Crete, the largest of the Greek islands, has long been famed for its charming hilltop towns and idyllic beaches. Oli and I recently returned from a stay at the Esperides Resort Crete with Jet2holidays where we had a blissed-out few days of sunshine, pool time, reading, relaxing and—ultimately—re-setting.
I hadn’t realised prior to our trip how weighed down I’d been feeling. I’m sure I don’t need to tell anyone living in the UK that the Winter we just experienced was longgg. And in addition to the distinct lack of Vitamin D, I was caught in a mental loop—running never-ending to-do lists through my mind. Friends asked me on my return how our trip was; I keep describing it as a “circuit break”. Getting away offered the perfect antidote. Oli and I both returned from our trip feeling rested, recharged and so fortunate to have experienced not only Esperides Resort, but the surrounding village of Koutouloufari too.
If you’re thinking about booking your own getaway this summer or beyond, consider adding Greece to your list. Specifically, the Esperides Resort in Crete. Below you’ll find my full review as well as recommendations for local restaurants and things to do in Koutouloufari.
ad note // Oli and I were guests of Jet2holidays during our trip // as always all opinions are my own
Flights to Crete with Jet2
Let’s start with how to get to Crete. Oli and I flew with Jet2 as part of a package holiday which included our flights, transfers from/to Heraklion Airport and bed and breakfast accommodation at the Esperides Resort.
Jet2 has number of airports you can fly from in the UK. Oli and I flew from London Stansted as it was our closest option. Our flight left London at 3pm, which allowed us plenty of time to get to the airport, check in, go through security and get a bite to eat. We also stocked up on snacks for the plane.
The flight from London to Heraklion is around four hours. It was a little shorter on our return leg as we were helped along by a tailwind.
I found the Jet2 flights reallllly comfortable. The seats felt roomy and the staff were SO nice! Although we’d packed our own snacks we bought more on the plane as they had a great selection. And I got hungry again as we neared dinner time ha!
It’s worth mentioning that Jet2 automatically include a 22kg hold luggage allowance and a 10kg cabin bag allowance per person. This felt like such a luxury!
Esperides Resort Crete
Built into a hillside and hugged by the traditional Cretan village of Koutouloufari, Esperides Resort is a terracotta-hued oasis—a paradisal place to unwind and soak up the Greek sunshine.
Oli and I arrived late on Friday evening. We were immediately treated to a taste of the superior service the Esperides Resort offers. Not only did one of the staff members kindly help us up a hill with our luggage (even though they’d just finished their shift and were on their way home!), we were led straight through to the by-then-empty restaurant to enjoy a small meal the team had pre-prepared for us, knowing that we’d be arriving late.
We then checked into our room. It was located next to the larger of the two swimming pools at the resort. By that point we were both exhausted and so collapsed into bed! Usually when I travel I struggle to sleep well on the first night (new place/noise/mattress) but from day 1 at the Esperides Resort I slept soundly. That continued for all four nights of our trip. Bliss!
The room itself was decorated in a neutral earthy colour palette, with pretty woven fans above the bed and a generous wardrobe. There was excellent air con (a must in the heat!), strong Wifi and even a terrace area where we could sit, read our books and dry our towels + swimsuits.
A powerful shower is always a big plus in my books. Our bathroom had THE best rain head shower as well as other options. Particularly when I’ve been sunbathing, applying sunscreen, jumping in the pool and getting hot, there’s no better feeling than having a really good cleansing shower. I love the pre-dinner ritual on holiday of getting ready for the evening. It hits different!
The Esperides Resort is built into a hillside. As such the resort is tiered, almost like a village itself.
There are stairs connecting one tier to another as well as lifts throughout. Terracotta red and sunset orange are the colours of choice for the resort. Natural woven textures, soft neutral fabrics and olive green provide pretty decorative accents. It’s beautifully designed. There is ample landscaping and planting, from tropical palms, to bougainvillea to fragrant herbs, every corner has been thought through.
Come the evening, the resort is elegantly lit. The turquoise pools sparkle. And illuminated woven baskets dot the tall trees at the resort’s entrance. This makes for an enchanting exit and welcome home when you head out for the evening.
Speaking of swimming pools, the Esperides Resort is well facilitated with two communal pools as well as private pools in some of the suites. Both communal pools have ample lounge chairs and chic cabanas for comfortable sunbathing. Oli and I thoroughly enjoyed our pool time. We raced through our books, sipping on ice cold drinks, tanning and dipping in and out of the water. Heaven. Both pools have a bar which you can order food and drink from. I had a club sandwich two days running, complete with fries and salad. And Oli ordered a Greek salad which was also delicious.
NB: we were told that even during full occupation of the resort there is plenty of space for all guests to lay comfortably by the pools.
Though we didn’t try it for ourselves (too busy by the pool, ha!) there’s an on site spa at the Esperides Resort which sounded wonderful.
