The Cypriot hotel scene continues to suffer from preconceived notions of below-par hotels, bulk-booked by tour operators for package holiday visitors. These places do still exist, but are being steadily challenged by a new wave of image-conscious havens, striving to outdo one another with spas, infinity pools and ultra-luxe add-ons. Chief among these is celebrity favourite Anassa, located at a dignified remove from the main town in the Pafos district. Aphrodite Hills is another high-end juggernaut just outside Pafos, a sprawling resort complete with its own golf course.
Establishments responding to ever-growing tourist expectations and renovating their facilities, meanwhile, include the impressively transformed Napa Mermaid Hotel.
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Self-catering apartments remain hugely popular, thanks to their cost-effectiveness and flexibility.
A fridge, kettle and cooking facilities are usually included, and most apartment complexes have their own pool. All self-catering units are rated A, B or C by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO), according to the facilities offered. An increasing number of villas take self-catering to the next level of comfort (see Villas below).
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Rather than settling for sometimes lacklustre conventional hotels, a far smarter – and swiftly catching-on – option among visitors is to head inland and go green. Agritourism – the environmentally conscious restoration of traditional village houses, with a view to encouraging a return to the countryside – is well developed in the area around Larnaka, especially in the villages of Tochni and Kalavasos. For the price of a single hotel room, you can have a beautifully renovated rural house and garden to yourself.
The trend is established across the island, but has really blossomed in the Troodos mountains. Here, you can hunker down in a sweetly charming hideaway with a distinctly personal character, such as Evghenia’s House. It’s a priceless opportunity to experience the hospitality and frequently disarming generosity for which Cypriots are famed, as the intimate setting gives rise to rewarding encounters. Note that you will need your own transport. Visit www.agrotourism.com.cy for a list of properties affiliated to the official CTO scheme.
Accommodation options in the capital are limited, but it will be interesting to see how quickly developers respond to its growing appeal as a tourist destination since the opening of the Nicosia border.
The areas around the island’s coastal towns, particularly Pafos, are filling with a mushrooming crop of holiday villas. Usually found some distance from the urban centres, villas offer a desirable combination of peaceful remove from and convenient access to the nearest town.
Autonomous accommodation is a convenient option for families or groups of friends, who can share communal areas without feeling crowded. They can also work out to be a more economical choice than booking several hotel rooms, especially if you factor in communal cooking over eating out for some meals. A touch of luxury is part of the package with most villas. You can usually count on a private pool and spacious living room with tasteful furniture, while added extras could include a jacuzzi, built-in barbecue, DVD player and satellite TV.
Tempting as it is, it would be criminal to get so ensconced in your abode that you neglect to venture out to explore the island’s natural beauty. Happily, most villas are a decidedly undemanding distance from the sea.
Near Larnaka, and a mere 15 minutes’ drive from the beach in the agrotousrism hotspot of Tochni, villa Myrto (www.cyprusvillages.com.cy) is a traditional stone-built house, surrounded by fruit trees and bougainvillea. Cycling and horse-riding trails lead off from here and from the neighbouring village of Kalavasos.
One notable villa in the Pafos region is the architecturally striking Aquamarine (www.zandxgroup.com). The key material employed, glass, lends light and panoramic sea views to the open-plan lounge (complete with glass fireplace), while a mini gym and vertiginous horizon pool help justify the ‘deluxe’ label.
At the Whiteley villa (www.holidaylettings.co.uk) in Pegeia, location is everything. It’s four kilometres from the lovely Coral Beach and three kilometres from Lara Bay, in the wilderness of the Akamas area. Pomos and Latsi are other great places to start your search for an escapist property.
It’s usually worth phoning in advance to negotiate prices directly, as there are often good bargains to be had if the hotel has had cancellations. The CTO website (www.visitcyprus.com) is a good place to start your research. It’s not the most easily navigable site, but it is up-to-date and exhaustive.
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