Kinsterna Hotel in the hills of Monemvasia is a truly amazing place. I have seen a lot, and to me this is definitely one of the most beautiful luxury hotels in Greece. The main building is an immaculately restored 13th century manor. Its historical character is celebrated in every detail, and jazzed up by some striking modern elements in the interior design. Spring water snakes through the property, into the partially covered old cistern in the central terrace, and on towards a long L-shaped swimming pool surrounded by fruit trees. With three-dimensional lace stencilling on the walls, each one of the luxury rooms, suites, residences and even villas impresses in its own way. In the oldest parts of the Kinsterna property, cosy “Byzantine” suites have dome-shaped ceilings. Others have unique features: an original Ottoman fireplace in one, the old dungeon (!) in another. Newly added residences have the charm of the old with a few modern twists. I’ve stayed in two different top-floor suites, both very impressive, looking out over the hills, the sea and the castle rock of Monemvasia as well as in one of the new residences, with sea views as well, and with a slightly more playful decor. Beds are incredibly comfortable and bathrooms have a luxurious feel. All that, and the amazing food, is plenty of indulgence for me, but there is also a top-notch spa and a fantastic swimming pool to tempt you even further.
In a place like Kinsterna Hotel, aesthetics, luxury, gastronomy and service of the highest level are a given, but the calm atmosphere, the friendliness and the beautiful historical details throughout the property made it memorable to me.
Set a little higher up on the hillside, away from the coast, the area is wonderfully quiet, but you do absolutely need a car to go around and explore. There are a few beaches not too far away, but the better beaches require more of a drive.
21 residences for up to 2, 3 or 4 persons
2 villas for up to 6 persons
The two villas share a swimming pool.
En-suite bathroom (shower)
Small sitting room with a fireplace
Traditional taverna (open twice per week during the summer season)
Two outdoor swimming pools (one for families, one for quiet grown-ups only)
guided tours of the property
horse-drawn carriage rides
traditional cooking classes
grape harvesting and wine making (late August to end of September)
tsipouro production (selected October weekends)
olive harvesting and olive oil production (October to December)
art of weaving at the old traditional wooden loom
soap making (spring)
Special facilities and activities for children:
babysitting on request
Kinsterna Hotel has its own olive trees, organic vegetable gardens and fruit trees, and you can expect lots of fresh seasonal produce on your plate. Breakfast is served between 8 and 11 am – you can either help yourself from a buffet, or order à la carte. I didn’t find it easy to choose as I was tempted by almost everything on offer: cheese pies, eggs, crispy bacon, all sorts of bread, crepes, waffles, yoghurt, fruit salad and more!
The gastronomic feast continues throughout the day and evening. The “All Day Restaurant” serves local specialties prepared with garden vegetables and fruits, free range meat and other local products. For an even more refined dining experience, the “Kinsterna Restaurant” offers a seasonally varied gourmet menu. I can’t remember what exactly I had for dinner, but I do recall it was a lot, and really delicious! As was the wine, from Kinsterna’s own vineyards.
Children are welcome at Kinsterna. Even though the hotel is the perfect luxury destination for romantic escapes or spa breaks for couples, it is also family-friendly, and the larger suites and the villas are well laid-out for family holidays. Your children will definitely enjoy the swimming pool, donkey rides, stargazing, gardening, walks through the hills and swimming at nearby beaches. They can also ride bicycles, help with the olive harvest in the autumn and pet farm animals. There is an outdoor playground and an indoor playroom with boardgames and toys.
The hotel also offers babysitting services on request.
Explore the castle city of Monemvasia: stroll through the cobbled lanes, climb up to the ruins on the 6th century castle, dip into the sea from one of the rocks, and check out the little shops and cafés.
Walking and hiking
Go and explore, on foot. There is a network of trails and paths around Monemvasia, and many walking routes are signposted. Ask the hotel for a map. One beautiful six km walk takes you from Kinsterna through olive groves, hills and mountains, past gorges, streams and small waterfalls to the village of Koulentia (Elliniko on the map). There’s also a fantastic ten km hiking route by the sea, starting from Agios Fokas and ending at the cave of Kastania.
Walk, cycle or drive down to the sea (2 km) – there are several small sandy beaches. A short drive north, about 15 minutes, Kastraki is one of the better local beaches. For a real beach treat, plan a day excursion to the island of Elafonisos. A beautiful 30-minute drive over the mountain, a ten-minute ferry crossing and a less-than-ten minute drive on the island and you’re on Simos beach, famed for its fine white sand and lagoon-like waters.
Local guides organise trips, and take small groups around the rock of Monemvasia and beyond, snorkelling and picnics included.
Grab a bicycle and cycle to the rock of Monemvasia or follow tracks and country roads to explore the coast and the countryside.
Treat yourself to a fantastic full-body massage in the spa. The ‘menu’ also features facials, body treatments, manicure, pedicure and hydrotherapy. Conclude with a drink in the outdoor Jacuzzi with views over Monemvasia. Oh bliss!
Kinsterna is also a working organic farm and you can join in some of the activities. Come in September to help harvesting grapes and participate in the traditional pressing of the grapes. In October there are a few weekends where you can learn how tsipouro (a mean Greek spirit!) is produced in an old Ottoman cauldron dating from 1890. During the period of the olive har
vest (between October and December) you can watch how organic olives are cold-pressed in the historical stone mill to produce fresh olive oil (agoureleo), and help bottling olives following Kinsterna’s own recipe.
Take a donkey ride, or a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. Learn how to make soap (seminars organised in spring). Sign up for a private wine tasting session to learn about local grape varieties and sample the finest regional wines. Learn to how make bread in a traditional wood-fired oven. Try your hand at the weaving loom. Or sign up for a fishing trip.
Kinsterna Hotel is only a few kilometres away from the castle rock of Monemvasia. It’s in a quiet spot in the hills amidst olive groves and vineyards, from where it overlooks the sea and Monemvasia. The sea and places to swim are near, and if you drive a bit further you will find some excellent beaches. Kinsterna Hotel offers a boat service to take you (in 40 minutes) a beach which can only be reached from the sea.
It is approximately a three to four-hour drive from Athens to Monemvasia (via Korinthos, Tripoli and Sparta). In Sparta follow signs for Gythio and after 24 km (about 18 km before Gythio) you turn left towards Krokees and Skala. You follow the main road from Skala towards Monemvasia (50 km). From Monemvasia take the coastal road south, first following signs for Neapolis then, after about 4 km, for Agios Stefanos. 1.5 km further on, turn right at the sign for Kinsterna Hotel. The last 2 km are on a narrow and partly unpaved country road.