Don’t be a square – follow the sun to beachside Domes Noruz Chania, which woos with sea-and-sand views, a buzzing bar and a trio of pools. (Sorry kids, you’re not invited.) Adults, on the other hand, are advised to treat themselves: sip refreshing cocktails, unwind in a blissful blue spa, sample reimagined Med flavours at the restaurant and do jack squat, perhaps from the comfort of a hammock, terrace or big boutique bed. Should horizontal hangtime lose its lustre, Chania’s cultural lures and beaches beckon.
Get this when you book through us:
A cocktail each; for three-night stays, 25 minutes each in the spa pool area; for five-night stays, one breakfast in bed each instead
Double rooms from £381.38 (€440), including tax at 13.5 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional government tax of €4.00 per room per night on check-in.
Rates include breakfast, spa access and WiFi.
Thoughtfully, the hotel preloads in-room MP3 players with different music for different times of the day. If you'd like to see the sister hotel, Domes of Elounda (three hours away), transfers can be organised for €270 per way in a car, €400 per way in a minibus. Guests staying in the Sublime Loft Sea View with Plunge Pool or Haven Suites will get a free upgrade to half board (breakfast, a daily three-course à la carte lunch or dinner served in Topos Restaurant and one three-course a la carte dinner per stay, served in Raw Bar, for every five nights booked).
Annually from mid-November to April.
At the hotel
Public beach; 24-hour gym; free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, minibar, O.Live bath products.
Our favourite rooms
The Sublime Loft Rooms earn their name with superlative views of the sea and beach bar; to maximise these, unfurl yourself into the hammock on your terrace and gaze with gratification upon your surroundings. Haven rooms also deserve a mention: each one is a two-floor expanse, with a bed that’s perfectly placed for sunset sessions (courtesy of the sky-spying window).
Domes Noruz Chania boasts a trio of pools: two outdoors, one in the spa. The pool by the bar tends to get more footfall (try the cocktails and you’ll see why); the one closer to the hotel entrance feels quieter and more secluded. Of course, you can splash around in the warm waters of the Aegean Sea (10 steps from the restaurant); each room also has its own plunge pool, outdoor Jacuzzi or outdoor pool.
The Soma Spa counts an indoor pool, juice bar and fitness room among its considerable charms. A fleet of lovely, nimble-knuckled masseuses dish out facials and body treatments starring Elemis products – plus herbs from the island.
Bring your own domes: pearl earrings; rounded pendants; polka-dot shirts and shorts; circular sunnies.
Sign up for a private yoga lesson on the beach with one of the hotel’s limber instructors. Book a Sublime Loft or a Haven suite for access to the resort's Haute Living delights, including the likes of a beach bag, cocktail classes and upgraded toiletries.
Sorry kids, this place is a playground for over-16s only.
Sit closest to the sand and toast the sea or sunset.
Spy on the waves and sand from Topos restaurant, where chef Dionysios Pliatsikas dishes up ‘glocal’ – that’s global meets local – cuisine. Menu items that caught our eye include: local grouper with grapes, chilli, lemon and chives; tempura king crab with tsoureki-dakos salad and poached sea bass with lime-flavoured vegetables and staka sauce. There’s also the breezy Raw Bar, overlooking the beach, which serves an array of adventurous bar snacks, such as salmon tartare tacos with garlic salsa verde cream, and oysters with pickled kritamo (samphire) and oxymeli dressing (wine, honey, vinegar and orange).
Domes Noruz Chania is rightfully proud of its master mixologist, Giorgos Dendrakis, an alumnus of London’s Shaker Bar School (yes, that is a thing). His libations are best enjoyed by sunset, overlooking the beach: try a fruity bramble. There’s also the N Bar, which shares a double-height, lofty-ceilinged building with the lobby. A hotel that kicks things off with cocktails at check-in is alright by us.
Dinner is served until 11pm; ‘lunch’ until 5pm; breakfast until 11am.
Pick whatever you like from the full restaurant menu between 7am and 11pm; between 11pm and 7am, order from an edited selection of snacks.
Domes Noruz Chania is on the northern part of the island, about a 10-minute drive from the old town.
Chania Airport is 35km from the hotel, a 20-minute drive away (www.chania-airport.com). Brits can take advantage of British Airway’s new direct service to Chania from the UK. The hotel can organise transfers from Chania airport for €50 for a car, €90 for a minibus. Alternatively, Heraklion Airport is a two-hour drive. Transfers from Heraklion airport cost €170 for a car, €280 for a minibus.
Forget trains – you’re on a beachy island.
The hotel offers valet parking and has plenty of parking space.
Catch boats to other islands and nearby beauty spots from Chania Harbour.
