Planning ahead? This lesser-known Crete spot is a great autumn escape

When my boyfriend and I decided we’d spend a weekend in October escaping the harsh UK winter, the Greek island of Crete was an obvious choice. 

Iereptra, the city where we stayed, however, was less obvious.

On the quiet side of Crete, Ierepetra is home to only a smattering of hotels and resorts, despite being one of the hottest places in Europe.

The city, which is one of the southernmost points in Europe, shares a sea with Egypt and has an average temperature of 22 degrees in October, a sharp increase from the UK’s 13 degrees. 

In summer, it’s even better: the city averages highs of 27 to 30 degrees, sometimes even higher.

It’s not just hot, it’s sunny too: before we arrived, it hadn’t rained since April.

And Numo Ierepetra, nestled in this part of the island, is well-suited hotel for a sun-soaked getaway.

The idea behind the resort is to allow guests to feel immersed in nature, without sacrificing luxury – and that it does. 

With the sea on one side and mountains on the other, the resort’s boho vibe is perfectly complemented by the natural landscape. 

Our room was on the ground floor and featured a large sitting area with beautiful full length windows that opened up into a patio where we found our very own private pool.

In the darkness, the lights made the pool look deceivingly inviting – but the temperature of the water did send a sharp shock up my boyfriend’s spine when he decided to go for a late night dip.

On top of that, the resort has all the makings of a traditional Greek village, including a square, an orthodox chapel and cobblestone walkways lined with olive trees.

With an additional two large pools, an outdoor fitness area and a private pebbled beach, the resort is clearly geared towards dry, hot weather, which is exactly what we were expecting.

The whole idea behind the trip was to get some much-needed winter sun – a short but impactful shot of vitamin D just before we headed into the gloomiest months of the year.

Unfortunately, it appeared pretty quickly that we’d brought Manchester’s drizzly weather with us.

It was dark and muggy when we arrived at Numo Ierepetra, which is extremely unusual, even in October.

After a long drive across the island, we were greeted by cheery staff and free beverages, despite it being long past midnight. 

I was beginning to get excited about the long weekend in the sun I’d been dreaming of since the end of summer. 

Rather than being sun soaked, though, we were literally soaked.

But, while the downpour was torrential (the TV was flickering on and off at some points, and the thunder was intense), we found ourselves well-protected from the elements inside a luxury suite, which couldn’t have been better. 

On the first day, we braved the downpour and walked two minutes to the resort’s onsite spa where we enjoyed a 30-minute massage.

We felt so relaxed following the treatment that we booked in for a second massage for the next day – this time a couple’s hot stone massage. 

Following that, we headed to the main restaurant, Tamarisk, where a daily breakfast buffet featuring fresh, local produce and baked goods is served, later opting for room service and a healthy serving of BBC World News, the best programme we could find on our TV. 

That night, we ate in the resort’s second restaurant, Menoa, which serves a Mediterranean and Persian inspired tasting menu, which was insanely good.

In fact, I would go as far as to say I’ve never had better quality food at a resort – leaving a holiday feeling better than when you arrived is sometimes unheard of, especially when we let loose, but following our stay at Numo, I was felt glowing and energised. 

Day two started off rainy, but the weather eventually brightened up. 

We took a windy stroll down the beachfront and, by the time we returned, the sun was peeking out just enough to warrant a (chilly) dip in our private pool. 

I decided to brave an outdoor yoga session, which was challenging but rewarding, even if it was briefly interrupted by the elements. 

That night, we ate at Tamarisk, which has a small but decent menu in the evening, with wine to complement the dishes. 

Afterwards, we were able to watch a film at the resort’s open-air cinema, which had been closed most nights due to the weather.

We cosied up under the stars with a blanket at and a bucket of popcorn each – the perfect way to punctuate our short escape from reality. 

On our last day, Sod’s Law meant that the sun was shining, and the temperature reached 23 degrees. 

With a few hours to kill, I wasted no time, making sure to swim in the sea – my absolute favourite activity – despite the fact the sun had yet to warm up the waves. 

We ate al fresco at Tamarisk for lunch, basking in the sun while devouring pork cutlets and steak, which were beautifully prepared and perhaps the best meals of the whole trip. 

Once we were packed and showered, we headed to The Modern, the lobby-based bar that boasts panoramic views of the resort.

I sipped on a coffee and soaked up the relaxing atmosphere as we waited for our transfer to the airport. 

If it wasn’t for the rain, we’d have ventured out of the resort and spent more time lounging around the pools, maybe even having a go at the scuba diving course that was on offer before sipping cocktails at the poolside bar.

But, to be honest, the rain was kind of perfect: a slow-paced holiday and ample time in my dressing gown was exactly what the doctor ordered, and I had zero guilt about spending hours enjoying the comforts of our room.

Numo is the perfect respite: from our busy lives, from the hustle and bustle of the city and, for us, from the torrential downpour. 

Being at Numo was like being in our own little bubble. It’s hands down one of my favourite places to stay and I would 1000% go again, hopefully next time for a sun-soaked getaway.

Getting there:

Ella stayed at Numo Ierepetra, where double rooms start at £116.98 per night.

Prices to Heraklion, Crete, from London in October start from £57 on Skyscanner.

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