December 17 2010
I had only a dim and distant memory of Cyprus, but decided it was a safe bet for a last late-autumn lunge at light and warmth before the big freeze set in. Online I stumbled across the Elysium Hotel, and so welcoming was Cosmin on the phone that I booked on the spot, even though I thought it might be “local” five-star standard.
Couldn’t have been more wrong; it turned out to be a true gem of a discovery, and world-class standard: Elysium by name and nature. Sophisticated and refined, with impeccable management and service, the hotel, situated next to the Tomb of Kings, is imaginatively designed, with great charm, character and culture. Built in the style of a Cypriot monastery, in warm, relaxing terracotta tones, it has a drawbridge entrance, little squares, terraces, gardens, a miniature amphitheatre (where a stream of weddings took place, this being the island of Aphrodite) and a complex of swimming pools meandering under bridges which lead towards a pool bar. There’s also a central hydrotherapy pool within a “temple” of classical columns and a small, not massively appealing, dark-sanded private beach.
We were spoilt by staying in a Royal Studio, with its own splash pool and terrace, in the separate arcaded Megaron building, amid lush orange groves. Six excellent restaurants include the traditional Lemonia Piazza (buffet breakfasts were food for the gods), a sushi fusion and smart Italian, a café serving English afternoon tea, or cocktails to watch the spectacular sunsets. The spa was a serious affair, with a gym and indoor pool, and although the treatments were pricy, my hot stone treatment felt worth every cent.
Paphos town itself is a let-down and a throwback, apart from its unmissable World Heritage Site mosaics, but still fun in a jolly bucket-and-spade way, and anyway it was bliss to get back to the Elysium. I can’t remember a more stress-free holiday; for me it was Elysian perfection and I’ll be back there like a shot from an Assyrian bow.