Basking on serene virgin shores on the edge of the Mediterranean, Numo Ierapetra Beach Resort is a boho-tinged, adults-only hideaway with an authentic Cretan bent. Twisted olive trees reflect in a beachfront pool, beside which cocktails flow and DJs spin respectful deep house in keeping with the baklava-toned mountains beyond. For après lounging outside of this halcyon haven, you’ll find an arid landscape studded with charming villages, mountain taverns and traditional coffee houses… and turquoise waters that would please the eye of Zeus.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £103.03 (€120), including tax at 14 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast.
The resort has an outdoor cinema for movie-watching under the stars.
The hotel closes annually between November and March.
At the hotel
Spa, sauna, hammam, 24-hour reception and room service, beach and pool, games room, car and motorbike rental, gym, laundry and ironing service, table tennis, free Wi-Fi. In rooms: air conditioning, bathrobes and slippers, TV with film and sports channels, minibar, coffee-making kit, writing desk. All rooms have a private balcony or terrace, or an outdoor living space. Some suites have a private pool.
Our favourite rooms
All of the rooms feature a private balcony or terrace, and a muted modern colour palette inspired by the pale grey beaches and the soft greens of the native tamarisk trees. Plump for an Evergreen Absolute Suite for an outdoor living space and your own pool.
There are two: one tranquil chill-out zone for serenity seekers, and the beachfront main event, where cocktails flow, DJs spin sets, and the pleasingly twisty silhouettes of olive trees curve above sedate striped day beds.
Zen-seekers will find plenty to soothe the senses at the Etherea spa, which features a stress-slaying sauna and hammam. There’s an outdoor gym with fitness classes and a tennis court, too.
Your floppiest sunhat and non-slip boat shoes for incognito island-hopping.
This resort is for grown-ups only (16 years or older).
The resort has a low-waste philosophy, with a smart waste management and recycling system and a focus on energy efficiency. The hotel’s commitment to supporting the community includes the use of local suppliers, employing local staff, and giving financial support to environmental organisations like the ANIMA wildlife association.
At Tamarisk, nab a sun-dappled seafront pew for views of Mediterranean perfection.
Your most dashing kaftan-and-shades combo for stylish beachside dining.
Beachfront Tamarisk is the resort’s all-day restaurant, serving Mediterranean classics with a Cretan slant, and a focus on traditional ingredients from authentic local producers. Seafood is minutes-from-the-ocean fresh and herb-encrusted meats are slow-cooked until juicy on a wood-burning oven.
Menoa features inventive Cretan cuisine. The interiors are modern, but close your eyes, breathe in the woody scents of smoke and caramelised meats, and you’ll feel you’re in an embracing mountain tavern. Cretan stuffed snails are doused in butter and cut through with pickled eggplant; traditional cabbage dolma are paired with zesty lemongrass and saffron; and rabbit stew is piled high on a bed of Greek-style risotto. For dessert, there’s goat cheese pie with fig sauce and tahini-cinnamon ice cream.
Màre Màre is the upbeat pool and beach bar, serving up tapas, snacks and DJ-spun deep house beats alongside classic cocktails blended with local herbs and flavours. Stressed-out Smiths might sample a soul-restoring smoothie, rosé all day, or a goji berry-laced Bramble No 10 sundowner. Yamas!
Thirsting for something more tranquil? The Modern Bar in the lobby features light music and its own library – a welcoming watering hole for weary time travellers back from hunting the Minotaur in the labyrinthine Palace of Knossos.
Breakfast is served from 7.30am to 10.30am, lunch from 1pm to 5pm, and dinner from 7pm till 11pm. Both bars turn out tapas and classic cocktails from 10am to 11pm.
There’s 24-hour room service, with all-day la carte breakfast, snacks, salads and Cretan delicacies delivered to your door.
Numo Ierapetra Beach Resort is in an unspoiled, secluded spot on Crete’s southern coast.
