So I recently had a blogging epiphany. Something bothering lately me is the sheer amount of sponsored travel posts I’m seeing on other blogs.
I get that, as an influencer, why would you ~not~ want a fancy free holiday (and yassss, as an ex journo, I understand they’re usually manic af/working not holidaying etc etc), but it means that pretty much every travel post you see on a blog has been comped. The person posting hasn’t paid a penny for it. And with that in mind, how honest can they be?
What I’m really not interested in seeing is 10,000 overly edited/filtered photos of someone standing in a bikini, staring wistfully to sea, writing about how amazing it is and how they’d recommend you go. No. The problem with comped trips is that you’re pretty much obliged to be positive; your hands are tied.
What I want to read is the real, interesting stuff – how much does it really cost to stay there? What’s the transfer from the airport like? How comfy is the bed? What cocktails can I get? Would you recommend it to your bestie?
Seeing as I pay for all my holidays (long gone are my own press trip days, sob!), I can afford to be v v honest. I also realised the thing putting me off doing these posts was the thought of having to edit millions of photos, so, basically I’m not gonna.
So the images you see will be mostly iPhone snaps, and bar the odd pre-Instagrammed pic, they will be unedited. I also recently added the WordPress app to my iPhone, so I can drop photos from my camera roll to a blog post in a matter of minutes (rather than the laborious emailing process I used to dread).
Well that was a longer intro than anticipated! So without further ado, here’s a review of my last holiday location: Daios Cove Luxury Resort in Crete…
Where? Crete – the largest Greek island, located in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Where did you stay? Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas in Agios Nikolaos.
How long for? One week.
When? May 2017, the week before half term, so the flight was FULL of young families. Now don’t hate on me, because I ~love~ kiddies, but the flight was seriously like a full-on creche, with lots of wailing babies, competitive dads, and fold-up push-chairs taking up all the overheard compartment space. Srsly; I have never seen so many babas on one flight, so I guess it’s a popular destination for families if that’s useful to know?
What’s the flight like?
I flew with BA from Gatwick and it took around 4 hours. I am literally not exaggerating when I say that the drinks trolley took the ENTIRE flight to make it (once) down the aisle, because of all the afore-mentioned kiddies crawling in the way / preggo women with weak bladders desperately needing to get past so they could pee.
So my recommendations here would be: a) wee before you get on the plane and b) sit near the front so you get served first (the people at the back were only just served as the plane started descending, LOL) and sneak into the upper class toilet if you’re despo.
What’s the airport like on the other side?
You land at Heraklion International Airport. Getting through immigration was fairly speedy and p unmemorable as I recall. Lots of taxis outside as you’d expect, but we had a private transfer as part of our deal.
How long’s the transfer?
As I get older, I enforce a few rules of thumb when booking a holiday: if I can afford it, I always try and book a private transfer (AKA hallo air con), and I try to avoid places that are a billion miles away from the airport; s’just not for me. So yeah, Daios Cove is an acceptable one hour car journey from the airport.
What’s the hotel like?
Visually very impressive – the architecture is beautifully, cleverly done, paying attention to the natural surroundings and yet also being super practical despite being spread over five levels. Reminded me of a modern day Tracy Island.
I mean, I won’t list ~everything~ here, ‘cos you can head over to the hotel website for all that, but highlights for me included the amazing views from every level, the beautiful infinity pool, the most comfortable sun loungers EVER and a wonderful (although small), private beach with cute little bar ‘n’ grill (and a ginger neighbourhood cat).
What was your room like?
We had a Deluxe Room with individual pool (more for dipping your toes in/Instagramming as it was blaaady FREEZING), located at the highest point of the hotel, on, like, the ninth floor.
At first, I’m gonna be v v honest, we were really disappointed because, despite the website’s portrayal of all rooms having a sea view, ours defo didn’t – not unless you craned your neck to the right while standing on tippy-toes. First world problems, I know, but still.
However, we soon came to love our location – tucked away from everyone else, so super peaceful (apart from lambs bleating and a cockerel crowing on the mountainside every morning, bless!), and due to being so high up, our pool/balcony area caught every last drop of sunshine – including those fabulous Cretan sunsets (above).
We also learnt not to bother waiting for the funicular lift on our level as it took. Soooo. Long.
Instead, we’d usually walk down to the complex of a morning, and hail a porter-driven golf buggy (sure) from reception in the evening, which felt super indulgent (and the young porters were so friendly/helpful to talk to – friendlier than the reception staff!).
It seems the hotel ~do~ give random upgrades though, because a couple who we got chatting to while we were waiting to be checked in, had booked the exact same deal as us (same room rate etc), never been to the hotel before and only ended up staying in one of the amazing villas!!!! Took a lot of my new-found spiritual mojo to not be jealous about that, let me tell you.
But back to the room – the huuuuge bed was dreamily comfortable with fluffy pillows and Egyptian linen bedding. It was like sleeping in a cloud.
The shower was huge and powerful (steady) and honestly, if I had one like it at home, I’d jump out of bed in a jiffy every morning to use it.
What’s outside the hotel?
The hotel is v v v secluded, meaning there is literally no walkable corner shop or bar (I mean, there’s a shop inside the complex but obviously the prices are as steep as the stairs). There’s a bus to take you into the nearest town -Aghios Nikolaos – which we did a couple of times on cloudier days. Which brings me onto…
What’s the weather like?
We went in mid-May and it was very pleasant indeed. Mostly sunny, although we did have a couple of cloudier days, including one with on/off rain (which had the poor towel guys running around like lunatics, bless). It was also a little windy, which was v welcome on hot days, but a bit bothersome when cooler.
- The v v cool disco-themed sets from the live DJ playing nightly in the glass-walled Crystal Box bar.
- The lovely, welcoming hostesses seating us in the buffet restaurant every day – and getting us in the ‘adults only’ area more often than not.
- Securing a front row (lol) sun bed in the centre of the private beach and enjoying gazing out and listening to those gently lapping waves. Sheer bliss.
- The ‘Little Venice’-esque vibes of Aghios Nikolaos – we had amazing coffee, drinks and a lunch on our various jaunts there. I also found an amazing crystal/jewellery shop where I had a little spending spree.
- When you’re half board and so secluded, lunch can be a pricey affair – so fill up at breakfast time!
- As per previous point. You are secluded. There’s no little village to walk to from the complex; you have to get the bus or a taxi to the nearest town.
- Drinks are pricey, especially if you have a penchant for Prosecco, like me. A couple we spoke to brought their own bottle of booze with them and drank in their room, but I cba with that.
- I found the reception staff to be quite snooty, as is often the case in these 5 star ‘glossy’ places.
- The faff of getting from room to beach; I left the sun lotion up in the room one morning and it took soooooo long to make my way back up all the levels and down again. Another first world problem I know, but worth bearing in mind if you have mobility issues.
Would you go again?
I have to answer this question theoretically speaking, as I don’t tend to return to places (there’s too much of the world to explore!) but yes; yes I would.
I’d avoid peak season for sure because I feel it would be a little more cramped and less relaxing, and perhaps I wouldn’t bother getting a room with a private pool next time (ergo extra money for drinks).
But if you want a swanky-looking place that offers sunshine, relaxation and makes you feel a little bit like you’re Living The Dream, treat yourself to a stay at Daios Cove (but obvy, keep your eyes on holiday sites for a decent deal).
Holiday booked through a deal on voyage-prive.co.uk, costing around £2,000 for two people half board for seven nights (including return flights, private transfers). And yeah, all paid for IRL.