Three restaurants to choose from, including one on the beach
Gorgeous floral-scented grounds with views of the bay
Domes of Elounda hotel in Crete is a high-flying retreat with secluded suites, a glittering spa and shrubbery-studded grounds. There’s also a choice of three restaurants, smooth-edged architecture and the hotel’s own patch of beach. The simple lines are given an exotic touch from the Moorish additions – fretwork screens, silver basins and mirrored furniture.
Here's what you get for booking Domes of Elounda with us:
A Thermae Experience for two in the spa; for GoldSmith members staying seven nights or more, a three-course dinner
Exclusive rates, packages and special offers at Domes of Elounda
12 noon, but flexible subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from $220.13 (€159), excluding tax at 23 per cent.
Rates include an American buffet breakfast.
The sumptuous spa is decked out with metallic mosaics, lavish treatment rooms and a hair salon. Be sure to book ahead for the weekly Cretan wine-tasting evenings (Sundays at 6pm for €22 per person). However, you needn't limit yourself to just wine; many food and cocktail festivals take place throughout the summer months.
At the hotel
Spa, small gym, library, free WiFi and tennis courts. In rooms: flatscreen TV, CD/DVD player, Xbox (on request), minibar, free bottled water, Coco-Mat mattresses, bathrobes, slippers and Korres or Pascal Morabito bath products.
Our favourite rooms
For the most private of stays, opt for the multi-roomed Domes Private Residence, which has a whirlpool bath tub, fireplace-, X-Box- and PlayStation-toting living room and use of the club car.
There are two saltwater pools, one indoors, one out, and a beach. The main pool is just below reception, with views over to Spinalonga and the bay. The strip of beach is lined with olive trees and wooden decking.
All the glitters might not be gold but anything Midas-pleasing will look a treat with your Cretan tan.
Exceedingly welcome. There’s room for cots and extra beds in all rooms. The hotel has a crèche and a kids' club, or a local nanny can be drafted in with a day’s notice for €12 an hour. Baby monitors are provided and older kids can request an Xbox.
There’s room for cots and/or extra beds in all of the rooms. Standard Family Suites sleep four in two interconnecting rooms and come with a raft of family-friendly extras, including a full-board upgrade for under-12s.
Domes Crèche for babies from 4 months to kids aged 4, run in partnership with UK childcare specialists, and staffed with qualified childcare workers. Sessions run daily 10am–1pm (a light fruit and snack lunch is included) and 3pm–6pm; the cost for under-2s is €45 a day for both sessions or €30 for one session (€35 and €22 respectively for ages 2–4). Little ones are given soft toys, noisy toys, books and building blocks, finger puppets and fire engines to play with, and outside is a supervised, shaded and fenced-off playground. The Kids' Club, for ages 5–12, is free and operates to the same timetable. Children are entertained with mini discos, amateur dramatics, team games and puzzles. Childcare is extremely popular and the hotel recommends booking via its online booking system (www.domesofelounda.worldwidekidscompany.com) a month in advance.
The hotel runs a range of water-based activities, such as snorkelling or surfing, and tennis lessons are held daily for €50 an hour with a private tutor (book two weeks in advance).
The outdoor unheated saltwater pools are open 7am–7pm, but they're unsupervised so keep a watchful eye. The peerless main pool is just below reception, with sweeping views; it has a shallow end and adjoining paddling pool.
A children’s menu is available with mini burgers, nuggets and M&M muffins, as are highchairs, booster seats, colouring-in pads and crayons. Staff are happy to heat milk for you. Kids’ also have their own tea at 6.30pm in Tholos – after this, the restaurants’ outdoor spaces turn into ‘quiet zones’ so if you want to feed them later on, it’ll need to be indoors for a family dinner at Tholos. Outdoor eating is kid-free in the evening so nab a babysitter and make the most of some two-of-you time. As the sun sets, the Grand Domes Bar comes alive, offering inventive cocktails on the terrace and views of the Island (open 10am until midnight). There’s live music (mainly chill-out or jazz) on selected nights, and it’s divided into family and adults-only zones for please-all drinking with or without your offspring.
A qualified local nanny or babysitter can be drafted in with a day’s notice for €15 an hour.
No need to pack
Cots, highchairs, buggies, stairgates, monitors, potties and baby baths can all be provided: request in advance, to ensure availability. You can buy nappies, wipes, baby food and basic toiletries from the resort’s mini-mart.
Standard Family Suites have kiddie rooms decorated with Disney characters to make them feel at home, plus welcome gifts of colouring-in packs and crayons. Kids get their own mini bathrobes and slippers too. If your room comes with its own pool or Jacuzzi, it’ll also come with a safety cover for it – good for child-proofing and peace of mind.
Food & Drink
There are three to pick from. Tholos is a buffet restaurant in the main dining room. Topos 1910 is a decked promontory leading out to sea for fine-dining under a twinkling sky. Anthos, helmed by Michelin-starred chef, Philippe Geneletti, is by the beach; an open-air space with shady trees and crisp linens. It attracts Crete’s high-flyers with an exclusive supper-club feel, and offers one-off tasting menus on selected nights. Dishes on offer vary but lobster blinis, crab tartare, milk-fed veal and absinthe sorbet are just some of the star turns in previous menus.
