Airbnb near Chania
This Airbnb in the quiet village of Malaxa, a 30-minute
drive into the hills above Chania, is a peaceful retreat with a delightful and
thoughtful artist owner, with wonderful views and amenities.
It was the apple pie that did it. We were staying at Malaxiana, an
Airbnb in Malaxa near Chania, which was self-catering. As we hadn't yet had time to
self-cater, the owner, an artist named Demetris Vamvounakis, brought us two
huge slices of the most delicious apple pie, flavoured with walnuts and
cinnamon, and made by his wife. It meant that we could enjoy our breakfast
coffee and have something to eat with it before venturing out to explore and buy some supplies.
We sat on our apartment's big patio, shaded by umbrellas,
and looked down over olive groves towards the glinting waters of Souda Bay on
the north coast of Crete. To the west was Chania, one of our favourite towns on
the island, and all around there was plenty to discover, though it was a great
temptation to just stay at Demetri's and chill out.
We did do that one morning, and Demetri, who's an artist, took
us down below the house to show us his studio. It was a wonderful place, full
of strikingly original and often whimsical art works: sculptures and paintings
and mobiles, all evidence of an enquiring and playful imagination. He moved
quickly around the rooms with great energy and enthusiasm, pointing out his
various creations while telling us his life story too.
Demetri Showing Us His Creations
'I was born in Athens,' he said. 'My grandfather had an
olive press here in the house I live in. He went to Athens in the late 19th
century. They came back with a flour mill. They bought the first shipwrecks
from the Greek government for recycling.'
Some of Demetri's Art Works
'I came back here from Athens. I was lucky to have the house
and I renovated it in 2006. Not the rooms, only the gardens and this part below
the house. I tried to do a tavern but I didn’t want that. I experimented in
many ways to try to make an income. The most successful was inviting a group of
people to dinner in my house, from 7pm to whenever, two courses, wine, lots of
conversation and people liked that. But it wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to be a
Now he rents accommodation out on Airbnb and in winter also runs courses for children, as he's passionate about the environment.
'In winter I started to invite children to teach them about recycling. I take them to a car recycling place. If they’re lucky they get to smash a car! But it’s to teach them about recycling.'
'If people stay for a week they’ll find food in the fridge,
coffee, tea, honey, oil, fruit, bread. If they spend 90 euros a day on the
accommodation then they get back 30 in food! It’s not tourism,' he insisted, 'it’s
He stays open all year. There’s a swimming pool too, and in
winter when people don't want to use it he fills it with goldfish. Demetri is a
quirky man, totally charming with a warm heart, and with the offbeat eccentricity of
The Swimming Pool in Autumn
But he is also business-like and the accommodation is very
well-equipped. There was fresh coffee, filters, a coffee-maker, even a
hair-dryer. As well as the basic foods to get you started, there was also
orange juice and ouzo in the fridge. His wifi code is painted on the wall right
inside the front door, and it's also the same as his phone number.
On a table beneath the stairs is a pile of books, brochures
and local information, like walks and where to eat. There's nowhere to eat in
Malaxa itself, which has a population of 70-80, but plenty of options in
villages nearby, or of course you can self-cater and the accommodation is very
well-equipped for that. One Russian couple stayed there for 15 days, Demetri
told us - and we can see why.
The décor is rustic, with lots of wood, but brightened by
the many colourful artistic touches. Downstairs is a comfy couch, a sitting and
dining area, the kitchen and the bathroom with a shower. Upstairs is another
sitting area (though we used it to unpack our suitcases) and beyond that a
double bedroom. It's simple but is clean and has everything you could want. The
only drawback for us was having to trek downstairs to use the bathroom, but
given the delightful time we had there that was a minor thing.
Demetri was happy to share his life story with us, and
all-in-all was an inspiring man. He seemed a little bemused by the way that
life sometimes works out, and although there are bad times there are also good
times to enjoy.
'When I came here,' he told us, 'I was married but after
five years my wife left. Later, when I was 43, and sitting in the tavern, this
lady said to me: "I want you." I said: "No, no!" She said
"I want to marry you." I said "No. no, you are too young!"
She was 23. But now we have been married 16 years and have two children. I was
For more information and bookings see the Airbnb page
We learned about this accommodation through our friend Isi, who runs Go Crete, which can organise all kinds of Cretan tours and experiences.
Road Sign Demetri-Style
Of Course There Are Cats - This Is Greece!
Other Crete pages
Crete (Kriti) is the largest Greek island and its main attractions include the Minoan Palace of Knossos, the Samarian Gorge, Chania and Rethymnon.
The largest of the Greek islands, Crete has four ENUESCO sites, which are Sitia, Psiloritis, Asterousia, and the Gorge of Samaria.
The Dalabelos Estate offers luxury eco-tourism accommodation on Crete in the hills near Rethymnon with its own farm, vineyard and olive groves.
Crete’s wildlife and landscape are two of the island’s attractions, including gorges for hiking, rare raptors like the lammergeier, wildcats and ancient trees.
Ancient Gournia is a Minoan archaeological site between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia in Eastern Crete where the visitor can see evidence of a maze of back streets.
The best things to do on Crete and top things to see include the Samaria Gorge, the Minoan Palaces at Knossos and Phaistos, the towns of Chania and Rethymnon.
Crete festivals and events include Carnival Easter, Whitsun, Christmas, many other religious feast days and public holidays.
Greece Travel Secrets suggests where to stay in Eastern Crete with our favourite hotels in Zakros, Elounds, Sitia, Agios Nikolaos, Istron Bay, Myrtos, Neapolis.
Greece Travel Secrets’ potted guide to Eastern Crete and why you should consider it for a holiday, including seeing Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, Vai Beach and Zakros.
How to see eastern Crete in five days, with its beaches, Minoan palaces, timeless villages, unique churches and mountain and coastal scenery.
Greece Travel Secrets discovers Sitia, the main town in eastern Crete, with its relaxing waterfront, inexpensive hotels, good food, and nearby ancient sites.
Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to eat in Eastern Crete including restaurants and tavernas in Elounda, Agios Nikolaos, Sitia, and Kato Zakros.
Greece Travel Secrets visits Visual Arts Crete who offer accommodation and run art courses at their home and studio in the village of Kastellos near Rethymnon.
Chania is the main city in Western Crete with a lovely setting and a beautiful harbour as well as several museums.
Greece Travel Secrets visits the Crete Botanical Gardens near Chania and finds a wonderland of colourful plants, trees, and flowers filling a lovely valley.
Crete's capital and largest city is Irakleio, also called Iraklion or Heraklion, a large and busy place with good restaurants, museums and historical buildings.
Driving on Crete is the best way to see Greece’s biggest island and here is our driving advice and some information about Greek driving regulations.
These shopping tips for Crete include advice on buying souvenirs like ceramics, icons, jewellery, leather, weavings, wood carvings, and food and drink.
Malia on the north coast of Crete is renowned for its nightlife and beaches but also has the Minoan Palace of Malia, one of Crete's many archaeological sites.
Greece Travel Secrets page on Phaistos or Faistos, the site of one of the finest Minoan palaces on Crete and is where the mysterious Phaistos Disc was found.
Sir Arthur Evans is the archaeologist famous for the excavations he made at the royal palace of Knossos on Crete.
Visiting Knossos near Iraklion is one of the best things to do on Crete, and this page has a history of the site with visitor information.
What was daily life as a Minoan like on Crete, living in palaces like the ones at Knossos, Malia, Phaistos, and Zakros, and what were their religious beliefs?
Is someone from Crete a Greek or a Cretan? They are both, of course, but most will tell you that they are Cretan first and Greek second.
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