With two whole kilometres of Crete coastline to call its own, Minos Beach Art Hotel is an alfresco art gallery the Minotaur would’ve loved getting lost in. Along with its sandy private peninsula, this easy-to-navigate labyrinth includes a wine cellar with 200 labels, a fine-dining, veranda-enhanced restaurant and its very own all-Greek coffee shop (where you can also over-order meze and raki). Its trio of eating establishments includes the dreaded buffet, but not as you know it: here, guests choose from different counters and watch as the chefs cook the only-homegrown produce into their favourite traditional recipes.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of wine and a fruit platter. For villa bookings, members will be greeted with a bottle of champagne and a fruit platter, with three more Greek treats delivered during the course of your stay
11am, but flexible for €60 until 6pm and €90 until 7pm. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £241.85 (€275), including tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €4.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates usually include breakfast.
If you thought the foliage smelled fragrant, that’s because the grounds include an aromatic (literally) herb garden.
The hotel shutters up between November and March.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, gym with personal trainers on hand, gardens, tennis court, boutique, library and bicycles to borrow. In rooms: beach towels, tea and coffee kit, free bottled water, air-conditioning and locally made bath products. Some rooms have a Nespresso coffee machine.
Our favourite rooms
Depending on how swiftly you want to access the sea, choose your room accordingly – some, including the Superior Waterfront Bungalows, have private pontoons with ladders down to the water. Families and groups will enjoy the abundance of space in the split-level Maisonettes and multi-room villas. If a view of the Med’s a dealbreaker, avoid the Superior Garden View Bungalows, which swap seafoam for shrubs.
The freshwater pool is open for salt-free swims between 10am and 6pm daily.
Treatments at the spa would make the gods proud with their use of natural nectars, from salt and seaweed to pomegranate, lavender and olive oil. Slots can be booked between 7am and 10pm. There’s a sauna and steam room, too.
Beach-friendly footwear for strolling the two-kilometre stretch of shore and an appreciative eye for art.
All ages are welcome and there are rooms with sofa beds or multi-bedroom villas available for families. Babysitting can be arranged for €15 an hour. There’s no extra charge for children to head over to the kids’ club at sister hotel Candia Park Village.
All rooms have automated systems to ensure they are energy-efficient, solar panels heat the water and all materials used in more recent construction were sourced locally. The hotel also works with local charities and provides sponsorship and meals for the Agios Nikolaos community. The produce is 100 per cent Greek, and much of the wine is homegrown, too.
Watching the chefs at work in Bacchus, or have the staff set up a private-dining experience for you on one of the many rocky plateaus by the water.
Unsurprisingly, La Bouillabaisse is the most formal.
There are three restaurants at the resort: Bacchus, La Bouillabaisse and Terpsis. Bacchus aims to rethink how you see (whisper it) buffets – the ones here are less tepid wasteland and more creative cooking corners with live entertainment courtesy of the chefs. If that doesn’t sound fancy enough for you, book in at La Bouillabaisse instead, for tastings in its wine cave and masterful meze on its veranda. For long lunches and lively dinners (with added folk music and dancing), Terpsis by the bay is the all-day destination for you. Breakfast is served at Bacchus each morning.
Between the Pure Lounge Bar on the waterfront, La Cave de la Bouillabaisse and Dionyssos, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to go thirsty. Bonfires on the beach and live DJ sets until 1am await at the latter. Pure is open from 10am until 6pm; and the sea-facing wine bar La Cave will educate you about wine between 7pm and 10.30pm.
Breakfast at Bacchus runs from as early as 5am on request, until 10.30am; dinner service is 7pm to 9.30pm. La Bouillabaisse opens in the evenings at 7pm until 10.30pm. Terpsis serves food seamlessly from 1pm until 10.30pm.
The full room-service menu is available between 7am and 11pm, with a more limited range deliverable in between.
The hotel is on Crete’s north-east coast, within a waterfront walk of the restaurants and bars of Agios Nikolaos.
It’s under an hour by car to the airport in Heraklion. Hotel transfers start from €85 each way, with 16-seat options for anyone bringing an entourage.
Crete is one of the biggest islands in the Med, so a car will come in handy for exploring its many classical corners – there’s free parking at the hotel.
Seafaring sorts can board a ferry in many of Greece’s islands bound for Heraklion – it’s also an option to set sail south from the port of Piraeus in Athens.
Worth getting out of bed for
As far as islands go, Crete is huge – it’s a two-and-a-half-hour (worthwhile) drive west to the capital, Chania. The staff will be able to point you in the direction of some of the Balkans’ biggest gorges, waterfalls and traditional villages. And if the hotel’s assorted art installations aren’t enough to make your holiday more high-brow (unlikely), go minotaur-spotting at the Minoan Palace of Knossos (roughly an hour’s drive east).
There are three restaurants to dine at within the resort, or you can stroll along the seafront to Agios Nikolaos to try one of its many traditional tavernas. For super-fresh seafood with a view of the water, try Gioma Meze; or mainline the meze at Chrysofyllis near Kitroplateia Beach. In the village of Plaka, Paliria has tables set right along the shore and elevated Greek food that’s almost too pretty to eat.
You’re in prime sundowner territory already, but if you have ventured to Agios Nikolaos and you’re thirsty, the helpful staff at Bajamar will mix you up a cooling cocktail (or a smoothie if it’s too early for alcohol).
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this coastal hotel in Greece and unpacked their swimwear and sketchbooks, a full account of their beach break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Minos Beach Art Hotel in Crete…
Crete may now be full of luxury resorts, but the OG was Minos Beach Art Hotel, way back in 1963. It got in there before the rules for coastal construction were changed – buildings these days have to be at least 50 metres back from the shore. More modern accommodation can only dream of Minos’s proximity to the water: it’s so close, some rooms have their own private rocky plateau with a ladder for even easier swimming access. The boho bungalows have lots of wood and wicker, and each has a terrace to fully enjoy the balmy Cretan climate.
You’d be forgiven for not going far (there are six restaurants and bars to work through, for a start), but when you are ready to venture out, the lively lakeside town of Agios Nikolaos (and all the traditional Greek tavernas you could hope for) is a kilometre away. And if you’ve come to Crete in search of its most famous mythical monster, you’re in luck: the horned creature can be found within the hotel’s sprawling (though not quite labyrinthine, thanks to a handy waterfront walkway) – acreage, only in artwork form, naturally.