By Hayley Hutson
Over the summer, my fiancé and I celebrated our engagement in Crete. While searching for the hotel that would serve as our home base, I stumbled across a 17th-century Venetian mansion that had been transformed into a luxury boutique hotel.
Casa Delfino overlooks the Venetian Harbor in Old Town Chania, a buzzing city known for its family-friendly beaches, plethora of cultural landmarks, and lively shopping scene. The historic property features 24 guestrooms and suites, a rooftop lounge, and a tranquil spa.
Although the property had everything I was looking for, it was the story behind Casa Delfino that told me this was the perfect place to celebrate the next chapter in my love story. Here are the reasons why Casa Delfino is a love letter to Crete.
1. Casa Delfino was a labour of love.
In the 1840s, the Delfino family purchased a mansion in the heart of Chania. Generations of Delfinos were raised in the home for a century, until World War II when Casa Delfino was severely damaged and fell into ruin.
In 1989, a fifth-generation descendant decided to restore the family home to its former splendour and transform it into a luxury hotel to share its beauty with tourists from around the world.
2. It’s still in the family.
When I checked into the hotel, I was greeted by Margarita Markantonaki, Managing Director and sixth-generation descendant of the Delfino family. She regaled me with stories of her grandmother, who had grown up in the residence, and shared the family photo album that depicted the lengths her family went to when converting their home into a hotel.
The fact that Casa Delfino stands today, remarkably well-preserved and filled with authentic charm, is proof of what’s possible when a Cretan family pours their love and commitment into a dream.
3. Crete’s history is preserved in Casa Delfino.
From the classical furnishings and original walls to the family antiques and pebbled mosaic courtyard, old-world elegance seeps through every part of the property. Stepping into that courtyard on my first day in Chania felt like stepping back in time.
The Delfinos strived to preserve the authentic charm of their family home and pay homage to the building’s history, and it’s evident from the moment you arrive. This historic structure sits in the center of a busy, tourist-filled city, yet it feels like a world away.
4. Every morning starts with a homemade Cretan breakfast.
I’ve never had much luck with hotel breakfasts, but Casa Delfino’s included daily breakfast was a game-changer. There was a colourful spread of local cheeses, fresh fruit, homemade bread, and yogurt—but the pièce de résistance was the assortment of freshly baked pies and cakes.
There were savoury breakfast pies made with eggs, cheese, and meats, along with sweet peach cakes that warranted second helpings. Mama Delfino whipped up the daily selection, using recipes that have been in the family for generations. It truly tasted like starting the day with a delicious bite of Crete.
5. Casa Delfino offers a blissful respite from the hustle and bustle.
According to INSETE, Crete received 3.7 million international air arrivals in the first half of 2023 alone. As one of the largest towns in Crete, Chania is constantly bustling with hordes of tourists during the peak season. I visited in June, so I was fully prepared to embrace the chaos.
To my surprise, Casa Delfino transported me to a serene oasis that felt miles away from the frenetic pace of life just outside the gates. Between the tranquil courtyard adorned with lush greenery and the intimate ambiance of our suite, the hectic sounds of the city faded into the background. In our secluded hideaway, we were able to savour the authentic and unspoiled essence of Crete.
6. The spa is a romantic sanctuary.
Since we were celebrating our engagement, my fiancé and I knew we had to spend a little time in the on-site spa. What I didn’t initially realize was that when you book a treatment at Casa Delfino, you get the spa all to yourself for total privacy. This took the luxurious vibe to a whole new level, allowing us to really soak up the beauty of our rejuvenating experience.
Every treatment features Mediterranean Diet ingredients sourced from Greece and is tailored to the individual for a customized approach. Although we received our treatments one after the other, I loved that we were able to stay in the spa together so I could relax in the candlelit pool while my partner enjoyed his massage.
7. The rooftop terrace offers unparalleled harbour views.
On our first day in Chania, there was nothing I wanted more than to indulge in a bottle of wine while admiring the way my new ring sparkled in the sunlight. Luckily for me, Casa Delfino’s rooftop terrace provided an idyllic spot to do just that.
Watching the sunset over the pastel-coloured buildings along the Venetian Harbor, there was no place I would’ve rather been. What better way to begin a glorious week in Crete than by sipping a few cocktails with a birds-eye view of the city?