Kinsterna Hotel - A place that makes you happy
There are those places of longing to which one likes to return again and again. For me, the Kinsterna Hotel near Monemvasia is one such place that simply makes me happy. I have already stayed in this luxurious boutique hotel several times, which used to be a manor house in Byzantine times. Nevertheless, there is always something new to discover because the hotel facilities are constantly being expanded.
The drive from Athens airport to Monemvasia (Agios Stefanos) to the southern Peloponnese takes a good three hours and leads through awe-inspiring landscapes. The drivers like to make a stop at a rest stop halfway along the route. Here you can enjoy a coffee on the terrace while marveling at the imposing mountain scenery. "There is a ski resort only 30 minutes from here, and my children learned to ski there," says my driver Aronis, who teaches me a few Greek words on the way back. As tricky as this language is, I aspire to hold at least a simple conversation at some point.
After three hours, it appears in the sea, the mighty, unmissable rock of Monemvasia. The historic, car-free old town is located on the rock, and it is connected with the mainland and the new city by a causeway. Now it is only seven kilometers to the Kinsterna Hotel, my domicile for the next few days.
Delicacies in beautiful nature
In the inner courtyard, which was built around the old cistern (Kinsterna in Greek), I am served refreshments before leaving my luggage in the room in the main building. Room number 31 is a suite - but I'll get to that later. I am expected at the "All-Day-Restaurant" Mouries for a late lunch, which I enjoy on the terrace with the incomparable view over olive groves and vineyards to the Aegean Sea. Pleasant temperatures, no traffic far and wide, and nature everywhere you look.
The Kinsterna Hotel - an architectural masterpiece
This luxurious gem was created - hard to believe - from an old ruin. During the construction of the boutique hotel, care was taken to comply with the historical conditions. The cistern, as mentioned earlier, surrounded by columns right next to the small reception, is the centerpiece of the former country estate. At nightfall, the columns and the small pond are illuminated, creating a wonderfully romantic atmosphere.
The Kinsterna Hotel has a total of 54 rooms, suites and villas in the main and adjoining houses, which are furnished differently and at the same time uniformly in design. Some rooms have an open fireplace for chilly days. Natural materials such as wood, stone, leather, and linen create the interior stylishly without frills. The chic villas and residences are ideal for families or couples with friends.
I am particularly impressed by two designer lamps and, of course, the small balcony in my luxurious suite. "Your room offers one of the most beautiful views in the whole hotel," explains Ismini, the charming marketing manager. So I enjoy my espresso on the balcony. The spacious bathroom is also fantastic, with a shower cubicle and plenty of storage space, simply perfect.
In the evening, after a long time, I treat myself to a fish dish in the Mouries Restaurant, there is a fillet of grouper. The hotel's own wine is served with it. Alexandros, the charming young waiter, persuades me to have a third glass. "In Greece, they say that the person who empties the bottle will soon get married," says he and pours the last drops into my glass. What can I expect now?
The STERNA restaurant recently won the prestigious "Toques d'Or" - the only Greek gastronomy prize awarded by Athinorama magazine. My congratulations go to the friendly chef George Hapsas and his team.
A heavenly greek breakfast
After a wonderfully restful night, I am woken up the following day by the bleating of the sheep. I always look forward to going onto the balcony and taking a deep breath, and off to breakfast, especially in Greece. The breakfast restaurant is relatively new, and when the weather is nice, the guests sit on a terrace with a far-reaching view. A beekeeper explains at the entrance how honey is produced. Of course, this is served with incomparably creamy Greek yogurt and other delicacies, some of which are homemade and organic. "Try the loukoumades, the Greek donuts," recommends Stavros, the good soul at Kinsterna Hotel. Mouth-watering honey doughnuts soaked in hot honey syrup sprinkled with cinnamon and garnished with chopped walnuts or toasted sesame seeds. Delicious and much healthier than the nasty American donuts. The highlight, by the way, is breakfast under a 500-year-old olive tree (Instagram calls!). If you want that, let the staff know ahead of time.
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO TODAY?
Soap making is one of the many traditional activities offered at Kinsterna Hotel. I had already seen this presentation on my last visit in 2018 - but what was new to me was that olive oil is also used to make organic soap. Each guest is allowed to mold their own soap and then take it home when it has dried. You can also watch bread being baked in the old oven - or go horse riding or hiking through the vineyards. The activities at Kinsterna Hotel are incredibly varied.
The sea calls
Now it's off to Elafonissos, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Peloponnese. Ismini drives me to Neapoli, a charming coastal town with a small marina. From here, we take the boat to Elafonissos. On the way, she shows me the hotel's own private beach with sunbeds, parasols, and a service area during the summer months. A shuttle bus brings the hotel guests here for swimming and sunbathing.
