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Mistral Singles Hotel, Maleme, Crete:
Solo travelling has plenty of plus points. There’s never a need to agree on plans. You can spend as much time by the pool, on the beach, at the museum or hiking to the top of the mountain as you like. The downsides? Well, who do you share those experiences with? There are only so many Instagram stories you can do to tell your friends back home. Who rubs the sunscreen into your back? Who do you share breakfast with and where do you sit in the evening for dinner? That sad, lonely table in the corner, watching the cosy couples canoodling over sunset…
Table of Contents
Introduction to Mistral Singles Hotel, Crete.
Mistral has you covered. It’s a hotel with single occupancy rooms only. Book your stay and enjoy as much or as little of the group activities as you like, safe in the knowledge that whenever you want company you’ll be able to find it. That there is no ‘table for one’ tucked next to the toilets, instead you dine with an extended family each evening. And, not only will you find people happy to help with that sunscreen, you may just make friends for life.
It’s a niche of course, but speaking from personal experience, it’s one that really needs to be filled. And, it seems I’m not alone – Mistral has a return rate of over 70% – once found people keep coming back.
I asked Vassilis Gialamarakis, the owner of Mistral Singles what he was aiming for.
It’s a place where you can be known by your first name, extend your social circle, relax and make new lifelong friends.
He went on to explain that what he and his brother are trying to do is provide the environment for people to flourish – that Mistral Singles is somewhere you’ll get what you put in. Of course…
Why? Well, I asked a few of my companions what was the magnet for them.
Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. The Mistral is the most welcoming holiday destination I have ever been lucky enough to go to.
Said Jen who is a Mistral regular, reiterating Vassilis’s own words.
Home from home – personal, friendly, great food – flexibility with no pressure to comply
David’s thoughts, another returning visitor at Mistral.
The Food at Mistral.
As a complete newbie, I fell in love first of all with the dining experience. It’s not often you go to a hotel and end up eating food that really does taste like authentic local food. There are a few surprises at Mistral too, which is a family business. If you are lucky you may find Mama Katarina (now in her 80s) in the kitchen occasionally, but even if she’s not around, the food that is served up is based on the dishes she created when Mistral Singles first opened in 1991. And the style of dining reminds me of times with a Greek boyfriend – with dish after dish turning up on the table until no-one could eat another morsel.
Everyone at Mistral books on the basis of half board. And, you may just find that half board is virtually full board because with a generous breakfast and feast every evening, eating more becomes quite a challenge. When I first arrived I wanted to explore and spent the first day walking along the beach in Maleme. But after dinner on the first evening and a breakfast of Greek Yoghurt, fresh fruit and honey and delicious bread, I didn’t really need much for lunch. A plate of freshly grilled local sardines and a glass of wine was spot on.
At around 7 pm guests start to converge around the bar. Well stocked with a wide range of premium spirits, you can order anything from a Margarita to a glass of freshly squeezed local orange juice.
Dinner is at 8 pm every night except Sunday – and what a feast it is! Luckily not only do you get to eat the food, but you can learn how to make some of it too by joining the wine tasting and cookery class which runs every week.
Some of my favourite dishes included classic gemista – vegetables stuffed with rice, tomatoes and herbs. Dolmades, of course, filled with much the same mixture.
And, the rich stuffed aubergine/eggplant which came with a savoury mince filling and a topping of golden cheese. A local speciality made with Cretan rusks was dakos, a simple dish with fresh tomatoes and a special cheese called mizithra, which is something like a cross between ricotta and feta.
And, I loved the Cretan boureki, a layered pie of courgettes/zucchini, potatoes mint and goats cheese. But, Cretan food deserves a special feature of its own so I’ll share a recipe or two and try to recreate some of the Mistral magic.
We had a special treat when I was staying in the form of a shared Sunday lunch, feasting on Kakavia with rice, made by Mama Katarina using the black grouper Vassilis had caught. A spontaneous invitation from Vassilis that helped make my stay feel very special.
Accommodation at Mistral.
For a solo traveller, one of the nicest features of Mistral is that there’s no compromise in accommodation. You can pick between standard and luxury rooms, but all have a decent sized double bed and a good shower. Most of the rooms are ‘in the luxury’ category with bathtubs and balconies, though I learnt some guests actually prefer the larger walk-in shower of the standard rooms.
Pick a room at the front of the hotel if you want a perfect sea view and if you enjoy partying. The bar is set next door to the front swimming pool and even my relatively quiet group tended to party well into the small hours.
For a more peaceful stay, the rooms in the new(ish) extension are well away from the bar and dining terrace but don’t have quite the perfect view. There was still a good view of the sea though from my room.
I took a look around and came to the conclusion that my own personal favourites were the newly refurbished junior suites on the ground floor of the new extension (there are three – at the same price point as the luxury rooms).
But, it’s definitely a matter of choice whether you prefer the party life which goes with the old hotel rooms or the peace and quiet of the rooms at the back.
The decor is simple, traditional Cretan style with stone walls and tiled floors. The bathrooms come with luxurious Olivio olive oil toiletries and helpful extras. Each room has a kettle and a supply of tea and coffee together with a fridge.
There’s aircon throughout the hotel and each room has its own wifi router so you should have no issue with connectivity.
As Carole, a newbie at Mistral like me, so eloquently put it
My new holiday home, great food, friends and hospitality. A sanctuary when life becomes overwhelming and escape is the only choice!
Facilities at Mistral.
