The Koutsounari Traditional Cottages look as though they’ve always been a part of the seaside town of Ierapetra, Greece. It seems like the ancient Minoans must have carved the rooms from the steep, rocky hillside on the southeastern reaches of the island of Crete (the name of the town translates as “sacred stone”).
Actually, the “bones” of the Koutsounari Traditional Cottages are only about 200 years old (blink of an eye in the history of Crete). A group of old houses overlooking the Libyan Sea were first converted into tourist accommodations in 1974 and updated again to include that contemporary necessity: free WiFi
The cottages belong to one of the few well-preserved settlements in Crete — where one expects donkeys rather than cars. Their traditional Cretan architecture combines local stone with wooden elements. Each of the 10 units is unique, with odd-sized rooms on several levels and opening onto idiosyncratic patios with both sun and shade options.
Although I was there for just one night, most visitors stay for a week or more: there are fully equipped kitchenettes in each unit. Of course, all have en suite bathrooms with either showers or bathtubs. Decorative details evoke a spirit of place.
It’s a short drive down to the beach, but I spent most of my time on my little patio. Sitting outdoors, the view is so vast it’s almost as though one could see Africa — close enough that winds from the south were bringing Sahara sand to the southeast coast of Crete.
The town’s origins stretch far back into antiquity. The Minoans, Dorians, Romans, Venetians and Ottoman Turks all had their turn in power. Trivia: Napoleon stayed in town in July 1798 after prevailing over the Egyptians in the Battle of the Pyramids.
The onsite manager, Ioanna Madala, was a ready source of advice on sightseeing, shopping and dining. You can make a reservation at Koutsounari Traditional Cottages directly at their website or through the various booking sites such as Expedia. Rates vary by size of unit and length of stay and start around $100 per night.
(Photos by Susan McKee, who stayed at the Koutsounari Traditional Cottages as part of a media tour arranged by Travel Massive Crete)