Worth getting out of bed for
Having ticked off a treatment at the spa, countless cocktails at the bar, yoga on the beach, a dip in each of the three pools and a meal or two at the restaurant, discover Chania old town, whose lures include a Venetian harbour and historic lighthouse. Shop for leather goods, gold jewellery and other gifts for the folk back home – or each other – in Chania’s artisan boutiques. Learn about the island’s past at Chania Archaeological Museum, or go for a stroll in the Botanic Park & Gardens (take a picnic and a chilled bottle of local white wine with you). Pack a beach towel, swimwear and sun lotion, then set off on a boat trip to Balos beach (the hotel will take care of all the necessaries).
Chania has some excellent eateries. Try wild-fennel pie and other Cretan classics at Portes, whose name means ‘door’ (you’ll understand why, when you get there). The restaurant is usually packed with sociable locals; you’ll feel like you’re dining at a dear friend’s house. Tamam at Zampeliou 49 is a taverna set on the site of the old Turkish baths (swimwear at dinner: not advised); it’s busy, loud and provides a robust introduction to Chania’s dining scene. Ask for a table outside to watch the world come and go as you savour traditional Greek dishes with an Eastern twist. For succulent seafood and the daily catch, have a meal at To Maridaki on Daskalogianni Street. Try the octopus salad with ginger, the crisp and crunchy fried calamari and grilled fresh fish (grouper is a favourite). For food with a view, visit Thalassino Ageri and its neighbouring Periplous. Tucked away from the busy centre in the old leather tanning district, these eateries offer sublime sunset scenes at the edge of the lapping Cretan sea.
It was late when Mr Smith and I checked into Domes Noruz Chania, so we did that classic late-night arrival routine of quickly admiring each and every corner of our room, marvelling over the fresh fruit bowl, opening the terrace doors to say ‘I can’t wait to see the view in the morning’, then falling sound asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.
The next morning, we were able to admire our room – and the view – in all its glory. And, oh, it was worth the wait. We woke up, sun pouring on our faces. Our sun-kissed terrace overlooked the glistening main pool and, over the rooms on the far side, we could see right out to the sea and the horizon. Bliss. Come evening, with the sun setting, this was quite the spot to raise a glass of the local wine left for us in our room.
Said room was an Upbeat Retreat Sea View where a heavenly bed took up the majority of the compact yet cleverly designed entry level, facing out to the sparkling waters.
A sort of ‘deconstructed’ bathroom niftily fitted into the space, with a shower and toilet in one room, and a mirror and cabinet in the main space. A steep, stylish wooden staircase weaved up one side of the room, leading to a relaxed living area upstairs which opened out onto the top terrace, complete with incredible view, two plush loungers and, wait for it, our very own hot tub. (The sort you race through your dinner in Chania just to get back to savour…)
Though quite tightly packed, we felt like we were in our own little home. It was a real luxury to have the upstairs lounge; somewhere to sit with a coffee in the morning, or with a wine and a film in the evening. The decor itself erred towards contemporary beachy cool, crafted from natural materials, soft finishes, pale surfaces and sea-blue upholstered highlights.
Our first morning started with a dip in the sea to work up an appetite for breakfast. The well-kept private beach is scattered with grass-straw parasols, bean bags, and comfortable loungers. The sand is spotless.
I think I squealed when I saw the breakfast buffet. Maybe I was just hungry from the swim but it was a spectacular spread – a buffet full of international faves (eggs, any and every style) and local delicacies: the thickest Greek yoghurt you could wish for, and spanakopita (spinach pie) so delicious I went back for thirds.
What with the sun, the sea, and the sand, the gym probably isn’t likely to be many people’s priority while holidaying here, but we did check it out briefly with a view to working off a little of that all too moreish Greek wine…
It’s a basic space but with enough equipment to get in a good workout should you want it. If you fancy working up a sweat in the sunshine, there’s also an outdoor frame so you can work on your guns and your vitamin D levels.
Of course, you’re only 15 minutes away from beautiful Chania, a web of charming backstreets and quite easily Crete’s prettiest town. It’s definitely worth a visit or two, both in the day and in the evening (it really comes alive at night, with diners spilling out onto the streets).
A forewarning, though: you’ll want to spend most of your time on that beachfront of yours, and you won’t want leave your lounger. Even when you do, it’ll probably be just to jump in the pool or to order an Aperol from the swim-up bar. You’ve got DJs playing laid back house tunes, bean bags scattered around the sand, and double sun-beds to curl up with a good book on.
And there’s not one but three pools to choose from: two large outdoor pools that shimmer in the sunlight, and another in the swish Soma spa. Not to mention the Aegean Sea, a mere 10 steps from the restaurant front.
With 83 rooms and suites, there’s no denying it’s a ‘resort’ but it’s one that feels sophisticated and serene. There are no little ones running around and no teens splashing in the pool. It’s romantic and grown-up with an ambient atmosphere from morning till late. Holiday heaven, that’s what we’ll call it.