My trip last week from Warsaw to Chania, Crete initially formed in mid-January when searching for the lowest priced itinerary to Greece. The primary purpose of my 10-day trip to Europe was flying four Aegean flight segments, then fly home to California from Stockholm or Oslo on a cheap SAS ticket to earn Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold Elite status with Star Alliance Gold benefits.
Chania, Crete was my primary destination simply due to the combination of cheap airfares I strung together to construct my trip. I wanted to focus on Greece as my destination for this trip after flying Aegean Airlines through Athens four times in the past two years without as much as one night spent in Greece.
My flight itinerary involved a $209 one-way ticket flying United Airlines Monterey to Barcelona, $52 one-way ticket to Warsaw from Barcelona on Ryanair to start a $136 Aegean Airlines 4-segment ticket from Warsaw to Athens to Chania, Crete CHQ and back to Warsaw.
The trip to Chania met the Aegean Airlines four flight segments requirement for Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite with only 24,000 Tier Points. Then, from Warsaw $16 to fly to Stockholm on Wizz Air positioned me for SAS Scandinavian Airlines with a $510 round trip ticket for my flight home to San Francisco. At the end of March I will return to Scandinavia on SAS. That flight will put me over 24,000 Tier Points + 4 Aegean flight segments to earn Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite.
Chania has no major chain hotels
There are no major chain hotels on the west side of Crete as far as I can tell from my searches. There are three SLH-Hyatt resorts on the eastern side of Crete.
Once I had chosen Chania, Crete CHQ as my Aegean Airlines ticket destination from Warsaw, Poland, then I needed a hotel room for 4 nights. My primary objective was find a decent room at the lowest price. This trip had a work objective rather than a leisure beach trip to Crete, which consistently ranks on lists for some of the most desirable beaches in the world. Elafonisi in the Chania region of Crete appears on many lists of the top 5 beaches in the world, (Chania is a city name and regional name for the western quarter of island). Temperatures were mostly in the 40s and 50s for my days in Chania with the final day warming to the low 60s.
Hotel Porto del Colombo caught my eye when I made my initial searches for lodging in Chania. TripAdvisor ranks the hotel as #32 of 111 hotels in Chania.
While a harbor view room sounded nice for $60 all-in, I could minimize my expenses even more by booking the lowest priced Economy Double Room without breakfast for $39.
I envisioned a windowless room.
In early February, the room rate dropped to $33 per night for the Economy Double without breakfast on hotels.com for a total price of $149.72. I did not book on the day I saw the $33 rates and rates went up again the following day.
In mid-February I received a 15% off booking coupon from hotels.com in my email. I checked Porto del Colombo rates using the coupon to find a nightly rate $34.09 with breakfast. After hotels.com booking fees, my 4-night nonrefundable prepaid stay cost a total $156.81 or $39.20 per night including breakfast. There was also a 3.00 EUR per night tax I paid at checkout for a total nightly rate of $42.59.
Chania Airport to Hotel Porto del Colombo transportation
Hotel Porto del Colombo sent an email after I completed my hotels.com booking offering to arrange taxi service from the airport to the hotel for 23 EUR each way.
Anek Lines runs bus service across the island of Crete. https://www.e-ktel.com/en/. I favor public transportation whenever feasible. Besides being cheaper, public buses are a great way to immerse with local culture.
Several buses were outside the airport terminal when I stepped outside into the cool night air of Chania at 7:00pm. It was dark out. I asked a young couple standing on the sidewalk near one of the buses if they were taking the bus to Chania. The bus they were at was heading to Heraklion. They directed me to the correct bus. I placed my luggage in the storage compartment of the large bus and stepped inside where a woman sold me a ticket for 2.50EUR.
The bus departed CHQ Airport at 19:20 for Chania. About 30 minutes later I stepped off the bus at the bus station in downtown Chania.
Google Maps showed Hotel Porto del Colombo as an 18 minute walk from the bus station.
A quick glance at food prices in the bus station cafe showed hamburgers and sandwiches priced 2.00 to 3.00 EUR. That was a good sight to see food prices so low.
Arrival at Porto del Colombo
I walked through town following the main road to Chania Harbor. The road was torn up and blocked off in sections.
My initial walk from the bus station to the hotel was in the dark of night. The road in the photo above shows the street work on the main road between the main thoroughfare in Chania to the old harbor.
Chania harbor is lined with more than a dozen restaurants and pubs. Fewer than half were open on a Saturday night in the first week of March. An alley between two of the harbor front cafes leads to stairs up to Hotel Porto del Colombo and a couple of neighboring boutique hotels.
The receptionist in the lobby greeted me and offered me some kind of local liqueur drink and a couple of sweets as a welcome.
