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Xinara House, a beautifully restored former bishop's home in the heart of rural Tinos

Our Story

Susan at work editted

Peter & Susan Marston  Several years ago London-based Peter and Susan Marston chanced on Tinos Island waiting for a delayed flight at Mykonos. They were curious; travelling the Aegean for years no one had spoken of the beautiful quiet island nearby. Charmed, they viewed impossible ruined houses, then spotted an old mansion in a pretty village, sadly neglected, sheltered beneath a beautiful mountain. It was love at first sight. People said it was the old Bishop's house, unoccupied for decades, and there were 17 shared owners. A year later, somehow, miraculously, the Marstons owned it and work began. And, equally miraculously a year later it opened for visitors. It had become a passion for Peter and Susan, designing, making and creating for the project. Local Tinos people helped and many new friends were made.

Reconstruction  The buildings date from the 18th century. In the 1820s Xinara House was the home of the Cyclades Bishop, Ioannes Kollaros (the house bears his coat of arms). Meticulous restoration was essential, and fortunately Tinos retains marble quarries and exceptionally skilled workers who made the floors, tables and even solid-marble basins for the bathrooms and kitchen. Traditional island pebble-patterns were laid on the terrace (below). The exterior is repainted with natural lime-wash to which is added 'loulaki', old-fashioned laundry blue, in time-honoured fashion. Inside it is refreshed, comfortable and full of light. The project was supported by the EU, and won The Greek Villa Awards for its 'philosophy, aesthetics and services'.

Gardens  Outside on the rebuilt stone terraces stepping up towards the mountain are ancient mulberries (silk was produced at the house), cedars, walnuts, almonds and fruit trees. A vineyard has been planted to produce rosé from 2024, and new vegetable gardens stock the kitchens. Several sheltered sun terraces have been created, and a beautiful wild garden of Mediterranean species is now established on the uppermost terraces, where old tracks lead off round the island.

Environment  Tourism inevitably impacts local communities and the wider environment, so from the start our challenge has been to minimise Xinara House’s effect on these. First was finding a new use for an existing, abandoned buildings rather than building new. We insulated, fitted a heat-exchanger for cooling and heating, our power is with green electricity, and we collect rainwater. A clean mountain spring supplies the taps, we grow organic produce, and minimise single-use plastics. Our lighting is entirely LED. Last but not least, we support local employees.