The villa was built as a summer residence for the British Lord High Commissioner of the United States of the Ionian Islands, Frederick Adam, and his second wife (a Corfiot), Diamantina ‘Nina’ Palatino, in 1828–1831, although they had to vacate the villa soon afterwards in 1832 when Adam was sent to serve in India. The villa was rarely used as a residence for the later British governors. In 1833, it housed a school of fine arts, while in 1834, the park was opened to the public. Empress Elisabeth of Austria stayed there in 1863. Here she fell in love with the island, where she later built the Achilleion Palace.
After the union with Greece in 1864, the villa was granted to King George I of the Hellenes as a summer residence; he renamed it Mon Repos. The royal family used it as a summer residence up until King Constantine II fled the country in 1967. The villa subsequently became derelict, but was restored in the 1990s.
Several royal births have taken place at the villa, including those of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on 10 June 1921, and Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark on 10 July 1965.