Then she led me up the steps to the first floor and steps to the second floor and steps to the third floor to room #6. From the lobby to room 6 on the top floor is 64 stairs. There are 13 more steps to the basement level breakfast room and even more steps to the rooftop or other bi-level rooms on the third floor.
Hotel Porto del Colombo Room 6 – Economy Double
Rather than the windowless room I feared, Room 6 had a large bedroom window looking over the alley with the stairs I had walked up from the harbor, plus two small bathroom windows, one of those offering a harbor view.
The room key was a real key. I was given a set of keys with one for the front door during night hours when there is no hotel receptionist and one key for Room 6 door. A third key fit into a slot in the room for electricity.
I must admit I never turned on the TV during my stay. There was a DVD player on top of the wardrobe and movies in the hallway on the second floor landing bookcase.
Porto del Colombo room 6 bathroom.
The bathroom space was small with only a shower stall. Water pressure was fine, however, variable water temperature had me aiming the water stream off to one side of the shower stall so I could quickly step out of it when the water temperature suddenly got too hot.
Coldest night in years
The first night sleeping in the bed was the coldest night I felt in years. Generally I am too hot in a hotel room and I did not turn on the remote control heater unit above the bathroom door. The bed had only a sheet and bed cover. In the wardrobe were two pillows and a blanket. Even with the blanket on the bed I was uncomfortably cold. I could not comprehend why. The outside temperature was in the upper 40s. I live in a seaport town in California and the night time temperatures had been colder in Monterey in February. Our room is never heated at home and the window is generally open.
What I did not know until the day I was back in Warsaw is Chania and the western side of Crete had record rainfall in February with a severe storm named Oceanis dropping immense rainfall only four days before my arrival. Chania town recorded over 8 inches of rain in 10 hours, which is normally several months worth of rainfall.
The only reason I became aware of the storm is during a conversation with one of the hotel receptionists I mentioned how California had been experiencing unusually heavy rain in February and Guerneville, California had experienced severe flooding from 50cm of rain in a weekend storm. She said Chania had experienced a similar amount of rain recently. Skeptical, I looked up rainfall in Chania to learn that some areas in Chania had seen more than 40 inches of rain in February and Crete had suffered an estimated 100 million euros in flood damage.
Thinking back to how the two bathroom towels on the bed felt damp when I arrived, my guess is the building was so soaked by rain that the interior of the rooms contained sufficient humidity to kind of be like an interior fog dampness.
The heater in the room worked wonderfully by the way when I figured out how to operate the remote control and turn it on the second day of my stay. Still, I kept it turned off at night and wore long underwear and a t-shirt to bed. I packed two pair of long underwear anticipating cold temperatures in Warsaw and Stockholm, but the only time I wore them was in bed in Chania.
Porto del Colombo Breakfast Room
Breakfast was enjoyable each morning with most people speaking Greek and a generally relaxed vibe. The hotel has only 9 rooms and usually only 3 or 4 tables were occupied during the breakfast hours when I ate.
One of the features of breakfast was the offer for fresh squeezed orange juice. A 0.75 L bottle of Crete water was always on each table. There was the standing offer of having fried eggs cooked, but I was satisfied with the buffet spread as set.
Fruit, a couple of hot dishes, pastries, bread, cheeses and meats, yogurt and hard boiled eggs were standard fare.
Down the hall from room 6, near room 7 in the back of the hotel, is a doorway leading to a spiral staircase and the roof top. Each day I wandered up to the roof to take photos.
The first two days in Chania I did not see the White Mountains-Lefka Ori south of the city. On the third day the clouds cleared to reveal majestic snow-capped mountains.
A sign outside the hotel shares some of the history of the building
… A Piece of History
This imposing building is a traditional Venetian town house built in the 13th century. It is the tallest building in the old city of Chania accompanied by a rich history. During the Ottoman rule used by senior executives of the empire who brought many changes to the interior of the building, samples for which still remain today. In the late 19th century it was used as a French embassy and the early 20th century it was inhabited by a great Greek politician Eleftherios Venizelos, until he left to become Prime Minister of Greece. Later functioned as a library and at the German invasion of 1941 was bombed, but suffered no major damages. It was restored and operated for the first time as an A class traditional hotel in 1983 as Porto del Colombo because of…
In the sitting room of the hotel was the biography of Elitherios Venizelos (1864-1936), which mentions him having lived in the building that is now the hotel. He was from Crete and spent much of his life in Chania. The book was a fascinating read of a person I had not heard of until then.
The hotel was a pleasant and relaxing place to stay in Chania with the benefit of a great location less than a minute walk from the harbor. I certainly recommend the property as a fine place to stay.