Sunday, 23 April 2017

Kapsaliana Village Hotel, Municipality of Rethymnon, Crete

Once a humble hamlet built around an olive press, Kapsaliana Village is now an upscale hotel in which most of the old stone houses now serve as guest rooms and apartments. Although the creamy stone buildings have been heavily restored and the rooms are well-equipped, comfortable and immaculate, the village still retains its rustic air.  Often overlooking well-tended gardens, many of the rooms have sun-trap terraces, as well as smart furniture and fixtures. The ancient olive press itself, together with a myriad of original metal artefacts and gnarled wooden equipment, is preserved in a couple of large rooms that serve as a small museum. In here, you can watch a video documentary on a large pull down screen in which former residents of Kapsaliana talk about how the population of the village dwindled over time. The hotel also boasts an outdoor pool with sweeping views down to the coastline, as well as a leafy terrace and posh dining rooms where you can have breakfast, lunch or dinner. The staff are very professional and efficient, but have time to chat. Only the flaky Wi-Fi disappoints.

As you would expect, Kapsaliana's buffet breakfast features high-end ingredients with a good fruit salad, quality orange juice, creamy Greek yoghurt with honey, pastries and other morsels, alongside appealing and tasty hot food, such as scrambled eggs and bacon. The staff serve adults decent fresh coffee and children exceptional hot chocolate. Although the lunch options are limited and pricey by Cretan standards, the dishes are consistently good and generous. But dinner is a better bet - eating from the reasonable a la carte menu can be great value, as the Mediterranean cooking is superb and the dishes are beautifully presented. The moussaka is delicious, while the cuttlefish risotto gets good reviews. The prawn and strawberry salad and the butternut squash soup are also fresh and enticing. And you might be treated to a melody of rich, sweet deserts. However, on some nights, the restaurant offers a "menu-degustation", featuring a succession of smaller dishes each accompanied by a specific wine, which may not work for young families. Still, the Kapsaliana Village Hotel is a well-run and atmospheric establishment within easy striking distance of fine beaches and brooding mountains. 8/10