7 independent reviews for Rural Crete holiday villa, Greece

Reviews for Rural Crete holiday villa, Greece

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review 15 Nov 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Beautiful scenery (especially the amazing views from the villa), lovely walks in the area, amazing meals prepared by our hosts.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared to be blown away by the stunning views and location!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The property was run in an environmentally friendly way and food came from local sources where possible. Great support for local businesses.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was a wonderful holiday with time to relax at the beautiful property as well as plenty of things to see and do. We loved it!

Read the operator's response here:

Great that we were able to accommodate you for most of your holiday time and recommend hotels in Chania for the rest of your stay – the city is a great contrast to our rural location. Thank you for the compliment, we enjoyed preparing those meals for you and your family and surprising you by serving them in different locations in the garden. And its lovely to see our guests benefitting from our local knowledge – the walk you did into the mountains does give you the most fabulous views without meeting another soul! – its one of our favorites! As you mention, we are keen to support local businesses that can provide the quality and range we seek – most of our fruit and veg, meat and dairy products are bought in Kalyves and sourced from local farmers. We were an early adopter of high speed internet provision (a 10km narrow beam wifi from Kalyves) by a small Kalyves company run by two young enterprising Greeks. This gives us video streaming speeds up here in the mountains that would otherwise be impossible. We’d love to see you back here!

review 18 Oct 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The whole environment around Panokosmos, it’s in the mountains and the views are fantastic. The apartment is comfortable and spacious and the food, was throughout of the highest quality, with surprises everyday, so you don’t get bored. The pool was lovely and the gardens allow plenty space to relax, with great viewing points.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

It’s not for those looking for a beach type holiday, instead this is for those interested in the real Crete. The mountains are all around and well worth walking. It’s best if you can hire a car and travel to see the ancient sites and then have access to beaches, gorges to walk, key Cities. Though we only had one for a few days, so John and Yasmine dropped us off a few times and were very helpful.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, we were encouraged and given advice on local tavernas, local food suppliers and local craft makers. They are environmentally aware and use their own produce, such as jams, bread and manage their energy use with solar panels and LED bulbs where possible.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

We had a wonderful holiday, restful, with interested and knowledgeable hosts, who gave us tips advice, maps and passed on their love of Crete.

Read the operator's response here:

We’re so glad you had a good time. We enjoyed looking after you and the interesting conversations that we had. You were the first guests who hadn’t booked a car thru out– we usually book hire cars for our guests. We enjoyed thinking about places to take you and things to introduce you to - taking you to the farmers market in Chania; the olive mill in Tsivaras; to local walks; and to the beaches and shops in Kalvyes, recommending places to eat. We’ve explored and documented many of the local walks around us and we are happy that you made good use of them. Yasmin has become an expert jam maker, using both fruit from our garden and from local farmers markets which compliments a wide selection of rolls and sourdough breads which John bakes fresh every day. As you point out, this also helps the environment, as we’d otherwise have to drive daily “off our hill” to buy bread! There are lots more walks to try out and places to visit and we do hope you come back to try them out!

review 30 Jun 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The west of Crete is a wonderful place to spend 10 days in late Spring / early Summer, whether you like walking, visiting local towns or just relaxing on the beach. What made this year's holiday so special, however, was Panokosmos itself. Perched on the top of a hill, with balconies and a terrace on three sides of the luxury roof top apartment we had wonderful views of mountains, plains and the sea. The pool and the gardens were all ours and provided the perfect setting to relax and wind down, watching the swallows darting through the trees or listening to the sound of sheep and goats in the surrounding hills. John and Yasmin were perfect hosts. We were served the most wonderful breakfasts every morning in a different part of the garden and also enjoyed delicious dinners or mezes on some evenings. Each morning after breakfast John and Yasmin would ask us about our plans for the day and then provide us with maps, guides and tips about where to visit or where to eat. Having such a wonderful location to stay in, and such thoughtful hosts helped us enjoy our time in Crete to the full.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

When choosing a car to rent avoid the cheapest models. The climbs to and around Panokosmos are steep in places and our Toyota Aygo sometimes had to be coaxed up the steepest sections. It's worth it when you get to the top, though.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The water is heated using solar energy and waste is recycled or composted where possible. Most of the ingredients for the meals John and Yasmin provide are either grown by themselves or sourced from local businesses. We especially enjoyed the range of local honeys, cheeses, olives, the Cretan wines and Greek craft beer.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

One of the most memorable holidays we have had. Chania is a gem, the Imbros Gorge is a delightful 8km walk, and off-season is still quiet. We found, thanks to John and Yasmin's advice, some beautifully quiet beaches. Mountain walks offered stunning views. The people we met were very friendly and the food in the local restaurants excellent and great value for money. And of course Panokosomos was the perfect location.

