Before I was planning my trip to Crete, I had no idea that there were so many mountains on the island. So a mountain retreat was not what I was expecting. I couldn’t be more wrong: Milia Mountain Retreat, situated in the White Mountains at the west part of the island, is also listed by National Geographic as one of the top 25 best Eco Lodges in the world!

Eco Lodge? I hear you think….”goat’s, woolly socks, herbal tea, no comfort – not for me!” Well forget it, what a great place this is and a real recommendation while you are visiting Crete. A perfect alternative to a beach stay. Yes, goats are there and they have herbal tea too, but the Greeks come all the way from Chania for the gourmet food, which I’ve been told is the best on Crete, and the beautifully decorated houses, in perfect harmony with the surroundings, are more than comfortable. They have, for instance, orthopaedic mattresses on the beds – best sleep of all the hideaways I have stayed at on Crete – a nice bathroom with a hot shower and a private deck with beds.

Some history: Milia Mountain Retreat is a 17th century settlement, which was regenerated in the early 80s. They began to restore and rebuild the houses with great precision and care and at the same time respecting the environment. In the end, the result was a small complex of houses of different sizes and interiors, all with a lot of comfort, hot water, light, balcony or terrace and heating for the colder days. While Milia is only 500 metres above sea level, it’s much cooler there than at the coast, which is very convenient in the hot summer months, but during the rest of the year you really need the heating.

Located centrally is the restaurant, which is also the reception area. It has a very cosy, warm and rustic atmosphere and a terrace with views of the majestic mountains. At the Milia Mountain Retreat you are literally surrounded by nature. A perfect starting point for hikes and there are plenty of them mapped out, so bring the right gear. You can also use Milia as a base to explore the most beautiful beaches of the island situated on the west coast. Elafonisi for instance, a famous beach on Crete, is only a short one hour drive along a very scenic route and you have the advantage of arriving there early, before the busses from Chania arrive.

As mentioned, people come from near and far just for the restaurant. Well, I totally understand why. I ate lovely food on the Island of Crete, but at Milia it was exquisite. The breakfast alone cheered me up for the day. The lunch and dinner menu differs daily and is prepared with local organic produce. It has an open kitchen, so you can take a peak and look at all that lovely food being prepared. There are plans in the near future to organise cooking workshops and wine tasting sessions in the basement. A  great idea, because I wanted to join in and cook with all those lovely fresh ingredients myself.

What needs mentioning are the people that work there. The manager, Tassos, is very helpful and hospitable and his co-workers are a close team with such a warm radiation… a real community feeling.

I can go on and on about this small eco paradise, but it’s better to experience it yourself… It’s a real Local Hideaway! Maybe not for the true beach babes and boys, but just for the more adventurous and outdoorsy type of person and very suitable for children from the age of four.

Do you want more inside information about Crete? Read my blog ‘Crete Pure Nature!’.