The resort is around a 90-minute drive from Heraklion Airport. Transfers can be arranged on request.
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands, and Ierapetra provides ample opportunity for road tripping to balmy mountain villages and clement coves. There’s free parking at the hotel, and the resort can arrange car and motorbike rental.
Seafaring Smiths may choose to approach the island by ferry. You can island-hop from Santorini in under two hours, but the nine-hour overnighter from Athens is best avoided by confirmed landlubbers.
Worth getting out of bed for
Chrissi island (‘golden’ in Greek) is an uninhabited isle a 15-minute boat ride off the coast of Ierapetra that more than lives up to its name, and an ideal day trip for scuba diving, watersports, and clothing-optional pursuits (there’s a nudist beach on the north coast). Water babies will love Ierapetra Diving Centre, a diving centre offering courses and dives to southern Crete’s most photogenic sites, including a WWII shipwreck, a beginner-friendly reef, and Agia Fotia island for cave diving. For nature lovers, there’s mountain horseriding, fishing, jeepsafaris and hiking – especially spectacular in the spring, when the waterfalls and gorges are at their best (Sarakina Gorge canyon is particularly impressive and the endless green pines of Selakano forest valley provide a welcome shaded canopy for weary trekkers). Beach hoppers shouldn’t miss Agia Fotia, Koutsounari and Ferma.
A tad further afield is Crete’s blockbuster Minoan Palace of Knossos, where aspiring archeologists can trace the famously flummoxed footsteps of King Minos’ beleaguered Minotaur.
Ierapetra is a small town with more locals than tourists, and the rustic hole-in-the-wall cafés and eateries to match. Think beachside tavernas serving own-caught fish, and kafeneia (coffee houses) where matriarchs brew traditional Greek coffee.
Vira Potzi is an enticing tavern right by the harbour, next to the 17th-century Venetian Kales Fortress. Expect just-caught grilled sardines and calamari, rainbow salads and cumulus-fluffy feta doused in peppery olive oil. Bakalogatos is set in an old-fashioned stone house with a buzzy backyard for casual outdoor dining. Carnivores will appreciate the chargrilled meats, kebabs, and juicy, smoky souvlaki. For sunsets-over-the-sea views, Pelagos is an elegant eatery with a comprehensive wine list that showcases an extensive selection of Greek wineries, and dishes including delicate fennel-paired squid, stuffed onions, and artichokes with grilled goat, smoked over a wood-fired oven.
Pair a trip to hunt the Minatour at Knossos with a meal at Peskesi in nearby Heraklion. Set in a wood-beamed, stone-walled Venetian mansion that was once a sea captain’s abode, Peskesi serves up slow-cooked Cretan masterpieces with local produce sourced from its own farm. Try creamy fried eggs with black truffle, shrimp with pine nuts and raisins, slow-cooked goat paired with velvety Greek yogurt and cheese, or succulent pork chops with scorched sage and thyme, brought to your table still smoking. For dessert, there’s a traditional Minoan baklava with sesame, pepper and grape syrup.
For a traditional Cretan atmosphere, Ntoukiani is a tiny boho bar with basket lamps, live music and meze.
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 urbane resort on the water’s edge and unpacked their olive oil and hand-carved lyre, a full account of their seaside sojourn will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Numo Ierapetra Beach Resort in Crete.
Crete, the biggest of Greece’s jewel-hued islands, is hardly undiscovered. Yet it was here on the craggy south coast where the beaches are volcanic-grey and uninhabited virgin islets freckle the shoreline – long before the birth of the package holiday – that Zeus was birthed in a sacred Minoan cave.
Numo Ierapetra Beach Resort is set in this more unspoiled stretch of land. A backdrop of tawny mountains and olive-green forests flank a pristine beachfront, with titillating views of the turquoise Mediterranean. Palliative poolside elixirs and dreamy DJ beats are designed to keep guests horizontal, as is the stress-unscrambling spa. And no tourist hordes, chip buffets or sunlounger scrums in sight.