This 14th-Century Venetian Palace Might Be the Most Stunning Airbnb in Crete
Modern decor meets history-steeped grandeur—and killer views of Chania's old harbor.
When I visited Crete in 2018, I had no idea what to expect from Greece's largest island, known for its Minoan ruins (especially Knossos, the palace that’s said to have housed the monstrous Minotaur of Greek mythology) and Venetian architecture. What I found was something I’ve dreamed of returning to ever since—beautiful old cities, unique archaeological finds, transcendently lovely beaches, stunning mountainous terrain, and some of the lushest, most memorable food I’ve ever had the pleasure to consume. Crete is magic, and while it would take at least a month to explore it properly, it’s possible to visit a few different areas of the island in just a week.
At the time of my visit, I stayed exclusively in hostels (and if you’re up for doing the same, Youth Hostel Plakias is well worth the trip, from its location in an olive grove with mountains looming above it, to its community feel for adults of all ages and proximity to stellar beaches). That said, after a few years and an entire pandemic, I find myself less game to revisit some of the other hostel accommodations of the past, in particular a soulless dorm in the exceptionally soulful city of Chania. If I were to return, I’d love to treat myself to a stay at the Domicile Chania, a 14th-century Venetian apartment overlooking the city’s historic harbor.
Chania is known for its picturesque Venetian Harbor, and the opportunity to actually stay in the area feels too good to pass up. Domicile Chania, built directly atop the city’s Byzantine wall, originally served as a rector’s palace residence, treasury, and archives while the city was under Venetian rule. The views of the sea and historic lighthouse from the Airbnb are unparalleled, but the neighborhood is brimming with even older history. The building is part of the Kastelli neighborhood in the oldest inhabited part of the city; the area has been inhabited since Neolithic times, and is the site of Minoan, Roman, and Ottoman archaeological finds. History aside, it’s also a great home base from which to explore the rest of the city once you’ve had your fill of Kastelli, and multiple guests have praised its conveniently central location.
That said, Domicile Chania is a destination in its own right, its restoration striking a picture-perfect balance between preserving elements of Venetian architecture and making the space feel suitably modern and comfortable. The 700-year-old entryway remains relatively intact albeit weathered, leading straight into a gorgeous space with a 15th-century arch, checkerboard floor, and a glimpse of the bedroom’s tall windows overlooking the harbor. The living room too offers stunning water views, and better yet, two balconies offer a quiet place to sit and take it all in.
In contrast with the historical details, the furniture and decor are contemporary, yet grand enough to feel at home in the space. You get just one bedroom, but the living room sofas fold out into beds for up to three additional guests. The kitchen is spacious and functional, and each of the two bathrooms (one ensuite) feels luxurious. If you have mobility issues, you might appreciate the fact that the apartment doesn’t have any stairs to worry about, though it is located on a hill.
According to previous guests, host Anastosios is wonderfully communicative, gives great recommendations about the local area (from restaurants to stuff to do), and typically leaves lots of goodies for guests to enjoy (think bread, fruit, wine, cheese, and more). If you’re interested in staying in his Airbnb, Domicile Chania can house up to five guests, and is currently listed at $335 per night. Considering the cool factor and location, we think it's a steal.