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

Our Story

susan at work

Five years ago London-based Peter and Susan Marston stumbled on Tinos Island by accident while 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 a grand 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 with the project and many new friends have been made.

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 now refreshed, comfortable and full of light.

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 and new vegetable gardens stock the kitchens. Several sheltered sun terraces have been designed, and a beautiful wild garden of Mediterranean species is now established on the uppermost terraces where old tracks lead off round the island.