These six mid-range hotels of Crete's present-day capital, Heraklion, capture different aspects of its layered culture and history. Features like prime Old Town locations, modern takes on mythological figures, and smart technology that connects you more deeply to the island all make these options stand out in this city once ruled by the Venetians, Ottomans, and Arabs.

3 Pines Design Hotel

Photo courtesy of 3 Pines Design Living
Photo courtesy of 3 Pines Design Living

Enjoy modern comforts and environmental sustainability in the year-round 3 Pines Design Hotel, located in a residential area of Heraklion's new city center. The hotel captures a more recent history, as it's named for this neighborhood that was home to refugees from the 1922 population exchange between Greece and Turkey. If you're looking to go farther back in time, Old Town is just a 20-minute walk. Those with cars can use the hotel's free parking lot, a rare gift in Heraklion's center, and head to sites like the Palace of Knossos or Ammoudara Beach, 15 minutes away.

The 12 apartment-style units incorporate modern designs of black lines, pops of color, and patterned walls. They're perfect for extended stays, thanks to fully equipped kitchens, washing machines, and plant-filled terraces at the front and back. Two and three-bedroom options are ideal for groups of six or eight, who can spread out on a mix of beds and sofabeds. All the rooms are eco-friendly, as they include furniture made of recycled materials, solar panel-heated water, and sensors that shut off electricity after you leave. Relax by the rooftop pool and lounge, enjoying a view of the city.

Read kimkim's review of 3 Pines Design Hotel

DOM Boutique Hotel

Photo courtesy of DOM Boutique Hotel.
Enjoy the views from your Junior Suite (photo courtesy of DOM Boutique Hotel)

If you're looking for a chic stay in a prime location in Old Town, the DOM Boutique Hotel may be the right fit. Standing just one block north of Theotokopoulos Park, where you'll find some of Heraklion's best restaurants, this hotel is a five-minute walk from Lion Square and 10 from the 16th-century Venetian fortress Rocca a Mare. Folks with cars can use the paid lot right across the street, making exploring Crete a breeze.

The 37 tastefully decorated rooms are warm and cozy with their Art Deco and minimalist styles. Each has a balcony that overlooks the city or the courtyard; if you're a light sleeper, a courtyard view offers more quiet during the busy high season. Triple and connecting rooms are great for larger parties, and there's one ADA-compliant option for those with wheelchairs. Book the Junior Suite for an extra touch of luxury, as it has a hot tub on the terrace with a sea view. The lobby bar and lounge, with its lush plants, inviting fragrance, and fireplace, is a great place to have a drink at any time of year.

Read kimkim's review of DOM Boutique Hotel

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Inotropes Boutique Suites - Adults Only

Photo courtesy of Inotropes Boutique Suites.
Photo courtesy of Inotropes Boutique Suites

Cretan hospitality, history, and mythology are at the forefront of the adults-only Inotropes Boutique Hotel, a peaceful oasis for those looking for an authentic experience of the island. Owner Effie has transformed her grandmother's home in the traditional village of Archanes into a modern space. The six warm and minimalist suites are designed with wood and stone furnishings and soft lighting and can include amenities like fireplaces and kitchens. The suites can comfortably sleep two, and while some have sofabeds for an extra person, they're best suited for couples, friends, or solo travelers.

This year-round hotel seamlessly incorporates Effie's family history with that of the island, as well as aspects like cuisine and mythology. All of the suites are named after the family of Dionysus, the god of wine, so ask Effie to organize a customized wine-tasting excursion or sample local flavors in the old wine cellar that is now the reception area. Peer down into the well Effie's grandmother once used or grab a seat in the lush courtyard, where you can eat homemade marmalade or try the hotel's butterscotch raki, which you won't find anywhere else.

Nestled on a quiet side street of Archanes, a 30-minute drive from Heraklion and 15 from Knossos, the Inotropes offers easy access to the village's traditions and culture, as well as that of the rest of the island. The Archaeological Museum and Eleftherios Venizelos Square are five minutes away by foot, while the hiking paths of Fourni and Minoan ruins of Mount Juktas are 10 minutes away by car.