For a 35 room hotel, Mistral is well provided for with two swimming pools, a wellness centre, a restaurant open for lunch every day and a bar open from late morning till late at night. I found that guests gravitated to their own comfort zone. For me, the pool at the back of the hotel was my happy spot. So deep I couldn’t stand at all, it’s a small but perfectly formed infinity pool with a jacuzzi to one side. I would settle happily down on one of the loungers with a book and cool off at regular intervals in the pool.
Others preferred the larger and more conventionally styled pool at the front of the hotel. With the advantage of a shallow end, it’s used for aqua aerobics and it’s long enough for swimming lengths that might just count. It’s also conveniently close to the bar!
Whichever pool you use, there’s a basket with tanning creams, lotions and aftersun left for everyone to help themselves to.
The wellness centre works with a network of local technicians to provide everything from massage to manicures and hairdressing.
Restaurant lunches are light salads and grills – but honestly, you wouldn’t want to eat much more given the evening feast. Mistral Singles hotel has a large vegetable garden and the family also produce their own olive oil. So, you are eating the freshest local ingredients. In fact, the hotel has an award as one of the few providers of authentic Cretan food.
And the bar provides a fabulous range of cocktails and cold drinks.
Activities at Mistral.
For some of the guests at Mistral, the beach, pools and excellent food is enough. But, if you are the kind of person who likes to explore then Mistral set up a range of excursions. Some are exclusive to the hotel while others are run with local tour operators.
I joined the Falasarna Beach and Sfinari Fish Lunch to find out more. The hotel minibus set off with Panos in charge. A network of winding hill roads made me grateful to be in the hands of a local driver. We stopped to take in the stunning view before reaching Falasarna beach. It’s one of the smaller but still popular beaches on the west coast of Crete.
Perfect for swimming, sunbathing or (in my case) shadebathing, it’s sandy and picturesque with cliffs and rockpools at either end of the cove.
We all hired loungers for a few euros a piece and relaxed in the sunshine. The local cafe/bar made frequent visits to the beach bringing cold drinks and coffees for those who preferred not to walk back up the hill. There are freshwater showers and changing huts on the beach and the cafe has clean and well-managed toilets.
Then off to Sfinari to learn about Kakavia and enjoy (another) Cretan feast at Sunset Restaurant.
The black grouper we were going to eat had been caught by speargun – by the son of the Baladakis family. Mama was in the kitchen, making her own Kakavia along with a whole range of local dishes.
I particularly liked the seaweed
And the stuffed cuttlefish, cooked on the grill outdoors.
The Kakavia was delicious of course, with a delicate soup complementing fresh local vegetables and the fish itself.
After we thought we’d finished, coffee came with tiny fritters. As if we really needed any more food.
There are a total of twelve day trips and activities currently offered by Mistral Hotel for a small extra cost. As mentioned, some are exclusive to the hotel, others are offered through partner tour operators. I’ve got Argyroupoulis and ancient Lappa on my list for next time and Loutro on the South Coast, a village which is only accessible by boat and which apparently is still very much unspoilt.
The hotel has a few activities on site too. There are cookery lessons and wine tasting events, aqua aerobics and sometimes yoga. All depending on demand. As mentioned before, I thoroughly enjoyed the cookery lesson and wine tasting, though I think we drank our way through more Cretan wine than I knew existed.
And, there’s no pressure to do anything at all. As Peter, another first-timer said
It’s ideal for a single person to meet like-minded people, have fun and relax
Isn’t that the basis for any good holiday?
Keith, who was also new to Mistral would have liked a little more to do at the hotel itself, in the form of a pool table. He also would have preferred a sandy beach (Maleme is relatively quiet thanks to a fine, pebbly beach)
The hotel is fabulous, staff very helpful and a good set of people. I would recommend this holiday – everyone seems to get on and enjoy the atmosphere. One dampner is the beach, plus some of the time I get bored, being a sporty person. I reckon there should be a pool table. Food excellent.
Marks 100 out of 100.
Mistral – a Hotel Where Guests Return.
It is, I believe all about balance. Mistral calls itself a singles hotel, but the truth is that it is far closer to a hotel for solo independent travellers. Yes, sometimes people meet their match – there have even been marriages. But, this isn’t somewhere you should come expecting to find a partner. Caroline, another returner, albeit one who took a very long break sums things up beautifully. As someone who has worked in the hotel industry at the highest level, her comments are well placed.
I first visited in 2003 and am very happy to be back in 2019. It’s obviously changed over the years but its basic concept remains the same – a friendly, relaxed atmosphere for people travelling on their own. There are things to do if you want to, or you can simply chill. For me, the best part is having a room that isn’t the token single room with a single bed and being able to enjoy the evening meal as a group which makes a change from being given the single table in the corner. As a family run establishment, nothing is too much trouble and I wouldn’t hesitate to visite again – but probably sooner than I’ve left it this time.
Personally, I haven’t ever found such a level of loyalty from such a diverse group. A near 100% of those I met were considering returning. And, that’s the best recommendation of all. For anyone beyond the club 18-30s type holidays and single, this offers something quite unique. The chance to do what you want when you want but enjoy like-minded company when it suits you.
I’ll be writing more about Maleme and Chania in another feature – and sharing some of the recipes we enjoyed later in the year.
Mistral Fact Box.
The Mistral Hotel has 35 rooms with free wi-fi, a spa, two pools and a restaurant serving the finest traditional Cretan cuisine. The hotel also organises a range of excursions, cultural events and themed weeks. Located at Maleme near Chania in western Crete, the cost of a standard hotel stay starts from 874 euro for a week, half board and not including flights. Discounts of 15% are available for stays of 14 nights or more. For more information visit www.singlesincrete.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Disclosure: I was a guest of Mistral Singles Hotel – all content is editorially given.