Aquila Rithymna Beach Resort, Crete

Towards the end of last summer, my girlfriend (who lives in Chicago) and I decided to go on a holiday together for a week, sans our husbands and children.

After some debate, we settled on the island of Crete, where we both booked all-inclusive rooms at the Aquila Rithymna Beach Resort located in Rethymno, on the the northern side of Crete. 

It was one of the most relaxing and amazing vacations I've been on for a long time (although a large part of that might be due to the fact that we were both child-free!). We arrived at Heraklion Airport in the evening and it took us about 1.5 hours to get to the hotel from the airport by bus, but it was a lovely, scenic drive through the island where we got our first glimpse of the beautiful Mediterranean sea as well as quaint little Cretan towns set admit some stunning landscape.

The hotel itself was large and bustling with people when we arrived. However, check-in was quick and efficient, and we had just enough time to grab our first meal at the Main Restaurant before it closed for the night, which serves delicious Greek and International specialities. Because we had an all-inclusive package, all food and drinks throughout our entire stay were included in our package deal, which meant we could eat and drink all day and night if we wanted to without worrying about how much it would all cost. It was one of the best decisions we made!

There was plenty of food to be had and they were simply excellent! We ate most of our meals at the Main Restaurant for the best part of six days, and did not get tired of the offerings even once. There were a huge variety of fish, meat and vegetarian dishes to choose from, with the menu changing daily. 

We especially loved the daily soup offering, which you could request for directly as it wasn't always part of the buffet. Every bowl of soup we had during our vacation was so delicious that we always made sure we left room in our stomachs for it!

There is also a lounge bar, a beach bar, and four other restaurants on site all serving different types of food at differing times of day, so you can be sure you'll never go hungry no matter which part of the resort you're in or what time of day it is. We enjoyed a few themed dinners at Taverna 'Mournies' restaurant where we were able to indulge in some truly delicious Greek and Cretan meals while enjoying some live entertainment on stage.

The hotel grounds were beautiful and well maintained, and so large and sprawling that even with the number of people there, we never felt crowded or squeezed in. The staff were all super friendly and efficient, and took the time to teach us some basic Greek words when we asked. Kalimera! 

The best part of the resort has to be the absolutely stunning beach and its incredible views! We never had to worry about finding a place to sit as there were hundreds of lounge chairs perfectly positioned for your relaxing pleasure, and this was where we spent most of our vacation - inhaling the gentle Mediterranean sea breeze, sipping on cocktails, reading, people-watching and just enjoying each others' company. The only time we got up was to replenish our drinks at the Beach Bar, take a dip in the ocean or to head to the room for an afternoon siesta!

The hotel also organises various tours and excursions around the island and slightly further afield, so you only need ask if you do want to venture out and explore the surroundings a little. We booked for a one day excursion to the island of Santorini, which was a three-hour ferry ride away, and one of the highlights of our vacation. It was such a special trip and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

On our last couple of days, we decided to explore the town of Rethymno where the hotel is located. It was a short bus ride from the front of our hotel to the centre of town. Like all major Crete towns, it has an evident Venetian style and it's utterly captivating with its traditional layout and ancient streets that speaks of such a rich heritage. Here you'll also find a multitude of restaurants, shopping and lovely bars and pubs overlooking the picturesque port.

The town is built around the ancient Venetian Fortress, locally called Fortezza, offering fantastic views to the sea and the town. We walked around the impressive fortress, which really provided an excellent view of the town below. Other areas of interest in Rethymno include the Municipal Garden, the Archaeological Museum as well as the Mosques, which we did not get the chance to visit.

We had an absolutely lovely vacation and our stay at the Aquila Rithymna Beach Resort was faultless. I would return in a heartbeat, even with my kids in tow! Did I mention the hotel has a kids club and is also extremely family/child friendly? You can read more about its facilities for children here.

There is so much in Crete to see and do, and what I experienced was only the tip of the iceberg. Nevertheless, it was enough for me to fall in love with this beautiful island, its friendly people and absolutely amazing food, and I can't wait to return one day and explore other areas of the island. But until then, Yassas and Efharisto for such a wonderful time!


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