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REVIEW: Abaton Island Resort & Spa, Crete

Written by gaytourism

To truly communicate the serenity of Crete’s Abaton Island Resort & Spa, I must first describe the disorganization of the nearby Heraklion Airport.

Landing after a four-hour flight from London in the early hours of a recent Saturday morning, I discovered not enough people patrolling the border. They inspected passports at a snail’s pace, seemingly enjoying the sweaty, impatient frenzy they were whipping up among travelers. There was no queue system in place either: just a scrum of people pressing further and further forward.

As the minutes turned to hours, I began researching taxis to Abaton, with a painful sense of resignation. The property had organized my guest and I transfer, but I doubted it would still be there when we made it to the other side. I began worrying that Crete was too far from home for a weekend break to be worth it. Little did I know scenes such as the below would ultimately prove otherwise.

Beautiful unobstructed views awaited us at the resort | Photo: Author’s own

When finally we made it through, the transfer was still waiting for us. Immediately my worries began to disappear. Furthermore, the gentleman greeting us insisted on apologizing to us for the delay, giving us a taste of the great service to come.

Some 23 blissful air conditioned minutes later we arrived at Abaton, in the town of Hersonissos. After a swift and trouble-free check in, we crashed into bed without really taking in our room or surroundings.

Waking up the next morning, among whiter than white 300 thread count linen, had a cinematic quality to it. (Although I didn’t wake up in a floral shirt). It’s an experience a lot of luxury five star hotels such as Abaton strive to provide, but few pull off. In the first instance, Abaton succeeds because every one of its rooms and suites and villas are ocean-facing.

I think we must’ve fallen asleep without drawing the curtains, because my first observation that I remember was Abaton’s stretch of rugged, private beach and the expanse of ocean beyond. And the color: a comfortingly inevitable shade of turquoise, contrasting with that of our personal pool in the foreground.

Our room’s private pool | Photo: Author’s own

Then, the niceness of the room started to dawn on me. Abaton opened in April, and as such is sparklingly clean, like nowhere I’ve stayed before.

The decor, meanwhile, is box-fresh, modern and minimalist, albeit not in the often soulless sense of young city hotels.

Our room, with its cleansing white and cream color scheme, had plenty of character, most notably in the the elaborate Indian hand-carved headboards, and the charming tiles lining the staircase to a tiny upper level meant for lounging and working. Full marks for the stunning standalone tub that filled up quickly, and the decadent Hermes toiletries.

With under 48 hours to play with, my guest and I doubled down on our commitment to the resort and agreed we would be bad travelers and not leave the premises. Instead, we decided to explore all it had to offer, and we were not disappointed and never bored.

We kicked things off with the first of two leisurely breakfasts, powered by procescco and freshly squeezed orange juice, at the main restaurant, F-Zin Ivy League.

Continental and cooked breakfast options include eggs made to order, countless cheeses and meats and plenty of crisp, fresh filo pastries from the on-site bakery.

Child’s breakfast, adult’s portions | Photo: Author’s own

On the first morning I enjoyed a mountain of fresh fruit and thick, revitalising Greek yogurt. On the second I opted for waffles and pancakes with a scoop of exceedingly good quality vanilla ice cream. This gives something of insight into how things went nutritionally downhill over the weekend.

We then enjoyed a thorough and reenergizing ‘couples’ massage (despite being friends) at the on-site spa. Products are by one of my favorite skincare brands, the delicious ELEMIS. I noted how the sweet, friendly therapists worked in perfect unison, and how time evaporated as it always does when a decent massage takes you out of your own head.

This was followed by a quick go-round in the spa’s stylish Hammam. Then, our treatment room’s own mini sauna and hot tub. We could’ve chilled here for hours. But were anxious to get outside and enjoy some of the glorious sunshine Crete enjoys 300 days a year.

A patch of Abaton’s private beach | Photo: Jamie Tabberer

‘We found a beautiful cove perfect for an awkward, impromptu photoshoot’

While some resorts of its kind boast sometimes eerily perfect sandy beaches, Abaton’s are craggy, meandering and dramatic. And, at times, rocky.

We found a beautiful cove perfect for an awkward, impromptu photoshoot. But because the water was choppy and noisy, we ultimately decided to retire to the outdoor infinity pool to relax instead. Here, attentive staff keep a vigilant but noninvasive eye on guests.

Abaton’s infinity pool | Photo: Jamie Tabberer

Dinner that evening was at WOW Steak & Sushi restaurant, brought with an excuse to dress up. We dined alfresco against a typically lovely sunset.

The light and fluffy pork belly bao buns were a highlight. Meanwhile, the sushi was moreish, and heavy on vibrant seafood and light on rice (try the Tiger Maki). My guest had no complaints about the tender Black Angus rib eye decorated with flakes of parmesan.

Perfect pork belly buns | Photo: Author’s own

The next day, there were more impromptu photoshoots (some female influencers put us to shame) and many more hours of lazing poolside. But eventually, it was time to catch an evening flight back to London.

Our stay was short and sweet, but entirely worth it. I never thought I could become so chilled out within 48 hours. And get this: even the flight back went smoothly!

For more information about Abaton Island Resort & Spa, visit

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