We spent the first week of August 2013 at the Imperial Studios (myself and two teenagers). This was our first visit to Crete and we selected Imperial Studios on the basis of the Tripadvisor reviews. Generally the reviews here are really accurate and give a very fair idea of what to expect. If you want a busy, lively resort with lots of entertainment, activities and 5 star accommodation this is not for you. If you would like somewhere sufficiently small that you can get to know your hosts and fellow guests; where the service is truly personal without being over-bearing; where you can eat beautiful, locally grown and home cooked food and where you can spend time reading and sunbathing (sun or shade) round a lovely clean, quiet, DEEP pool then Imperial Studios are for you.
Georgio is the "front of house" man and a great host. Nothing seemed too much trouble for him. Zac his brother does the cooking and he is a great cook. We quickly decided that the food at the Imperial was more delicious and better value that places in Amoudara and the evening meal times and evenings in the bar are very sociable and family friendly. We ate there 3 or 4 evenings and Zac fires up the wood-fired oven if there is sufficient demand. We had a beautiful beef stifado one night and roast chicken another. We also had chicken fillets another evening - delicious. Have to say that the Greek salad at Imperial is the best I've ever had - absolutely gorgeous - never tasted feta cheese like it. Very healthy eating all round. Zac's chips also great.
We had booked a studio for 3 but for the first 3 nights we were able to stay in the large apartment on the top floor. This is very spacious (two rooms, dining table and chairs, 3 balconies). We didn't need air con there even in August as there is always a "breeze" (gale force wind) that keeps the apartment fairly cool. Kitchen utensils negligible in either of the rooms that we stayed in.
For the last 4 nights we were in the one room we had really booked. This was on the first floor and we needed to pay extra for the air con to sleep comfortably (8 euros per night). This was a very small room with a one ring electric hob, fridge and sink but not table or much in the way of cooking utensils. I managed cheesy pasta a couple of times but washing up is tricky without a draining board (and I had not taken tea towels - a must).
TV didn't work in either of the rooms we stayed in but as we only slept in the rooms this was not an issue.
Beds made every day; good quality bed linen and towels. Pretty clean but not spotless - that said any grubbiness was merely dustiness and the bathrooms were properly cleaned every day. Our toilet broke one day (flooding from underneath) and Georgio had it fixed before we even returned to the room from the pool (I would say within about 2 hours). I thought this was really impressive.
For what we wanted and could afford we could not have improved on Imperial Studios as a place to stay. I would definitely go back!! My teenage children loved the pool, the food and the pool table. They really liked Georgio and Zac - they too would definitely go back (NB free wi-fi in bar and pool area).
As for the "resort" itself - there really isn't much to do apart from the beach which is Ok but not stunning (lots of waves for body boarding etc).. Amoudara is probably an excellent base if you hire a car (which we didn't do) as it is quite central and just off the main northern motorway which links up Heraklion and Chania etc. We used public transport extensively to go into Heraklion (bus stop at the end of the street; buy your tickets in advance from the supermarkets on the main street as its cheaper - 1.50 Euros per trip but 2 if you buy on the bus). However the bus journey into Heraklion is rather tortuous and slow even though the distance is not far and you need to get into Heraklion to go anywhere else (e.g., buses to Rethimnon, Agios Nikolaos).
We took trips to Rethimnon and Agios Nikolaos - easy to do from the bus station in Heraklion (the one at the port) and pretty cheap (around 7 euros each way for each of us). The bus journeys to both were about 1.5 hours. You can buy your tickets on the bus and they are very frequent. Both places are well worth a visit - particularly Agios Nikolaos which is stunning, has a lovely beach in walking distance of the town and great restaurants (we ate at Pelagos and it was absolutely fantastic in every respect).
Depending on how you book to get to Imperial (you can do it directly with Georgio, see http://imperialhotelzacgeorgio.co.uk/) it is probably not worth paying for an expensive transfer to and from the airport at Heraklion. It took us about 20 minutes in the minibus that we had paid highly for but in fact the number 6 bus that links Amoudara to Heraklion actually starts from the airport so you could probably do a return journey on the bus for 3 or 4 Euros per person. Otherwise a taxi would also be a cheap option.
Finally, I can't over-emphasise the generosity of Georgio and Zac who treat you like guests of the family rather than people to make money from. We had countless drinks as gifts and Georgio gave us a bottle of his own olive oil as we left. Wonderful people.
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- Also Known As:
- Imperial Studios Crete/Amoudara