Springtime in Crete, they say, is glorious with its lavish, evergreen scenery, mild weather and absence of tourist hordes, as an added bonus. After a long hard winter, I felt I needed a break from the buzz and hubbub of everyday life in the big city.
Enchanting, romantic Chania, the island’s most picturesque location, with its stunning architectural heritage, rich cultural tradition and enchanting narrative, was thus beckoning me with a sort of magnetic, irresistible pull.
My very good friend, who’s an absolute expert in discovering the most unique and astonishing accommodation options around the world, had been recently raving about her latest find: The Domus Renier Luxury Hotel in Chania. “It is a dream really. One that everyone simply must live at least once in their lifetimes”, she declared. “Once the stately home of the Reniers, one of the city’s leading noble families, it is inextricably linked to Chania’s Venetian period. An architectural gem of a building, overlooking the old harbour and the Egyptian Lighthouse, it is full of character as well as intriguing tales and secrets, waiting to be discovered”, she enthused.
Following this spirited prologue, I was not only convinced but also thoroughly intrigued. So I decided to do myself a favor and find out in person.
History comes alive at this Luxury Hotel in Chania
Chania’s history is long and varied. But it was perhaps the Venetian occupation that most determinedly shaped the city’s form and character. After several decades of struggle, upon finally securing their dominion over the rebellious Cretans in 1252, the Venetians set about leaving their mark on the city in various ways, their distinct architecture, no less.
The Domus Renier townhouse at the basin of the port of Chania, with its magnificent arched gateway and stately presence, stands as a living testament of the city’s glorious past. So this vision of age defying beauty was the first thing that struck me when I arrived at my destination. Thoroughly impressive, it was merely indicative of what I was about to experience when I entered the interiors, after my somewhat tiring trip.
Thank god for Evangelia, Noni and Elena at the reception, who thoughtfully welcomed me with a much needed, fragrant, refreshing towel and an invigorating pomegranate liqueur. Graceful hostesses, as they were, they then showed me around the premises. Architects Aristomenis and Giorgos Varoudakis, as they eagerly informed me, had done a great job in transforming the historical mansion into a modern day, stylish luxury hotel in Chania. Timeless period pieces and original architectural features are expertly combined with one off designer furniture and contemporary conveniences, to create a stunning, yet hospitable environment, everywhere in the building.
Aptly impressed by the story of its namesake hero, I had opted for the Federico junior Suite for my stay. Federico was once the Rector of Chania whose political ambitions exceeded the size of the island.Though his tale was intriguing, the suite was even more so. With its tastefully furnished, spacious interiors and balcony overlooking the cobblestone narrow streets of Chania old town, this opulent Suite with the outdoor jacuzzi, provided the perfect backdrop against which to relax and unwind.
The aim of my trip was to seek and find calm, serenity and my inner peace. Nonetheless during my week’s stay, even though I was alone, I was never lonely. For the graceful staff- the girls at reception, Nectaria the cook, or Eleutheria in service- went the extra mile to make me feel part of their family.
Every day, a treat was in store for me: a delicious home cooked spoon sweet, some ripe, super sweet, real strawberries (from their farm no less!) or a sumptuous traditional dessert, lovingly prepared by Nectaria. I shall never forget the wonderful afternoons that I spent savoring these delicacies while gazing at the wonderful vistas from my window. Still I had to leave room for the enticing culinary creations of Chef Vassilis Sikalas, such as the exquisite tuna tartar, they even brought up to my room, before retiring to my bed with a good book from the selection I discovered in my lodgings.
To burn off these calories, I took long strolls, admiring the city’s medieval walls, towers, gates, monasteries, magnificent palaces, underground exits and entrances. Immersed as I was in Chania’s past, I also became very interested in exploring this wonderful historic hotel. The superbly accommodating staff let me have a look at the splendidly romantic honeymoon suite: Named after Luigi, a worldly politician and diplomat, it certainly struck a chord, with its exquisite painted ceiling with relief, oriel with limitless view of the Venetian port and shower with hammam and hydro-massage. So I promised myself to return here with my sweetheart, next time I visit Chania, for I shall certainly do so.
Eventually my week at Chania and Domus Renier, drew to a close. All of my -in effect- new friends gathered to bid me farewell, and were till this last minute thoughtful to a fault. For my journey back they even provided me with some luxurious, aromatic tissues, which came super handy!
Indeed I shall remember -and cherish- this holiday at the Domus Renier luxury hotel in Chania for the years to come.