This month sees the completion of a major renovation of a historic house on the lesser-known island of Tinos in the Greek Cyclades. Xinara House, which is now available to rent, has been restored with quirky decorative pieces, colourful flashes and fabrics and contemporary art, including work by Andy Warhol, Gilbert & George and Dan Hillier and a Rachel Whiteread sofa in the entrance hall.
Sleeping up to 13, Xinara House is in the centre of a traditional island village beneath the rocky Exomvourga Mountain, a ten-minute drive from both the beach and Tinos Port with its market, shops and restaurants. A former Bishop’s house and still bearing his coat of arms from the 1800s, the house had been neglected for over a decade, before being bought and renovated by current owners, English designers Peter and Susan Marston. Working closely with local skilled workers they have incorporated marble floors, solid marble basins, tables and traditional pebble patterned terraces to create a light-filled house full of colour, quirky character and authentic Tinos touches.
Tinos is a 30-minute ferry ride from Mykonos, but has completely escaped mass tourism. The island, which is 50km long, has great beaches and restaurants, pretty whitewashed villages, a proliferation of ancient decorated dovecotes and time-worn donkey tracks. It is home to the church of Panagia Evangelistira, a Greek Lourdes, with an icon venerated by pilgrims who travel from all over Greece and can often be seen crawling the 500m uphill from the harbour to the church.
The house has five double rooms (plus sofa beds to sleep an extra three) – all individually decorated with a mix of contemporary furniture and characterful flea market finds together with Greek inspired fabrics. The traditional Greek kitchen has yellow walls and green painted cupboards, the chill room has brightly patterned cushions on blue sofas and decorative art pieces, Apple TV and a three metre cinema screen. In a nod to its location, the doors to the sitting room are painted the traditional “laundry” blue. A large studio is located in the next door ex-blacksmiths’ with its own small kitchen with lime green painted woodwork. The bathrooms are modern with hand-made fittings with solid marble basins and floors.
Outside there is a large terrace surrounded by walnut, almond and lemon trees with seating, shaded dining table for ten, a hammock and a wood-fired oven. The garden is filled with ancient olives, cactus and citrus trees and guests can help themselves to produce from the vegetable garden. Tinos has good wine with a couple of rare ancient varieties of grape that survived the arrival of phylloxera.
Xinara House provides breakfast and local cooks can do evening meals using local fish, meat, cheeses and vegetables.
Prices start from £683 (Euros 756) for one week in the Blacksmiths’ House sleeping 2-3 people, in low season. The whole Xinara House including the Blacksmiths’ ranges from £2,049 (Euros 2,268) in low season to £9,323 (Euros 10,318) for one week sleeping 13 people, in high season. For more information visit www.xinarahouse.com.
10 December 2018