There are three bars where you can kick back and leisurely sip a glass of chilled Cretan white. The Anthos Pool Bar on the edge of the main pool, and Spina by the beach, are both open for daytime drinking from 10am to 7pm, with views of glimmering water and day-beds to recline on. The Grand Domes Bar extends from reception with huge windows showcasing Spinalonga and the sea, and low white sofas, glimmering chandeliers, gleaming marble and stylish neutrals, which make it glamorously relaxed. At sunset, the bar comes alive, offering inventive cocktails on the terrace, views of the Island and live music (mainly chill-out or jazz) on selected nights.
Grand Domes serves drinks until midnight, the bell rings for last orders at 7pm at the pool bar and Spina. Breakfast is served 7.30am-10.30am, lunch from 12pm-5pm and dinner from 6.30pm onwards.
An abridged selection is available at any time of day or night.
Grecian god and goddess: loose, luxurious, linen-based outfits with a glint of gold.
As far out to sea as you can get at Topos 1910; up on the terrace rather than the beach at Anthos for the best breezes.
In Elounda, try Olondi (+30 28410 41040) for a fresh fish and Greek wine combo. Nikos (+30 28410 41439) is another local taverna, serving up grilled octopus, sizzling sea bream and some appetite-whetting stuffed vine leaves. In Plaka, try family-run fish restaurant, Giorgos (+30 28410 41353; www.giorgos-plaka.gr) where the owners bring in the daily catch themselves. The seaside setting overlooks Spinalonga.
Perched on its own patch of sand, the hotel overlooks the beautiful Mirabello Bay of Elounda, in north-eastern Crete. Flanked by olive groves and craggy rocks, it surveys the sea and Spinalonga Island beyond. The village of Plaka is a few minutes away.
The island’s main airport, Heraklion (www.heraklion-airport.info) is the second-largest in Greece, and one hour away by car. Monarch and easyJet both fly direct from London Gatwick. There's a taxi rank outside the passenger terminal, and hire-car desks including Avis.
The nearest big town is Agios Nikolaos, a 15-minute drive from the hotel. From Heraklion, follow the National Road to Aghios Nikolaos (approximately 65km from the airport). As you come into Aghios Nikolaos, there’s a crossroads with traffic lights - turn left here, then right at the next set of lights, following the signs to Elounda village. After about another 1.5km, you’ll see a sign for Elounda on the left-hand side. As you reach Elounda, you’ll hit the village’s port, from here follow the signs to Plaka. Almost immediately before Plaka, see a sign pointing to the Domes of Elounda. There’s free parking when you arrive.
Boat and helicopter are other, more dramatic arrival options.
by Sarah Jappy
, Wordsmith wondergirl
at Mr & Mrs Smith
I’m lying as naked as a jaybird in front of a man that isn’t Mr Smith. This is disconcerting. To add to my unease, this stranger is more muscle than man: beefier than Popeye post-spinach, wide as a wall, and as handsome as Hercules. ‘No paper pants! No paper pants!’ – the thought pings around my head like a rabbit as I lie in the spa of our Read more
Domes of Elounda
Anonymous review by Sarah Jappy, Wordsmith wondergirl
I’m lying as naked as a jaybird in front of a man that isn’t Mr Smith. This is disconcerting. To add to my unease, this stranger is more muscle than man: beefier than Popeye post-spinach, wide as a wall, and as handsome as Hercules. ‘No paper pants! No paper pants!’ – the thought pings around my head like a rabbit as I lie in the spa of our Greek retreat.
Bizarre images pop into my head: a plucked chicken, Oli Beale and his ‘bishop’ in Marrakech (see his review of Maison MK, if you need that explaining.) The Muscle (real name, Nikos; resident masseur at boutique spa resort Domes of Elounda) leans in, grabs my foot, and elevates my leg to a 90-degree angle. He leans in and whispers huskily in my ear: ‘Set your body free’. It’s too late. The giggles rise like bubbles. ‘I’m sorry!’ I sputter. ‘It’s just – I’m – terribly – ticklish!’
Half an hour later, I wobble my way across to Mr Smith at the outdoor pool soaking up that incredible Cretian sun. He’s surrounded by glamorous Europeans snacking on pasta and panini – men in tight trunks who look as though olive oil and liquid gold flow through their veins. Their Cavalli-clad women are equally fabulous, encased in sexy one-pieces and matching turbans. Inevitably, there’s the odd Brit or two to lower the style stakes, buried in Lynda La Plante and as prawn-pink as the Domes’ concrete curves. ‘How was your massage?’ asks Mr Smith, squinting in the sunshine. ‘Really, er, relaxing. When’s dinner?’
