Minos Palace Hotel and Suites is a 5-star adults-only luxury hotel just north of Agios Nikolaos, Crete. The hotel’s location is exceptionally scenic. It’s built at the south end of a small, privately-owned peninsula which affords a nearly 360-degree view of the sea, with the bright lights of popular tourist town Agios Nikolaos just a kilometre across the waters.
A member of an organization with the rather unusual name of “bluegr Hotels and Resorts,” which bills itself as having the goal of “introducing guests to properties built around ...breathtaking locations, exceptional service, and authentic experiences,” right off you can see that the first of those three items (the one about breathtaking locations) applies in spades.
The hotel’s location is exceptionally scenic. It’s built at the south end of a small, privately-owned peninsula which affords a nearly 360-degree view of the sea, with the bright lights of popular tourist town Agios Nikolaos just a kilometre across the waters of Agios Nikolaos Bay- close enough to swim to, if you’re feeling exceptionally fit. For the rest of us, the town is still pretty close- about a 30-minute walk.
Minos Palace has 148 units, some of which have private pools, two a la carte/buffet style restaurants, two bars, an infinity pool with terrific views of Agios Nikolaos Bay, a spa and beauty centre, its own beach, and grounds that are very well laid out with abundant grass, trees, shrubbery, and footpaths.
Guests liked that the photos accurately reflect the reality of the hotel. They also like the friendly, happy staff, the quiet, beautiful location, the first class dining experience at the Inblu restaurant, and the clean and spacious rooms.
Rooms and Suites
Rooms are comfortably large, with most having a ceiling fan over the bed, which is a nice touch if you’re not big on air conditioning. The color palette tends to lighter earth tone shades; lots of beige and brown with sturdy wood furnishings. Some rooms have nice wall decorations, and the views from virtually all rooms and suites is great, whether it be of the sea (which applies to most rooms) or of the surrounding hills and vegetation. Balconies tend to be solid, thigh-high walls, topped with glass which affor good visibility of your surroundings.
Room amenities include, amongst others, the aforementioned ceiling fan, closets, bathrobes and slippers, bottle of wine, AC, electronic locks, hairdryer, laundry, marble bathroom, walk-in rain shower, music, private balcony or terrace, safe deposit box, weight scale, free WiFi, and mini bar.
Additionally, rooms and suites are equipped with a KNX system of environmental controls, which allows smart programming of AC, lights, shades, audio-video, and more in a way which improves convenience for you and is kinder to the environment.
Zen Double Room / Zen Sea View Room
Zen Double Room. Room has a king size bed and a furnished balcony. Furniture is a bit eclectic- some rattan, some solid wood- but it all comes together harmoniously. The view is partially of the sea, and of the hills surrounding the area, giving you the best of both worlds.
Zen Sea View Room. With various room sizes, the Zen Sea View Room has a king size bed and fantastic views of Mirabello Bay from the furnished private balcony. The KNX system allows you to automatically adjust lighting, AC, etc to a Goldilocks-style “just right” degree for you and your significant other.
Bungalow Sea View
The Sea View Bungalows afford an even greater sense of privacy, as they belong to a separate space at the hotel and give you a more detached home sort of feeling. The furnished patio is enclosed by natural stone walls with an arched opening and adorned with climbing Virginia creeper, all of which gives you a greater sense of rustic beauty. Bungalows are more integrated into the property’s gardens. They’re also much closer to the beach. All other room amenities apply.
Sunrise Sea View Room / Sunset Sea View Room
Sunrise Sea View Room. Room gets its name from its east-facing orientation: it’s perfect for you early risers who like to do nothing more on holiday at the start of the day than brew your perfect cup of tea with the in-room coffee and tea facilities and enjoy the fresh early morning breeze on your balcony as the sun makes its appearance over the eastern horizon, painting the sea with yellow and gold as you contemplate the beauty of nature.
Sunset Sea View Room. This room has tons of closet space as well as all of the other listed amenities and more in the general room description, plus a really interesting view. At the end of a long summer day before heading out for the evening you can relax on your balcony with your favorite aperitif and watch the setting sun paint the hills of Crete in the distance with all the warmer colours of the palette. In the foreground you have the waters of Agios Nikolaos Bay, and just a few hundred metres away, the rolling Cretan landscape with numerous white buildings on the shore and in the further distance.
Infinity blue Room
This large, comfy room has its king size bed near the glass wall and door leading onto the furnished balcony- just turn your heat to the left to get the full benefit of the translucent waters of Mirabello Bay. Bathroom has two separate stand bowl sinks and walk-in rain shower.
Generally speaking, suites are larger, more comfortable, and more private than rooms at Minos Palace. Suites are all equipped with amenities listed at the beginning of this section.
