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  • 13 charming traditional cottages
  • Beautiful landscaped gardens
  • Shared swimming pool
  • Walking distance to beach
  • Southern Crete location

Advance Registration... select your dates and reserve your 2023 holiday online, with a fully refundable deposit of £500.

NEW FOR 2022

Enjoying an idyllic position at the foot of the Pefki Gorge and just a 15-minute stroll from the sea, the magical White River Cottages offer an authentic alternative to a mainstream villa holiday. Once a seasonal bolthole for agricultural workers, the modest buildings were abandoned after the second world war and left to fall into a state of disrepair until proud owner Vangelis Mavrakis began the painstaking task of bringing them back to life. Thirty years on, the results are as inspiring as they are beautiful.

Lovingly crafted using local materials, the 13 cottages that make up the estate are set in exquisitely landscaped gardens, nestled into the hillside of the timeless Aspros Potamos Valley near Makrigialos in southern Crete. All have private terraces, some with distant views of the sea across the olive groves, others overlooking the immaculately tended gardens. A series of stone walls cascading with succulents, rosemary and Mediterranean flowers border the pretty paths and steps that connect the cottages to the pool and communal areas, with nothing but the rhythmic chirrup of the cicadas to interrupt the blissful tranquillity that surrounds them.

This enchanting natural environment is heaven sent for relaxation and though these characterful cottages are simply furnished, in-keeping with their humble origins, they are comfortable, cool and well-equipped for daily living. Nothing is too much trouble for the local concierge, Helen, who is on hand daily to offer advice on local trips and excursions and within moments of arrival, the history of this special spot begins to weave its way into your heart and hold you in its spell.

Though the cottages are tucked away, lively Makrigialos is an easy walk away and offers an appealing selection of bars and tavernas along the sea front. The beach here is another draw, though those in search of quieter shores should head for Diaskari a little further east. This glorious stretch of sand feels wild and undiscovered, notwithstanding the really excellent taverna at its entrance. And talking of excellent tavernas, no stay at the White River Cottages would be complete without a visit to the glorious village of Pefki in the mountains above Aspros Potamos. The really energetic will walk up the gorge to get there; more measured souls take a taxi and step out for the spectacular journey back down. Either way a visit to the local taverna is essential when you’re there. With spectacular views out across the sea, Fanis and his team will ensure you experience Cretan hospitality at its very best; unhurried, unpretentious and utterly delicious.

This really is an idyll from another time - created by a true visionary. Though not for those seeking high-end luxury in the most traditional sense, Vangelis understands that sometimes the finer things in life are those with the greatest integrity. We feel certain you will be touched by the sheer beauty of all he has achieved and if you’re after an authentic taste of rural Cretan life, close to a magnificent stretch of sandy coastline, you couldn’t be better placed.

Good to know... All Simpson Travel stays of 3-nights or more at White River Cottages include a complimentary lunch at Piperia taverna in Pefki and dinner at Diaskari Beach.

Explore our pre-bookable experiences in Crete



  • 13 cottages set in landscaped gardens
  • Sage cottages (sleep 2-3)
  • Eucalyptus cottages (sleep 2-4)

All cottages include

  • One bedroom with double bed
  • Sitting room with kitchenette
  • Kitchen area includes fridge/freezer, cooker, 2-ring hob
  • Complimentary WiFi
  • Stone floors and wooden ceilings
  • Marble-floored bathroom, shower and toilet
  • Private veranda with cane pergola shading
  • Direct dial telephone
  • Hair dryer
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Air conditioning unit, fan
  • Room safe (free of charge)
  • Cleaning service and linen changes twice a week
  • Complimentary lunch at Piperia in Pefki
  • Complimentary dinner at Diaskari Beach

Estate facilities

  • Reception and Concierge
  • Swimming pool
  • Pool terrace with sunbeds
  • Outside meeting area with seating
  • Parking
  • Laundry room (use payable locally)

Please note, the nature of the grounds and number of steps at White River Cottages make the property unsuitable for those with mobility issues.


  • All properties with WiFi are able to support basic functionality such as web browsing and checking emails. We aim to offer an uninterrupted service but sometimes, due to factors beyond our control, reliability can be affected.




  • Makrigialos (shops, bars, restaurants and beach) 15min walk
  • Diaskari Beach 7min drive
  • Pefki 15min drive
  • Heraklion airport 1hr 50min drive

Car hire

Car options

Based on the number of people travelling, the following hire car(s) are included in the package price of your holiday:

  • 2-3 guests – 1 Group C2, Fiat Grande Punto or similar*
  • 4 guests – 1 Group D2, Hyundai i30 or similar*

* All our cars include comprehensive insurance with no excess charge. For this particular destination, the undercarriage, tyres, wing mirrors and windscreen are not included in the cover.

Car specification

Group C2 – 1.2-1.4 litre engine, 1 large suitcase*

Group D2 – 1.4 litre engine, 2 large suitcases

The following cars are available as alternatives on request (supplements apply). Please call our travel specialists for details.

Group CA – Automatic Fiat Grande Punto or similar, 1.2-1.4 litre engine, 1 large suitcase*

Group D3 – Skoda Octavia or similar, 1.4 - 2.0 litre engine, 3 large suitcases*

Group DA3 – Automatic Seat Toledo or similar, 1.4 - 2.0 litre engine, 3 large suitcase*

Group L2 – Skoda Yeti or similar, 2.0 litre engine, 3 large suitcases*

* Suitcase sizes are based on a large suitcase being approximately 75cm x 41cm x 31cm, a medium suitcase of approximately 65cm x 46cm x 29cm and a small suitcase of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm.

Our choice of Greek properties is as diverse as the islands themselves, ranging from simple seaside charm to genuine luxury and style. Much of our portfolio is privately owned, and price alone is therefore not a universal guide. We contract all our accommodation in person, and each property has its individual appeal. To help you make the right choice based on your own priorities, we have devised a simple grading guide to be considered in conjunction with each individual property description, awarding up to a maximum of five stars for the below categories.

Grading Help

Property Grading Key:

  • 5/5


  • 4/5

    Very good

  • 3/5


  • Location


    Position, view, serenity, privacy

  • Comfort


    Space, style, overall furnishings

  • Facilities*


    Property enhancements

  • Amenities*


    Proximity to beaches, restaurants and shops

* For further clarification on Facilities and Amenities, please view the 'Details' tab for each property or speak to one of our experienced sales consultants.

The road from north to south Crete takes you on an inspiring journey from the exclusivity of Elounda and the elegance of lakeside Agios Nikolaos into a rugged landscape harbouring the soul food of a simpler life. From gorges and caves to the mountain communities of the beautiful Lasithi Plateau – and then on to the romantically unspoilt beaches and homely tavernas of Myrtos, Makrigialos and Ferma in the south – this is Crete at its most warmly welcoming, without artifice, where you’re a guest and never a tourist.

Discover it for yourself from a handpicked villas in The Gulf of Mirabello & South East Crete.

Read more on our Crete region page

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