Portaria//Pilio is a beautiful mountainous traditional village at an altitude of 650 meters and is 13km from the city Volos in Greece. The village has been built around the monastery of "Panagia Portareas" (Virgin of Portareas), which was built in the 13th century. The name of the village "Portaria" is derived from this monastery. The village is filled with lush scenery, spring waters, cobble-stoned paths and old mansions; the perfect escape retreat for any of the four seasons. One such mansion is the case with this unique preserved building which was built in 1859 and is no other than “ARCHONTIKO DESPOTIKO HOTEL.”
The building was constructed in 1859 and was know as the Tsopotou Mansion. Its architectural style was inspired by the Egyptian architectural rhythm. The building had undergone various renovations, but undoubtedly the most successful one is the latest renovation by Interior Architect, Ioannis Zacharakis which brought out the grandeur and the unique architectural elements of the mansion. Zacharakis who is well-known for his sur mesure interior interventions has done a remarkable job in retaining and bringing out the original elements which is vital in such architectural renovations.
The tri-arched entrance, the steel balcony rails, the cornice moldings, the Egyptian style main living room, and the large mansion rooms with the large opening which bring in abundant of natural light are only a few of the elements in this mansion. The architect tried to bring forward this uniqueness and to preserve the prestige of this building while highlighting the importance of this building. The colors and the fragrances from the mountain of the Centaurs inspired him to design an environment where the residents of the Hotel will enjoy a tranquil and serene stay in this mansion.
Despotiko Hotel is compromised of two main buildings, the old mansion and the “small house” which were examined carefully with a different design perspective. A juxtaposition of modern and contemporary elements in a traditional style of the mountainous range brings forward the exquisite design. While entering into Despotiko Hotel through the main entrance an imposing refurbished steel door creates a striking feeling where the visitor understands what this space represented in the past. Natural materials from Greece were used; the amalgamation of the black and white marble floor, the large chandelier, and the old wooden staircase which is decorated with Egyptian fixtures creates the ideal scenery which completes the sumptuousness of the main entrance.
Zacharakis wanted to take the sumptuousness of the reception into the bedrooms of the hotel as well; this objective was obviously accomplished. When the visitor opens the door to their own sanctuary they enjoy the exceptional arrangement of each room with its unique color choice, the rich materials which impress even the most demanding visitor, the comfort, and the high level of aesthetics. He strived and achieved to create a prevailing scenographical synthesis with an atmosphere where the appropriate choice of furniture with the French grilles and the canopy beds along with the interior color arrangements of white with brown, purple or green with red has led to these traditional retreat rooms.
The space of the smaller house has been dealt with a totally different approach as it is a smaller scale area where the Interior Architect found it rightful to create a warm, home-like environment. The wooden roof played an important role in creating this feeling of comfort and warmness which will be passed on to the visitor. The terracotta floor in the communal areas was left untouched in an attempt to preserve the traditional architectural elements. By keeping the main materials intact the interior design of this space was set in tones of brown, blue, red, yellow and green with the traditional rich curtains and very impressive fabrics.
Through this renovation Ioannis Zacharakis of a+ Architectural Studio has achieved to create a familiar traditional style with the simple yet beautiful contemporary design. Archontiko Despotiko Hotel is a space which expresses every persons wish to escape from the everyday to the tranquility of the retreat and the beauty of the nature offered in Portaria//Pilio, GREECE. The hum of the running waters, the lush scenery, the mountain views and the Pagasetic gulf views from the Hotel along with the Hotel’s interior create idyllic scenery for relaxation.
Ioannis Zacharakis has undoubtedly achieved to create what exactly he was asked of by the owners of this hotel without compromising on design despite the architecture of this traditional 1895 building. He is the principal of a+ architectural studio in Athens, Greece. a+ Architectural Studio was founded in 2003 and has operated successfully the past nine years on sur mesure architectural projects. Zacharakis is a graduate of UACEG // Institute of Architecture, Engineering and Geodesy in Sofia, Bulgaria while having majored in Interior Design.