Citta dei Nicliani

Koita, Peloponnese, Greece Book from

Reviewed by Jane Foster
Great rates and food at this rustic-chic boutique hotel in an 18th-century tower house in the Deep Mani
Run by the Sepsas family - Ilias and Tania, and their son Panagiotis - this small hotel in the southern Peloponnese is a treasure. Back in 2006, after several years of living and working abroad, Ilias purchased a stone tower house dating from 1750 in his native Mani. A careful and sensitive renovation project ensued, along with the addition of an extension in traditional Maniot style, and a 7-room boutique hotel was born.

As you step through the arched entrance into the cobbled courtyard, peace and harmony prevail. A stone terrace - with white canvas director's chairs and sunbeds, a shallow pond, bougainvillea, cacti, fragrant lavender bushes, terracotta urns and the family cats - affords blissful views over the surrounding olive groves. And you couldn't ask for a more dramatic location. Here in the shadow of the rugged heights of Mt Taygetus, the Deep Mani is stark, rocky and totally unspoilt. Koita is one of the region's oldest and best-known villages, famed for its traditional Maniot tower houses, built by feuding families between the 14th and 19th centuries. Today, it couldn't be more tranquil - and neither could this hotel.

Highs

  • A beautifully restored building, with a serene outdoor space
  • Just 7 romantic rooms, combining historic details with modern comforts
  • Excellent value
  • Delicious, traditional food prepared from fresh regional produce, and widely recognised as one of Greece's Top 10 Hotels for wine
  • The Deep Mani is wild and unspoilt, offering a total escape from commercial tourism. Come here to hike, bike and relax

Lows

  • No pool or jacuzzi but you're near beaches
  • Koita is well off the beaten track and poorly served by public transport, so you'll want a car
  • You'll need to book well in advance during the main holiday season
  • No bathtubs or twin rooms

Best time to go

For an active holiday of hiking and mountain biking, spring or autumn are the best times. The weather should be warm and sunny, and you're more likely to find cheap flights during these periods. If you're brave you'll also manage to swim in May, though locals generally wait 'til June. Although the Mani remains relatively off the beaten path, it is popular with Greek visitors in peak season (Jul-Aug), when temperatures can soar to over 38C (100F) and the beaches get busy.

Our top tips

Day-trip to Cape Tenaro (aka Cape Matapan), mainland Europe's southernmost point. Hike 45 minutes to the lighthouse, and you'll pass the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon on your way.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 7
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request); restaurants nearby
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

Tania was responsible for the interior design, and the result is impressive: a rustic-chic look with total respect for the historic building, along with contemporary comforts. Each of the 7 rooms is different in terms of layout and furnishing, but all have exposed stone, wooden beamed ceilings, subtle lighting and floors of either wood or terracotta tile. You also get wooden antique furniture, white bed linens by Guy Laroche, and framed etchings on the walls.

Ensuite bathrooms have exposed stonework too, plus tiny mosaic-tile shower spaces, marble washbasins and decent mirrors. The windows throughout are small, which is typical of the Mani, so there's not much natural light, but it means your room stays cool and fresh in summer. Some rooms have terraces.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Phone
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is a treat: each guest gets a platter of traditional Greek dishes, which might include yoghurt with honey, homemade rice pudding with cinnamon, omelette, syglino (Maniot cured ham) and lalaggia (Maniot fried bread). You can eat outside on the stone patio, or in the small dining pavilion - a light and airy space with floor-to-ceiling glazing, stone and brick details, and a wooden beamed ceiling.

Other meals are available on request, prepared by Ilias. The menu changes daily, depending on what's on offer at the morning market, but firm favourites include lobster and lamb tenderloin. We had a lovely pastitsio (oven-baked pasta with minced beef and bechamel) and a bottle of Symmetry red wine from the Zacharias winery in Nemea. The hotel keeps an excellent wine cellar, stocking over 100 quality Greek wines, as well as highly prized vintages from some of the top French estates, such as Domaine Romanee Conti, Château Margaux and Château Lafitte. Panagiotis can advise on wine pairings.

There are good local restaurants; staff can advise.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Hike in the mountains - over 20 marked trails lead to isolated villages and remote Byzantine churches, and there are 2 challenging canyons
  • Borrow mountain bikes and cycle to the windswept Tigani peninsula to explore the ruins of a Frankish fortress
  • Explore the region's medieval tower houses - some of the most notable are in Vathia, midway between Gerolimenas and Cape Tenaro
  • Swim at Porto Kagio, a deep horseshoe bay of emerald-blue water with a fine pebble beach
  • Don't miss Diros Cave near Areopolis (19km) - you enter by boat to see a huge cavern filled with stalactites and stalagmites
  • Panagiotis can arrange a wine-tasting tour of the Nemea region in the north Peloponnese

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Mountain biking
    • Swimming
    • Wine tasting

Kids

Children are welcome, though the ambiance is restful, romantic and sophisticated, and so the hotel is best suited to adults. There are no special facilities for kids.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Premiums have a double bed and a single bed, plus space for a baby cot. The Grande Ground Floor has 2 double beds and space for a baby cot. The Grande has space for a baby cot.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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