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“Unique, authentic, extraordinary”
Review of Aravanes

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Aravanes
Ranked #1 of 1 Thronos B&B and Inns
Reviewed October 3, 2015

It turns out that in Crete, the Middle of Nowhere has a name, and the name is Thronos. It is a wonderful Middle of Nowhere, part of a Crete from a different age. I have been coming to this island since the 1970's, and have watched the inevitable development and “touristification” of the coastal towns, but here in the Amari Valley nothing much has changed in decades - or longer. Thronos sits high above the valley, serene in its splendid isolation. The population is - depending on who you listen to - anywhere from 18 to 35 people. There is a school, but there are no children; it may be a dying place. There is a sadness that permeates the village, even in the bright Greek sunlight. Yet for the intelligent traveler, it is a haven of culture and peace.

Our only regret about Aravanes was that we did not discover it, and Thronos, earlier in our stay, or we would have remained here for longer... and we may return for two or three weeks next year.

First, a warning: Do not come to this village and this hotel if you are one of those people who finds unacceptable any accommodation that does not resemble a Marriott or a Best Western motel. Also do not come here if you need to be constantly entertained by “things to do”, or if you regard a room without a large flat-screen TV as unthinkable. On the other hand, if you want a unique experience that is authentically Cretan, this IS the place.

The hotel and taverna are run by Lampros, a charming man who has lived in the valley his entire life. The hotel has four rooms containing a total of 15 beds, arranged in suites. We rented number 2, the corner room whose main bedroom has a balcony that provides breathtaking views across the valley. The suite contains a shared bathroom and kitchen area, and a second bedroom behind it (the suite has one double and two twin beds). It is all comfortable, basic and clean. No TV, no fancy additions... just a nice place to sleep with a great view on one side. The hotel is fronted by a wide terrace with great views, including to Psiloritis, the highest mountain in Crete; it is worth noting that Lampros leads walking tours there by day and by moonlight (sadly, we didn't have time for this).

In the evening, if you choose to have dinner at Aravanes (and you should), all the guests are invited to sit at a single long table, with Lampros at its head. Zavroula, the delightfully vivacious cook from the village, produces a cornucopia of food, almost all of it made from local ingredients - many from Lampros’ farm/garden. The night we stayed there, this included a delicious meal of braised meat from one of Lampros’ goats (Zavroula: “Yes, you’re eating the brother of the one out there now.”) As Lampros notes, the goats eat what they want, including local herbs, and this is reflected in the taste of the meat; that was hard to argue with - I’ve never had better-tasting goat. Also served with the meal was red and white wine made by Lampros, not to mention the inevitable raki (ubiquitous on Crete, but flavored here by Lampros with honey and herbs). The food - varied in type and abundant in quantity - was fabulous, the wine good and unlimited; and all of this cost the princely sum of 20 Euros.

Dinner here is very much a communal, social experience. We shared the table with visitors from Norway, Belgium, Italy, France and Germany, and it was a convivial affair. Towards the end, lubricated by a fair amount of wine (Lampros: “Don’t forget to drink!”), we were invited to sing something from our homelands, and almost everyone did; it didn’t matter that the quality of the voices varied considerably - the songs were all delivered with heart, and all were greeted with appreciation. Lampros himself took up a traditional Cretan stringed instrument and sang a couple of local songs. We all finally went to bed around midnight, all of us understanding that we had just shared a special experience that was authentic and unique. Definitely not something you’ll get at your next Best Western.

Thronos itself is lovely, and everyone you see as you walk through its narrow main street will greet you warmly. There is a spectacularly frescoed small Byzantine church in its center; as soon as you approach it, someone will come out of a local shop with the key and show you around. Afterwards, they will invite you to visit the shop, and you should do so, not only from a sense of courtesy but also because the store sells a wide variety of excellent locally made products that are ridiculously cheap. These include a bewildering array of cordials, each one more delicious than the last (they sample generously), and all for three or four Euros a bottle. They are made by Antonias (husband of the above-mentioned Zavroula), a kind, gentle man who a few years back abandoned city living in Athens for a simpler life in this tiny village in the heart of Crete.

In short, Thronos and Aravanes together make a wonderful place, one of the most memorable stays I have experienced in a lifetime of wandering around the world. I recommend it highly to anyone who is a traveler rather than a tourist, and whose appreciation of local culture goes beyond a superficial zooming through the Top Ten sights in the guidebook.

