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

Our Story

susan at work

Peter & Susan Marston  Five 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 next to Mykonos. 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, but no one had lived there 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.

History  In the 1800s Xinara House was the home of Cyclades Bishop, Ioannes Kollaros (the house bears his coat of arms) and meticulous restoration was essential. 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 are laid on the terrace. 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.

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 2023, 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. Like finding a new use for abandoned buildings, which we insulated and fitted with a heat-exchanger for cooling and heating, and power with green electricity. And we collect rainwater, use a mountain spring, grow organic produce, and avoid single-use plastics. Our lighting is entirely LED. Last but not least, we support local employees.

Xinara House Tinos - our story