Patrick and Joan Leigh Fermor House, located in the idyllic coastal town of Kardamyli, in the southeast Peloponnese is placed in a beautiful Mediterranean garden with cypresses, olive trees, shrubs and wild flowers.
It consists of four discrete low stone buildings, the main house, the studio-office building and two secondary buildings. The main was designed by the architect Nikos Hatzimichalis in close collaboration with the Leigh Fermors and was completed in the mid 60s. Considered one of the most beautiful properties in Greece, the house was bequeathed by the owners to the Benaki Museum in 1996, with the express wish that the house would host intellectuals and scholars who wanted to work or study in an inspiring setting. The Leigh Fermors also granted the museum the right to rent the property for a period of three months per year. AriaHotels, in collaboration with the Benaki Museum, have undertaken operation of the property during the three-month rental period with particular sensitivity to its unique legacy, offering guests a rare residential experience of authentic Greek hospitality. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), as Lead Donor on the project, first supported a study on the operations and sustainability of the house, and then, in 2016, covered the cost of comprehensive maintenance and repair work. Repairs were completed in early 2019, and as of July 2019 the house is open to the public for guided tours and organized visits upon request.
“We saw a peninsula ending in crescent-shaped beaches…We walked down into a gently sloping world of the utmost magical beauty…thick with magnificent olive trees and lots of other trees… Behind, the peninsula melted into a great conch of grey and orange rock. I knew I would never leave.” – Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor
“In this house the Fermors lived a life full of spirituality and freedom, enjoying the company of locals and close friends, Greek and British intellectuals and artists such as Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas, Barbara Hutchinson, John Craxton and Artemis Couper. The wonderful works of art of the couple’s friends were replaced by copies, while some of the important books of the approximately 6,000 books in their library were transferred to the Benaki Museum’s library”, says Greek photographer Julia Klimi, who enjoyed a cup of tea with Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor in his summer office back in 2007.
Images © Julia Klimi