I generally try to include as much information as possible, but know that some people just want a recommendation so I have put this first. These are good quality 3* apartments with a very pretty courtyard pool area, in a near perfect town centre location, but which is still only 15 mins stroll to beach. Much is made of the Medieval and Venetian history of the buildings and this, supported by friendly staff make it very easy to have a superb holiday here taking in both beach and historic town. Unfortunately there is an “however”. Palazzo Rimondi is marketed as 4 star “exclusive suites” and priced accordingly, when they are patently not: When they were newly converted – perhaps; and with some maintenance again – perhaps; but for now they are comfortable studios and one bed apartments. They are certainly a step up from typical Greek accommodation and if you are prepared to pay a premium for the history and location then you certainly won’t be disappointed. We had a fabulous holiday and would consider returning to Palazzo Rimondi, but if money were an issue, we might head for the less historic but adequate Hotel Ideon a few steps nearer the Venetian harbour.
ACCOMMODATION – Palazzo Rimondi’s strap line is “Exclusive Suites for Exclusive Travellers” and consists of “20 Luxury air conditioned Suites” in a small complex of buildings dating from the 15th century. They claim: “All suites have sitting room, sleeping area, dining area, equipped kitchen, bathroom, two music channels, TV and safe. The feeling of balance between the old and the new creates an idyllic and restful atmosphere, the center of which is the large courtyard paved with cobblestones, the romantic style swimming pool and the bar.” See www.palzzorimondi.com for more detail.
Much of that is true, and it is a lovely place to stay, but where marketing hyperbole and reality drift is the use of “Exclusive Suites”. The definition of a suite in a hotel or other public accommodation denotes a class of luxury accommodations, the key feature of which is multiple rooms, and the addition of “exclusive” suggests the suite is equipped with enhanced and/or higher quality amenities.
A single room studio is not therefore turned into a suite by putting a sofa at the end of the bed and a table between the bed and the kitchenette, which is the case with some PR ‘suites’.
And this is a shame, because the place is restful and pretty so doesn’t really need the exaggerative translation of studio or apartment to suite.
OK you could forgive that marketing hype and the high price if the accommodation was really exclusive, but unfortunately there’s more bad news. The apartments are looking a bit tired – not shabby or dilapidated – but in need of some maintenance. Mostly it’s not major but has started to move from the very minor to the noticeable. And attention to detail for top end accommodation matters so leaking taps, hinges coming off doors and paint used to touch up damage is a completely different colour to the original, and the image is tarnished.
So in fact what you have been sold is a top end “Exclusive Suite” with a top end price, and what you have got is a middle range studio apartment – not a disaster by any means, but a little disappointing. However, these are still miles (or kilometres) better than the run of the mill Greek accommodation, just not quite the standard expected from the description.
Now the good news - Palazzo Rimondi is a great place to stay. The location is unparalleled almost within touching distance of the minaret in the New Old Town Square (no that’s not a typo), Loggia and the famous Rimondi fountain, and but a very short walk to the pretty Venetian harbour and Fortenzza (Fort). The courtyard is very peaceful whatever time of the day or evening and service from all the staff is excellent. Despite my comments about VfM and exaggerative marketing, the apartments are comfortable, cosy and welcoming. Towels and linen are regularly changed. The towels are a sensible size, not the flannel like size in many Greek apartments. Maid service is 6 times a week. The kitchenette is actually stocked with things you might use and there are enough plates and cutlery of good quality if you want to use them. We had one of the larger suites with a separate bedroom and living area and it was large without being stark. It is worth asking for an apartment facing the front as this is the quieter side and gets the most sun for your balcony.
A point to note is that some of the seclusion is about to be lost as there is a new set of apartments being built directly opposite which will look directly onto the courtyard and balconies of PR. That might not seem too bad, but remember PR is on an alley less than 2m wide and the balcony from the new apartments project over the alley by about 1m. These are to be an extension of the current PR and risk detracting from some of the cosy charm of the original. As we understand it these are to trade under the same name so you may need to check which block you are in from next year. They may also be the reason why maintenance is less than desired in the original blocks as money and effort is concentrated in getting the new apartments ready for June 2010.
