St Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas is a five-star hotel situated on a peninsula in the sought-after Mediterranean resort of Agios Nikolaos on the east coast of Crete.
Written by: Ruth Doherty
Date published: 10/04/2012
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Hoping to escape the October gloom? Then we highly recommend catching some Cretan rays at St Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas, a five-star hotel on a peninsula in the sought-after Mediterranean resort of Agios Nikolaos.
After setting off from a rain-lashed England, pulling up in gloriously balmy Greece alone would have been enough to set our spirits soaring. So when the St Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Spa gates opened and revealed a cobblestoned, bougainvillea-bedecked courtyard, a frisson of excitement bubbled inside. The reception area is enhanced with beautiful beach-scene pictures painted by a local artist, whose work can be seen adorning the walls of the rooms and restaurants throughout the rest of the hotel. There's even an on-site art gallery next to the main pool, showcasing a number of local painters' creations, which makes a wonderful pit-stop after a day soaking up the sun - and the views over the Med - at the infinity-edged swimming area.
The owner of St Nicolas Bay is a successful architect, and more than one staff member described the hotel as not just a business, but his absolute passion and pride. He has successfully blended the hotel with the stunning coastline, carving some of the villas and the pools into the rocks, using an abundance of glass to bring the outside in, allowing for excellent views in as many places as possible.
Everything here is styled to reflect "authentic Greece" with natural materials used throughout (white-plaster walls, marble-lined bathrooms). The mature gardens are also a joy, with a trip to the pool allowing you to enjoy the scents of Cretan basil, oregano, thyme and a host of herbs on your way.
What's to love?
Apart from the obvious (non-stop sunshine (albeit with quite strong winds at times), a private serviced beach - yep, you don't even have to leave your lounger to quench your thirst - the soul-reviving ocean vista, a spa with spectacular scenery, five lovely restaurants) what really stood out was the charming service. The staff had a refreshing nothing-is-too-much-trouble attitude, and bend over backwards to make sure you're happy and catered for. Many of them have worked there for years, and the manager described them as a "family" - something that really came across.
This place is perfect if you...
Are a couple looking for boutique bliss, or a family seeking upmarket fun in the sun. As a couple without children, we weren't bothered by the kids playing on the beach. There's enough room - and activities, including watersports - to keep everybody happy, and even the stunning pool area wasn't overrun with little ones, as they had their own pool to splash around in.
Get me there!
Accommodation: St Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas is a member of Great Hotels of the World Luxury Collection. Double rooms from £176.00. For more information or to book visit ghotw.com, or call 020 7380 3658.
Flights: Return flights to Crete are available from On the Beach from as little as £100 per person. To book your next holiday, visit onthebeach.co.uk or call the UK call centre 0871 911 0202.
See all the holiday highlights here:
- Sleep in style:
Rooms start at the Classic Double level, where, although they are the most basic, standards are still high, offering sea views and Philippe Starck furniture.</p>
- Sleep in luxury:
Holidaymakers with a little more cash in the coffers can treat themselves to a suite with a private pool, carved into the rocks on the stunning cliff top coastline.</p>
- Sleep in heaven:
Or, you can even make like England football player Theo Walcott, and take your family to stay in one of the six plush Thalassa villas. The Aphrodite House (pictured), is a three-bedroom space offering stylish day-beds next to its private pool, as well as a Jacuzzi with serious views.</p>
- Lunch at:
The Blue Bay All Day Beach Restaurant & Bar is where you take a break from the beach (it's a hard life), and stroll up the stairs for a mid-day snack. You can keep it simple with a burger and chips, or push the boat out with delicious kebabs.</p>
- Dinner date:
The Labyrinthos Restaurant, located next to the hotel reception, is where you'll head for actually-very-good buffet, but if you want to splash out there are a number of fine-dining options, of which The Greek Kafenion (pictured) is one. Sitting above the private beach, with views over the bay, this is where you'll find authentic Cretan dishes cooked on an outdoor BBQ, including lip-smacking seafood (the grilled octopus starter is a highlight). For a real treat, book in to the poolside Minotaure Restaurant (located below the Labyrinthos), and enjoy high-end Asian and International fare by candlelight (top tip? Order the lobster risotto).</p>
- Pamper party:
When you feel like indulging in some me-time, the Poseidon Spa offers a host of treatments using Elemis products. As well as the indoor pool, there's a number of treatment rooms, but by far the best one is accessed via a lift, which opens up to a single room with a view that would boost your senses even without the massage.</p>
- Pool cool:
The huge seawater infinity pool is the perfect spot for relaxing while looking out to the sea and the beach below. It's just a short stroll to the Blue Bay Beach Restaurant, but staff will ensure you don't need to leave your seat to eat if you don't want to.</p>
- Catch the sunset at:
The Astra Bar Terrace overlooks The Minotaure Restaurant and lagoon pool, and is the perfect place to catch the sun setting over the bright lights of the Agios Nikolaus fishing port.</p>
- Cocktails at:
Right on the beach, the Bonaccia Jetty Bar is a breathtaking spot where you can watch the moon rise, and enjoy a cocktail at the same time. Underwater lights embedded in the beach bay's rocks add to the magical atmosphere.</p>
- The lowdown:
St Nicolas Bay has an idyllic beachfront location just 1.5km from the cosmopolitan port village of Agios Nikolaos. Made up of 40 rooms and suites, as well as six Thalassa villas with private pools, there's accommodation for every budget.</p>
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