be included in the room rate.
As for the meals in the restaurant, we had read really positive reviews and right after checking in, we decided to make a reservation for dinner. Upon arrival, we were greeted very cheerful by the head waiter that led us to our table. The menu, was not very extensive, mainly composed of traditional Cretan food, but had enough options for all tastes. The open-air restaurant had only 7 tables and maintained the simple yet sophisticated style of the rest of the hotel.
We started by ordering the breaded goat cheese as a starter and, for main courses, roasted lamb with potatoes and a traditional Cretan version of pasta with pesto, cheese and walnuts. All dishes were very tasty and portions were generous without being excessive. For dessert we ordered the chocolate mousse with dried fruit and it was also very good. On the second night, we opted for the grilled octopus and grilles sea bass (both were excellent). For dessert we ordered a dessert typical of the region, a kind of pudding infused with rose water, and it was also very very good. The only thing better than the food was the service from Denis. He did an extraordinary job. In fact, most of the service in restaurants in Greece was very good, from the most expensive restaurants to the taverns, but this one stood out from the rest.
Because we were too focused on the food, we didn’t take pictures. Sorry about that. You’ll have to believe us. Or go there. One of the options. Or both. Both would be great.
The staff was incredibly friendly, professional and helpful, but the dinner service stood out as of an exceptionally high standard.
Although it involves a somewhat “interesting” journey through the mountains of Crete, we really liked the concept and execution that Monasatery Estate Retreat presented. From the sublime architecture and decor, to the incredibly friendly and professional staff, to a quality restaurant at very fair prices. We just thought that the pools could have some sort a more intrusive separation that would guarantee more privacy. For those looking for a luxury escape, the “Retreat” will not disappoint.