I think that I am the first solo traveller to review Avli so I feel the weight of some responsibility following so many positive and glowing reviews. I would firstly stress that I had done my research well before travelling and was well aware that Avli attracts mainly couples and families. I was bowled over by the website and the reviews on here so I was not really concerned about this aspect. I arrived very late on a Saturday night. Thanassis (Manager) had organised a taxi from the airport (Thank you Illias - very nice chap), and on arrival, Thanassis was waiting to greet me personally, together with Yanis, his understudy. I was offered food and refreshments and Thanassis then personally escorted me to my suite. I certainly felt welcome.
The suite I chose was in the new La Strada lounge apartments, My suite was Florentia, or 'the cup cake' suite. These suites are the latest addition to Avli. They are in the building next to the Avli restaurant and my room overlooked the street on which the tables are set out. My first thought was that I did not recognise the room from any of the photos on the website. The style was similar, exposed venetian stone work and colourful blinds and cushions etc, but the bathroom was very small with a shower as opposed to a jacuzzi bath as mentioned on the website. I am not a bath person so I didn't really care about the lack of one but I was expecting a larger bathroom. The website does convey that these suites are smaller than the established lounge suites and this is certainly reflected in the price so I am not complaining about the size of the bedroom but I did feel that it would have been very cramped if I had been sharing. The bed takes up most of the room space and there is just enough room for the chaise longue and two bedside tables. The room has built in wardrobes and drawers (lots of hangers). The TV was high up on a shelf (small portable type), it took me a while to get used to the viewing angle and all Greek channels which may bother English speaking TV enthusiasts. My main problem was that there was no mirror in the bedroom. There was a mirror over the sink in the bathroom but because the bathroom was so small and the door was in the way it was impossible to stand back from the mirror to get a proper view. I did mention this to Thanassis the following morning and he did agree that La Strada is still a work in progress as they only began refurbishing the property a month or two before I arrived. There was also a problem with the Wi Fi in the room which was a bit hit and miss. Thanassis confirmed that this was a problem for all of the La Strada suites and was in the process of having it resolved although the problem persisted for the whole period of my stay (13 nights). I am sure that these matters will all be addressed and that La Strada will reach the same excellent standards of the Avli lounge suites in due course.
Breakfast was served al a carte in the charming garden of the restaurant between 9am and 12 noon. The breakfast is excellent and sets you up for the day, plenty of choice and the Cretan style omelette is delicious. I have to say that the atmosphere is very relaxing although I do feel that the staff were a little bemused by this lone woman in their midst! Thanassis however was very charming and did try valiantly to make me feel at home. He is an exceptional manager with impeccable manners, a rare quality to find in most establishments these days.
I ate in the restaurant on three occasions in the evening and thoroughly enjoyed it each time, although again I felt that the staff were slightly uncomfortable with my singleness and seemed more content dealing with the couples and family groups. I would emphasise that the staff are very pleasant and well trained and were certainly never rude but just a little aloof perhaps. The food was excellent. The house speciality - a goat dish - was delicious! I have read on here that the restaurant is expensive but I would counter that the food prices are quite reasonable for the quality on offer but it is actually the wine that is expensive which is par for the course in any good restaurant in the UK.
Avli is located in the heart of the old town and you can get lost in the little streets (as I generally did for the first few days!) surrounding it but it is only a ten minute walk down to the harbour and another ten minutes to the beach. I did not actually use the serviced beach as it was quite crowded with rows of sun loungers, and sand that has been levelled by machine. I preferred to use the small beach back near the inner harbour that the locals use although there are no sun loungers so you need to bring your complimentary Avli beach towel. The bus station is only a 10 minute walk from Avli and I took several trips to other places such as Chania, Plakias, Preveli and Ponormas.
The Avli shop 'Raw Materials' is located on an adjacent street to the Avli restaurant next door to the Avli lounge suites. The roof terrace is on the top of this building complete with jacuzzi and seating area. I found this a very pleasant area to relax and read although it is a little far from the restaurant if you want to have something to eat or drink. The staff will of course bring refreshments to the terrace if you request it but it would be useful perhaps to have a telephone on the terrace connected to the restaurant?
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Avli. It is obvious that the owner, Katherine, and Thanassis and his team are trying to create something unique and authentic and I would certainly return. But perhaps not on my own as I did end up feeling a little uncomfortable and a bit of a nuisance, especially when Thanassis used to worry if I did not turn up for breakfast, which happened a couple of times when I went off exploring on the bus.
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- Also Known As:
- La Strada Hotel
- La Strada Suites Crete/Rethymnon