POOL – The pool is very pretty and forms the focal point of the courtyard. It is quadrant shaped, small and has a tiny “childrens area”. Do not expect to swim in the pool though as it is a plunge pool more for decoration than serious use. It suffers from getting little or no sun, so is quite cold, is lined by tables from the bar and the sun loungers are up on the roof so not nearby. We did not see anybody use it whilst we were there. The pool was clean and properly maintained whilst we were there
SUN TERRACE – There a small but perfectly adequate sun terrace with sun loungers on the roof of one of the buildings. However, you need to be fairly fit and agile to get to it as it is on the third floor, with the last one up wooden steps with half treads. I wouldn’t want to do that with wet feet, nor to have to keep going up and down to the pool in the courtyard to cool off. Actually as the first two flights are marble and lead to some apartments, you would have to dry off from the pool before heading up on safety grounds at least. As a result it is not heavily used, which is a shame as it is attractively laid out with pot plants and is a real sun trap.
RESTURANT – There is no restaurant at the apartments, but they do have a bar with limited snacks available through the day and provide breakfast.
BREAKFAST - is a serve yourself buffet which is quite good as there is a reasonable selection but it did lack daily variety. The warm selection consists of: bacon, boiled egg (alternate days scrambled egg) and mini “hot dog” type sausages. The cold selection was cereal, cheese, ham, bread (fresh and lovely), fruit (tinned), Greek yoghurt, and sweet biscuits. To drink, coffee, tea and fruit juice were constantly available. Most was of good quality and taste, particularly the cakes (some home made), biscuits and bread, but on the down side the fruit was tinned and the “Orange” juice was so vile, even Aldi would reject it for their value range.
Breakfast is taken in the courtyard around the pool and is a very pleasant and peaceful start to the day. Service for the tea and coffee is friendly, relaxed and constantly available. The small quirks aside, breakfast creates the ambience, atmosphere and service which does support a high rating of the accommodation.
ENTERTAINMENT – The apartments do not provide any entertainment (unless you count the antics of the apartments cat or the breakfast staff), but as you are in the middle of a vibrant town, you don’t need it.
GENERAL – All of the staff were polite, friendly and very helpful with Harriet (the manager) outstanding. This is a well run operation that does most of the important things to a high standard. We really liked Palazzo Rimondi and would consider staying again. The only thing stopping us giving it a higher mark is the VfM aspect.
TOWN – Rethymnon’s history is written bold on its Old Town buildings with 16th century arched doorways, stone staircases, Byzantine and Hellenic-Roman remains, the small Venetian harbour and narrow streets, but still manages to be a modern bustling town at the same time. In fact it’s almost 2 towns with the mostly pedestrianised old town at its heart, whilst the new town, which is much more modern and industrial surrounds it. Old or new it is compact enough to walk around and well worth the effort. Rethymnon has friendly feel and particularly the old town entices you in, making you want to investigate all the squares, back streets and alleyways. Yes you’ll probably get lost, but that’s part of the charm, and anyway you are never far from a significant landmark to get your bearings. And when you tire of exploring bougainvillea shaded streets, looking at shabby chic buildings, historic monuments and stylish shops, and it’s time to sit down at a café, bar or taverna, Rethymnon will deliver more variety than you can shake a stick at. Of course if you are instead a sun worshipper, fear not as the beach is but a few steps away and with the sun set at Regulo 6 you can roast the day away – just remember your sun tan cream.
Some of Rethymnon’s key sites are:
- The Venetian Loggia, an elegant building of the 16th century that used to be a Venetian gentlemen’s club.
- The Fortezza castle, at the top of a low hill named "Palaiokastro" built in 1590 to protect the city from the pirates raids and the Turks. Costs about 4 Euros entrance and has some fabulous views of the town as well as the historic artefacts.
- Rimondi fountain richly decorated and built in 1652 to provide the citizens with drinkable water is situated at Platanos square in the centre of the Old town.
- Neratzes mosque and impressive minaret formerly the Holy Virgin church, was converted into a mosque by the Ottomans and currently used as a music conservatory.
- Kara Mousa Pasa Mosque also a venetian monastery before being turned into mosque by the Turks.
- Porta Guora the entrance to the Venetian town is the only remnant of the defensive wall.
- Folklore & history museum which is housed in a restored Venetian building with an interior courtyard.