Read kimkim's review of Inotropes Boutique Suites - Adults Only

Manili Boutique Suites & Villas

Photo courtesy of Manili Boutique Suites & Villas.
Photo courtesy of Manili Boutique Suites & Villas

Relax in the modern and comfortable Manili Boutique Suites & Villas in the village of Archanes, just 30 minutes by car from Heraklion and 15 from Knossos. This year-round hotel includes two separate sections: The nine suites are minimalist and contemporary, with custom wood furnishings, stone elements, and kitchenettes, while the three traditional mountain villas across the street include vintage furniture and full kitchens.

The villas can sleep up to seven, and the suites have connecting options for larger parties. The style of the suites is quite different from the villas, so book according to your preference for something more modern or traditional. Guests can relax in one of the hotel's two small pools or grab a drink and bite to eat at the bistro before heading out to explore the surrounding area. Archanes is known for its cuisine, wine, and history, so walk its cobblestoned streets to the Eleftherios Venizelos Square in five minutes to try out some local restaurants or drive to the Minoan sanctuary of Mount Juktas in 10. 

Read kimkim's review of Manili Boutique Suites & Villas

Domus Ariadne

Photo courtesy of Domus Ariadne.
Photo courtesy of Domus Ariadne

This family-run boutique hotel in Heraklion's center offers a modern spin on one of Crete's most famous mythological figures. The Domus Ariadne takes its inspiration from Greek-Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico's 1913 painting of Ariadne, who helped Theseus slay the Minotaur and escape the labyrinth.

The hotel's six Art Deco-style rooms follow different color themes based on Chirico's work and include features like patterned tiles, bold designs, and customized wooden furniture. While there's one option that can accommodate four on sofabeds, these double rooms are ideal for couples, friends, or solo travelers. Some include kitchenettes for those who want to stay in, and most have access to patios in the peaceful atrium or courtyard. If you want more privacy, check out the Rosso Room, which has a terrace overlooking the city.

While the Domus Ariadne doesn't have common facilities like a bar or restaurant, it works with a nearby café to offer guests deliveries to their rooms. Plus, you can easily explore Heraklion and its food options from this central location next to the Archaeological Museum. Walk to Lion Square in just five minutes to soak up the history of Old Town, or head to the port to wander the 16th-century Rocca a Mare Fortress, 15 minutes away. For those who want to experience this hotel's mythological inspiration firsthand, the Palace of Knossos, the site of Ariadne's labyrinth, is a quick 20-minute drive away.

Read kimkim's review of Domus Ariadne

Olive Green

Photo courtesy of Olive Green Hotel.
Photo courtesy of Olive Green Hotel

This smart boutique hotel borders the 626 Park in Heraklion's center, five minutes by foot from Lion's Square. Olive Green focuses on sustainability and Crete's heritage, best embodied in the large images of the island's culture and landscape in each of the 47 rooms. Scan the QR code on these photographs to learn more about the history of what's shown or where that particular site is located.

The rooms are minimalist and bright, featuring technology that links to a smartphone so guests can easily check in and out or adjust temperature and lighting to their preferences. Tablets are also included to find customized local information about Crete, making this an ideal choice for those who want to delve deeper into Cretan life and history. Family rooms are available, offering cots and sofa beds for extra guests. Some options include balconies, and those with wheelchairs can book one of the ADA-compatible rooms.

After enjoying a meal at the ground floor restaurant, step outside into the center of Heraklion's history. Walk two minutes to the Archaeological Museum, where you'll find a fantastic collection of Minoan objects, including the enigmatic Phaistos Disc. The Venetian harbor and Rocca a Mare Fortress are just 10 minutes away by foot, and the Palace of Knossos is 20 minutes away by car, making this an excellent choice for those who want to explore Crete from a modern and comfortable base.

Read kimkim's review of Olive Green