There are many reasons to visit Chania, and many more to stay near Chania’s old harbor. In this historic environment, boutique hotels in Chania’s Old Town have flourished. Buildings full of legends and mystery are now the best hotels in Chania. Mind you! This list includes any hotel category. The article focuses on the past of these buildings with a unique atmosphere that makes them the 10 best boutique hotels in Chania’s Old Town.
- Why staying in Chania’s Old Town
- The history behind Chania’s historic buildings
- 1. Casa Delfino Hotel & Spa
- 2. Serenissima Boutique Hotel
- 3. Domus Renier Boutique Hotel
- 4. Scala de Faro Boutique Hotel
- 5. Monastery Estate Venetian Harbor
- 6. Porto del Colombo Traditional Boutique Hotel
- 7. Hotel OFF
- 8. Cretan Renaissance Boutique Hotel
- 9. Casa Leone Boutique Hotel
- 10. Elia Zampeliou Boutique Hotel
- Other historic hotels in Old Town Chania
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Why staying in Chania’s Old Town
View of the Old Venetian Harbor from Casa Delfino’s exclusive terrace (photo courtesy of Casa Delfino).
There are a thousand reasons to visit Crete at least once in your life and a thousand more to visit the magnificent coastal city of Chania.
Home to a picturesque old town and harbor, most of the things to do and see in Chania concentrate in the oldest part of the city. And its unique architecture is definitely one of the things you should pay attention to.
So, if you’re interested in the history of this city, there’s no better way to learn about its past than spending some days wandering along the alleys of the different quarters of the old town.
Choosing to stay in one of the many historic buildings will add a touch of mystery and romance to the already magnificent scenario of Chania’s Old Town.
The history behind Chania’s historic buildings
The Republic of Venice conquered and ruled Chania for 4 centuries, from 1204 until 1645. It was a period of economic growth and artistic development during which the city witnessed the construction of fortification walls, Catholic churches and monasteries, and stunning houses.
Venetian merchants and rulers now lived on the island, living in elegant mansions built in the traditional architectonic style imported from the Italian peninsula.
It was a prosperous time in the history of the city, commerce and trade boomed but also artistic movements were born, such as the unique school of the Cretan Renaissance.
However, when Chania fell to the hands of the Ottoman empire, in 1645, the face of the city underwent a complete change.
Religious buildings were transformed into mosques, while most of the Venetian mansions acquired wooden balconies and the so-called harem rooms, which still characterize the facades of some of Chania’s buildings.
TThe Ottoman empire came to an end in 1897, when the island declared its autonomy with the creation of the Cretan State. Still, the face of the city was yet to change again due to the impact of the Nazi invasion and occupation of the island.
Chania was heavily bombed during May 1941, with the sad loss of unique buildings in major areas of the city.
During the 70s and 80s, with the massive booming of the touristic industry on the island, Chania became a place of interest, attracting hundreds of visitors every summer.
Most of the houses in the old town, some of the abandoned or badly damaged, underwent long processes of renovation and are now open to the public as some of the most gorgeous boutique hotels in town.
These are some of the ones I’ve visited to bring you this article.
1. Casa Delfino Hotel & Spa
With a unique family history and an incredible taste as far as restoration is concerned, I was pleasantly surprised by the experience in Casa Delfino. In fact, I fell in love with Casa Delfino. I adored the hospitable and knowledgeable staff, the kindness of owner Margarita, the romantic history connected to the place, and the super delicious, home-made orange cake!
Entrance and inner court of Casa Delfino, Old Town (photo courtesy of Casa Delfino).
The history of Casa Delfino
When you enter Casa Delfino you are carried away by the romantic atmosphere. In fact, and as they like to put it, the hotel combines a history of romance, adventure, and the twists of fate.
It all began back in 1835, when Giovanni Delfino, a rich merchant from Genoa, was cast ashore by a storm in the northwest area of Gramvousa. Hosted by Capuchin monks, he managed to sell his goods while his boat was being repaired.
He soon saw the possibilities that Chania had to offer, so he requested a new shipment of goods. Along with the cargo, he welcomed to the island his wife and their children Pietro and Marguerite. They settled in a magnificent Venetian mansion they purchased near the harbor.