BEACH – Rethymnon beach is about 15 to 20 mins casual stroll from the New Old Town Sqaure (and Palazzo Rimondi), through the heart of the old town and along the recently updated promenade. There are no hills and you can stay in the shade or the sun as takes your fancy, which makes the stroll easy and enjoyable. The beach is mainly soft golden sand and runs for a number of miles out to Platanes. It is well serviced with loungers and parasols to hire at 9 Euros and beach front bars, cafes restaurants across the road.
The only partial downside of this part of the island is the sea which can be quite rough and often has red flags due to the undercurrents. It is therefore not ideal for the very young or sitting on the edge with water lapping at your feet. As the winds come in more likely you’ll get covered with a breaking wave.
SHOPS – There are plenty of shopping opportunities in Rethymnon and what’s really nice is that this is a real town which is not entirely dedicated to the tourist. Whilst in the old town a significant number target the non-locals, they are generally more upmarket than the usual tourist tat. Jewellery shops are particularly prevalent, so gents hide your credit card or you could be going home a lot poorer. There are also plenty of clothes shops so make sure you leave room in the suitcase for new purchases. The joy of the shops here is that they are smaller and more boutique like (even the bigger names) and therefore the selection is more exclusive.
FOOD AND DRINK – There appears to be more places to eat and drink than people in Rethymnon. The Venetian harbour is lined with restaurants, the Venizelou promenade is a row of bars and restaurants facing the sae, and in the Old Town every street, square, alleyway and steps appears to be filled with tables spilling out from the Tavernas, cafes and bars.
This is place you won’t go hungry or thirsty and covers just about every taste – generally without pandering to the Lowest Common Denominator – ie there’s no McDonalds in Rethymnon. Whilst there is plenty of Anglo-American tourist food available if you are that way inclined, the Old Town in particular has retained some real Cretan character and menus have plenty of variety of Greek and Cretan dishes. In fact Crete has an accreditation body ConCred (Conserving the Cretan Diet) under the aegis of the Greek Academy of taste, which is about ensuring quality authentic Cretan recipes or creative variations of traditional dishes are available in certified restaurants. Rethymno has a significant number, mostly centred in the Old Town.
Fish restaurants are what you expect around the attractive Venetian harbour, and you won’t be disappointed. But be aware, some fish served may be frozen (difficult to understand why but…) and they are massively overpriced for the harbour view. It is pretty and if you can afford it, a romantic meal can be had, but the aggressive attitude of the restaurateurs trying to badger and haul you into their particular restaurant borders on threatening. It is a real shame that this is one area we walk around once to remind ourselves of how nice the view is, and then stay clear due to the restaurateurs.
Along the promenade, the restaurants tend to be more relaxed and there are many bars with a variety of characters, from young and trendy to more sedate.
Food is generally good and the selection often mind boggling. It is worth seeking out the better tavernas and trying the local dishes though, as they are delicious. Cretan wine is also a good choice. We particularly like the Lyrarakis Dafni which is one of the oldest and rarest Cretan varieties has a Long-lasting and intense aroma and is still reasonably priced.
Although you will find desserts on the menu, they are generally not extensive or varied and, in addition there seems to be a common practice of providing some sort of dessert free anyway. So unless you specifically want Baklava (and even then you’re probably better going to a specialist coffee and pastry shop after your meal) then wait for the freebie and Raki.
As for bars, well there are so many so just pick one you like. We liked Vasilikos next to the Rimondi fountain as it was great for people watching, the staff were entertaining and as mad as a box of frogs, prices were reasonable, service excellent, and the drinks were good. The only down side was the dodgy music choice in the evening, but we just chose seats adjacent to the bar next and listened to their music instead.
Worth noting for credit card users, in Crete there is a tendency to use chip and pin, but then get you to sign the credit card slip as well.
Below are a few of the Old Town Restaurants which we have eaten at.
VENETO – 4 Epimemidou Street; www.veneto.gr – Set in the heart of the old town this is a converted 14th century manor house and has a very romantic courtyard garden with water fountain. The menu is wide ranging, but in line with its ConCred (Conserving the Cretan Diet) accreditation ensures it is not too touristy. Large wine list, though not too many Cretan wines and somewhat on the expensive side. Food was excellent and the ambience lovely – one for a special occasion though unless you have fairly deep pockets. It is however nicer than the oft rated nearby Avli and considerably cheaper, so worth a look.
