Ionia Guest House

Luxury accommodation in the Aegean countryside

Month: May 2014

Straw bale construction

We’re planning to build our guest accommodation using timber-frame straw-bale construction. We’re doing that for lots of different reasons. We think it looks great, e.g., in this straw-bale house interior from New Zealand.


The 50cm+ thick walls will make excellent insulation during the hot summer months, and it’s a cost-effective green-building idea. It also fits in well with local Turkish architecture: many houses in the village are made from kerpiç (adobe bricks) and once we’ve covered our straw bales in clay plaster, the walls will look very similar.

One final reason: Turkey does get the occasional earthquake, and we’ve been really impressed with how well straw-bale houses hold up to earthquake testing.

Latitude and climate

We’ve lived in the UK (and briefly in Germany) for almost twenty years now. We both grew up in hotter places, so we’re really looking forward to the climate of the Aegean coast. Hıdırbeyli is at 37.9 degrees north, and, like much of south-west Turkey, is in the Köppen climate zone “Csa”, i.e., dry-summer sub-tropical, or Mediterranean. Sounds good!

I was curious to see what cities 37.9 degrees puts us level with. Around the Mediterranean, it’s great to see that we’re on the same latitude line as places like Athens, Palermo, and Cordoba. Further afield, the results are a bit more surprising. In the US, we’re about level with Richmond (Virginia) and San Francisco.  In east Asia, we’re lined up with Seoul and Fukushima.

World map showing 37.9 degrees north and south.

World map showing 37.9 degrees north and south.  Map borrowed from Wikimedia Commons.

What if you flip things around to the southern hemisphere?  Strange to note that in Africa there’s no land that far south. We’d be in the sea off Cape Town. In South America we’re level with the Argentinian beach resort of Mar del Plata; in Australia we line up with Melbourne; and in New Zealand we’d be midway between Auckland and Wellington.

Moving to Turkey

Photo of us Hi, and welcome to our blog. Some of you will already know us, and will have heard about our crazy project in great detail.  For those who haven’t met us before, we’re Jason and Sirem.  We’ve had enough of our jobs in the UK and are about to move to rural Turkey to build a hotel.

Semi-detached Southampton house This is the house in Southampton we’ll be leaving behind. We’ve been here for seven years and it’s been a great place to live, but it’s time to go.

And here are some photos of where we’re going.  We bought a small farmhouse and about an acre of fig orchard on a hillside near the village of Hıdırbeyli.  Which is near the town of Germencik, just inland from Turkey’s Aegean coast.

The orchard as it looked in March 2014.

Sunset from the orchard, looking towards Mount Mycale.

Looking out across the olive groves.

We’ll be about half an hour from ruins of Ephesus, with many other archaeological sites only a short drive away (e.g., Priene, Magnesia, Miletus, Didyma, and Aphrodisia). We’re also about half an hour from the beach.

All that archaeology gave us the idea for what to call the hotel.  We’re right in the middle of what was once Ionia, one of the colonies of ancient Greece.  So our place will be the Ionia Guest House.

The plan is to build a small hotel with about six rooms around a central garden courtyard and pool.  We want it to work as a base for visiting the attractions of the Aegean coast, and at the same time give people a taste of the Turkish countryside. We plan to grow our own fruit and vegetables, to use great local food, and to raise chickens for eggs.  We want to build the place in a sustainable way (timber-frame straw bale construction, covered in local clay plaster). It’s going to take us a couple of years to get it all up and running, so the blog is for keeping people up to date on our progress.

Thanks for stopping by.

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