Kinsterna Hotel & Spa is a restored mansion originally built in the 18th century around a cistern in the middle of a lush olive and citrus grove near the Byzantine fortress of Monemvasia. These layers of history were integral to the restoration project and the design encourages visitors to seek their own interpretation of the building’s past, as a voyage through time.
Memory, nature and materiality are woven together by highlighting a single architectural element that can be expounded on many different levels. In this case, water is the central theme running through the design. For centuries, water has breathed life into these fertile lands from its source high in the mountains, cascading down a creek and irrigating the fields, before it is channelled into the age-old cistern. Following this path, we extended the natural flow of water, which begins by pooling beneath a cantilevered dining platform, before meandering through the indoor and outdoor spaces and gently spilling into the swimming pool. Here, the water opens up to spectacular views of the surrounding scenery, with imposing Mount Tayetus on one side and fortified, medieval Monemvassia on the other.
In the suites and rooms, the atmosphere of the original building has been painstakingly recreated using traditional construction methods and authentic local materials. The fascinating layering of various building phases is rendered in juxtaposed stonework and thick plaster facing. The ceilings either feature exposed stone vaults, cypress beams or traditional woodwork. Patterns on the interior walls allude to traditional lace-making or demonstrate in-filled vaults and fireplaces. The Spa becomes a cinematic experience, where the guests are guided from the mystical darkness of the reception area and changing rooms towards the sunlight, which generously fills the main area.
The hotels new extension accommodates additional common areas, providing a striking juxtaposition between the historic mansion and it’s reinterpretation in contemporary architecture. Inspiration is taken from the abstract formations found on many of Monemvassia’s old buildings, such as folding tiled roofs and narrow openings, and the evocative lighting effects that such features create.