There is a gym and regular yoga classes which are complimentary as a guest of the resort. I enjoyed a peaceful sunrise yoga class one morning which was such a wonderful way to start the day! And build up an appetite for breakfast! Which reminds me . . .
Dining at Esperides Resort
I can’t tell you about our experience at the Esperides Resort and not mention the breakfast! As anyone that knows me will attest to, I am a BIG fan of breakfast. Breakfast at the Esperides Resort is served in the main restaurant. We opted to sit on the open terrace each morning—making the most of the gorgeous sunshine! There is a large selection of breakfast foods you can help yourself to, from an omelette station (which I very much made the most of), to crispy bacon, pancakes, a wide selection of breads and pastries (including gluten free), fruit, vegetables, cold meats and cheeses, cereals . . . you name it.
As a surprise to precisely no-one (Oli especially) I enjoyed a three course breakfast daily, including eggs of some sort with veggies and salad, Greek yoghurt with local honey and nuts, and fresh fruit. Since coming home we feel bereft of our multi-course breakfasts ha!
Esperides Resort also has two further restaurants which serve lunch and dinner, Lemoni which is an a la carte Mediterranean restaurant and Monastery which offers Cretan fusion cuisine. Both are beautiful and look particularly pretty at night. If you’re in the area it’s worth booking a good table to enjoy the views and atmosphere. Monastery wasn’t open when we were staying (it opens at the end of May), but from the outside it looks SO lovely!
A couple of final notes on the Esperides Resort:
1. It is spotless. We were both so impressed by the cleanliness and general maintenance of the resort.
2. The staff are SO lovely, we had an amazing experience with them all.
If you are looking for a sunny getaway and you just need to CHILL, I cannot recommend the Esperides Resort in Crete enough. Particularly at the time of year when we travelled, which was early May, it was so nice to go somewhere with somewhat guaranteed good weather, within relatively short flying time.
The package element also made the experience so hassle-free. Flights, transfers and accommodation all taken care of for you. It allowed Oli and I to totally switch off which I attribute to that “circuit break” feeling.
The Esperides Resort is neighboured by Koutouloufari—a charming Cretan village. If you’re staying at Esperides, to get to the village you turn left as you leave the resort through the main entrance and walk for a minute or so.
Koutouloufari is everything I’d hoped a Cretan village would be! For one, it’s visually delightful. Sun-bleached buildings are wrapped by bountiful blooms including bougainvillea (one of my all-time favourites) and fragrant jasmine. The scent of the jasmine was incredible in the evenings in particular.
Greek tavernas, cafes and gift shops punctuate the streets. In the evenings there was a constant thrum of conversation, laughter and music. We found that Koutouloufari was quietest around lunchtime and in the afternoon. On one occasion Oli and I enjoyed a lovely lazy afternoon in the village, reading our books and sharing a slice of traditional Greek spanakopita, followed by apple pie and vanilla ice cream—delicious!
Just past Koutouloufari is another village called Piskopiano, if you keeping walking through Koutouloufari you’ll naturally reach it (you may not even realise you’ve gone from one village to the next!) and I highly recommend exploring both. They’re equally charming and full of lovely spots to visit.
Restaurants we enjoyed
Rahati in Piskopiano, this is perfect for a light bite and a sweet treat. We came back here three times during our trip we liked it so much!
We also had a delicious dinner at Mythos in Koutouloufari. Would highly recommend going here! The food was simple, so tasty and the restaurant is right in the heart of the village.
Generally, there are ample tavernas and traditional-looking places to eat. You could easily try a new spot every night for two weeks if you wanted to!
What to pack for Crete
Since we were travelling to Crete in May, I made sure to add layers into my suitcase. The daytime was really warm, so a summer dress or light trousers and a shirt were perfect. In the evening I added a light jacket or jumper. My favourite kind of temperature.
The vibe of the area is relaxed and Mediterranean. In the evenings people did tend to dress up a bit so if you have a dress or outfit you want to wear, then there’s definitely the occasion for it! You can peruse my black summer dress edit which has a whole host of pieces which would be perfect for a trip here!
Shoe-wise I stuck to flats, which I’m grateful for since the area is hilly. A pair of flat sandals, espadrilles and trainers should see you through your trip.
Both Oli and I left the Esperides Resort and our time with Jet2holidays feeling relaxed, recharged and SO well taken care of. I’ve come to realise that the beauty of a package holiday (my first in 15 years!) is the ease. No planning of meals, transport, maintenance . . . just a comfortable flight, great accommodation, pool time, sunshine and some exploring if that’s what you’re looking for.
My verdict? I wholeheartedly recommend booking the Esperides Resort with Jet2holidays. We already have a few friends who are looking into dates! Booking a package holiday through Jet2 is a GREAT option if you’re looking for a hassle-free, affordable, upmarket getaway.
Have a question?
Drop me any questions you have about our trip below!
Love, Monica x