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Modern Classic

Crete, Greece

As Minos Beach Art Hotel celebrates its sixtieth anniversary, it tells a tale of how luxury travel has come full circle

The way the whitewashed villas nestle into the Cretan landscape; how the design complements the sea and mountains on the horizon; and the fact food and wine is sourced locally, inviting the wider community into the space… you might believe Minos Beach Art Hotel is a modern hospitality concept. When in fact, this property was designed sixty years ago as the very first deluxe hotel on the island, pioneering an ethos that still resonates.

Back in 1963, tourism was only just starting to take shape in Greece. Eleni Nakou, a visionary hotelier created a plan together with architect Elias Sotriochos, for this coastal stretch just outside of Agios Nikolaos to stay true to its setting. Based on the traditional architecture of Eastern Crete’s fishing cottages, the resort’s low-lying bungalows blend in with the environment while offering direct access to the Aegean Sea. In its heydey, celebrities and the bohemian jet-set flocked to Minos Beach, making it an instant success.

Fast forward sixty years, and the hotel is still about experiencing the authentic charms of Eastern Crete – environmentally, architecturally, culturally and culinary – in laid-back luxury. Gina Mamidakis, owner of the property since taking over from her father who acquired it in the 70s, has elevated this vision even further by adding a layer of creative surprise to the timeless appeal of the backdrop. Guests are not just immersed in nature, but also in art. The hotel grounds double-up as a sculpture garden with over 55 site-specific artworks, each inspired by the island. 

Today, the G&A Mamidakis Foundation continues to invite Greek and international artists to participate in an annual art competition. The prize: to experience Minos Beach and let the location influence a new work of art. Mamidakis believes in the connection between nature immersion and creative expression, a Greek legacy to keep alive. Minos Beach Art Hotel welcomes you with a large-scale wire sculpture in reception. “1 Sec” by Giorgos Gyparakis represents a graph capturing our constant digital action in a single second. The artist then expanded it into an analogue wire wave to emphasise the experience of now. 

And indeed, right here your visit begins. An invitation to be in the moment, to immerse yourself in the natural surroundings of Mirabello Bay. To smell the pine trees, to feast your eyes on the fat lemons hanging in the trees, the clear blue sea glitzing, birdsong mixed with the sound of lapping waves. Relax in the bungalows that have been renovated over time, with private plunge pools and garden terraces. Inside the recently refurbished villas, a minimalist interior soothes with earthy tones and clean lines. Ethnic prints and wickers baskets paired with low-hanging soft lights lead into modern bathrooms with generous rain showers and trough sinks. 

The three restaurants and bar areas continue this visual narrative of muted colours and wood finishes. Many of the original features remain a draw like the charming stone-paved path that weaves along the seafront providing guests with multiple access points to dip into the waters. Despite its 126 rooms in different categories, the site stretches out naturally, feeling spacious and calm even in the height of summer. 

What makes Minos Beach Art Hotel special is how involved the local community is, from the Krista Women’s Cooperative baking bread to locals attending events at the Kafeneio, a traditional coffee spot where they play Cretan music at night. In a way, luxury has come full circle here, from the initial idea of honouring the location to meeting the contemporary desire of an authentic sense of place. The bond between the island’s heritage and its effect on human creativity and relaxation is a potent mix that clearly never grows old.