Crete, Europe and Middle East, Greece, Hotel Reviews, Newsletter

The Mistral Solos Hotel Maleme, Crete. Fun for the over 40s

20/02/2024 by .
Mistral Solos Hotel

Marion Ainge gets into the mix at The Mistral Solos Hotel, in Maleme, Western Crete to find friendship, fun and a fantastic two-hour fish lunch.

It’s the hotel’s ‘meze’ of attractions for solo travellers which brings people back again and again.

Returning guests who love the ambience, friendship and comfort at The Mistral Solos Hotel in Crete travel from such as Australia, the USA and Canada.

With the warmest of welcomes, this family-run, 5-star boutique hotel opens its arms to the extended family of solo and single travellers in the 40-plus age group. Newcomers to solo travel soon settle in. Nerves are banished and so is the need of a book to read at a lonely dinner table.

Joyful meals are enjoyed together at a long table, outside for most months, where there’s a lively buzz and a host of newfound, like-minded friends to chat to. Delicious sharing platters of local, home-cooked, Cretan food are passed around and carafes of very acceptable local red, white or rose keep coming. Wine at dinner is included in the holiday price and there’s no single supplement or hidden extras.

Mistral Solos Hotel

The Mediterranean Cretan diet is arguably one of the healthiest in the world. In the Mistral’s garden, which bursts with colour, plump purple aubergines, huge tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, fat green courgettes, glossy red, yellow and green peppers and vivid yellow lemons claim their place and ripen in the fertile soil before finding their way to the table.

A pre-dinner drink at the circular bar on the patio? Oh go on then! We’re ready to tuck in to traditional dishes such as Boureki, a rich, tasty potato gratin with courgettes and Myzithra cheese, tzatziki, dolmades, cheese and spinach pies, battered courgette flowers, artichokes, moussaka and more plus locally farmed meat and fish. Crisp Greek salads (with everything) are dressed with the Mistral’s own ‘liquid gold’, the hotel’s extra virgin olive oil, added by the cupful to nearly every dish. After dinner, often a DJ provides an opportunity to show off a few moves under the stars.

Mistral Solos Hotel

Fun Greek Nights with plate-smashing and Zorba-leaping plus themed weeks are organised too. Hotel courier Panos beckons me to join him on the dance floor. I’m there like a shot. He leans me over backwards – Strictly salsa style! Oh my! Then I partner hotel owner Adonis. But Athena, his three year-old daughter doesn’t like us dancing together and starts crying for her Baba/ Daddy.

Mistral Solos Hotel guests lap up the generous hospitality and goodwill which overflow at this relaxed hotel situated in the small, quiet resort Maleme on Crete’s western coast. It’s aimed at the over-40s and on my visit there’s a good mix with some guests in their 60s to 70s.

Age is no more than a number at The Mistral. Former professional jockey, Buck Jones from Guildford, rode alongside Lester Piggott in the 1950s. Buck says:’You feel at home here straight away’. Bea from Exeter tells me this is around her 20th stay at the Mistral. ‘ I’m usually here for six weeks a year split into two holidays. I’ve worked out I’ve spent about two and a half years of my life at the Mistral Solos Hotel, she laughs.’

Bea isn’t the only guest who stores a suitcase of summer clothes at the hotel. Travelling light for the next visit is the key. Teachers and others who have to take their holidays during the summer break stay in July and August. Regular visitor, London primary school head, Bridget, 50, likes the ‘friendly family business and genuine Greek experience’. .

Mistral Solos Hotel

Adonis, wife Aura and their team of ever-smiling staff really care about making guests feel happy and comfortable. Right-hand woman, Anja, happily helps newcomers to feel comfortable and turns her hand to just about everything. Each of the 35 spacious double bedrooms has a balcony or terrace in this small, very friendly hotel. Rooms are equipped with a double bed with cool cotton bedding, shower and/or free-standing roll top bath, plenty of storage space and tea/coffee-making facilities.

Some prefer a room which overlooks the pool, circular bar and patio at the front. But as there is some traffic noise, I prefer a room at the back where it’s quieter with a smaller pool, Jacuzzi and gardens. Rooms have a contemporary vibe with the traditional touch of an exposed stone wall feature.

Mistral Solos Hotel

It’s just a 10-minute stroll to the parallel, pebble beach and seafront walk lined with a few cafes and hotels. There’s not much to Maleme village, just a short walk away, but a bus stop just outside facilitates a service to the nearby lively little beach resort of Platanias and in the other direction, the tiny fishing village of Kolymbari. A 25-minute bus ride takes you to the glorious, western Crete capital, Chania with its 14th century Venetian harbour, colourful pavement cafes, markets and interesting, narrow cobbled streets.

Guests can choose from a variety of tours and outings ranging from a walk through the Samaria Gorge to a local farmer’s market. But not to be missed is the famous, three-hour fish lunch in a family-owned restaurant at Sfinari. The excursion begins with a sunbathing session on the sweeping, gold-sanded bay of Falassarna beach, reputedly one of the world’s best, and a swim in the clear waters.

Mistral Solos Hotel

In the Sunset Restaurant kitchen, daughter, Marilena, 27, holds up the catch-of-the-day, an unsurprisingly grumpy-looking grouper and a cuttlefish, both caught that morning by brother Nicos, 44, one of the island’s best spear fishers. Father, Yannis grows and tends the vegetables and goats. Their own Myzithra cheese is made from the goats’ milk.

The long table, tree-shaded from the hot sun enables a view of the pretty cove where creamy, foamed breakers interrupt the stillness of a turquoise sea. Second son, Tria, 42, presents us with a feast of delights. We begin with Katavia, fish soup served alongside fresh salads with plump black olives and Feta cheese, tzatziki and home-made bread.

The cuttlefish, prepared by Mama Elena, 64, is stuffed with onion, cheese, sea salt and parsley. Then comes the grouper, roughly chopped (no finicky filleting) on a platter, which is handed round the table. Plate after plate all with wine and more wine. Our host Adonis, finds the fish eye on his plate and pops it into his mouth.

Mistral Solos Hotel

Around 30 years ago, Brothers Vasillis and Adonis built the Mistral Solos Hotel on land inherited from their grandfather. Their idea of a venue for solo or single travellers in a warm, friendly environment where guests would feel happy, confident and cared for continues to attract a niche market. Margaret, 51, from Birmingham, says: ‘When you’re alone, on some holidays it can be difficult to make friends. It’s not nice eating at a table on your own when everyone else seems to have someone to talk to. But we all have dinner together, here. This is my first time at the Mistral and I’ll definitely come back again.

So will I !

Tell me more about The Mistral Solos Hotel in Maleme, Crete.

The Mistral Solos Hotel, Maleme, Crete

Room rate: from £945 (standard room) 7 nights including breakfast, six dinners with wine, cocktail tasting, water aerobics class and airport transfers on Tuesdays.


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