You’ll feel a bit like an extra in Star Wars when you arrive at Domes Noruz, the latest opening in Marriott’s boutique-style Autograph Collection. The weird and wonderful sand-coloured, adobe-esque desert architecture is a dead ringer for Mos Eisley’s Cantina, the Star Wars bar frequented by freaks, geeks and aliens that was shot in Tunisia.
But this isn’t Tunisia, or Tatooine – it’s Crete. Like the island in general, this hotel takes its cues not exactly from different solar systems but from Africa, the Middle East, Venice and Turkey, as well as Greece. Rather than space travellers, the denizens here are well-to-do, mostly middle-aged, Northern European couples, as it’s an adults-only affair.
With two large pools and a raft of sun loungers on the beach, it’s all about relaxing, and the staff try and make that dream come true with free cherry juice, towel service, magazines and books to read, and personal lockers in which to keep your stuff safe while you go for a swim.
The restaurant, Zeen, comes with al fresco tables and sea views. While the seafood I tried here wasn’t mind-blowing, the rack of lamb and the salads were delicious. If you like cheese you’re in the right place – almost everything comes topped with it, and it’s all to die for.
Set beside one of the pools, the Raw Bar does sushi by night, but instead I lunched here twice; the falafel wrap and courgette sliders both made for ideal poolside snacks.
There’s little to distract you in the immediate vicinity apart from a beautiful beach that curves all the way round a bay, framing views out to the water and the craggy coastline.
You’re in Crete’s second city, Chania, but out on its lightly-developed western fringes. It’s not a luxury hotel out on its own (like the other Domes property on the island, along the coast in Elounda), rather it’s in the midst of a cluster of other hotels and apartments along the front. But that does mean there are a few shops and tavernas nearby and that connections are easy – a cheap and frequent bus (No 21, €1.20) whisks you to the centre of Chania, where you can stroll around the Old Town and eat at a taverna cheek by jowl with the Venetian city walls. I had dinner at Strata where the lamb klefitko (baked with, yes, more cheese) is something to write home about.
Domes Noruz’s trump card is its rooms. Mine, a Sublime Loft overlooking the pool, was one of the homeliest and best designed rooms I’ve stayed in for some time.
The interiors take their cues from Aztec art, from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mexico-meets-minimalism ethos, from temples and totems. It’s warm, welcoming, luxurious but not showy. There are plenty of cushions for comfort, and the bed is up on an impressive glass-walled mezzanine from where you can survey the scene.
Some rooms get terraces with private plunge pools, but on my balcony I had an al fresco bath instead. The bathrooms themselves were surprisingly cramped, but you do get two toilets. There’s also a spa and a gym on site too.
Domes Noruz, An Autograph Collection Hotel, Strati Pantelaki 5, Agioi Apostoloi, Chania, Crete, Greece (00 30 28 215 05900; marriott.com). Doubles from €132, B&B.
Destinology (destinology.co.uk) offers seven nights at Domes Noruz from £499 per person in spring 2017, including B&B in an Upbeat Retreat Pool View with plunge pool and flights from Stansted to Chania with Ryanair.
Access: four wheelchair-accessible rooms