Although my days of beer-fuelled, 18 to 30s boat led Greek island hopping are thankfully behind me, it does not mean that I’ve lost my sense of adventure. Only now I enjoy it with a touch of elegance in luxury hotels in Cyprus and beyond.
Nothing comes close to the euphoria of the first breath of holiday air you inhale as you disembark the plane. Cyprus greeted me with honeysuckle and sunshine, I was happy – this is the enchantment of travel. I had chosen Cyprus as it was small enough to explore with relative ease and I was splitting my time between Limassol and Paphos. My other top priority was naturally accommodation – I wanted to understated luxury, prime beach locations, good food and wine and rooms where I felt I’d treated myself – to my rescue came the Louis Hotels Group. With over 77 years’ experience they are the experts and amongst the best luxury hotels in Cyprus and Greece, so why wouldn’t you want to be hosted by the people who know the island the best? I was to indulge in the group’s Elegant Collection at both The Royal Apollonia in Limassol, and The Ivi Mare in Paphos.
The Royal Apollonia
An easy taxi journey to Limassol already had me enjoying views of shimmering shores and undulating slopes before I arrived at The Royal Apollonia, where we were warmly greeted with hot towels and refreshing drinks to aide us from the fatigue of our travels (I didn’t tell them how easy it was). What hit me first was the sheer openness and vast expanse of the lobby – relaxing delicate rays of sunshine bounced off the light marble interior – the same warmth felt from the charming staff. We took our drinks to the terrace and there we were welcomed by the sea, the most perfect beachfront location – the hues of blue were unending and yet there was a tranquil sense of privacy here, that this beach was here merely for us to enjoy, this is the luxury I was looking for. The swimming pool here mirrors the sea, it is enormous! Plump and luxurious sun loungers were plentiful around the main area but also in clever little alcoves in quieter parts of the hotel that nestled you into a world of isolation and retreat.
Opening the door to my room I was greeted with the same light and space as downstairs – staying in one of the spa category rooms is a must, so generous in size with tall ceilings and an expansive balcony I was delighted. The décor is modern and fresh with a hint of traditionalism, refined marbles melt into mirrored walls, crisp sumptuous bedding and tasteful lighting give you the elegance of a five-star hotel.
The bathroom was fit for any Greek goddess, large and opulent, well designed and with an array of luxurious complimentary extras which made me feel I was being well looked after and I did not need to lift a finger. A sign of good luxury hotels in Cyprus is always its towels – of the highest quality I wrapped myself in my robe, opened my bottle of champagne and ventured to my balcony to enjoy my own private jacuzzi. The positioning of my bubbling haven was a stroke of genius – whilst sat inside I was able to soak in the entire expanse of the beachfront but my eyeline was such that I felt I was immersed in the sea, pure unadulterated luxury and brilliance.
Breakfast on holiday should always be an event and not a fleeting necessity like at home. The Dionysus restaurant offers such a magnificent buffet that it left me in a food coma on the first morning, ingredients of only the highest quality and a selection that caters to both your healthy and glutinous desires, you won’t be bored of what’s on offer. The hotel offers three dining options – the same buffet feast for lunch and dinner at Dionysus or a la carte options at the Japanese themed Akaiko restaurant and Meze by Elliniko. On this occasion we chose to sample meze in its most refined form. Endless dishes of fresh parcels of pastries, salads, meats, and seafood covered the table, all presented with a delicacy and elevation not usually associated with sharing dishes, but which also kept the tradition of jubilant Cypriot group dining. Highlights included the salt baked fish and slow cooked lamb served with orzo, whilst one of my vegetarian dining companions assured me her baked cauliflower was a gastronomic success.
From the light of the lobby one floor down you enter the hazy tranquil glow of the hotel’s spa – instantly you feel serene. With facilities of the highest measure including a fitness room, sauna, steam room, therapy rooms and yet another huge indoor pool the thing to absolutely experience during your stay is the Dead Sea Climate control room. Allow yourself to be fully caressed head to toe in the healing properties of Dead Sea mud whilst you relax in the warming room that emulates the exact conditions of the sea – excellent for skin conditions, respiratory problems, and overall stresses of the modern world my transformation into a Greek goddess was continuing.
Not just a transfer but an adventure
With a heavy heart it was time to leave the Royal Apollonia – in all honesty I hadn’t seen much of Limassol as I was far too relaxed at the hotel and enjoying the facilities. I did however enjoy a charming afternoon tasting some local wines at the nearby Vassilades Winery in Omodos. Easy to get to and arranged by the wonderful staff found in the luxury hotels in Cyprus– whether you’re a wine specialist or just a fan of the drink that locals once revered as the ‘nectar of the Gods’ through a tour such as this you can soak up the culture, history and sights of Cyprus in a relaxed and unique way.
The joy of Cyprus is that you can journey from one part to another easily and quickly. To make the transfer to our next luxury hotel in Cyprus more fun, I decided to incorporate an excursion en route – I cannot recommend this enough. We followed the Limassol coastline, seeing the Amathus ancient city, Kolossi Castle and the theatre at Kourion – a brilliant reminder of the richness of culture of this small islands’ stormy history since antiquity.
