Retains much of its previous incarnation as an industrial winery, Dexamenes Seaside Hotel is set beachside in Ancient Olympia country, between the forested mountains of Elis and the shimmering expanse of the Ionian. Stroll through the courtyard to the sandy shore, passing huge metallic silos once used to crush grapes and now home to more refined pursuits such as private dinners, art installations, string quartets and – naturally – wine-tasting. The hotel has close to 100 wines on its list so, by the time you bed down in your suite – carved from the very tanks once used for fermentation – you'll have wine on the mind in more ways than one.
Double rooms from £152.50 (€174), including tax at 13.5 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional room tax of €3.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates include a daily Greek breakfast.
Dexamenes is a hotel that wears its art on its sleeve. Local artists regularly curate exhibitions and installations in the gallery and silo (hanging lamp that doubles as a playable musical instrument, anyone?) and there are exclusive ceramics and jewellery pieces, also designed and made locally, available in the little gift shop.
November to March
At the hotel
Restaurant and bar, gift shop, free WiFi, free beach loungers and parasols. In rooms: Double bed with Coco-Mat mattress, Nespresso coffee machine, minibar, flatscreen TV, beach towels, private patio, bathroom with shower, dual sinks, bathrobes, slippers and Zealots of Nature toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
The singular experience of sleeping inside a 1920s wine tank is likely to be memorable whichever suite you choose (assuming of course that you’re into industrial concrete minimalism), but only Beachfront WineTank Suites promise a sea view. And what a view it is: horizontal blocks of ochre sand, azure sea and deep indigo sky that – framed through huge glass patio doors – look for all the world like a Rothko painting. But our favourite has to be the grand neoclassical Beachfront Villa, previously a wine chemistry lab, now reimagined as a 10-person standalone stay.
Elis is the region of Greece that birthed the Olympics, so now might be a good time to steep yourself in the country’s rich history. You could finally get round to the Herculean task of reading The Odyssey. Or, perhaps less dauntingly, lose yourself among the ancient ruins with Mythos, Stephen Fry’s audiobook retelling of the Greek myths.
Over-12s are welcome at adult pricing; the Beachfront Villa allows children of all ages. All other suites are adults (over-12s) only and have a maximum occupancy of three people (one on a sofa bed).
Extensive reuse of original materials from this industrial 1920s winery has kept the environmental impact of Dexamenes Seaside Hotel’s luxury upgrade to a minimum. Here you’ll walk over floors that used to be walls, and there steady yourself on handrails made from reclaimed water pipes. Even the slab-like stepping stones across the decorative courtyard pools enjoyed a previous life as wine-tank walls.
The courtyard has a buzz about it, especially come evening, but we loved the intimacy of the far corners of the former engine room.
Cool and calm.
The open-plan main restaurant is set in the winery’s former engine room and spills out across the terrace. Locally crafted ceramic lamps cast mellow light over intimate tables, where guests gorge on contemporary Greek and Mediterranean cuisine from chef Gikas Xenakis. This former winery of course boasts a list of local varieties so extensive that the short stroll back to your suite may prove something of a Sisyphean challenge.
The bar extends from the terrace down onto the beach and serves snacks and light meals like souvlaki and Greek salad throughout the day. As well as wine, there’s a broad variety of cocktails on offer. And no-one will think badly of you for taking the Just Relax and Mojito Sunset concoctions literally.
Breakfast is served in the main restaurant from 8-11am and dinner from 7-11pm. The beach bar and taverna are open 11am-11.30pm.
Dine out on your own private patio: room service is available from 8am-10.30pm.
A remote Kourouta Beach retreat on the Peloponnese peninsula, Dexamenes Seaside Hotel lies some distance from the nearest major metropolis. The spoils for those who make this Greek odyssey: golden sands, balmy Ionian breezes, fine wines and starry nights.
Kalamata Airport is a little shy of two hours’ drive from the hotel; it’s a somewhat more protracted three-and-a-half-hour jaunt from Athens.
The hotel’s remote location makes wheels a must. Good motorways run the length of the coast from both Kalamata and Athens airports and there’s free private parking at Dexamenes. The hotel requires 48 hours’ notice to organise a transfer, should you prefer to be chauffeur-driven.
Worth getting out of bed for
Budding Olympians may choose to rise early and sprint the (approximate) 26 miles to the Archaeological Site of Ancient Olympia (entry €12), otherwise an air-conditioned 45-minute drive from the hotel. You’ll need at least a full day here to perfect your victory lap of the ancient stadium and worship at the wondrous temples of Hera and Zeus. Closer to the hotel, the Archaeological Site of Elis, a preserved city dating to the 12th century BC, is less crowded but no less impressive, and certainly cheaper: entry is free and there’s a nominal €2 charge for the museum.
Hiking opportunities abound in this ancient land, among them Foloi Oak Forest: over 200,000 acres of largely flat woodland with views to the mountains beyond. Mythology has it that the forest was named for the centaur Pholus, who died here when a drinking session with his pal Hercules went awry and his fellow centaurs, discovering their party invites had been lost in the post, attacked them. Best leave the flagon of wine at home, just in case.
Instead, you can swirl, sniff and sip without fear of assault in the vineyards of Brintziki Winery, a producer of citrusy and refreshing Tinaktorogos, intensely fruity Augoustiatis and several more local varieties. Tours of this and other wineries can be organised through the hotel.
The small town of Amaliada has no shortage of eateries, among them Ta Magouliana, a highly colourful restaurant serving up belly-busting portions of Greek classics like grilled octopus, pastitsio, halloumi and tzatziki. Go for the food and stay for the bonkers frescoes and friendly service.
Just a stroll up the road from Kourouta Beach, Symposio is another traditional taverna fit for a Greek god or goddess. Local produce including velvety oil from the restaurant’s own olive crop is the order of the day here. There’s also a small flower-filled garden with a duck pond and a play area for the kids, so you can polish off your rabbit stew in peace.
There’s no end of bars on Kourouta Beach at which to slurp a sundowner and watch the sun drop below the horizon. For something a bit lively, Mple Beach Bar hosts late-night parties with local DJs spinning the tunes until you’re ready to stagger back to your wine tank in the wee small hours.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this former winery on the Peloponnese coast, unpacked their wine haul and handcrafted ceramic spittoons, a full account of their boozy sunshine break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Dexamenes Seaside Hotel in Amaliada...
Dexamenes Seaside Hotel began life as an wine-producing facility and has the history and artistry of its 1920s incarnation woven into its fabric. Silos for crushing grapes have been recast as hipper-than-thou art galleries and upmarket wine-tasting venues, while the huge concrete vats used to ferment the fine wines of yore are transformed into industrial-chic luxury beachside sleeping quarters.
You can pick up a souvenir of your trip in the boutique gift shop, which sells exclusive jewellery and clothes lines – you can even buy the staff uniform should you wish to linger undetected in the resort for a little longer. Unique ceramics and other pieces crafted by local artists also make for more interesting coming-home gifts than the usual fridge magnets and inedible airport cookies.