We’d explored many of Greece’s unique sites and archaeological ruins (hello Philippi!).
Now chilling out at St. Nicolas Bay, Crete, was just the travel prescription we needed.
There are many top things to do in Crete – like hiking the famous Samaria Gorge (or smaller sage-scented Imbros Gorge) and getting lost in the Moorish-Venetian town of Chania.
And with more time, we would have loved to explore the island.
For us, though, rest and relaxation was what we were after on this visit to Crete.
We can’t comment on some of the other deluxe hotels in Crete.
But we can tell you that the St. Nicolas Bay Resort & Villas – which hugs the scalloped northeast shoreline of Crete – offers welcome peace and luxurious seclusion away from the island’s busier package holiday towns.
St. Nicolas Bay, Crete
With a boutique feel, the St. Nicolas Bay hotel blends in masterfully with the rocky landscape.
Multi-tiered terraces cut into amber and black rocks, with cushioned lounge chairs and umbrellas, provide blissful spots to sunbathe.
Want to swim? Climb down a ladder into the sparkling sea, or wade in from the small private beach.
Clustered in separate low-rise buildings, many of the 107 rooms and suites have private pools.
We arrived late at night after a long flight delay. And it was a treat to find that we’d been upgraded to a large Eros Suite!
Decorated all in white, it had cool marble floors, an expansive bathroom with a door opening from the glass shower to our private pool outside, king-size bed with organic Coco-Mat mattress and a separate living room with bleached-wood framed seaside pictures.
We also discovered plates of lox with asparagus, baklava and little honey cakes, sparkling Greek wine and a vase of fresh red roses, which had been sent to our suite, complimentary, as we were Club guests.
Dining at the hotel and in town
Rates include a delicious buffet breakfast (with a tantalizing array of sweet pastries, including gluten-free items), taken alfresco on a terrace overlooking the sea.
Many guests also opt for the dinner buffet on half-board rates.
We preferred the hotel’s a la carte restaurants, however, especially its pretty outdoor Cretan restaurant, Kafenion.
Dining under the trees, we felt like we were on a “Mama Mia!” set.
Other restaurants and cafes are found in nearby upscale Agios Nikolaos. We could walk to the town in about 30 minutes; there’s a public bus you can take too, or you can cab it.
Interested in other fabulous resorts with private pools? See our reviews of these stunning private pool suites
Relax, reflect, rejuvenate
The real appeal to St. Nicolas Bay is that, by design, it’s adapted to the wild, rugged character of the area.
Long grasses blow in the wind and rocky nooks and crannies invite taking time out for reflection among nature.
You can’t help but feel rejuvenated when you leave this resort.
Read any good Greece travel guide, and you’ll see that it’s considered one of the best hotels in Crete.
St. Nicolas Bay Resort at a glance
A luxury hotel:
St. Nicolas Bay Resort & Villas is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
The St. Nicolas Bay hotel has 107 rooms and suites; many have private pools.
In high season, expect to pay upward of $2,000 USD night for some suites and villas with private pools. Classic rooms cost considerably less, of course. See the resort’s website.
The long transfer from Heraklion international airport on Crete, about 3 hours by public shuttle bus, is a bit hard on the system. (But the resort is wonderful once you arrive!)
St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas
Experience more of Greece!
Read our posts on:
Athens | Is Athens worth visiting? You bet! From the fabulous Acropolis Museum to the changing of the guards, check out these 12 good reasons to go.
Mykonos | Mykonos is a slice of cool in the hot blue Aegean. See our Mykonos travel guide, including the 5 best Mykonos beach hotels.
Santorini | Two of the best places to stay are Ikies Traditional Houses (a boutique cave hotel) and Vedema Resort (a discreet luxury hideaway).
Hidden gems | Want to discover Greece’s secret side? Check out these 15 unique places to visit in Greece.
Facts and tips | Did you know you know it’s illegal to wear high heels to the Acropolis? Check out these 108+ useful and fun facts about Greece.
Our top travel tips and resources
Here are our favorite travel resources:
Hotels: Booking.com is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)
Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).
Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out GetYourGuide and Viator.
Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.
Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more.
Vaccines and meds: We follow CDC travel guidelines to see what medications and vaccines are needed for trips. You can get vaccines at your pharmacy, travel medical clinic or doctor’s office.
Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)
Need more help planning your trip? Check out our travel tips and resources guide for airline booking tips, ways to save money, how to find great hotels and other crazy useful trip planning info.
Pssst! If you make a booking or purchase through our site, we may earn a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks!
Photo credits: 7 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Other photos courtesy St. Nicolas Bay Resort & Villas
We stayed at St. Nicolas Bay Resort & Villas as media guests for review purposes. But if a place isn’t worth writing about it, we won’t recommend it; this place is definitely recommended!
About the authors
Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.
Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!
Friday 24th of July 2015
Jea-lous! Note to self: I need to stop reading luxury travel blogs! ;)
Friday 19th of June 2015
How fun to see this resort again! It's beautiful isn't it? I unfortunately never had the opportunity (nor the money...) to see stay there.
Sunday 14th of June 2015
Looks wonderful! I've had a hankering to go back to Crete for sometime now. I stayed in Agios Nikolaos a couple of times many, many years ago. It would be interesting to see if it had changed much.
Thursday 11th of June 2015
This place is absolutely stunning. My wife always wanted to go to Crete and now I know where to head. Your pictures are stunning.
Amy Lynne Hayes
Tuesday 9th of June 2015
WOW!!! This place looks like an absolute paradise!! I haven't been to Crete yet - didn't make it there during my 10-day sailing trip in Greece - but it's one of those places that's held an appeal to me ever since studying ancient history. I was always fascinated with the Minoan civilization. Now I know where to stay when I eventually do go! ;)