the lux score81
the lux score explained
My husband stumbled on a review of the Kinsterna Hotel when it opened in 2010 and ever since we’ve wanted to visit! Thank goodness we did! The hotel is gorgeous. A Byzantine mansion, with bits of Venetian and Ottoman history too, it has been lovingly restored as a hotel.
The Kinsterna Hotel is located in the beautiful and lesser known mountainous Peloponnese region, commanding views along the coast and down to the medieval town on a rock of Monemvasia. The region is detached from the mainland by the Corinth Canal and the hotel is located on one of the spits of land that extends southwards towards the better known islands of the Aegean. The area is less developed than other bits of Greece and this adds to the charm – you don’t need to look far to agree that the area is famous for its olive and orange groves and there is an array of local tavernas.
It is set around a ‘cistern’ or natural spring – hence the name. Both the Hotel Manager of the mansion and the Executive Director of the mansion spent time with us and shared details about the history and restoration process, and the careful site development that is gradually extending the hotel without removing any charm.
The grounds are beautiful with plenty of history to explore and enjoy. Flowers grow everywhere and the aromas are just divine. View into the hills or down to the sea is stunning, even on a cloudy day.
Driving time from Athens is about 3 1/2 hours, and was easier than we expected with good road for most of the trip and helpful photographic directions provided by the hotel. The views across the Peloponnese mountains are very enjoyable and as Monemvasia comes into view you cannot fail to be impressed!
The hotel staff collect you from the car park and drive you around the property to check-in in a golf-buggy. Check in with complimentary refreshments takes minutes as they have already gathered the information they need.
Much of the hotel is in the mansion house and as a result each room is unique. The hotel design was painstakingly detailed to make the most of historic features (a fireplace, a prison cell, vaulted ceilings) whilst at the same time ensuring comfortable, luxurious and romantic spaces with all the mod-cons one would expect from a hotel of this calibre. There is a mix of rooms and suites and many rooms have little terraces to increase private space.
There is a number of new rooms – the Residences – that are larger than those in the old buildings. We were upgraded to one of these rooms and particularly liked the additional space, massive balcony, all of the ‘Coco-Mat’ and Korres products and the separate dressing room where we could keep all of our things out of sight. The Residences have been built in character with the rest of the property and are a perfect balance of old and new, I worried we might miss out on old-worlde charm, but there is history and uniqueness everywhere and such attention to detail.
The older rooms are a little darker, as windows were smaller in the past, but they have all been cleverly lit and arranged to make the most of the natural daylight and the architecture. All rooms have mosquito nets on the windows as well as shutters to keep out the heat of the sun if need be.
Facilities and activities
Whilst this is a small hotel with only 40 rooms, the facilities are wonderful.
There is free wifi throughout. The spa is very relaxing and has an interesting choice of treatments. We enjoyed a candle massage and the ‘golden spa’ body wrap treatment. Both delivered professionally and in very monasterial surroundings – the spa is on the ground floor and it makes the most of the natural chambers, alongside a plunge pool and relaxing sun-deck outside that you can enjoy after the treatment.
The pools command stunning views and are cleverly fitted onto terraces – one reserved for adults only. There is a pool bar at one and plenty of space between loungers for privacy.
There are plenty of activities on offer. We borrowed bikes and cycled to Monemvasia and enjoyed hiking trails from the hotel. The hotel has a horse and donkey for riding and a choice of low-key day trips can be arranged, reception staff are also very knowledgeable about sensible day trips – for example to Elefanosis island or other cultural sites.
The hotel has its own vineyard and olive grove which you can explore, time a visit right and you can help with the harvest and even the pressing.
There is a lounge area where we enjoyed a relaxed supper one evening when we just wanted a light bite whilst reading our books.
A triumph! We ate at the hotel nearly every night of our stay as enjoyed the food immensely. The head chef George was a pleasure to meet and, again, took the trouble to meet us personally. He was charming and apologised for a ‘small’ menu, as our visit was near the end of the season – which we didn’t feel was particularly restrictive. He offered choices including some of his favourite dishes and was easily able to adapt dishes to meet dietary requirements. George knows the provenance of everything on the menu and works closely with local farms and fishermen to ensure local food – much of the fruit and vegetables we enjoyed were grown in the hotel’s vast kitchen garden. Whilst there were no kebabs on offer, there were other local dishes that were expertly prepared – alongside these were hearty soups, tasty salads as well as fine dining options.
The Kinsterna olive oil is more-ish and the home-baked bread is delicious. And then there is the Kinsterna wine – again, we found all varieties very enjoyable.
There are indoor and outdoor dining options – the weather is changeable in the mountains and the property is set up to cope with all seasons. A Christmas visit here, with open fires available in some rooms, must be incredible!
Breakfast continues the theme – a fantastic spread of local fare as well as additional menu-based options.
Children at Kinsterna Hotel
Children are welcome at the hotel with only one of the pools reserved for adults. The location is captivating for adults and children alike and alongside the activities already mentioned little people can explore the sprawling site, enjoy horse/donkey riding, treasure hunts and there is a baby sitting service on offer as well.
Around The Area
Things to explore in the area – Monemvasia town, the petrified forest, a sunken city, caves and other Byzantine castles. The hotel has pre-arranged visits during the week, but if you prefer to find your own way then the staff are also incredibly knowledgeable about the area and will help you plan days out, even preparing picnics and snacks.
Love and hate
There is nothing to hate: the attention to detail in the restoration and development as well as ever-friendly staff ensures this is the case. Being picky, I would say it would be nice at turn down if little bottles of water were left by the bed. Also we visited at the end of season so development work for next year was just starting.
Hard to say what we loved most. Perfect for visitors who don’t mind driving some distance to find somewhere peaceful and unique, with great service and care and where there is always something to discover and enjoy.