Room Tip: All have great views
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  • Stayed: September 2015, traveled with family
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4  Thank Sweetkoshka
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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11 - 17 of 24 reviews

Reviewed September 29, 2013

The rooms were sad the bathrooms were dirty The food was just ok. The town has nothing to offer If your planning a treck up psiloritis dont do it from here Your much better off trecking from the other side. This amari valley route is unmarked and dangerous at times You are much better off following the E4 trail past the Zeus cave As far as the hotel Tab goes every meal had a few euros added to it and we were charged a fee for leaving early When we checked in we said 2 or MAYBE 3 nights The owner said he turned away bussiness based on our maybe One of our two nights we stayed up on the mountain so really we were there only one night and paid for 2 and a 1/2 nights The owner was nice but this place is a bit of a trap for travelers Its a long way to travel to get there and in my opinion the only good thing was the view

Room Tip: There are no"nice" rooms here they look like they furnished the place at the flea market
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  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank SCAZMOS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 28, 2013

Was wonderfully peaceful sitting on the terrace looking down at the Amari Valley and seeing Psiloritis and Kedros.

Loved Lambros' broken English signs, and his never missing a point (Taverna, Rooms, Walks, Hikes up Psiloritis, etc).

Would like to come back with a group.

Room Tip: We were only there for an hour or so, but may well come back. Lambros is quite a character! He has...
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  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank JamesHappyWalker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 13, 2012 via mobile

We stayed here for two nights and it was one of our favourite times to get a real feel of life in Crete. The food was delicious and either freshly picked from the garden or bought off other local villagers.
We went on a gorgeous walk kindly offered by the owner free of charge to show us the village, we went herb collecting and he let us pick lots of his organically grown fruit to take with us on our journey.
We were provided with a map to do a 3 hour walk through the beautiful amari valley and the owners dog decided to join us and became our best buddy for the day.
We couldn't have been more welcomed, mr lambros was a lovely genuine

  • Stayed: August 2012
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5  Thank Faye B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 4, 2012

We visited Thronos in late September 2011. Aravanes Rooms are in the middle of a crumbling village. The accommodation was terrible, I am sorry to say. Our bed was cheap and very hard, the carpet was full of stains but the views are spectacular and Lambros is a very nice man. All this for 104 euros!!! including a micro-waved meal. Not the best bargain on Crete.

Room Tip: Sorry but I don,t think there will be one.
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  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank ACJHuddersfield
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 24, 2012

The rooms are basic and overpriced. The taverna produced a tasty meal from local produce but again was overpriced. We had asked the price before hand but were not given one; we felt we had been taken for a ride.
The taverna has an unbelievable setting at the head of the Amari Valley and could provide an excellent base for local touring, but we would not choose to return.
A disappointing experience from a place that promised so much

  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Peterjoybertie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 1, 2011

We visited Aravanes rooms two days in a row. The first day we went for coffee. It was nice, but the prices were very high in comperance with the rest area villages. The second day we went to have dinner in the taverna. We really felt that the owner took advantage of us. He told us that the taverna was open and that he could serve us normal food cause we were really hungry. Half an hour later that we waited there, he told us that he would try to find something to give us eat. At the end, we had food that we didn't want, we weren't even asked about it. We ate frozen food heated in the microwaves and we paid like we have just had the best dinner in a very expensive restaurant. It was really bad management on behalf of the owner, Mr. Labros. We will never visit the place again, that's for sure!

  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Popi P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Aravanes

Address: Thronos, Crete 74061, Greece
Location: Greece > Crete > Rethymnon Prefecture > Thronos
Amenities:
Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 B&Bs / Inns in Thronos
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Traditional rent rooms and taverna in Amari Rethymno Crete. Just 9 kilometers from Arkadi Monastery, near ancient Eleutherna. The place is built at a picturesque village Thronos at the ruins of Ancient Sivritos. It has panoramic view on Amari valley and on Psiloritis ( mountain Ida), the highest mountain of Crete. Most of the rooms are recently renovated and offer relaxing moments to our guests. Visitors can taste genuine Cretan dishes at our taverna. Guests can participate in a wide range of activities such as hiking, collecting herbs and flowers, making bread in the wood oven,wash their clothes in a traditional way using ash,painting lessons,knitting Cretan patterns lessons. A Aravanes is a family business and everyone who seeks a genuine Cretan experience is welcome to share unique moments together!! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Aravanes Thronos, Crete

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