An abandoned wine factory-turned-boutique hotel on Greece’s Western Peloponnese peninsula, Dexamenes Seaside Hotel is a place of comfort and calm with architectural appeal.
Sitting on the edge of the Ionian Sea on the unspoiled Kourouta Beach, wine tanks from the 1920s have been reimagined into boutique accommodation with a minimalist aesthetic of concrete, glass, timber and steel. Dexamenes Seaside Hotel owner and visionary Nikos Karaflos had long dreamt of converting this abandoned wine factory into a hotel. He teamed up with Athenian architectural practice K-STUDIO to bring his dream alive. Opening in 2019 (just before the pandemic hit), it was a long 10-year process of design, development and red tape to get there.
The history of Dexamenes dates back to a time in Greece that is referred to as the “era of currants”, a time in the 1830s when currants were the main export product of the Greek Kingdom. In 1910 a “currant crisis” occurred, with the trade of currants collapsing and a resulting urgency to turn the unsold stock of currants into other products, such as wine. Hence, the first wineries and distilleries were created. The location of Dexamenes, right next to the sea, was chosen so that ships could load up with wine directly from the wine tanks before setting sail for the major overseas markets.
The derelict, industrial structures that had characterised the site since the 1920s and remained relatively untouched became the perfect site to house this contemporary design hotel. There is an in-house joke at Dexamenes that big events at this location seem to take place every 100 years around the time of a crisis – first this, and then the pandemic just after the hotel launched in 2019.
There are three different venues for dining: The Beachfront Bar, the “Ex-Engine Room” Restaurant and The Beach.
Arriving at Dexamenes, you feel an instant sense of calm, thanks to the minimalist and open-air buildings made of concrete, glass, timber and steel, together with the raw beauty of the existing wine tanks. The design is contemporary and minimalist and complements these Brutalist structures.
The reception building and bar are the only new buildings added to the site. Housed inside two big concrete blocks are two rows of ten wine-storage tanks, with a small courtyard garden separating each one. The nine sea-front tanks (the pick of the bunch) offer a lovely view over the Ionian Sea and an immediate connection to the beach with beds centred on the large sliding window looking directly out over the water.
The courtyard tank rooms are identical in their ergonomic layout and showcase original features such as the manholes and pipes in the façade of each tank and original concrete walls. Inside, black steel and textured glass bring light through from the bedroom and dressing areas into the bathroom.
There is a lovely wide promenade walkway that transports you from the tank rooms and other parts of the hotel to the beach. Two original stone buildings have been reimagined as an in-house restaurant and wine cellar space, where wine tastings and education sessions are held. Reclaimed bricks inside the original structures line the floors and terrace. The pitched roofs have been restructured with bespoke ceramic tiles made locally and crafted to blend with the originals. The impressive steel drums that give the hotel its characteristic logo, have been delicately preserved and stand proudly in the water.
Food at Dexamenes is delicious and their dining philosophy is inspiring. Chef Gikas Xenakis crafts a seasonally-changing menu focused on local, seasonal and conscious dining. Ingredients are sourced locally, made easier thanks to the fact that Dexamenes is located in a strong agricultural area. Chef Gikas Xenakis and his team work with local farmers and whatever local produce is in season at the time – and the menu changes to reflect this.
At Dexamenes, there is very little to do, and this is exactly the beauty of the place. Come here to relax, enjoy the sense of calm, and marvel over the history of the place and the design.
The derelict, industrial structures that had characterised the site since the 1920s were the perfect site to house a contemporary design hotel.
Dexamenes features thirty-four “WineTanks” and one beachfront villa.