Island Suite Sea View
This suite has a separate sleeping area, where the king size bed is, and a seating area or living room where a third guest can sleep, with a divider between the two spaces. There’s an inspiring view from the furnished balcony of the infinity pool, the gardens, and, beyond that, the waters of Mirabello Bay and the island known as Mikronisi, with the hills of mainland Crete in the distance across the bay, some 15km away.
F Zeen Junior Suite Sea View
We suppose you’ll have to ask the management how the F Zeen Junior Suite got its name, and we're sure there’s a perfectly logical reason. You can find this suite on the ground floor. The terrace gives off to the wonderfully manicured grounds, and to the main pool. Particularly pleasant is the stretch of green grass, being a rather rare thing in arid Crete. Suite has a king size bed, a walk-in closet, a separate living area, a full length mirror and a large bathroom with walk-in shower.
Infinity Blue Suite
The “blue” in the Infinity Blue Suite doesn’t refer to the suite’s color scheme, but rather the infinite view of the bright blue Mediterranean sky, and of Mirabello Bay, and, in the distance, the Sea of Crete as seen from your balcony. It’s the kind of view that opens the horizons of your spirit and of your mind, a memory-making view you’ll carry with you long after your time at Minos Palace comes to an end. Suite is large, and very comfortable appointed with a walk-in closet and a walk-in shower, and a KNX environment control system allowing you to adjust lights, AC, music and other electronic devices to your precise specifications.
Infinity Blue Junior Suite with Sharing Pool
Quite similar to the Infinity Blue Suite, the slightly smaller Infinity Blue Junior Suite with Sharing Pool adds to the comfort and convenience with a large infinity sharing pool, framed by olive trees, and beyond which stretches the bright blue Med.
Euphoria Junior Suite with Private Pool
This suite has a comfortably-sized private pool, and a very pleasant inland view stretching for the trees and shrubs just beyond the pool, on to town of Agios Nikolaos, on to the hazy hills of Crete in the distance. The effect is one of relative isolation from the rest of the hotel, as if you have your own little slice of heaven to yourselves. The terrace is enclosed by two meter-high natural fieldstone walls, adding to the sense of absolute privacy. Suite has separate sleeping and sitting areas, and a walk-n shower.
Waterfall Suite with Private Pool
This is the best, most private, and largest suite at Minos Palace. It has a two-level private pool. The upper pool has a waterfall feature which is handy for such activities as a lower back massage. The sun beds on the shaded patio look directly across a narrow inlet to the beach at Agios Nikolaos, and the town itself about 300 meters across the way. All standard room amenities listed at the beginning of this section apply.
Food and Drink
Minos Palace has the good fortune to have hired Chef Giannis Baxevanis to supervise food preparation at the hotel. Highly regarded by food critics, Chef Giannis has made creative use of traditional natural Cretan food sources to present a tantalizing menu of Mediterranean specialties, making abundant use of local, farm to table products whenever possible.
The buffet and a la carte style Amalthea Restaurant on the hotel’s top floor affords a splendid panoramic view of the Cretan land and seascape to go along with its Greek/Mediterranean menu options. Open for breakfast and dinner, it features live cooking stations, salad and sweets corners, and delicious appetizers which will satisfy the pickiest diners. Special dietary needs are also accommodated for with Special Menu requests.
The Inblu All-Day Bar And Restaurant is an indoor/outdoor venue overlooking the beach and enclosed on two sides by native stone walls. Its al fresco format and Cretan-based menu are made that much more enjoyable thanks to its seaside location. Various combination of fresh fish, olive oil, local fruits, nuts and vegetables are combined to mouth watering effect.
Situated near the infinity pool and offering a view of the pool and the sea beyond it, the Bacchus Lounge Bar is a great place to relax with friends and enjoy your favorite beverage in quiet and relaxation. In addition to a full range of liquid refreshment, both alcoholic and non, the Bacchus is the place to go for salads, appetizer s, Burgers, grilled chicken, seafood pasta, and all kinds of desserts.
The beachside Island Bar is where you want to relax at the water’s edge, or take a break from working on your tan, and hydrate yourself with a variety of drinks, cocktails, water, beer and coffee, as well as enjoy light snacks.
Spa and Wellness
Multi-session treatment programmes are a hallmark of Minos Palace’s wellness philosophy. For example, in their “Eat Well” programme, they have multi-day massage regimens comprising either 8 or 12 sessions, depending on the length of your stay. Under the same category, there is an either 8-session or 12-session Wellness Cooking Class on offer. Under their “Pray Well” programme, there are various multi-session yoga-themed activities, as well as body treatments. Under their “Love Well” programme, there are various massage and body treatments, as well as yoga lessons, and cooking classes. All three programmes have a certain degree of overlap, with the same multi-session activity being repeated in other programmes as a sort of mix and match.
As far as on-off treatments, there are massage and body therapies available such as the Minos Palace Rituals, which includes a face and body massage treatment using herbal pouches, facial treatments such as Aloe Vera After Sun, and a wide variety of body scrubs, foot and leg massages, and back and neck massages.