However, the best part of the story is still to arrive. When it was the moment for his daughter Marguerite to get married, she was found a suitable husband in Genoa. She was sent on a long journey to meet him, but (this is my favorite part!) destiny had other plans.
Marguerite fell in love with the Cretan Captain of her ship. They immediately forgot all about Genoa and turned back to Chania to get married. The family home was where they raised their six children. The present owner, Margarita, is a sixth-generation descendant of the family.
This unique hotel remains an important part of the family’s history and legacy in the Old Town of Chania.
Choose Casa Delfino because…
One of the most stunning characteristics of the hotel is the incredibly personalized service they offer to their guests. A new kind of concierge concept that answers all your requests with top expertise and accountability. The venue is also centrally located and open all year-round. It boasts a unique garden and a magnificent terrace bar with views. The spectacular spa is well worth the visit.
I would personally like to thank the owner, Margarita, as well as Stella and Manolis for their time, dedication, and hospitality. For patiently sitting with me and walking me through the fascinating story behind this unique historic hotel in Chania.
Location: Theofanous 9, Old Town Chania. You can book a stay in Casa Delfino here.
2. Serenissima Boutique Hotel
Located in the heart of the Venetian area of the Old Town of Chania, Serenissima Boutique Hotel is one of the finest lodging experiences in Crete.
One of the sixth oldest buildings in town, Serenissima is home to a rich history, its long path of renovation has put the hotel and its restaurant among the most valued places to visit in Chania.
The entrance to Serenissima Boutique Hotel, Skoufon street (Photo courtesy of Serenissima Boutique Hotel).
The history of the building
Serenissima Boutique Hotel is settled in one of the oldest buildings in town. The Venetian building dates back to about 1550, and it belonged to a rich Venetian man. Later on, the house passed to the hands of a rich Turkish who introduced changes to the building.
That’s the reason why there is a mixture of Ottoman and Venetian architecture, also visible in its arches, according to studies made by the Archaeological Agency of Greece.
It has been proved that the left part of the building has a strong Turkish influence.
The most important architectural feature of the building is the hammam, the typical Turkish steam bath that many houses used to have during the period of the Ottoman occupation.
The fully restored hammam represents the main concept of the hotel’s philosophy: luxury and relaxation.
The traditional lodging opened its doors in 2014, after about 8 years of restoration works.
Today, this 5-star hotel is permeated by a sense of calmness that easily helps you forget that you are in one of the most popular cities in Greece. Its location is great for those travelers interested in exploring the alleys of Chania’s Old Town.
Choose Serenissima Boutique Hotel because…
There is a unique sense of elegance that adds to the relaxed atmosphere. The service is super personal and dedicated.
The whole place is thought for the comfort and relax of the guest, including the incredibly comfortable mattresses and bathrooms. Personally, I believe that this hotel can’t be thought of without its restaurant. Probably the finest dining place in Chania, Serenissima Restaurant serves one of the best contemporary cuisines on Crete. You can read about it in the article I dedicated to the restaurant and its chef Iosif Petrof.
My experience of Serenissima wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for the insightful conversations I had with hotel management. I am thankful to Panos and staff for the honesty and interesting views they shared about tourism in Crete.
Location: Skoufon 4, Old Town Chania. You can book a stay at Serenissima Boutique Hotel here.
3. Domus Renier Boutique Hotel
Domus Renier Boutique Hotel is – and remains – one of my favorite places to stay in the Old Town Harbor. Home to a fascinating history, it has been restored with extreme care and knowledge.
The luxurious suites of the hotel and the stunning views of the port will quickly convince you about why this is one of the best places to stay in Chania.
The entrance of the luxurious Domus Renier Boutique Hotel (Photo courtesy of Domus Renier).
The history of the hotel
The history of the impressive Renier Townhouse is sealed by the words in Latin still inscribed in the arched entrance gate. These words talk about the history and the values of the family that occupied the building during the Venetian period.
Doges, diplomats, commanders, politicians, and countesses lived and died in the building. The lead lives full of passion and ruled right from the rooms of the mansion.
Five centuries have passed, and this historical house is still as important as it used to be. Its shape and facade dominate the landscape of Old Town with a touch of modern elegance and refined style.
This boutique hotel belongs to Historic Hotels Worldwide and has nine suites with spectacular views of Chania’s Old Harbor. The impeccable service underlines its character.
