I suppose one should expect nothing less than to be greeted by Achilles, when stepping foot on Aphrodite’s island. The surprising part, however, was that modern day Achilles is less of a Greek warrior and more of a… well, a doorman. The credit crunch affects us all, it seems.
Anyway, Achilles guards the door to The Annabelle, a 5-star hotel on the Mediterranean Sea with 218 rooms, several restaurants and two outdoor pools (one is half-Olympic sized, and the other lagoon-shaped with a swim up bar and a grotto). The hotel has a Grecian-cum-colonial style, with marble floors and columns as well as slatted doors, wicker chairs and blue-and-white striped sofas.
The number of British voices play tribute to the island’s colonial past; Cyprus was a British colony from 1878 to 1960, and no less than 65% of The Annabelle’s guests are Brits. If the ‘Brits abroad’ thing is for you, then fear not: for your very Western convenience they’ve imported McDonald’s, Pizza Hut (and Pizza Express), as well as Debenhams and the Body Shop.
Sadly, there are few places which haven’t had their soil pierced by those golden arches, but thankfully The Annabelle is a world away from cheap beer and chips. All the rooms have private balconies or terraces, and ours had a plunge pool. It was a sea-facing suite which isn’t the highest category of room but is by far the best in my opinion; the presidential suite may be enormous and elaborately decorated, but having a plunge pool gives oodles of privacy and stops you from melting under the Cypriot sun.
In terms of food, The Annabelle has two smart a la carte restaurants, Asterias and Amorosa; the Fontana buffet which offers themed nights – such as Lobster and Carvery – and is always brimming with people; and Meditteraneo on the seafront which specialises in homemade pizza and pasta, and makes excellent mushroom ravioli.
The restaurant with the best location and atmosphere, however, is the Ouzeri. It is part of Almyra, which is The Annabelle’s sister hotel and is just next door. A traditional Cypriot eatery, the Ouzeri has duck-egg blue chairs and iron tables on a wooden decking running alongside the sea. I always love mezze style food because you can get away with ordering ten dishes; the vine leaves, prawns, hummous and grilled halloumi are all especially good. Almyra also has Notios Restaurant, an unusual Metitteranean-Asian fusion and the place to go for sushi, and views of the harbour.
If you wander along the harbour you can explore Paphos Castle, which was originally a Byzantine fort and for anyone who is into the Romans, the mosaics (also in walking distance) should not be missed.
Considered the finest mosaics in the Eastern Mediterranean, they were not discovered until the 1960s. The brightly coloured, detailed works date as far back as the second century AD and would have been the ornate floors of Roman villas. They show Greek mythological figures like Dionysus, Orpheus and Theseus (Achilles, as we know, currently has other duties).
As a reward for cultural exploits, there’s the adults-only Almyra Spa, which does massages, facials and open-air yoga, pilates or tai chi classes. I signed up for yoga but my down-dog nearly went into melt-down when the instructor started talking about how you “see more with your eyes shut”. Here’s an opposing view – no you can’t. Call me a brute, but I like my hippy stuff blissfully free of actual hippiness. Still, each to their own. At least, after the exertion, I felt like I deserved another meal. GABRIEL O’RORKE