As far as on-site activities, there are number of programmes related to Eastern traditional disciplines, such as yoga and pranayama. Pranayama is a series of spiritual disciplines aiming for meditation and mind-body balance. Other on-site activities include a Wellness Cooking Class and Wellness Mixology Class.
In the Area
Really, the chief attraction in the area of Minos Palace is the charming town of Agios Nikolaos, just a kilometre or so away. Agios Nikolaos is built on three hills surrounding a lagoon which, since 1867, has been connected to the harbor by way of a narrow channel. Agios Nikolaos is the patron saint of sailors, and of Greece itself. It's a familiar place name throughout Greece.
The legend that the little inland lagoon (diameter 140 meters) around which Agios Nikolaos is built is bottomless was debunked in 1976 when legendary oceanographer Jacques Cousteau paid a visit during a trip to Greece to research the lost kingdom of AtlantisHe had a diver sound the lagoon and found that it was only about 70 meters deep- pretty deep for a small inland lagoon, but certainly not bottomless. This did not endear Cousteau to the locals.
Local myth holds that the goddess Athena used to bathe there. During Easter celebrations, an effigy of Judas is burned on the lake.
The lagoon- called Limni Voulismeni (Sunken Lake)- is lined with excellent restaurants, taverns, and cafes, its lakefront promenade packed with strolling Greeks and tourists in the cool of a summer's evening. The nearby seafront promenade is equally scenic in the evenings.
Agios Nikolaos is a fun place to walk around in; it's compact, its streets narrow and full of small surprises, but its hills make walking good exercise as well. Boats for hire give you a nice view of the town and its surroundings. The nearby islet of Agia Pantes is a preserve for the kri-kri, the Cretan wild goat or ibex.
Agios Nikolaos also boasts a lively night life, with clubs and discos going full blast late at night, particularly on Koundourous Street along the harbor, and on 25th of March Street. The town hosts several festivals during the summer season, best-known of which is the Lato Cultural Festival, held in July and August, featuring concerts by local and international musicians, folk dancing, theatre, art exhibitions, and mantinadhes (rhyming couplets) contests. (Lato is the name for the ancient settlement on top of which was build Agios Nikolaos).
Not far from Agios Nikolaos is the archeological site of Priniatikos Pyrgos ("Pyrgos" means "tower"), a late- Stone Age (3,000 BC) to Minoan Bronze Age settlement which was rebuilt and continued to be inhabited after the Minoan Eruption on Santorini, up through the Classical Greek and Roman periods. This coastal settlement has been excavated since 2007.
Agios Nikolaos has an excellent archeological museum, the second-best on Crete, where some of the excavated artifacts from Priniatikos Pyrgos are exhibited. Other newer finds from eastern Crete are also exhibited, along with some artifacts from the Heraklion Archeological Museum. The museum houses finds from several Minoan-era graves, including tools, incense burners, jugs, chalices, amphora and bronze daggers. Figurines, small statues, even a skull of an apparent athlete still adorned with a gold wreath around his head are featured as well. Entrance fee is 2 Euros.
Not far from town is the Diktaen Cave, probably the best-known cave in Greece, because it is considered the birthplace of the god Zeus. It has been a place of local cult worship for thousands of years. The cave has 5 main chambers, and at its deepest point there is a stalactite and stalagmite-encircled lake. The Mantle of Zeus is a massive, chandelier-like stalactite-stalagmite formation hanging over the lake. At the back of the lake is a chamber where Zeus is said to have been born.
Agios Nikolaos has several good beaches. Havania Beach has nice sand, and is on the northern edge of town. It has restaurants, and is an organized beach. Ammoudi Beach is another town beach, in a cove in the town. It's small, and can be crowded. Beyond the beach is the church of Agios Nikolaos, which has some nice wall frescoes. Kitroplateia Beach is close to the town center and offers restaurants, and is also organized with umbrellas and sun beds. Ammos Beach, just beyond Kitroplateia (after the marina) is a nice sandy beach with umbrellas, and close to restaurants and hotels. A bit further south is the Municipal Beach run by EOT, Greece's national tourism organization. The EOT beaches, which charge admission, are generally very well run, and this one's no exception, offering a nice lawn and shade trees in addition to a pebbly beach.
Almyros Beach is Agios Nikolaos's biggest and best, located 2.5 km from the town center. It's located on a river delta where the housewives of Agios Nikolaos used to come and wash their clothes. The delta has reeds, and eucalyptus trees. It's a nice beach with shallow water for small kids, with hotels nearby.
Agios Nikolaos is a great place to spend time, and to explore other areas of Crete from. It can't be exhausted in just a two-week stay, and its beauty practically begs you to come again and again.
Agios Nikolaos, Crete
(+30) 28410 238-01
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