From Zeus in the form of a bull with golden horns to Bob Dylan, from the Moors-pirates to the Minoan Fest: the tiny resort village of Matala with a distinct hippie spirit is a thriving example of how you can create an image, income and good mood out of the blue. The narrow sandy beaches of the southern coast of Crete, the ideal Libyan Sea, the airport of Heraklion in 65 kilometers and many (really many) decent hotels, good taverns and souvenir shops – Matala lives exclusively for tourists and tourists. Here, in fact, there is no local population – hardly anyone in their right mind would call fifty natives an impressive community.
The local population here has never been too much. Neither in the Minoan period, when matala was one of the semi-combat ports of Fest, nor during the landing of the formidable Arab corsairs led by the invader of all Crete, Umar I Abu Hafsa. Not in the days of the secret early Christian sects – after all, believers in the forbidden High Priest Jesus therefore chose the local caves, which was deserted around.
Now Matala is a universal resort that will suit absolutely all lovers of inactive rest on the warm sea. A week of migration from the beach to the bed through the dining room can be diluted by visiting the local caves of the Neolithic period. Although what to take from them – stone and stone.
Oh yeah, by the way. About a kilometer from the center of Matala is the nudist beach red Sand, akini, it is simply Red Beach (Red Beach). There is no red sand there, and the name is a subtle trolling and a reminder of the famous Bahamian beaches. But it is really very beautiful there, if you do not take into account naked tourists.
Historical and mythological background
The supreme Olympian god Zeus, in the form of a bull who stole the lovely Phoenician Europe, swam across the sea and got ashore near Matala. Then he threw an eagle and carried the girl shocked by this turn of events to a neighboring village.
In the soft rocks rising from the waters of the bay, there are rounded caves. They are dated to the Neolithic and considered man-made. During the period of persecution, early Christians gathered there (not to be confused with modern Christians), buried their dead and painted secret signs on the walls. A little later, during the heyday of the hippie subculture, young Americans hid in caves from the call to war with the Vietnamese. Here lived the iconic Canadian rocker Joni Mitchell, British musician Kat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam) and even Bob Dylan (but this is inaccurate). They did not draw anything on the walls (this is also inaccurate), tourists did everything for them.
Pleasant in all respects, the boutique hotel Die Zwei Brüder provides hotel services such as a bed and breakfast. According to reviews, the beds are comfortable, breakfast (continental or à la carte) is normal, without frills. According to the administration, it includes fresh regional products – that is, tomatoes, olives and soft cheese purchased from farmers.
- standard (single and double rooms) with high windows and balconies overlooking the sea;
- Dream Suite (up to 4 people) with sea and cave views, large bathroom and private access to the garden;
- Käpt’n, Il Mare, African Dream Suites (up to 4 people) with sea view and terrace;
- Ocean, El Greco apartments (1 – 4 people) with balcony, kitchen and stunning views;
- Villa Charakas with swimming pool (2 adults and child);
- Villa Cypressi (up to 7 people).
In the design of the rooms, the emphasis is on natural materials – cotton, wood, and light shades. Clean with the help of environmentally friendly cleaning products, the water is left in glass bottles.
The hotel can help arrange hiking or cycling excursions, yacht trips or fishing in the open sea. Who is lazy, they can climb to the roof terrace and enjoy the sun and sea air without leaving the place.
Olga, St. Petersburg: “We stayed in the standard. Small but well decorated and clean room. Cleaning every day. The breakfasts are delicious, the sound insulation is excellent. From the windows there is a good view, because the hotel is a little on the slope. Well, the nudist beach in half an hour walk, you just need to get through the rocks. Next time we will also stop here, because of the shortcomings – all paid. But this is Crete, it’s like that everywhere.”
Three stars in Crete are still three stars with all the ensuing circumstances, and sometimes leaking toilets, weak air conditioners, old furnishings. Apart-hotel Matala Bay is just that. Nevertheless, the administration is making attempts to improve the situation (in 2019 – 2020 there was a good repair), and the prices do not bully.