Read the operator's response here:

We feel honoured to get such a wonderful review. You were delightful guests, perceptive, appreciative and so open to new and different experiences. It was a joy and so rewarding to surprise you each morning with breakfast, and we particularly enjoyed planning and serving our picnic breakfast! We are so glad that you found our advice and suggestions useful. We are passionate about Crete and aim to showcase the best it has to offer. We live here in Crete and spend a lot of our free time researching tavernas, walks and scenic drives. We visit local craftspeople, producers and food fairs. We spend two days each year at the annual wine fair in Chania in the Spring, tasting and selecting our range of Cretan wines for the year. We aim to be as energy efficient as we can, using LED lights, efficient heating & cooling and careful monitoring of our energy usage. In addition to using solar energy to heat our water as you mention, we are currently investigating the installation of an array of photovoltaic panels to harness the sun to replace our current consumption from the national grid. We are glad that your time at Panokosmos gave you a memorable holiday and such a good impression of the island. We hope to see you again soon – we still have a few surprises up our sleeve!

review 14 Aug 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It's a challenge to choose one most-memorable memory, since there was something particularly wonderful every day we spent at the property. The pinnacle, though, must have been the romantic five-course meal that John and Yasmin prepared for us on our last evening there. The evening began with relaxing cocktails in the pool, followed by fresh mezzes on a patio with a view of the property and the White Mountains. For salad, entrees, and dessert (and a surprise!), we moved down to the pool deck lit by lanterns, and enjoyed a five-star meal. John and Yasmin progressively outdid themselves, from the culinary quality of the meal to the masterful service they provided, both that evening and every single day at breakfast. The dining experience here was top notch; at meals, they enabled us to relax and to absorb Panokosmos, popping in only to quietly serve the next course at a careful, measured pace. They were genuinely interested in understanding our food preferences in order to customize our meals while still integrating local elements and practices; as someone with a distaste for most dairy, I was skeptical that they'd be able or willing to find workarounds for me while enabling my partner to indulge in the freshest cheeses and yogurts--and I was blown away with how thoughtfully they accommodated us both. You haven't lived until you've had the Flawiths' fresh-baked sunflower, almond, apricot, and sesame rolls with homemade prickly pear jam for breakfast.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

We would recommend this holiday without hesitation to travelers who are looking to enjoy a balance of activity and quiet. Part of the magic lies in its enforced solitude; the switchback roads to the site and the cliffs surrounding the town help maintain the illusion that it is particularly removed from the world, and my partner and I couldn't get enough. Of our eight days in Xiliomoudou, we spend four complete days there, taking in the views, enjoying the mountain breeze, and reveling in the distance from the world this remote bed and breakfast offered. The other four days we spent off site, exploring Crete. Aided by recommendations and maps from John and Yasmin (and a GPS!), we traveled back off the mountain in our rental car, winding along the narrow local roads onto the Ethniki. We got our fill of doing and going: together we walked the Imros gorge, ventured into Xania and Rethymno (twice!), and walked through the palace at Knossos and saw its artifacts at the Heraklion museum. We spent hours strolling through the grounds of the Arkadi monastery and the Venetian fortress atop Rethymno, and sat reading on the beach or staring at the Mediterranean for hours. In order to facilitate a balance of staying and going, John and Yasmin are as present or absent as their guests prefer. We had the opportunity to sit and chat with them on a few occasions, but they respected our space and privacy and didn't insert themselves into our conversations or activities around the house. When we needed recommendations, they were more than willing to suggest a particular parking garage or restaurant in Xania or prepare a picnic breakfast the morning we left at 7am for Knossos. They have resources like maps and pamphlets, but also years of learning from guests with different preferences. We felt by the end that they knew us and could calibrate their suggestions to how we like to travel. When we were still planning our trip, John provided a sample itinerary of activities that guests like to do in a week; his suggestions for how to rent a car, what food and gas costs to anticipate, and how much one could fit in a single day gave us a clear picture of what we might expect from our stay on Crete. We followed most of his suggestions, and found them to be spot on.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

