My girlfriend and I travelled to Katrin Hotel and Bungalows for a 7-day all inclusive trip via Thomas Cook in October 2011.
Having seen some of the reviews on Tripadvisor and researching Stalis on the internet prior to booking, we felt we had a chosen a decent place in a decent location for a reasonable price. The reality however is that both the hotel and more so the location did not match up to expectations and we were left a bit disappointed by the end of it. Whilst we will return to Crete in the future, we would not come back here or to the immediate area around Stalis.
There were however some positives as well, so I will start with them...
The hotel was very modern, well presented and clean on the outside and public areas. There are 3 pools which are spotlessly clean and things like the restaurant and bar areas were in very good order.
The weather was fantastic for the first 4 days (it rained for the last 3 days solidly). Avg temp in October was put as 22-23 degrees celcius, but we didn't have a day under 29 degrees when the sun was out.
The choice of food was good. It caters for the mainly German visitor population but it was fresh & hot. There was an OK selection of fruits, mains and deserts and 'safe' (chips, pizza, etc) options. Drink options were OK - a local beer, some spirits (only in the evening), sugary drinks and coffee
Opportunities to travel cheaply by bus (which are frequent, and cheap) to other areas were good.
Unfortunately, despite these positives, there were several negatives which meant that we left disappointed...
We were allocated a room right at the top of the hotel, which I believe was previously another hotel / apartment block. The outside was done well and of the same standard as most of the hotel, but the inside of these rooms was not good. The general decor was dated, and cleanliness was ok - but the floor was dirty and there was a lot of dust in corners etc etc. There were not of the standard as shown in the brochures. The worst part of the rooms were however the beds. They were singles, kept apart by wooden beams and the mattresses were horrifically uncomfortable. They were thin and extremely firm, similar to camp beds, so by the end of the week both my partner and I had very sore and uncomfortable backs. Neither of us as a result slept very well for the week.
We did speak to Reception early on about this, and to their credit, even though the hotel was busy, they did offer us another room - however when we were shown it, it was very small, the bed on offer was as soft as a water bed and there was paint peeling off the walls, so we made the choice to stay with bigger space and suffer with the beds (which due to the rain later in the week, the space meant we didn't get cabin fever).
There was another aspect of the room which showed itself when it rained for the last few days - as much of the flooring was tiled, both inside and outside, our entry to the room was flooded and we had to use our beach towels and shower towels to stop the water coming in under the door.
Finally, some other travellers have stated that these rooms have good views, and I cannot entirely disagree with them, however they haven't mentioned that these views are interrupted by the abundance of uncompleted concrete developments and the huge power cable pylons which run right across the valley over the top of the hotel resort.
The food choice was OK - but there were no were near enough seats / tables. and there were no two-seater tables. This meant you either had to wait for half an hour to get a seat, or, more often, other diners were simply placed on your table halfway through. There is something in being sociable, but if you are there as a couple, and wanted to eat alone, this got very old, very fast. We, like several other couples, simply went away and had to come back later to eat which did disrupt our plans on several days.
One of the most disappointing parts of the trip. Stalis is not at all like it is advertised on official sites. It is not a quaint village location, rather it is a staging post town between the two 18-30 party towns of Hernossios and Malia. The result is that it is hugely commercialised, over developed and you just got a feeling of 'tackiness'. Fortunately being the off-season it wasn't overrun, but the reality is that you went away with the feeling it was more like a Blackpool or Skegness with sun than another country.
The beaches were OK (not white sand as described by some) but the water looked clean and clear. However, the beach from one end to the other were carved up by the proliferation of bars and tavernas (some run down, some which looked good) and all were littered with sun loungers - some working, some broken / discarded. Even in the off-season this did not give you the impression of a nice beach area.
Elsewise, there were activities such as banana boats and the 'happy train' local bus tour, but there were no local culture / activities nor any areas able to be reached by walking. If you stay in this area, either hire a car, or use the buses (which is what we did) to travel out to the east of the north coast (Agios Nikolaos and beyond) to get out to see the actual island.
Overall, because of our own experiences, and the expectations we had (based on the research and reviews we had read), we came away disappointed. I would say that if the Katrin Hotel was in another area, we might have had a slightly better opinion, but not excessively so. We wouldn't return here, but would probably try and give Crete another go in the future as some of the areas we visited while here looked beautiful (particularly on the south coast of the island).
Tour companies naturally take advantage of the distance of Stalis from big attractions (such as the Island of Spinalonga, Lassithi Plateau, Knossos, etc) to offer packaged activities. In some countries, the charges for these activities are justified, in Crete, they are not!
We made several trips, the best of which was to the Island of Spinalonga via Agios Nikolaos. Thomas Cook wanted to charge 58 euros per person to do this trip and this was mirrored by the local companies as well. We did this trip for 60 euros in total, which included travel, boat trip and food:
Buses to Agios Nikolaos run every half and hour from 300m to the left of Katrin Hotel and cost 3.60 euros each way. They are extremely modern and comfortable (same as National Express buses) and the trip takes approximately 45 mins. Total: 16 Euros
Trips from Agios Nikolaos to Spinalonga leave from the main harbour area, and cost 12 euros each. The boat we took included a stop of 1 hour on the island, and included a stop off in a bay on the return to swim in luke warm water seas! Total: 24 Euros
We had food and drink at Agios Nikolaos as well which came to about 20 Euros.
- Also Known As:
- Katrin Hotel Stalís
- Katrin Hotel And Bungalows Stalis, Crete
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Katrin hotel and bungalows located in Stalis, 30 km from the international airport, is only 200 m away from a magnificent sandy beach and from the entertainment and shopping center of Stalis village. The hotel consists of 140 double and family rooms in different buildings. With a wonderful natural environment and our excellent service you may sure of an enjoyable stay and unforgettable holidays. ... more less
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