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Renovated Hotel and Spa in Greece
Kinsterna Hotel and spa honors its past while cultivating its rich present
Cloistered in the rolling hills of Agios Stefanos, just southwest of the ancient island fortress town of Monemvasia, Greece, is a magical place—its centuries-old exterior belying the modern luxury hotel and spa that lies inside.
This retreat, named Kinsterna, exudes romance. Bougainvillea clings to its sandstone facade. Panoramic views to the Aegean Sea also take in vineyards, olive groves, and citrus orchards. The scent of evening primrose floats in the air.
Opened in 2010 after six years of renovations, the hotel was a labor of love for owner Antonis Sgardelis, who spent his childhood in the nearby village of Koulentia and went on to study civil engineering at the National Technical University of Athens.
“Old buildings are our living history,” says Sgardelis, for whom this centuries-old structure—named for the ancient cistern around which it is built—and its surrounding countryside hold a special allure.
Photography: John Bessler
Working with Nikolas Travasaros of Divercity Architects, Sgardelis referenced the property’s 13th-century origin for inspiration—layering Byzantine, Ottoman, Venetian, and modern Greek influences to create interiors that feel as authentic as they do soothing. “The layers of history were integral to the restoration project,” Travasaros says. “The design encourages visitors to seek their own interpretation of the building’s past—as a voyage through time.”
Vaulted ceilings lined with kalami—a bamboo-like material that was used in traditional Greek houses—add warm texture. A palette of gray and olive green mimics the surrounding landscape and offers a serene backdrop for relaxation. Honoring history is important here, but pampering guests is the ultimate goal.
Modern elements mingle with the past here. In a junior suite, a fireplace traced to the Ottoman Empire—its chimney and decorative medallion original to the structure—was the first detail to be painstakingly restored. Its aged gray stone now interacts elegantly with an etched-lace treatment on a nearby wall. “Kinsterna treats the experience of staying in a hotel as a trail of discovery,” Travasaros says. “The layering of various historical building phases is made visible by juxtaposed stonework and thick plaster facing.”
Divercity Architects drew from the property’s 13th-century origin for design inspiration.
So while many guests enjoy day trips to nearby Monemvasia, others take advantage of Kinsterna’s more arcadian side. Designed to literally lead guests from darkness into light, the full-service spa originates in a dark reception area and ultimately opens onto a terrace dappled with sunlight.
Modern amenities merge with historical inspiration in the spa.
An asymmetrical infinity pool, fed by the cistern, begins as a narrow channel and slowly bends and widens, finally emerging within a citrus grove with views of the sea. Elsewhere, walking paths colored by bougainvillea and hibiscus flowers meander through the enchanting property, winding through orchards filled with fig, lemon, orange, pomegranate, and olive trees.
The spa’s outdoor area encourages total relaxation.
At the heart of the hotel is its namesake, a crystalline cistern around which cantilevered platforms have been built for dining. In the evenings, warmed by open-air fireplaces and entranced by the glow of the water, guests sip wine from Kinsterna’s vineyard and nibble on Mediterranean cuisine made with ingredients grown on the property or sourced from local farmers and fishermen—honoring, yet again, this property’s rich history and local roots.
Most of the restaurant’s ingredients are sourced from the hotel’s gardens and vineyards, as well as through local farmers and fishing boats.
A view of the ancient town.
Meandering paths reveal hidden wonders.
The Kinsterna Hotel is near Monemvasia, Greece, on the southeastern tip of the Peloponnese. For more information or to make reservations, visit kinsternahotel.gr or call +30 27320 66300.