Telluride Inside… and Out in Greece: Hotels + useful names and addresses

Telluride Inside… and Out in Greece: Hotels + useful names and addresses

(Ed. note: Susan and Clint are now back at their desks in Telluride. This is a delayed post)

IMGP1997 Telluride Inside… and Out returned from Greece last night  but there are still a few loose ends to tie up regarding our three memorable weeks on the road. For those who might be considering following more or less in our footsteps all the way through the doors of our hotels, here's the bottom line: There were places to rest and places to nest, all hits, no misses and a few homeruns.

The places to rest were mostly boutiquey, (read relatively small, including several family hotels our driver,  Nikolas, on the mainland found for us) very good, with comfortable rooms, high speed(ish) Internet and helpful, courteous service from a caring staff (or owners in the case of the family-owned places).

At the top of that list was Eridanus, Athens, five stars, created in 2004 from the bones of a neoclassical residence. The hotel is located just opposite the Keramikos Archaeological area with views of the Acropolis from most of its 38 rooms. (Ask for Alexandra or Nicole.)

The Lato Boutique Hotel in Heraklion, Crete, twins with Eridanus. Lato is situated just across form the old city harbor and offers panoramic views of a Venetian fortress and the Mediterranean. (There are lots of Venetian fortresses on Crete, an island whose long, tumultuous history includes numerous occupations by sailing cultures such as Venice and the Ottoman Turks.) Lato is within walking distance of Heraklion's terrific Archaeological Museum and numerous restaurants. All rooms are not created equal. The first night our assigned room was a closet. The room we had when we moved was spacious and included a generous desk for work, so ask. (For help, speak with Ada or Nikki.)

We are saving the best for last. The places to nest were the best and include the names of two more boutique hotels, Casa Delfino Suites in Chania and the Avli Lounge Suites in Chania's little sister town, Rethymnon. Both addresses, once old mansions, blend old world charm with contemporary, understated elegance. And they are staffed by people who could write the book on quality service: friendly and attentive, while maintaining appropriate boundaries. In a word: perfect.

IMGP2008 Casa Delfino is housed in a 17th-century Venetian palazzo once the home of the current manager's family, whom we met when we checked in. Margarita Delfino Markantonaki, a bright, beautiful, warm young women, is a  recent graduate of a school in Surrey, England, specializing in hotel management. Credit for the vision to create Casa Delfino from the family home goes to Margarita's parents, who had no previous experience in the business. Instinct and class put them (along with Casa Delfino) on the map in the travel game. Margarita will certainly be the driving force that takes the place to the next level and she has great help in her staff, Stella, Yiannis and Brigit at reception, Jennifer in guest relations, plus Eddie and Costas. We thank them all.

(Note: we had initially reserved at Casa Delfino for only one or two nights. We stayed six nights. The place became a home away from home.)

IMGP2157 Avli is located in the cobbled streets of the old city. The hotel was built on the site of a Cretan villa with Venetian and Turkish details dating back to 1530.  Rebuilt in 1987, the decor includes articles from abandoned factories, windmills, and other ancient villas. Avli is not just an award-winning hotel. The site also includes an award-winning restaurant, where we enjoyed a meal orchestrated by our host, manager Thanassis Fragidis, the first night of our stay. We never met the owner, Katerina Xeralou, though we heard she is lovely, so for us, Thanassis is the face that gave the place that extra something that made us want to return for a second helping. Our last night in Rethymnon, he walked us to a restaurant right on the harbor owned and operated by Katerina's cousin Maria, where the simple meal was perfect. Then again, alone together on a moonlit night on a harbor: Who could ask for anything more?

IMGP2183 (It was also Thanassis who arranged for our tour with scholar and guide Joanna Kalypso Glyptis, an Alexandrian Greek, whose DNA includes that once great center of learning.)

We had planned a one-night stay at Avli  and then on to Herkalion because we had a really early departure to Athens. We extended for a second night, which meant a 4 a.m. departure to Heraklion. That is how good it was.)

For Casa Delfino and Avli,  the one person we have to thank is Leftheris Papageorgiou, president of Hellenic Adventures. We met Leftheris at Hotel Lato. When we told him we were headed to Chania and asked about Casa Delfino, he told us it was the best address in town. We took him at his word, met him there a day or two later and hung out. Lefteris also suggested Avli as one of two great hotels in Rethymnon. Lefteris is an unusual man, not just the owner of a travel agency for 25 years, also a psychologist about to reopen his clinical practice, and a scholar, with a graduate degree in history. For help in planning a trip to Greece, look no further.

Book Joanna Glyptis through Thanassis and the Hotel Avli.

Our driver, who took us to the Peloponnese and then Meteora and Delphi was delightful. Niklas Vogiatzakis speaks several languages, among them, Greek, English, German, and Italian. He steers away from touristy restaurants and, unlike many Greeks, does not drive like he just freebased testosterone. In other words, he can be trusted. And he is nice. Find Nikolas at

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