What The Papers Say About Pure Crete

  • There is nothing joyous about being woken up by a screeching cockerel at the crack of dawn. But in rural Crete you come to accept it, like the sea of bleating goats which block the mountain tracks every morning. The rustic charm of the island is epitomised in the village of Megala Chorafia near the Venetian port of Chania. With its cinematic backdrop of the White Mountains, the hamlet has a thriving community who farm the olive groves and vineyards. We stayed above a farmhouse, complete with donkey and goats, owned by the local Botonakis family; its balcony overlooking the deep blue bay of Souda was a haven of calm – despite the cockerel. The holiday was organised by Pure Crete.


  • ‘You love the idea of splendid isolation in a remote villa, but wouldn’t it be nice to have somewhere lively to stroll in the evening? Here’s the ideal compromise. Villa Maza, which sleeps six, is tucked away on the edge of Maza village (pop:100), in the foothills of the White Mountains, and it’s peaceful as you could wish. A five-minute wander down the track, however, takes you to the main square and one of the best little kafeions in Crete. It’s a couple of gossiping pensioners by day, but in the evening locals flock from miles around for Voula’s simple but excellent home cooking and the banter of chummy Kostas, who has a habit of breaking into song without warning. It’s all rather fab, and the Blue Flag beaches at Giorgopoli are just 10 minutes drive away.


  • It was sunny but cold, last month in Crete – what the locals call “ilios me dontia”, sun with teeth. I sat on the beach at Sfakia on the south coast of the island. Around me a toddler played among the stones while taverna owners were applying final licks of paint in preparation for the new tourist season.

    Nigel Richardson stayed in the beautifully appointed Villa Diktamos, located in a remote valley near the route of the evacuation march, within easy reach of the coast around Kalives.

  • Luxury… and seven handbags by Liadan Hynes

    ‘The Pure Crete people thoughtfully equip each house with an arrival package which includes various foods, so afterlunching on our terrace – salad with yoghurt for dessert, we fell asleep in the shade.’

  • From Aptera, we walked further inland, along a twisted road, through great orange groves, tiny pastures of bell-clad sheep and goats, always surrounded by flowers in all colours of the rainbow. In Stilos, the first village of any size south of Megala Chorafia, we had to stop for sustenance ready for the steep climb to Samonas. But this is well worth it for the views which become better at each 180 degree hairpin turn.If you have any energy remaining, visit the isolated Byzantine church at Agios Nikolas which houses medieval frescos as good as any found in Crete.


  • The village has settled down for the night and I have climbed onto the roof to find a warm breeze with a slight scent of the sea and wonderful, magic views in four directions. The fifth direction is upwards to a sky with more stars than I would have believed possible. The temptation to lie down here and count constellations and to gaze beyond the Milky Way into eternity is almost irresistible…

  • There were wildflowers and garden blooms everywhere. The garden around my house was full of colour with vivid oleanders, plumbago, campsis and bougainvillea through the summer months, there’s masses of vibrant colour from exotic plants all around the coast – 1500 species of wild flowers, 150 unique to the island. Crete certainly is a beautiful place to visit – the people are friendly and the food is incredible. And if this isn’t enough, the plants and flowers might well tempt me back for another visit with Pure Crete next year!

  • If your vision of Crete includes concrete hotels, discos and all-night burger-bars, then an autumn break with Pure Crete should be a pleasant surprise. They specialise in refurbishing traditional stone houses in hideaway villages far removed from the brash tourist towns. We stayed in Megala Chorafia, where our house, complete with pool, offered panoramic views of snow-capped mountains on one side and the turquoise waters of Souda Bay on the other. There are good tavernas nearby and, even with children, eating out is stress-free and enjoyable. Crete is warm until the end of October and there is plenty to see. Don’t miss the ruins at Knossos, Chania old town and Panagia Kera church in Kritsa with its 14th and 15th century frescoes.

  • Independent travellers, who may have ignored Greece in recent years because of the arrival of holiday louts from the UK and elsewhere, might be attracted by a new specialist operator called Pure Crete. Its programme offers selected village houses and farms in Megala Chorafia, in the north-west of Crete. This accommodation is owned by the local villagers and Geraint Davies, Pure Crete founder, claims: “The whole community is behind the project and we are all determined to ensure that the traditional atmosphere continues. You certainly won’t find any lager louts in or around Megala Chorafia.”