Supper at the Domes: now there’s relaxation for you. The hotel hosts gastronomy festivals, inviting internationally acclaimed chefs to cook for their guests. Luckily, we’re here when Yves Mattagne, an exceptionally talented French chef, has culinary control. Despite initial reservations (‘Will we have to talk to other people?’) Mr Smith and I are fizzing with excitement as we dress for the festival. It’s a wrench, though, to leave our boutique boudoir: a sea-facing suite with an outdoor Jacuzzi overlooking Elounda’s ink-blue bay.
Sleeping in the Domes of Elounda is like bedding down in a shell (with a lot more space, a lot less water, and no uninvited snails): stone and slate hues with splashes of turquoise, decorated with stacks of bleached wood, frosted glass lights that mushroom from the ceiling like sea urchins, and spiky green plants. Our suite is also deliciously private – a peachy, dome-topped pod with dazzling views. Snatching one last admiring gaze around us, Mr Smith adjusts his tie, I attend to my décolletage and we’re off into the night.
Drinks at the sleek main bar get us started, and we watch boats threaded with lights wend their way across the waves. Soon we’re summoned, along with an expectant party of guests. Tables are laid out by the pool, candles are lit, and a cavalry of waiters are dispatched to tend to us. The meal is so good, it feels illegal. Each multi-component concoction sounds like a science experiment: royal Belgian caviar with potatoes and quails’ eggs; crayfish with lime, tomato water, wasabi and sesame; sea bass with carrot harissa, rouille and saffron emulsion; coconut-raspberry marshmallow with caipirinha sorbet. And with each course comes a different wine.
After meeting the twinkly-eyed chef, and praising his efforts with wine-induced eloquence, Mr Smith and I slip away: just one thing in mind… Sleep. Back in our suite, we waddle onto the bed, unbutton trousers, remove binding garments, and breathe. (I’m setting my body free.) We wake the next morning, full, hungover, and happy. The sunshine pours in, and a knock at the door heralds breakfast. Breakfast! It’s hard to conquer another feast, but athletically, we rise to the challenge. ‘I couldn’t eat another thing,’ says Mr Smith afterwards, peeling a banana. ‘Me neither’ I say, nibbling on a cinnamon-dusted pastry.
It’s time to kill calories with a swimming session at the Domes’ private beach. It might sound as though we’re being incredibly lazy (well, we are) by not exploring Elounda itself, but this chic Greek hotel is a mini-empire: spa, three restaurants, two bars (one beachside), two pools, tennis courts and a boutique or two. There’s even a fleet of buggies to transport guests from hotel reception to sand (a four-minute walk). We muster the bravado to summon one but, somewhat to my relief, it doesn’t show up, so we wander down and stretch out on two loungers, right by the water.
‘I’m so full and happy’ says Mr Smith, from his Agatha Christie. ‘Me too,’ I purr. ‘I can’t imagine being hungry again’. Children splash in the waves. Tanned goddesses rub lotion into their bronzed husbands. Seven minutes pass. I prop myself up on one elbow and peer at Mr Smith.‘Topos 1910 tonight? It’s the Michelin-starred-chef’s fish restaurant and I’ve heard its seafood is some of the best on Crete...’
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel with us, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Domes of Elounda's Guestbook below.
Stayed on 29 Aug 2013
Pretty much the whole experience was fantastic. The location is fabulous – on the beach of a protected bay in the middle of the Mediterranean, with the water surrounded by mountains. We splurged and booked Villa 8, a three-bedroom house with its own private pool. It's removed from the main building, so there are a half dozen very adorable drivers of golf carts to transport you to and from, whenever you want. Then there's a private beach, food and drinks aplenty. The spa is heavenly. The wine is great.
I can't think of much!
Rating: 10/10 stars
Stayed on 7 May 2013
We had a one-bedroom suite with a private pool, right on the far side of the hotel. It was absolutely perfect: peaceful, quiet and with plenty of space and our own private terrace to sunbathe, read and relax. The spa is definitely worth a visit: we had a selection of massages and facials and they were divine. Thank you for finding us such a fantastic place to go; the staff were fabulous and gave the impression that nothing would be too much to ask. We were upgraded to a room with the most incredible view, and I partly put that down to booking through you.
Although there are three restaurants and the quality of the food was as expected, the choices are a little limited and by the end of the week the food was getting to be a little repetitive. It's a really good job that I love Greek salad.
Rating: 9/10 stars
Stayed on 7 Sep 2012 No although a very child friendly.
Exceptional service from the friendly staff - they even provided a speedboat trip to Spinalonga early in the morning so we could beat the crowds. Cannot recommend the spa and the seafront resturant highly enough. Very family-friendly place - all the staff were very warm and clearly loved having children around. Best thing about the hotel was the room, number. 212, with a great view of the sea.
Music choices in the bar and poolside were quite odd and kind of tacky for such a nice hotel - they could do with some advice on their playlist. Food in the pool bar and buffet restaurant is very average, Smith members will want to avoid this and head to the seafront restaurant. Would be great to have either a shuttle service or footpath to the nearby village of Plaka, the road is too dangerous to walk at night and having to get taxis is a bit of a hassle.
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