Villa St Nicolas, Crete

The Inbetweeners movie should really come with a disclaimer: The vast majority of Crete is not inhabited by rampaging hordes of hormone- charged British youths fuelled on a diet of Red Bull and Slow Comfortable Screws, whose idea of a Greek salad is demanding ketchup with their kebabs

The Inbetweeners movie should really come with a disclaimer: The vast majority of Crete is not inhabited by rampaging hordes of hormone- charged British youths fuelled on a diet of Red Bull and Slow Comfortable Screws, whose idea of a Greek salad is demanding ketchup with their kebabs.

The reality couldn’t be more at odds with The Inbetweeners version of the island. Spanning 260 km end-to-end, (It will take you a three hour day trip if you fancy the drive), Crete is the largest of the Greek Islands and its beauty is just as expansive; ranging from green-lush forests to the rugged and rocky. (When I say ‘rocky’, I mean mountainous. The car-hire gentleman warned me that the insurance didn’t cover any ‘off-road’ driving.)

The key to Crete is to avoid the package deals, the ready-made resorts, and go off-piste, as it were. Like more and more vacationers, I decided to take the private-villa route via holidaylettings.co.uk, one of the UK’s biggest rental villa websites. Once the preserve of the well heeled, renting a private villa – especially if you book flights well in advance – has increasingly become the most budget-sense option.

Of course, there is always the risk your villa – and I have had this experience – doesn’t quite live up to the spanking hi-res images on display, and that promised vista of azure and ultramarine blues ends up somewhat obscured by a half-built, semi-derelict, project-on-hold-but-for-the-chained-up-rottweiller-that-ceaselessly-howls-thoughout-the-night.  

Mercifully, Villa St Nicolas had none of these issues. Situated up in the hills over Agios Nikolas, with wonderful clear views over the Aegean Sea, it says much about a holiday villa when your only possible complaint is the lack of a dock for your iPod. Given owner Anotinis Vergetakis’ liking for electronic gadgetry, I feel certain this lapse will be attended to sooner rather later.

Villa St Nicolas Crete

Let’s not be coy about these things. Villa St Nicolas is the closest I’m going to get (or my bank balance is capable of enduring) to living the playboy lifestyle without marrying The Heff himself. Set in it’s own private grounds (Antonis has an equally resplendent neighboring abode, Villa Theano – next door), Villa St Nicolas, comes with four plush double bedrooms, a state-of-the-art living room and kitchen with a light system that belongs in a nightclub, together with a totally-secluded 10 metre-plus pool with jacuzzi and adjoining barbecue area. The villa’s big enough to accommodate four or more couples and there would still be room to escape each other. Alternatively, as my old school chum and I did, you could make full use of the space and pretend you’re P Diddy and Fiddy Cent for the week, waiting for the crew from MTV Cribs to arrive.

Villa St Nicolas Crete

The trouble with renting a luxury villa is the temptation not to move from your sunlounger other than the odd necessary sortie to the local supermarket. But, when we did make the effort, it was well rewarded.

Within a few kilometres are the beaches of Almiros and Havania. A visit to the isle of Spinalonga – an old leper colony that recently found fame in the novel ‘The Island’ by Ian Hislop’s wife, Victoria – is an eerie must. A short drive to Plaka Elounda, ask for Aris at the Taverna Spinalongo and not only will he organise the 10 minute boat trip, but serve you the best fish in town. Speaking of local delicacies, if you can tear yourself away from stoking the barbecue for one evening then make sure to reserve a table at Migomis, the ‘Piano Restaurant’, overlooking the fabled deep lake of Agios Nikolas.

The real Crete? It’s not The Inbetweeners (however, if you really are craving a Slow Comfortable Screw then Malia, where the film was set, is only thirty kilometres down the road…).

For further details of Villa St Nicolas, check out www.villastnicolas.gr

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