Choose Domus Renier because…
You won’t be sorry! They say you live only once, and you know what? It’s true! Choose the stunning comforts of the honeymoon suite and you will always treasure an ever-lasting memory of your stay in Crete.
If you want to have more detailed notes about the hotel, please do not hesitate to check the whole article I wrote about Domus Renier Boutique Hotel when I just got to the island. Aria and Litsa were among the first friends to welcome me in Crete, they opened the doors of their hotel and made me taste some of the most memorable local pastries!
Location: 41 Akti Kountourioti & Moschon, Old Venetian Harbor, Chania. You can book a stay at Domus Renier Boutique Hotel here.
4. Scala de Faro Boutique Hotel
Scala de Faro is in the heart of the Venetian district in the old town. Centrally located on one of the prettiest lanes of the old town, Scala de Faro is only minutes away from the Archaeological Museum and the Jewish District of Zudecca.
The area is dotted with beautiful souvenir shops and sumptuous restaurants serving top dishes of the Cretan tradition.
Scala de Faro Boutique Hotel, Chania, Crete (Courtesy: Scala de Faro).
The history of Scala de Faro
The building dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries. It was constructed by the Venetians during their ruling period following the architecture style of Venetian mansions.
According to several historical sources, Scala de Faro was originally a two-floor building featuring rich carved arches both on its ground floor as well as on the Piano Nobile.
There is a unique arched staircase made of stone with a built-in fountain.
During the Ottoman occupation of Crete, the building included a cellar as well as stables, like many other residences that were located close to the port.
Horses, as well as donkeys, were vital to delivering the goods sent to Crete. Some old contracts of the property imply that the building used to belong to a very prominent Turkish-Cretan family back in 1890.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the hotel was already one of the very first lodgings in the city, operating under the name of Minerva Hotel until 1970.
After a few decades as a private residence, the new Scala de Faro seems to be here to stay.
Choose Scala de Faro because…
Scala de Faro is one of the nicest hotels in the Old Venetian Port. It offers spectacular views of the lighthouse and the White Mountains. This exclusive boutique hotel has only 9 rooms and suites, all of them making wise use of the original structure and decorative elements of the old building.
The hotel features impressive wooden ceilings and floors, as well as its original stone walls. Scala de Faro is ideal to live a unique experience of elegance in the city’s old town.
Don’t miss their delicious breakfast!
Location: Zampeliou 28, Old Town Chania. You can book a stay at Scala de Faro here.
5. Monastery Estate Venetian Harbor
(Photo courtesy of Monastery Estate Venetian Harbor)
About the hotel
Back in the 16th century, this building used to be the castle of a Venetian nobleman. The house was later occupied by a Turkish Aga and his harem until 1913. The hotel’s location is privileged, just a few meters from the seafront in the Old Harbor, and very close to Ahmet Aga mosque.
The current owners restored the hotel maintaining its original architecture. Among the most beautiful features, there’s an original Turkish bath, a walled patio, as well as unique carvings and arches.
While working on the reconstruction of the place, several ancient Roman walls were discovered under the building. These date back to the 1st century AC and are now displayed under a glass floor.
Some of the suites have a private terrace with unique views of Chania’s eclectic skyline made of towers, churches, minarets, and fortifications.
Choose Monastery Estate because…
Hotel guests can take advantage of the restaurant (both indoor and outdoor). Besides, there’s a fantastic swimming pool and a spa with an original Turkish Hamam. The rooms offer stunning views and the service is very courteous and professional.
Location: 40-42 4th Kallinikou Sarpaki Due, Old Harbor Chania. You can book a stay at Monastery Estate here.
6. Porto del Colombo Traditional Boutique Hotel
The highest building in the old town of Chania has played a very important role in the history of the island. Porto del Colombo was, in fact, the official residence of Eleftherios Venizelos before becoming the first Prime Minister of Greece. Its majestic interiors and original furniture make Porto del Colombo one of the favorite places to stay in the Venetian quarter.
Porto del Colombo (Courtesy: Porto del Colombo Boutique Hotel).
The History of Porto del Colombo
This boutique hotel is a traditional residence located in an imposing building dated approximately between the 12th and 14th centuries. Its curious name comes from the fact that being such a tall building, there were usually many pigeons and doves on its high walls (colomba is the Italian word for pigeon).
