Paphos is this year’s joint European Capital of Culture (along with Denmark’s Aarhus) and there’s a packed programme of events in and around the city throughout the year. Where better for culture vultures to stay than at the Almyra, owned by the family-run Thanos Paphos Hotels group, a Pafos2017 sponsor and long-time supporter of the arts?
Almyra means salt of the sea, and this five-star hotel couldn’t get any closer, with the Mediterranean lapping the shore just metres from the hotel. From the moment you are received with a traditional Cypriot sweet of walnut in syrup, it feels like you are being welcomed into someone’s home, albeit a very large, beautifully furnished abode.
Almyra is all about relaxation, with its large open plan spaces, contemporary chic styling and walls of windows overlooking the outdoor pool, herb-filled gardens and terrace, and the sea beyond.
Recent renovations include a new adults-only pool with a separate one for children, both shaded, making this the perfect place to relax. A kids club and crèche, a children’s garden and playground facilities, plus a Baby goLightly service, provide everything a young family could need, while couples can relax in the adults-only spa and gym with outdoor infinity pool.
Foodies will love the choice of five eateries, from à la carte to buffet, and a taverna-style restaurant down on the shore. To work it all off, there is easy access to four 18-hole golf courses, bikes for hire and cycling and running events.
Budget or boutique?
There’s nothing budget about this hotel, and the spa offers the most exclusive Osea, Ila and QMS Medicosmetics, treatments and products.
The 189 bedrooms designed by Parisian Joëlle Pleot, include one-bed junior suites with verandas, sea view bedrooms, garden view bedrooms and terraces. Our Kyma Suite was tastefully furnished in taupes and whites with sliding doors on to a private terrace just above the shore and a roof terrace.
Wining and dining
There’s a choice of restaurants: Japanese-Med fusion poolside at Notios, modern Mediterranean and international at Mozaics, light bites at Helios, Asian fusion in the Aeras lobby restaurant, healthy options at Eauzone, and my favourite, the sea-edge Ouzeri, where Greek Cypriot flavours are served up taverna style. Almyra has à la carte and speciality dining, “trust the chef” menus, private barbecues and Zen Meze feasts with almost private dining on the suite roof terraces and in the outdoor dining area.
If you can bear to leave the hotel, visit the Hondros Taverna in town, (Apostolou Pavlou Avenue) for meze, or take a trip up to the newly revitalised Old Town and a coffee at the authentically Cypriot Sykaminia Cafe (Nicodemou Mylona 23).
Worth getting out of bed for
Pafos2017 has a packed programme throughout the year from open air theatre and music to exhibitions (www.pafos2017.eu)
A stroll along the boardwalk by the sea leads to the medieval castle guarding the bay which has played its part in the town’s history, from Byzantine times through the 16th century Ottoman invasion to the conflict with Turkey in 1974.
At Almyra itself, a short pad through the herb-scented gardens brings you to the spa, where a Vitality Prana massage using organic Ila products and hot poultices followed by a deep abdominal healing massage saw me energised and uplifted – after Marietta the masseuse got rid of a knot in my neck. Bliss.
If you’re dining in candlelight outside on the terrace, warming wraps are provided should the breeze turn chilly.
Laid back luxury for couples and families and a ringside view of Paphos’ year in the cultural spotlight.
Rooms at Almyra start at €104 (£90) per person per night including breakfast. Suites start at €406 (£350). (www.almyra.com). Almyra, 12, Poseidonos Avenue, Paphos, Cyprus (+357 26 888700, www.almyra.com, thanoshotels.com)
For the Pafos2017 programme, see www.pafos2017.eu
easyJet flies from Edinburgh to Paphos up to two days a week, with prices starting from £20.74 per person (www.easyJet.com)