It was important to us that our host operate sustainably and intentionally. John and Yasmin are particularly careful to mind their environmental impact, and encourage their guests to do the same (instructing us in the use of the clever folding and screen doors bring a cooling breeze into the rooftop apartment while emphasizing that we take care not to run the air conditioning simultaneously). The ingredients for the meals they prepared were either picked moments before from their own garden or fetched from a nearby grocer, and were carefully apportioned to our tastes so that no food would be wasted; we equally appreciated the freshness of the food and their conscientiousness about Panokosmos maintaining a small footprint. On evenings we were at Panokosmos without a dinner plan, Yasmin recommended some of the local tavernas within 5 minutes driving or walking from the house, and later helped us reflect on the customs that we'd seen at dinner and weren't sure how to navigate (e.g., surprise complementary raki after dinner! rude or expected to leave some of the liqueur behind?). Our stay happened to coincide with an annual local jazz festival. The evening brought together jazz fans from around the White Mountain foothills, and assembled a trio of talent musicians known on national and international stages. John and Yasmin prepared a picnic meal for us and escorted us through the hills to the site of the festival, and gave us plenty of room to enjoy the music and atmosphere in private.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

We found the property through Responsible Travel, and ongoing communication directly with John and Yasmin in the months, weeks, and days before our arrival left us feeling certain this was how we wanted to spend our honeymoon. Together they have curated such a wonderful experience for guests, and it is clear from the placement of items in the rooftop apartment to the positioning of the parasols adjacent to garden breakfast spots that they desire to facilitate the perfect holiday for their guests. Everything is essential and nothing is excessive. The house was built to give its residents unfettered views of the White Mountains, which we found both jaw-dropping and forbidding at first glance. However, the experience seems designed to peel back the layers of convenience that build up in everyday life--to force a shift from breakfast on the go to a 90-minute sit-down, to reinforce how short the phrase "stunning views" falls once you've watched the sun come up and go down on the mountain range, and to embrace the meandering roads that take you past belled goats and orange groves rather than rushing from one activity to the next. Upon returning from adventures on the island throughout the week, we felt like we were returning to a temporary home graciously lent to us by both the Flawiths and Crete itself. Having never stayed at a proper bed and breakfast, we were unsure what to expect of our interactions with our hosts. John and Yasmin communicated easily and freely about house practices and policies that would help us coexist with them and fellow guests (what is shared space, what is our space, what is their space, etc.), and we enjoyed getting to know them better. They move throughout the property with the deliberateness of folks who genuinely love the space they have created and have a clear desire to invest in it and share it with others. One of our favorite interactions was when they took us on a garden tour, and we got to see how thoughtfully they have constructed each nook and cranny with an eye for how a third party might inhabit the space for a minute or an hour. John has a clear desire to architect a moment, and Yasmin a welcome, unhurried way of finding and savoring a single word to describe it. One cannot hope for better hosts than these, or a better honeymoon than ours.

Read the operator's response here:

We are so glad that you had a great time with us. We take a lot of time and effort to understand our guests in order to tailor what we provide to give them a perfect holiday. It is such a joy to have guests who so fully appreciate it. Our villa is such a big part of our lives, and we have given much of ourselves to making it special, so its wonderful to have guests who notice and respond to this. We were honoured that you chose to stay with us for such an important celebration in your lives together.

review 20 Sep 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The incredible views; the comfortable and beautifully designed house and garden; the excellent pool; the attention to detail, the careful and helpful planning, the warm welcome and great food and wine. Books and maps, and wifi also v good. Sea, mountains, ruins to explore. John and Yasmin are really interested in their guests and try to tailor things according to their tastes and needs. They have and do work so hard to make this special for everyone. Lovely part of the world, relaxing, hospitable with a great range of things to do besides lounging about happily at the property!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

