Hotel of the Week: This Greek Retreat Astounds with an Unconventional Take on Cycladic Style
Tucked into the mountainous Peloponnese region, Manna Arcadia offers serene accommodations, a tranquil spa, and garden-fresh gourmet meals from award-winning chef Athinagoras Kostakos
Deep in the mountainous Peloponnese, where ancient fir trees stand as guardians of time, Manna Arcadia, a member of Design Hotels, emerges as a singular sanctuary that stands out among conventional paradigms of Greek design and hospitality. The newly inaugurated hotel, housed in a forsaken tuberculosis sanatorium built in the 1920s, serves as a gateway to Greece’s lesser-known alpine splendors.
The edifice itself is an enigma, exuding a Hapsburgian grandeur rather than the expected Hellenic neoclassicism. It exists in a temporal duality, oscillating between its historical role as a home for the infirm and its contemporary incarnation as a retreat for design aficionados.
“The inspiration to transform the abandoned building into a hotel struck me when I was just 12 years old, when I would sneak in with other kids from a nearby summer camp,” explains owner Stratis Bayatas, whose youthful dream would gestate for three decades before blossoming into reality. Acquiring the property in 2015, Bayatas embarked on an eight-year odyssey—split evenly between bureaucratic navigation and meticulous construction. Collaborating with Greek architectural firm K-Studio and Athens-based Monogon Office for Architecture, the renovation transcended mere aesthetic uplift; it became an archaeological excavation into the building’s very essence.
What emerges is a grand temple crafted of grey limestone, wood, and mosaic flooring, accented with modern touches of locally sourced stone and terrazzo. The 32 guest rooms, including six expansive suites, evoke the loft and whimsy of rustic treehouses—particularly those perched on the upper floors. These spaces are adorned with high ceilings, terrazzo and marble flooring, and original metalwork that serves as visual annotations.
Iron doors with ornate muntins and chocolate-rich walnut panels serve as visual footnotes, while works of art by Greek painter Nikos Kanoglou, British artist Joanna Burtenshaw, and French sculptor Diane Alexandre add layers of complexity to the room’s visual matrix. Lighting by the acclaimed Eleftheria Deko—whose works also illuminate the Acropolis in the capital—establishes an ambiance that feels as if each ray of light were channeled from the peaks of Mount Olympus in a celestial choreography.
The exterior spaces, too, are transformative. Landscape architect Elli Pangalou’s gardens and lily pond function as launching points for adrenaline-fueled adventures beyond the hotel’s confines, whether it’s a springtime trek to the cliffside Monastery of Prodromos, a winter ski excursion, or summertime rafting down the rapids of the Lousios.
Year-round, stargazing becomes an astral pilgrimage, revealing the Milky Way and the cosmos in awesome clarity. Complementing these outdoor experiences is the Manna Wellness Hub, a subterranean haven replete with a cave pool, sauna, hammam, and a cutting-edge gym—each element meticulously designed to rejuvenate both body and spirit.
Culinary indulgence at Manna is nothing short of a communion with the Earth. At the helm is award-winning Greek chef Athinagoras Kostakos, whose seasonal menus are a tribute to the bounty of Arcadian soil. The apothecary-style bar in the lobby, a nod to the building’s medicinal past, is the ideal bookend for a meal in Kostakos’ dining room. Curated by award-winning bar manager Athanasios Katsoulas, the drinks menu features a wide selection of malt whiskies and spirits, infused with fresh herbs from the Menalon highlands and locally made fir honey.
In an era increasingly disconnected from its origins, Manna Arcadia offers a profound existential recalibration. “I want guests to experience the Arcadian ideal—an unspoiled, pastoral utopia where humans live in harmony with nature,” Bayatas reflects. “It’s a concept as timeless as the land itself.”
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