Though Santorini is arguably the most legendarily romantic of the Greek islands, Crete is certainly no slouch when it comes to cultural attractions and astounding scenery. (Just ask those who’ve hiked the famous Samaria Gorge — one of the longest gorges in Europe — to the isolated beach of Agia Roumelli.) For couples wanting to escape to Crete’s charming towns and dramatic beaches, these are the island’s most romantic hotels — from a three-room boutique near Chania’s Venetian Harbor to a luxurious beach resort in Malia.
La Maison Ottomane is a beautiful boutique with exceptional service, within walking distance of Chania's sites, museums, and restaurants. Its three rooms are richly decorated with antiques and appointed with modern luxuries, like minibars, tablets, and espresso machines. One of the rooms, the Roxelane Suite, includes an extravagant bathtub with rainfall showerhead. A free (and superb) breakfast is brought to the rooms or served in the hotel's lovely courtyard. Free Wi-Fi and parking (in an area where street parking is challenging) are great amenities, but don't expect features like a spa, full restaurant, or pool.
Located on a pedestrian-only street a five minutes from the Venetian Harbor, Rimondi Boutique Hotel is divided into two complexes: the Estate Collection and the Palazzo Collection. Each complex has its own pool, with the Estate side housing rooms and maisonettes, and Palazzo side housing, such as Spa Suites, which have private garden and whirlpool. Guests in either side enjoy the classical surroundings, with elegant touches like wrought-iron gates and marble stairs.
Elegant, whimsical, and atmospheric, this charming 24-room boutique hotel in a 17th-century mansion in the heart of Chania’s historic center is a cozy home-away-from-home. Reception staff is notably helpful, and rooms and suites are spacious, with large, comfortable beds, artsy decor, and plenty of modern touches. Facilities include an atmospheric spa, rooftop terrace overlooking the harbor (La Maison Ottomane, also in Chania, does not have either feature), and shaded courtyard area where a free breakfast is served.
Converted from a 15th-century Venetian home in the old city, the charming Casa Vitae combines Old World beauty with clean, modern hospitality. The beautiful stone grounds include a koi pond and an elegant courtyard where free breakfast is served (The other Rethymnon property high on this list is Rimondi, but it does not offer free breakfast). Many of the eight guest rooms have original stone walls and subtly opulent decor; some have balconies. Note that Standard Rooms may be small and low-ceilinged -- particularly the bathrooms. While the hotel is near shops, restaurants, and tourist sights, it is a long walk (or short drive) from local beaches. The free parking area is also a walk away, as no cars can access the hotel. Wi-Fi is free in the common areas and in some guest rooms.
Rethymnon is among Crete's loveliest towns, and the Casa Moazzo Suites and Apartments is housed in one of the town's loveliest structures: a neoclassical building in the heart of the old section. The entrance to the hotel sets a luxurious and historic tone -- a cobblestone, pedestrian-only street leads to the white stone building and its lantern-lit archway. Once the home of nobles, the building is complete with exposed stone walls and a picturesque interior garden courtyard where breakfast is served. Guests also relax at the lobby bar for coffee and cocktails -- the attractive space includes a wooden bar, eclectic wall art, and a glass chandelier. But otherwise, there's little in the way of extras otherwise -- for example, like Casa Vitae, there is no pool or gym. The six rooms and suites are each uniquely decorated and have a bohemian aesthetic, with exposed stone walls, wrought-iron balconies, and cozy brocade pillows; all have plasma TVs, coffeemakers, and kettles.
Whereas our first five picks have been small boutiques in the old towns of Chania and Rethymnon, Thalassa Beach Resort is an 81-room beach resort near the Port of Platanias in the northwest. The upscale, adult-only Thalassa is specifically geared towards creating romantic experiences for couples with things like spa packages, beach cabanas, and add-on services such as dancing lessons or a photo shoot. Three restaurants provide well-reviewed food, including a free buffet-style continental breakfast with Greek specialties. All rooms have a mostly modern design with a balcony or terrace, plus free Wi-Fi, safes, kettles, and mini-fridges.
While Thalassa is located on the northwest, near Chania, the Blue Palace is on the northeast, near Elounda. Both are seafront resorts outside of historical towns, but Blue Palace is much larger (with 251 rooms as opposed to Thalassa's 81) and more luxurious, with extensive on-site features, such as five main pools, five restaurants, and three bars (Thalassa has one main pool, three restaurants, and one bar). But while Thalassa is only for adults, Blue Palace is kid-friendly, with a playground and a supervised kids' club. However, the vibe throughout is elegant and relaxed. Blue Palace's rooms, suites, and villas are loaded with Mediterranean, breezy style and many have private pools and balconies with sea views.
Like Thalassa, the upscale Minoa Palace Resort is a beachfront resort in Patanias. A key distinction, though, is that Thalassa is adult-only and Minoa family-friendly (more so than Blue Palace) with an indoor/outdoor kids’ club and two kiddy pools. It's also not as luxurious as Blue Palace, but it still has great on-site features, including four pretty pools, a spa with free group fitness classes, and five restaurants, including a seaside spot for adults only.
The 245-room Ikaros Beach Resort & Spa is more luxurious that Minoa Palace, but, with kid-friendly animation, it's also more geared towards families, thus the lower ranking on this list. But for couples who don't mind the extra energy, Ikaros has lots of advantages. It's situated on a gorgeous beach that's bigger and sandier than the one at Minoa. Ample lounge chairs are set up by the sea as well as the many outdoor pools. There's an all-inclusive package (not offered at Minoa) that can be used at the many dining venues or three bars. All guest rooms have free Wi-Fi, coffee/tea facilities, and a balcony or terrace, but it's worth upgrading to a sea-view unit.