AVLI – 22 Xanthoudidou Street; www.avli.gr – We didn’t eat here this holiday, but have in the past. You can’t argue that it is pretty, the food is good, the wine list extensive and the service equally as good – but you will pay a quite large premium for the experience. There are other restaurants – Veneto or Alana for example – that provide as good a dining experience in just as nice surroundings for considerably less.
To PIGADI (The Well) - 22 Xanthoudidou Stree; www.pigadi-crete.com – Similar to AVLI though not as expensive. Certainly worth trying if you have the time.
ORTHONAS – 27 Petihaki Sq – This is one of about 5 restaurants in a row leading to the Rimondi fountain. With this location it is no surprise that their menu and layout reflect that they are right in the heart of the tourist trail. As they are also ConCred rated we had hoped that the food might still be good. Unfortunately it wasn’t – it was at best average. And despite being next door to Agrimia, the atmosphere in Orthonas was not enjoyable. It’s difficult to put a finger on exactly what was wrong, whether it was: the service – which was surly and slow; the menu - which was just too touristy and large; the food – which was just average; or the seating - which was a bit too cramped and like cheap garden furniture; but it just didn’t gel. The price wasn’t too bad, but you could go next door for similar money and get better food, service and ambience. Personally I’d avoid.
AGRIMA – 23 Petihaki Sq – The best by far of the restaurants in a row leading to the Rimondi fountain. Although this is directly on the tourist trail, George the owner has made a conscious choice to retain some authenticity. Tables, chairs and décor are typically Creatan, they are ConCred accredited, the total number of tables is limited and service matters. Of course with so much competition and their location their menu has to include some more touristy items, but there is a good selection of Creatan and Greek food and it is promoted. Food is excellent and George cares about his diners. When I ordered a dessert they didn’t have all the ingredients in the kitchen, he sent out one of the waiters to buy them and gave us free raki whilst we waited. It made no difference that I offered to change my choice to save the effort, George wanted the meal to be right. Brilliant service. The fact that locals eat here speaks volumes. The place feels right and with good food and reasonably priced wine, this is definitely a place to go if you want a meal in the lively end of the Old Town.
ALANA – 15 Salaminos Street, web : http://www.alana-restaurant.gr/english/home/index - Alana’s website claims “The ideal "meeting" place for strangers. At the heart of the old city in a beautiful garden, location where local residents and foreign guests harmoniously coexist together”. And it’s difficult to argue with that. The setting is lovely, the menu extensive and with real Cretan focus, ConCred accredited, fabulous food, excellent service, good selection of well priced wine (including our favourite Lyrarakis Dafni), comfortable ambience and a real mix of us tourists and locals. Top this off with a surprising low price and it’s not difficult to see why this place is so busy. The meze style starter, oddly named “Bon Appetit” for two is a meal in itself and a perfect introduction to some Greek/Cretan dishes, and I can also highly recommend the rabbit which was just brilliant. As you can probably guess, we went here more than once and loved it. Go! Enjoy!!
LEMONKIPOS (The Lemon Tree Garden) 100 E. Antistaseos street; www.lemontreegarden.com – Don’t get this confused with the Sokaki Lemon Garden restaurant which gets such good reviews. This is set right on New Old Town Square, and from the outside looks quite nice. However, once in the “garden”, your view is of a garden “feature” which consists of some rubble and a dirty bath with a few plants in it and New Old Town square. Not so bad you might think, but this is one of Rethymno’s planning mistakes. In a town steeped in history the New Old Town square is a concrete area the approximate size of 2 or 3 football pitches, on which the local kids, play. Great for them, and they deserve somewhere to play and let off steam. But if you are expecting and want a romantic meal in a lovely lemon tree garden, what you get is bikes, balls, skates and noise. Then there’s the food, which is distinctly average. On the whole there is nothing too much wrong with this place, it’s just there are so many better places to go. Try somewhere else.
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Cancelon and TripOnline SA so you can book your Palazzo Rimondi reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Palazzo Rimondi Rethymnon, Crete
- Palazzo Rimondi Hotel Rethymnon