Advantages of Matala Bay:
- the hotel is friendly to young children, there is a playground, children’s channels are connected, for breakfast the child will be served cottage cheese casserole and juice;
- breakfasts are delicious, with fresh ingredients and without suspiciously toasted croissants;
- there is a small but cute snack bar by the pool;
- the territory is green (this is a rarity for Crete), there are a lot of sun loungers, there are enough for everyone;
- very friendly and helpful staff.
The hotel has two buildings: in one, older, 55 rooms, in a newer one – 10 two-room apartments with a modestly equipped kitchen and a minimum of necessary furniture and appliances. It is also possible to rent two villas in nearby villages.
Of course, not without drawbacks. The wear of plumbing sometimes impresses even seasoned tourists, economy class rooms would be nice to repair, and the bathrooms are tiny.
And, of course, the famous geographical anomaly. According to the administration, the hotel is located 250 meters from the beach. According to guests, the beach is at least 700 meters away. A trifle, but surprising.
A small (20 rooms) family hotel Dimitris Villa is located on the shore of the bay of Messara (to the beach at hand or half an hour on foot) and has a full set of amenities for three stars – no more, but no less.
The hotel is managed directly by the owner, so the claims voiced at the reception immediately go where it is necessary. Minor flaws – a broken air conditioner, a leaking shower, not too careful cleaning – are corrected instantly, but there is nothing you can do about the design features.
Disadvantages of Dimitris Villa:
- poor sound insulation;
- small bathrooms with low ceiling;
- many rooms are too dark, lack of daylight;
- water pressure is minimal, hot water to wait a long time;
- there is often an extremely unpleasant confusion with the reservation.
Since 2018, Dimitris Villa has changed its name to Dimitris Resort Hotel. However, this did not add amenities for tourists.
Sergey, Khabarovsk: “Clean and nice, good breakfast, quite large plates. Actually, that’s where the pros ended. Noise, bad internet, shower, which with my height can not be used, ac stinks of palen. Next to the hotel there is a café, you can eat there, but the quality of the food is so-so.”
20 minutes from one of the best beaches of Matala (the one that is the only one with a blue flag) is the Valley Village Hotel, which offers guests several accommodation options for every taste and budget. The hotel advocates for the convenience of sleeping. All rooms have orthopedic mattresses and excellent pillows, good bed linen and silent air conditioning. The pride of the hotel is a large, 12 thousand square meters. meters, garden.
- standard rooms in the main building with access to the common veranda and views of the pool or garden;
- family and superior rooms with access to the garden;
- apartments with mountain or garden views;
On the territory of the hotel there are two swimming pools – children’s and adults. However, nannies and coaches for children are not provided. In addition, budget rooms can be dark, as they have a completely glass only “entrance” wall. From quite unpleasant – in many rooms there is no Internet. And in the general zone, he is frankly weak.
Right on the Red Beach, in the whirlwind of nightlife is the hotel Thalasso resort, which many call one of the best accommodation options in Matala. Strictly speaking, this is not even a hotel, but houses that are rented out – that is, autonomous apartments with everything laid down, including a minimum kitchen, bathroom, bedroom.
Advantages of Thalasso resort:
- soundproof windows;
- hypoallergenic pillows and bed linen;
- flat-screen TV;
- in the kitchen coffee machine, glassware, refrigerator;
- in the bathroom towels are changed daily, there is a working hairdryer.
- Very close to the hotel, no more than fifteen minutes on foot, there are shops, including grocery stores, a day vegetable market and taverns.
Maria, Samara: “Everything was just fine! Comfortable room, terrace amazing. The host is friendly but correct. You can live a long time, everything is prepared. The only thing, instead of the hob of the burner. But for us, it wasn’t important.”
In Matala, half of the hotels are family businesses that are passed from father to son. On the one hand, it is good – traditions, family values. On the other hand, such institutions are inferior in quality of services to large hotel complexes. The “family men” simply do not have the money to match the rapidly growing highly competitive overheated resort market of Crete. So with Armonia – a budget hotel, designed for unassuming guests, who do not feed bread and do not please with rest, just let them splash in the sea. However, there are more than enough such tourists in Matale.
Disadvantages of Armonia Hotel:
- poor mediocre breakfast;
- air conditioning is paid;
- The rooms do not have a TV;
- hot water, if it happens, is warm;
- the territory is half-abandoned, a lot of garbage;
- strong noise from cicadas, there are mosquitoes.