During the Ottoman era, senior members of the Turkish military occupied the building, and they were in charge of the several architectural changes introduced to the building. At the beginning of the 19th century, the building was home to the French Embassy in Chania.
But maybe, its most important historic trait is that Eleftherios Venizelos, the great Cretan politician, owner of a residence in the more aristocratic district of Halepa, rented that house for a better sum of money. He lived in this building for about four years. Rumors say that while living in the building, Venizelos had a secret affair with a certain Paraskevoula, who used to live in a close-by house, now home to Amphora Hotel.
The hotel is an important example of the Venetian architectural style, with its stone walls, arches, and high ceilings. It’s breakfast room, once the stables of the building, is one of the most beautiful areas of Porto del Colombo.
Choose this hotel because…
Porto del Colombo is another hotel open all year-round, which makes it very convenient to visit the city offseason.
Unlike big hotel chains, Porto del Colombo takes pride in their very personal service to satisfy every that a guest needs. If you are looking to stay in a place that pleasantly reminds you of the old times, everything has been restored maintaining the strict original flair of the building. And, of course, it is located in a very quiet area.
Location: Moschon 7, Old Town Chania. You can book a stay at Porto del Colombo here.
7. Hotel OFF
Hotel OFF is one of the latest additions to the best hotels in Chania Old Town, yet it has a rich history behind it. Despite its austere entrance, the building has unique characteristics that put it among the best places to stay in town. Hotel OFF is in the historical area of Topanas, one of the most gorgeous districts in the Old Venetian Town.
The beautiful yard of the hotel (Photo courtesy of Hotel OFF).
The history of the building
According to historical sources, the house dates back to the 13th century and was built by the Venetians on the ruins of a hammam from the 9th century, probably of Arabic origin. Later on, during the Venetian rule, it became part of the administrative buildings of the Venetian government.
During the years of Turkish domination, the building was the home of a large noble family of unknown origin. Many were the additions and changes introduced to the building, including Turkish baths. The three wells were extremely convenient for animals to rest.
It is believed that the water came to the wells from an underground river that flows down from the White Mountains (probably the same one feeding the mikvah -ritual bath- in the nearby Etz Hayim Synagogue in the Old Town). There are parts of this river still visible from the building.
Choose Hotel OFF because…
Even though the hotel has gone under a clear restoration process, above all the hotel keeps the main features of the building, such as its beautiful yard.
The property still maintains the unique Venetian style, typical of Chania. Its cutting edge decoration and modern atmosphere manage to live together with the years of history of this unique building. Hotel OFF wisely combines the charm of the old times with the comforts of the modern world.
Location: Antoniou Gampa 32, Old Town Chania. You can book a stay at Hotel OFF here.
8. Cretan Renaissance Boutique Hotel
Cretan Renaissance Hotel Crete, the balcony (Courtesy: Cretan Renaissance).
The history of the building
The building is first found recorded at the end of the Venetian rule of the island (1252-1645). The building used to be the residence of a wealthy family of musicians and it’s believed to have housed general administration offices in a subsequent moment, for the inspection of the goods on arrival. By the end of those times, the owner of the building was a prominent Lord of Crete.
A legendary tale, of which there’s no real proof, speaks of her daughter being kidnapped by a poor young man, and the subsequent hunt after the couple.
The Turkish occupation over Crete also brought changes to this building, which now passed to many Turkish dignitaries.
Chose Cretan Renaissance because…
The hotel has a privileged view of the Lighthouse as well as the Venetian Harbor, the sunset views are truly unique. The hotel has a very romantic atmosphere, making it ideal for honeymooners. There is also a cozy restaurant right next to the seafront.
Location: Akti Kountourioti 56, Old Venetian Harbor, Chania. You can book a stay at Cretan Renaissance here.
9. Casa Leone Boutique Hotel
This hotel is an authentically restored, historic Venetian villa. It was built in the 15th century and is also located in Chania’s Venetian port.
Casa Leone, Old Port (Photo courtesy of Casa Leone).
The history of Casa Leone
The original owners of the property were descendants of a well-known family of musicians named Leone, from whom the current hotel has taken its name. The building has been restored but still maintains the authentic characteristics of the Venetian buildings of the old town.
The hotel has a unique atmosphere. It’s a very romantic place with unique views of the historic old town of Chania, the Lighthouse and the Mosque on the waterfront.