It's high end cost-wise but worth it if you want to treat yourselves. Everything you need is there - no need to pack a huge trunk. House shoes are required but can be supplied. Finding the house is a bit of a challenge at first, especially in the dark. Winding, narrow, mountain roads; very quiet position. Getting to know the back roads and understanding the road signs is interesting, but you soon get the hang of them - we loved that. Be prepared for generous, leisurely breakfasts! Self catering on top floor is very well equipped but hobs not quite large enough for serious cooking (no oven). Not suitable for people who struggle with stairs. Perfect place for a proper spell of relaxation and reflection.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

In terms of our hosts using local ingredients, local suppliers, and building up their knowledge of local wines - yes. Not sure about environmental impact but they do respect the environment. Conservation - in terms of refurbishing a building and bringing tourists into the area (which boosts the economy) , you could say yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent! Did the trick... just what we needed. Thanks John and Yasmin.

Read the operator's response here:

We’re so pleased that you had such a great time and got so much out of all the efforts that we have put into making Panokosmos special. Having an ex chef and restauranteur to stay was a daunting challenge for us, so we are glad that you enjoyed so much our food and choice of local Cretan wines. Most of our guests use the apartment kitchen just for simple food preparation and we are not surprised it didn’t measure up to a chef’s requirements! We are happy and love to provide a range of food and drink, mezzes, cocktails, through to full 3 or 5 course dinners. As you say, we respect the environment eg by the use of modern insulating materials; positioning the house to benefit from the cooling effect of the mountain breezes so that the a/c s are rarely necessary; and use lo energy and LED lighting. We hope to see you again soon!

review 16 Jun 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The apartment, with its large open verandah and its various balconies, is an eagle's nest, high up in the foothills of the White Mountains in Western Crete and has spectacular all-round views of the surrounding countryside. It is well situated for walking to nearby villages, churches and other points of interest, or for driving further afield to the north and south coasts.Alternatively you can stay in situ and relax by the large shared swimming pool.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The owners, John and Yasmin,live separately on site and are charming and generous hosts, providing bed and breakfast accommodation plus pretty much anything else you might require from mezzes to a full blown evening meal if you want to stay in. They also have great local knowledge and are useful sounding boards for any excursions you may be planning or places you want to visit.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Referrals to local restaurants and shops in nearby villages were very much appreciated on all sides.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Very enjoyable and refreshing introduction to the beauty and charms of inland Crete.

Read the operator's response here:

Its great that we could use our knowledge of the area and the best local tavernas to help you, and to give you advice about what to do and see around us. We enjoy enabling our guests to discover the hidden beauties and features of this land and its people, and are always on the look out to discover new authentic and different places and to support innovative and responsible local owners. We do encourage guests to make full use of our pool and gardens and you certainly made good use of the pool for your early morning swim before breakfast! Its great to hear what a good time you had staying with us.

review 14 Jun 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The drive to the property, once we had left the main autoroute was exciting. The road wound up into the hills and the last 200 yards the road was narrow and hair- raising but what a fantastic place to reach - brilliant hill top home with the most fantastic views. Looking out over the mountains and valleys each morning never ceased to impress us. It is a place to escape to - to relax in and just 'unhook' yourself from the daily madness that could well be your daily existence. Yasmin and John will provide the space to rediscover what life could be.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Worth while doing a little research if you want to go walking or sight seeing before you arrive - John and Yasmin have plenty of advice and suggestions if you need an extra bit of help. What we two found extremely helpful was John and Yasmin helping us with the Car Hire Booking - they know a local firm that was excellent, the car was waiting for us as soon as we stepped outside the airport building.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

All the food we were given at breakfast and dinner was locally sourced where possible - we were treated to home made bread each morning as well. The delicious range of local honey was most impressive. There was plenty of choices of local foods to serve vegetarians and meat eaters. Yasmin and John were able to direct us to the delicatessens that produced the hand made cheeses and home cured meats etc.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

For the two of us it was a great holiday, we needed a break from the everyday, endless rush and this was the perfect place to find it. We hope to go back as soon as the next opportunity presents itself.

Read the operator's response here:

It was great to have you here – it really was a joy to look after you and just what we imagined when we started our bed and breakfast last year. So glad to see you wandering around the gardens, looking out into the gorge at nature awakening in the morning, before coming to breakfast. Thanks for the great photos of your mountain walks – you did so much in your time on the island! Its wonderful to see guests finding just what we’d hope to create – a place to step back, relax and rediscover. We do hope to see you back again soon.

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