We booked to stay at the Old Phoenix because of reading good reviews online, but I now wonder if these were out of date. We were so unhappy there we cut our trip short. I have never felt so unwelcome at a hotel.
The location is stunning; the Phoenix seems to have built its success from attracting families who want a safe self contained holiday location for their kids; the position of the place is perfect for this, with a safe secluded bay and a hotel complex small enough to feel intimate but large enough to be exciting for children to explore.
However, after only a day or two, it became apparent that the service was not just indifferent but downright hostile. We spent several days wondering what we had done to offend the staff, then gave up and just left.
Two examples. I noticed the balconies to the left and right of me had washing lines so I went to reception to ask for one. The receptionist studiously ignored me as I stood there for a minute or so. So I politely asked about getting a line. The reply I got was, "I am busy. I am adding up bills. I am doing a job. Were I to get up and get you a washing line right now, I would not be doing my job" etc etc. The outburst was so unexpected, it took my breath away and I tried to laugh it off with my partner, but this actually set the tone of all our interactions. One morning, I asked if I could have some jam with my egg and toast. Waiter: "No, you order egg and toast. No jam with egg and toast. Either egg or jam." When I persisted that I only wanted a single sachet of jam, he harrumphed and disappeared, I could hear shouting in the kitchen, then 15 mins later, when I had finished my breakfast, I got my sachet of jam.
This was the tone of most of our interactions with waiters and hotel staff. We would be ignored when we went down to eat; we would be told breakfast was over, there was nothing left for us, when we were well within the breakfast times. We wondered if the bad service was because you don't pay for your food per meal but on a tab, therefore the waiters perhaps have no motivation to serve you well, as they don't get tipped per transaction. But when we looked to the right and left of us, the staff didn't seem to be treating other guests this way.
The food was poor quality with most of the menu items unavailable anyway; the kitchen didn’t seem to prepare good old fashioned Greek food, just microwaved Euro-grub. The odd Greek dish we did order was of appalling quality.
A sign on the pebbly beach informed us that guests would be charged for loungers etc. I thought perhaps this referred to visitors and queried it (as there was no other way on could sit on the beach). But no, this “Of course!” referred to hotel guests. I thought this was mean-spirited as there was no alternative way to sit down on the beach, and really this should be included.
After a few days of these interactions, we were miserable. We started escaping for dinner over the hill to a taverna in a neighbouring bay, Likkos, and the contrast was incredible; a warm, welcoming family who cooked amazing Greek food and didn’t seem to loathe us!
We nervously approached the Phoenix staff to say we wanted to leave early; it transpired they had got our booking wrong anyway so we were able to move to Likkos without any confrontation. The last few days of our holiday were utter bliss and I am only sorry we put up with our treatment for so long.
I have never bothered to post on TripAdvisor before, but the contrast between what I’d heard about this place and the miserable time we experienced, convinced me I should warn others! I don’t doubt that there will be other posters who have had a positive experience at the Phoenix, and those who think that we somehow provoked our bad treatment or have exaggerated. All I can say is, we seemed to be singled out, with no provocation, for exceptionally surly and unhelpful treatment by the staff. Why? Neither of us are imperious or demanding; we have experienced Greek hospitality and know the pace of life is slower there, so we certainly weren't snapping our fingers and demanding instant action.
Lastly, I am white and my partner is Asian. I have no concrete proof the staff were hostile to us simply because of that, but we were so mystified by our treatment that we were left contemplating this unpleasant possibility.
- Also Known As:
- The Old Phoenix Loutro, Crete, Greece