We stopped for lunch at the Agrovini Loufou Tavern in the minute village of Lofou. In direct juxtaposition to the elegance of our stay at The Royal Apollonia, here we entered the world of a family run taverna full of wine, music, rustic eating and pure Cypriot everyday living full of joy. Bellies bursting with delicious delicacies we even joined in with some dancing – it’s such intimate insights into a country that stay with you forever.
The Ivi Mare
Walking into the Ivi Mare I was instantly happy that I had packed that sexy slinky cocktail dress, this was the place to enjoy wearing it! Adults only, the hotel was newly created in 2019 offering refined elegance and personalised service, 148 rooms and once again on the pristine costal front of Kato, Paphos, the feeling here is one of an exclusive beach club that you had to be ‘in the know’ about to attend. Modernist light installations, well curated art, white marble, and glass expanses were the backdrop to yet another friendly and attentive welcome from the Louis Group’s staff.
Ultra-modern in design, my room was spacious and a palette of white and blue gave it a modern Mediterranean feel. My bed was so large that three of us could have slept comfortably in there and it gave me the most delicious of night’s sleep – I often had the balcony door open, whilst the lull of the waves sent me adrift.
The bathroom had a fabulous granite walk in wet room with a shower that jetted me at all angles, and for those on a romantic trip, a window that allowed you to see your partner in the bedroom whilst bathing – for those like me not into romance, a blind retains your modesty.
Once again, the balcony was the star of the room, the blues of the room are only a precursor to the astonishing aqua stretch of sheer beauty of the sea view. How the Louis Group manage to successfully build their luxury hotels in Cyprus on the most perfect of vistas and best locations on Greek beaches proves they are masters in their trade.
The hotel boasts the longest pool in Paphos – beautiful people were draped on loungers, sipping cocktails and toe tapping to some Balearic beats. I could have been in Monaco and I couldn’t wait to leave my room and join in.
Much like our previous hotel, the Ivi Mare offers several dining options – with the main Palettes restaurant serving a different culinary buffet extravaganza each night, serving the best of international, Mediterranean, and Cypriot cuisine – not forgetting the banquet that is breakfast, perhaps eclipsing that of the Royal Apollonia.
Evening dress on, I met friends for drinks at the Mirrors Bar on the terrace – the vibe and excellence of cocktails was one you would expect to find in one of London’s top cocktail bars, only here I was enjoying a glorious sunset with my martini. Having relished the meze in Limassol (Meze by Ellinko was on offer here also) we were excited to sample the Asian fusion at Akakiko. Usually, I tend to stay away from other native cuisines when visiting a country, but our experience could not have been more different here. Sophisticated Japanese décor was repeated in the equally erudite menu – sushi of the freshest and highest quality, gyoza so light and packed with flavour, stir-fried dishes without a hint of greasiness all enjoyed with Asian inspired cocktails.
Naturally, I had to compare both hotel’s spas – the Ivi Mare’s contemporary design continues here, offering five start treatments to nourish body, mind, and soul. On this occasion I opted for a Body Sculpture massage and sculptured I felt, so often hotel massages are so lackadaisical in their approach to a massage, barely even stroking you, here I felt deeply worked on, like stepping out of a Thai massage parlour in Bangkok – relaxed was an understatement.
The surrounding area
With all the relaxation I’ve described you’d be forgiven for thinking I did little else – surprisingly I did and it’s the upbeat buzz of the Paphos coastline I have to thank for that. Although discreet and perfectly private, the Ivi Mare is situated on a fantastic stretch of coastline that allows you to dip in and out of the fun of holiday beach life. Walking along the palm tree lined boardwalk next to the sea is a scenic forty-minute amble to the harbour – passing beach bars, restaurants, and other resorts –cocktail in hand I felt almost in Florida. I bravely enjoyed some high adrenaline water sports, perused the local shops, had a sundowner at an elegant bar and enjoyed a pedicure in town. One morning a group of us ventured on a boat trip to the Blue Lagoon seeing the Baths of Aphrodite and the caves of Manolis then plunging into the clear blue waters. If I’d wanted to have done more I easily could have done, Cyprus has it all.
Something unprecedented occurred, a five-day trip turned into seven days, a thing I’ve never done before, I simply didn’t want to leave, and so I didn’t.
The Louis Hotel Group have achieved a unique offering – allowing you to enjoy elegance and luxury but in such relaxation that you lose track of the days of the week. Only attention to detail can give such levels of excellence – from attentive staff and chic design, gastronomic delights at every meal, down to a perfectly curated drink. Eventually I did leave but with me I took the culture, joy, heritage and warmth of the people that make Cyprus the jewel that it is.
Book with easyJet holidays:
- Seven nights at the 5* Ivi Mare – Designed For Adults on a Bed & Breakfast basis for £947 per person including 23kg of luggage per person, transfers and flights from London Gatwick on 23 September 2022.
- Seven nights at the 5* Royal Apollonia on a Half Board basis for £1075 per person including 23kg of luggage per person, transfers and flights from London Gatwick on 11 September 2023.
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To discover more, visit: louishotels.com
All imagery courtesy of Louis Hotels.
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