Symi has a picture-perfect port with neoclassical buildings that testify to its glorious past. This image overwhelmed us from the moment we stepped foot on the island.
Little did we know that over the next few days we were about to visit a 19th Century listed neoclassical mansion with a great story behind it.
This 19th Century red building, known as the Mastoridis Mansion is right on the seafront, set on the opposite side of the port. We met with the architect Dimitris Zografos, who decided to restore the property and convert it into a boutique hotel, under the name “1900 Hotel”. He told us all about it. Beginning with Mastoridis, the person who brought the first autonomous diving suit (“scafandro” in Greek) over to Greece and Symi.
It was given to him as a present from the British in 1862, as at the time he was working as a captain in the West Indies. The plot of the story thickens as it was actually his wife, a woman back in 1862, that had the courage and will to try it on for the first time in front of all the men, who were reluctant to do so at the time. This was historically the year that marked the economic climb and flourishes of Symi island and it was this incident itself that changed the economy of the Dodecanese Islands.
Fast forward to 1960, the house was constantly rented out to a French painter until it was abandoned and left to collapse. Dimitris Zografos, a lover of neoclassical buildings, realised that this was an architectural gem and tried, through careful and thoughtful restoration, to keep its heritage alive and allow its guests to experience a modern version of its rich history.
The house has been left merely intact. The imposing staircase when you pass through the front door, the impressive high painted ceilings with details that take your breath away, and the vintage elements- are all beautifully matched with the charming ambiance of the building. The main rooms of the house have been seamlessly transformed into four elegant suites (1901, 1902, 1903, and 1904), steeped in history.
On the entry-level, a courtyard surrounded by lush greenery frames the blue of the Aegean Sea. As you pass through the main entrance, on the same floor you can see the suites named 1901 and 1902. The top floor consists of two more suites, 1903 and 1904, and the most amazing terrace overlooking the colourful harbour. An honesty bar is located on the top of the staircase; once the corner where musicians played and accompanied family and friends lounging on the terrace.
1901 is the grand suite on the right, that overlooks the harbour. It used to be the two main rooms of the mansion (“saloni” and “sala”). A real jewel of the past. The ceiling (which was fully restored) is a masterpiece painted by highly skilled artists of the time, featuring Eros, the God of love.
1902 is the old kitchen, now transformed into a bedroom with beautiful elements kept intact, such as the old fireplace, built-in closet, shelves, and niches. The en-suite bathroom, with a vaulted ceiling and amazing vintage cement tiles, is built against a rock that is partially exposed and filled with plants to give the feeling of showering in nature (with a view.)
1903 is a room (also a bedroom back then) privileged with three large windows. Filled with light and offering amazing views of the harbour and open sea, which guests can also cherish from its private area on the top floor veranda. An en-suite bathroom with a surprisingly brilliant shower hid in a spacious closet, compliments the perfect atmosphere.
1904 was the mansion’s main bedroom, offering privacy and views of the port. It has an en-suite bathroom with a vaulted ceiling and the geometrical patterns in the shower formed by vintage cement tiles create a highly aesthetic composition.
Being inside this historical mansion made us feel the heavenly allure of a bygone era, a feeling that is not easily forgotten.
A: 85600, Symi, Dodecanese