Kimo is already waiting at the small harbour of Neapoli with the hotel's own small boat. The guy is again such a likable nature boy who has many talents. I get a basket of provisions and a bath towel, and off we go across the sea, which is a bit rougher today. I don't mind. The view of the dream beach is breathtaking. My expectations are exceeded; in front of us lies the island with rugged hills, a wonderful sandy beach, and turquoise, clear water.
Kimo doesn't take long to jump into the water and dive for the best anchorage. As I said, a nature boy straight out of a picture book. Then it's my turn. I'm almost embarrassed to say that I've never jumped off a boat into the water in my long life. Today is the day! It doesn't look as elegant as Kimo's, of course, but what the hell. I enjoy the wonderfully temperate water with a few swims. After the swim, I am richer by two experiences: 1. I simply have to jump into the sea more often, and 2. my condition has been better before. The next day I put my resolutions into practice and swim a few laps in one of the two infinity pools at Kinsterna. Its water is fed from the hotel's own spring.
Dining like in the old days
After my adventure in and on the sea and a "power nap" in my suite, I treat myself to dinner in the romantic garden of the hotel's own taverna "Linos", right next to the old oil mill, the winepress (hence the name) and the stone-built wood oven. You can't dine more authentically. The taverna is open twice a week in summer. There is no menu; almost all the delicacies come straight from the wood-fired oven. Alexandros is on hand again and remembers that I don't eat meat. "No problem - you'll still leave the taverna with a full belly." And how! My table is set with delicious bread, salad, tzatziki, a spicy cheese dip, and tomatoes in no time at all. Herb potatoes and a kind of vegetable stew follow, so delicious! I don't bother with dessert either; instead, I have a small tsipouro (a sort of grappa) to digest, also made at Kinsterna Hotel.
Enjoying nature and spa
On the last day, two more experiences are on the agenda - a garden tour with Stavros, who simply knows everything about the numerous plants in the hotel garden, and a treatment in the spa. "We have the best olive oil here in all of Greece," Stavros enthuses. He shows me a small garden that provides herbs in the kitchen and bar and all the beautiful flowers and shrubs. I can't get enough of the centuries-old lemon and orange groves, the giant eucalyptus trees, and the glorious colours of the bougainvillea, hibiscus, and the like.
I take a quick look in the small antique shop before heading to the spa, where Panos and Sandra are already waiting for me. For two hours, I have the wellness temple all to myself. I enjoy the hammam and whirlpool and don't want to get off the comfortable, slightly rocking lounger. The whole thing is topped off with a body wrap and a gentle massage. Again, only local products such as olive oil, grapes, and lemons are used. A wonderful feeling of well-being flows through my whole body. I haven't been this relaxed in a long time.
Greek Hospitality at its best
What a wonderful stay at the Kinsterna Hotel! Apart from the imposing architecture and nature, the award-winning gastronomy, and the many excursion possibilities in the Peloponnese, the outstanding service deserves special mention. "Hospitality is simply in our DNA," explains Stavros. There is nothing to add to that. One thing is for sure - this was not my last visit to Kinsterna Hotel.
My tips: Combine a stay at Kinsterna Hotel with a few nights in Athens (worth it!) or a car rental tour of the Peloponnese. Greece gets quite hot in July and August, so I recommend May, June, or September as a travel time.
The Kinsterna Hotel has been many times awarded the "Certificate of Excellence" by Tripadvisor.
Agios Stefanos, 23070 Monemvasia
Tel.: +30 27320-66300
HOW DO YOU GET TO THE KINSTERNA HOTEL?
Arrival by flight to Athens (good and rather cheap connections from Germany with Aegean Airlines or Eurowings, among others) or Kalamata. Transfer to Monemvasia/Agios Stefanos (a good three and a half hours from Athens, just under three hours from Kalamata) to the hotel is best by rental car or booked in advance at the hotel.
Entering Greece - COVID19
You currently have to fill in a so-called "Passenger Location Form" to enter Greece. You will then receive a QR code, which you should have ready when entering the country - together with proof of vaccination. The whole thing goes quite smoothly. For the flight, I got myself an FFP-3 mask, which would provide the best protection against infection. I didn't take the face cover off during the three-hour flight. The usual distance and hygiene rules apply in the hotel. You can find more information here.
A trip to the fortified town of Monemvasia, only 7 kilometres away, is a must. Historic churches, archways, and picturesque alleys with pretty cafés and boutiques bear witness to the past of this historic town. Monemvasia is just a few minutes away by car. Alternatively, you can book a boat trip around the impressive rock at the Kinsterna Hotel.