Crete: 3 Days in a Hidden Mountain Retreat
In July of 2023, I did a site inspection while staying at the beautifully minimal and rustic, Milia Mountain Retreat & Restaurant, hidden away in Crete’s West Coast mountain tops. The passionate and friendly staff welcomed us into their traditionally built eco-lodge, which is an ode to agrotourism. However, their restaurant is Crete’s best kept secret and the food tastes like nothing less than 5 stars. I highly recommend it to clients who wish to have a break from the typical island’s busy resorts and who consider themselves, a foodie!
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Where to stay
Milia Mountain Retreat
Ecological mountain retreat with awarded sustainable restaurant surrounded by the green landscape of Crete.
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The resort is best reached by car (no need for a 4x4; we had a Fiat 500) and it’s about 1:30 hour west of Chania Airport.
The thought of having to rely on a single usb plug next to the bed to charge my devices initially scared me. I’ve talked about the importance of ‘unplugging’ and getting back to nature, but up until this trip I can’t say I managed to do so. Stripped off any excessive luxuries, providing you with a clean and comfortable bed, an updated bathroom, exposed stone walls to keep you cool in the summer and an open fire to make use of in the winter, the rooms have everything you need to last a few days in the ‘wilderness’. Each room also comes with its own outdoor space, a patio or a small garden with loungers, where you can soak up the mountain air and make the most of the golden hour turning the mountainside a glowing pink leading to a beautiful sunset just before dinner time and once you return from the restaurant, belly full and all senses satisfied you can watch the full moon rise late on a sweet summer’s night. (I’d like to visit it again in winter in order to make use of their open fires in the rooms!)
The restaurant is absolute perfection. There was nothing we tried during our 2-night stay that we did not like. They cater both to meat lovers and vegetarians. The cuisine is highly traditional but with a modern twist. They source everything locally and much of the greens come from their own produce. Therefore, the menu changes frequently and seasonally. Attention is given to the presentation without it being overly pretentious. Their pies, baked to order, are a must! We went for the garden greens and herb option, twice… We loved their wild mushroom risotto too. The Continental Breakfast (which is always included) is good and includes tasty homemade jams and preserves as well as their in house cured meats, but its lunch and dinner that really stand out. The restaurant is open to non guests and the last sitting is at 7:30pm (summer schedule).
During the day theres a plethora of activities on offer, several recommended hiking trails as well as proximity to some of the best beaches on the island making it a great base to explore some of the busiest and best known areas yet being able to retreat in the evenings, away from the crowds. The other guests seem to be well-traveled and cultured individuals as well as nature lovers. Theres a real mix of honeymooners, older couples and groups of friends keen to hike and families with older children (not much to entertain little kids with if they have to fight over which device can be charged first in the room).
The one downside is that due to its isolated and relatively hard-to reach location, the staff ask guests to return to the hotel before sundown. However, knowing that a dinner feast awaits it wont matter at all. I’m mentioning it as it may be an issue for visitors that would like to watch the sunset on a beach or take another, longer excursion. If that's the case, I would urge you to combine this trip with a couple of nights at a beach resort.
This trip can be part of a longer stay in Crete. I would recommend starting at Chania, moving to Milia and ending with a beach resort.
The hotel is perfectly positioned it to reach the world famous Balos Lagoon and Elafonisi beaches making them both a much more comfortable day trip option than from Chania Town.
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