Laid-back luxury at the Amirandes, Crete

Genuine Picasso ceramics, a digital cosmetic cooler and chilled champagne on arrival, what more could a girl want?

A mirrored jewellery box – marvellous – or, maybe, a choice of pillow – anti-ageing treated with vitamin E – perfect. Spelt or horse hair? Neigh, not for me. 

A handy beach bag containing flip flops, sun cream and purple hat enabled me to hit the sandy beach running – just a sun lounger away from my two-bedroom villa with heated pool.

An attentive attendant showed me to my reserved cabana with gifts of iced tea, ice, water melon, oranges and strawberries, ramping up the luxe pampering experiencing.

Service at the hotel was seamless throughout, from the replenishing of Nespresso coffee and fruit daily to the blankets and candle-lit lantern laid out on the the squidgy day-bed and stone patio each evening for star-gazing soirees.

Requests and niggles (email and air conditioning briefly stopped working) were resolved swiftly and efficiently by warm and friendly staff.

The organic Eau de Grece beauty products, made from local wild herbs and flowers by Grecotel’s Agreco Farm – and featured in Vanity Fair – were a delightful personal touch.

Guests can visit the 40-hectare organic farm, with its traditional olive press, flour water mill and wine press, and become a farmer for the day or help out with the harvests – potatoes, wheat, grapes.

Alternatively, they can just rock up at the farm’s Agreco Taverna, as I did, and enjoy the fruits of others’ labours with a feast of sumptuous cheeses, home-grown artichokes, melt-in-the-mouth pastries and herbal teas, mostly produced at the farm.

The 212-room hotel of suites, bungalows and villas has plenty of wow factor – and one of the most stunning lobby views ever. 

Inspired by the Minoan Palace of Knossos (1350 BC) nearby, towering columns and buildings made of local grey and terracotta stone and floor-to-ceiling glass flanked beautifully-sculptured infinity lagoons, extending all the way to the sea. Flaming cauldrons added a medieval atmosphere at night.

A labyrinth of cool walkways led to the restaurants, where a saxophonist was a relaxing wake-up accompaniment to Bucks Fizz, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.

At the Minotaur Italian restaurant, original Picasso ceramics (Picasso drew himself as the mythical Minotaur that lived in Knossos Palace) were served alongside delicious fettucelle with crayfish and a rich rose sauce. The Lago di Candia restaurant’s floating deck was a romantic setting for moonlit fine dining and the most deliciously decadent chocolate desert I have ever had.


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