The word ‘idyllic’ springs from the Greek word Idili, and it’s easy to see how the two are connected when you visit this gorgeous stone-built family guesthouse in all its Cretan glory.
Lying serenely – and very conveniently – on the coast between the towns of Rethymnon and Heraklion not far from the beach, the property offers three separate apartments called Honeysuckle, Hyacinth and Jasmine! And speaking of nature, it’s located amidst orange and lemon trees, surrounded as well by herbs and indigenous plants.
This was actually a historic house built towards the end of the 19th century, just a 2-minute walk from the beach and the traditional little village. The owners did an excellent job of renovating the property and dividing it into three great apartments while maintaining the heritage and architecture of the original building. The traditional furniture pieces and some local antique pieces collected by the owners add a very authentic touch that ties the Cretan past to its present.
If you visit in winter, you’ll love the stone fireplace, while in summer you’ll appreciate the eco-friendly mosquito net over the bed to guarantee a good night’s sleep, complete with high-end Cocomat bedding. Also noteworthy are the sunny verandas where you can catch a whiff of the local herbs and flowers.
GASTRONOMY CRETAN STYLE
Crete is famous for its excellent healthy cuisine, and the Idili Guesthouse is no exception to this rule. A homemade breakfast with hand-rolled dough, organic honey, jams made with fruits from the garden, and local herbal tea, along with fresh orange juice and organic omelets all promise to delight your palate in the morning. Add to this the homemade herb and cheese pies, along with its very own home-baked cake, and you’ll be starting your day with a heavenly breakfast.
For those lucky enough to book half-board accommodation, your meals will feature authentic local flavors from the rich virgin olive oil slow-cooked meals, mouthwatering ‘meze’ starters, lots of salads, sweets and local liqueurs. Keep in mind that the garden is full of fruit-bearing trees and herbs, lending the freshest ingredients to the kitchen’s dishes.
What’s more, the property offers cooking lessons where you learn local recipes and Cretan basics, before sitting down to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You can even buy some local products such as olive oil, local wine, organic honey, liqueurs such as Tsikdoudia and Rakomelo, and much more.
Not far from the little town of Panormo you’ll find a wealth of attractions, from nature-filled hiking paths and archeological sites to historic monasteries and breathtaking gorges. Traditional villages and fabulous beaches dot the landscape. Hike, bike or take the bus to some of the interesting spots and villages such as Margarites, Melidoni, Eleutherna, Arkadi Monastery, Milon Gorge and of course nearby beaches. The owner Mr. Markos will be happy to tell you about the area and arrange bike rentals. You must hike around, visit the local wineries and Paleo-Christian churches, and get in touch with Cretan nature. Sometimes on the premises there are Cretan music nights performed by local artists, another way of enjoying yourself while encouraging local tradition and culture.
Worthy of note as well is the beach of Geropotamos 5km away, which is adjacent to some marshes and attracts a variety of birds (great for birdwatching). The Caretta Caretta turtle also nests on the beach. Also nearby, Kitrenosis beach, also called Spilies, is home to the endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal.
The owner Markos has taken many small steps in this direction, such as promoting local heritage, biodiversity, tradition and gastronomy. Details such as solar water heating, organic olive-oil toiletries, energy efficient appliances, slow food, and organic food products enhance Idili’s green property, which is made out mostly of traditional building materials such as marble, wood and stone.