This is not to say that staying at the hotel consists of continuous shortcomings, it is not. Check-in is quick, and suitcases will be brought to the room (perhaps even the owner). The rooms are cleaned daily (rare even for 4 stars, and Armonia Hotel – only two!), every three days towels are changed, the refrigerator, although small, but works perfectly.
Renting an apartment for a vacation is to give yourself a feeling of false freedom. On the one hand, there seems to be no dependence on nasty hotel breakfasts by the hour. On the other hand, there are no breakfasts at all, because the stove is poorly heated, and the products still need to be bought. Although, according to experienced, even bad apartments are much better than a good hotel.
Apartments Villa Kanavos:
- large living room;
- open equipped kitchen;
- 2 bedrooms;
- 2 bathrooms;
There is also a small swimming pool for three rooms. Towels are changed every five days.
Irina, Perm: “So-so option. And the owner is unpleasant, some hypocritical. In equipment, they saved literally on everything: there is no mattress toe, washing powder, dish washing detergent. Very bad internet. Hot water should wait at least 10 minutes.”
Sometimes three stars is just a number. Pleasant surprises happen, and the Paradise Matala Hotel is one of them. Clean, everything works as it should, comfortable beds and not evil mosquitoes – yes, it happens. Even if in ordinary Cretan hotels they say otherwise.
Paradise Matala Services:
- rooms with pool view;
- free parking for guests;
- seasonal outdoor swimming pool;
- garden and shared terrace;
- buffet breakfast.
The hotel has only 8 neat rooms with a minibar, cable and comfortable bathrooms. According to reviews, breakfasts are delicious, although not too diverse.
The main drawback of the hotel is the remoteness from the beaches and the center of resort life. To the Red Beach, as well as to the center of Matala one and a half kilometers. However, this is only half an hour of slow thoughtful walking.
Far from the center, twenty minutes on foot, is the apart-hotel Casa Liaya – Villa di Matala Apartments – not too popular place with tourists, and this is its main value. It is equally important that in the design of residential and common areas, the owners did the impossible, combining stylized antique interior items and functional modern furniture and appliances. It turned out not grotesque, but convenient and very beautiful.
In the apartment:
- air conditioning, refrigerator, safe;
- cable with adult and children’s channels;
- orthopedic mattresses, feather pillows;
- satin linen, themed panels on the walls;
- oven, glassware, kettle.
There are drawbacks. For example, in the rooms Wi-Fi is paid, and hot water is traditionally warm for Crete. Breakfast hotel does not provide, the wrong format. But you can have a snack in the tavern nearby.
Yes, there are apartments in Matale where it is expensive to rent a very nice room. To luxury, of course, he is far away, but it is definitely better than any middle peasant.
New very stylish villa – this is one room, one apartment, which consists of a bedroom, bathroom with shower, kitchen and living room. For guests there are patio, terrace, garden. Of course, there are barbecue facilities.
Advantages of Villa Selini Luxury Apartment:
- design, as from the picture of the magazine – bricks, whitewash, a lot of linen, embroidery, stone, Everything is designed in a uniform style;
- 700 m to Red Sands Beach;
- modern appliances – refrigerator, TV, oven;
- good utensils;
- decent furniture with a pleasant body upholstery, good home textiles.
On request, a crib and a high chair for the child will be brought. There is a special place for smoking on site.
The staff speaks Greek and German. English is weaker, the rest of the languages are unknown to him.
Matala is a cute village in which it makes sense to stay if during the rest the priority is behind the beaches and you want to make beautiful photos against the background of old stones. Matala used to be called the hippie capital of Crete. In recent years, in pursuit of shoals of tourists, she lost her character, although she gained popularity among connoisseurs of budget recreation.
It is better to stop the choice on a detached apartment or villa (for example, Valley Village). The option with Villa Kanavos is also very decent, but it should be borne in mind that there are apartments not detached, but grouped by three. Conquer the beauty and elegance of design apartments Casa Liaya – Villa di Matala.
Connoisseurs of classic hotel services are better off choosing the boutique hotel Die Zwei Brüder with a minimum of services or a slightly less comfortable, but cute and friendly Paradise Matala.