The furniture and decorations still retain the style of the past and they are in complete harmony with the architecture of the place. The same goes for the timber floors and the ceilings.
Choose this hotel because…
It offers excellent panoramic views of the harbor and the old town. Among the rooms, the Honeymoon Suite offers a private patio with panoramic views as well as a very romantic atmosphere. The hotel caters for dietary needs such as gluten-free breakfasts.
Location: Theotokopoulou 18, Old Town Chania. You can book a stay at Casa Leone here.
10. Elia Zampeliou Boutique Hotel
Adults-only option in Chania’s Old Town. (Photo courtesy of Elia Zampeliou).
Only for adults
The hotel, part of the Elia Adults Only Project, is located in the heart of the Venetian Harbor. The building keeps its historic architectural features, such as stone walls and high ceilings, while also offering all the amenities of a modern hotel.
This boutique hotel features 8 rooms with a beautiful view of the lighthouse and the port, while there are other rooms with views of the White Mountains and the old town. According to Elia Zampeliou’s management, the adult-only concept means that here you can find an oasis of privacy.
Choose this hotel because…
It is better known for its rich breakfast hotel, with traditional delicacies from Crete and from the rest go Greece too. Given its adult-only status, it is a perfect choice for a romantic escape or for a solo holiday in Crete.
Location: Zampeliou 32, Old Town Chania. You can book a stay at Elia Zampeliou here.
Other historic hotels in Old Town Chania
Amphora, hotel in Chania town (Photo: The Tiny Book).
The hotel is located a few steps from the Old Venetian Harbor, in one of the oldest buildings of Chania still in use. The place dates back mostly to the Venetian era (13th century), while the upper floors feature unique Turkish details as well as a steam bath.
The building used to be the house of the Governor of the Venetian Fleet while the present restaurant was where he would keep his personal gondola.
The present owners have renovated most of the rooms. The honeymoon suite counts with a spectacular fireplace and unique vintage furniture.
The hotel has a wonderful terrace with excellent views of the harbor and the Lighthouse, as well as the promenade and the mosque. Legends in the old town link the building to the personal story of Eleftherios Venizelos.
Location: Zampeliou 26, Old Town Chania. You can book a stay at Hotel Amphora here.
Residenza Vranas Boutique Hotel
(Courtesy: Residenza Vranas).
Residenza Vranas is an amazing boutique hotel located right in the heart of the Venetian quarter.
The old building dates back to the 15th century, originally belonging to a rich Venetian family.
The main characteristics of the hotel are its impressively thick walls, most of which original, as well as the arched staircase that leads to the upper floors.
There are only 4 super suites, with an open plan of at least 90 square meters each. Each of them has superb views of the Venetian Harbor through huge windows.
The hotel combines luxury and tradition and offers many modern amenities for the comfort of its guests. Their most impressive suite has a pool and it develops as a penthouse with a panoramic terrace. The penthouse can accommodate up to five people. As a personal note (which I keep repeating to anyone who wants to listen), their floor tiles are just beautiful!
Location: Zampeliou 26, Old Town Chania. You can book a stay at Residenza Vranas here.
Ionas Boutique Hotel
(Photo courtesy of Ionas Boutique Hotel)
Ionas Boutique Hotel is another of my favorite hotels in town and it’s located in the area I love the most, Splantzia.
It has been carefully restored and still presents a traditional Venetian architecture with the unique wooden additions typical of the Ottoman period.
At the entrance, there is a beautiful clock of a unique design.
There are only 9 rooms with modern facilities, comfortable showers, and cozy interiors.
It’s located in the most authentic part of town, in a pedestrian area, thus guaranteeing complete silence and peace all day long.
Although not directly in the Venetian quarter, the hotel is within walking distance from the Venetian Port as well as from cafes, shops, and restaurants.
Location: Sarpaki and Sorvolou, Old Town Chania. You can book a stay at Ionas Boutique Hotel here.
Which of these hotels did you like the most?
Let me know in the comments below!
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About the Author
Hola! I’m Gabi. Welcome to The Tiny Book – Crete Travel Blog! I moved to Crete to explore the island all year round. I love taking pictures and driving on the mountain roads of Crete. I’m a beach freak and on this island I’ve found heaven on earth!