If you’re considering a break in Greece and are searching for tranquillity away from the bustling tourist resorts of the well-known islands, then somewhere you may not have thought about is the remote yet beautiful region of the Peloponnese. Our recent trip here started in a tiny village called Kitta (Koita), around 2.5 hours drive from Kalamata Airport.
The landscape is carved out of overpowering rugged mountains, with bumpy winding roads and epic views at every turn. We stayed three nights at a unique family run hotel named Citta Dei Nicliani, it is a delightfully restored fortified tower, which is typical to Mani’s architecture and dates back to the 11th Century. The restoration is distinctive and was overseen by the family, who as a collective, run this first class hotel successfully today.
The hotel was a project that started back in 2009, converting what was a classic olive oil mill. Thanks to Tanya, the mother and of course hotel co-owner with a background in interior aesthetics, there is a unique air of chicness with a clear passion for fine living spaces. Citta Dei Nicliani really is an oasis that deserves every single star of its TripAdvisor 5 star rating.
Our grande ground floor room formed part of the original 11th Century building with stunning monolithic walls, it also has an adjoining shower room and a spare double bed in the loft – the space could easily accommodate a family of four if touring the region with kids. Amenities were adequate with a mini bar, free WiFi access, wide screen TV and air conditioning.
In 2013, the hotel built a separate glass walled lounge for guests, perfect for relaxing in and to utilise this wonderfully tranquil space, it also doubles up as an intimate dining area for those who choose it or when the weather turns a little chilly.
The hotel has a couple of bikes on standby if you fancy exploring the region by road but beware, there are many hills to negotiate so it’s not for the faint hearted. Wine tasting and olive oil pressing are all activities you can partake in and the family are happy to organise these experiences for you. Other activities in the local area include horseback riding, hiking and walking but if you are in search of more civilisation, the hotel is just 22 km away from Areopoli where you’ll find a pretty town with a relaxed vibe and an array of restaurants as well as cocktail bars that can be found nestled amongst the narrow cobbled streets.
A fabulous asset of the hotel boasts an incredible chef named Ilias, who is the father and other hotel co-owner. An ex-civil engineer, Illias has a unique gift to create exquisite dishes and turn them into an unforgettable gastronomic experience. We would thoroughly recommend dining at the hotel wherever you can, as you will be hard pushed to find food as good anywhere else.
We ‘dined in’ every night and we loved that the menu is completely tailored to your tastes and preferences. Guests are advised to place their dish choices for supper in the morning after breakfast, otherwise there is a mouth-watering menu to choose from. The menu is packed with incredibly fresh local ingredients that tend to change on a regular basis depending on what is available.
On the first evening we were blown away by the sea bass ceviche bursting with zesty flavours – we loved it so much we requested it again the following evening! The seafood risotto was changed to a shrimp orzo dish, which was felt a more traditional dish to try and we were not disappointed, in fact, it was refreshing for someone to recommend a different dish, and something I had not tried before. If you are a foodies (like us!) in the hands of a fantastic chef you can only triumph by experiencing their talents as well as recommendations.
On the second night, Ilias recommended the orange salad to start with, which was divine and was complimented by the capers thrown in for good measure. Overall these stunning culinary experiences have given us inspiration to try these delicious dishes at home so watch this space, although I’m not entirely convinced we will get anywhere near the fresh ingredients that can be found here but we will certainly try!
Hospitality and front of house is laid on by Panos, the son in the family, who has a clear passion for every guest’s enjoyment. His local knowledge is second to none and he will create a tour of the region based on your individual tastes, he will also ensure your dietary requirements are noted as well as sourced for your pleasure at mealtimes. He even provided a wine tasting lesson where we were able to sample some of the best local wines of the region, available upon request.
With hundreds of kilometres of windy and coastal roads as well as unmade tracks to discover, the local area is vastly popular with hikers from around the continent. In fact you are close to three beautiful trails worth visiting, The Canyon Karavostasi, Canyon Mylolagkado and Panagia Spileotissa. Visitors to this region really are spoilt for choice when it comes to ancient monuments too and spectacular sights, some that will be harder to find than others. Head out on almost any road and you’ll soon find yourself face to face with fascinating history dating right back to ancient Greece, Romans and of course Byzantines.
To summarise, this hotel offers a warm and intimate setting with a gorgeous family at the helm ensuring your stay is designed perfectly for you. Each member has a unique strength, which they play to your advantage so you get the best service, experience and hospitality. Without doubt this is one of the finest small luxury hotels we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing and we hope to be back for sure!
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