Apokryfo

Lofou, Cyprus Book from Book from £150 per night

Our favourite boutique guesthouse in Cyprus: a gorgeous, spoiling hideaway in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains
Apokryfo means ‘hidden’, and that’s exactly what this little gem of a boutique guesthouse is. Tucked away in the sleepy village of Lofou in the Troodos foothills, it’s the labour of love of the accomplished Cypriot architect Vakis Hadjikyriajou and his British wife Diana, a talented interior designer. In 2008 they bought a quartet of ramshackle stone houses, some without roofs, others overrun with pomegranate trees, and transformed them into 7 picture-perfect suites and a pair of stylish houses for 4-8. Cosy interiors are design-mag gorgeous: every Cypriot rug and Rajasthani lamp fits perfectly.

They’re grouped around a bijou turquoise pool, with herb beds along one side, a pergola along the other, and a white wall at the end for occasional film screenings. A candlelit restaurant serves superb Cypriot dinners; a rooftop terrace offers bird's eye village views. The location may seem random – midway between sea and mountains, 30-45 mins from both – but don’t be put off. The village is charmingly peaceful: cobbled lanes, stone houses, 3 restaurants and a church, all set amid undulating vine terraces. There are 2 wineries within 10 mins, beaches and castles a little further, and a small but excellent spa with sauna and steam room in the basement.

Highs

  • This is (as you may have gathered) our favourite hideaway in Cyprus: a place that works on every level, and relaxes you deeply – we loved it just as much on our 2017 return visit
  • The spread of mezes which the beaming chef Eleftheria delivered for dinner was the tastiest Cypriot meal of our trip
  • The Schoolmaster’s House would be great for a family of 4-6, and you could put the in-laws in the adjoining Gatehouse
  • In the cooler months, the candlelit ambiance (with burning brazier and blankets for the courtyard) is truly romantic, especially after Loukas’ massage
  • There’s plenty to do nearby – forest trails and waterfalls in Troodos, ancient ruins at Kourion, Crusader Castles at Kolossi and Limassol – but it’s also a sublime spot to do nothing at all

Lows

  • Rates are a little higher than you might expect for the room size, but when you get there you’ll see why
  • The pool is fairly small, unheated and enclosed; but there are loungers and it's perfect for cooling off in the baking Cypriot summer
  • It’s not very toddler-friendly (though older children will be fine)
  • It’s a shame the 2 separate houses don’t have their own pools – space precludes that – but they each have a shady courtyard for alfresco dining (and it’s only a short hop to the main pool)

Best time to go

We'd recommend spring (April-May) or autumn (Sept-Oct) - pleasantly warm and not too busy. But if you're restricted to summer, this is one your best options - at 800m altitude, and with thick stone walls, air-con and a lovely pool, you'll always be several degrees cooler than in the coastal cities. Apokryfo is open all year, and for an off-season house party with anything from 5-50 guests, it could be great fun.

Our top tips

  • Ask for the hotel's hand-drawn sketch of local walks and sites, complete with scavenger questions to keep little ones amused. We enjoyed the 1-hour circuit down past the old sterna (well) and back up a path abuzz with butterflies and wild flowers
  • If you head into the high Troodos Mountains, take a water- and windproof jacket at all times of year; the weather can change in an instant
  • We'd suggest you avoid Pomegranate, which is extremely cosy
  • Great for...

    Family
    Foodie
    Great Outdoors
    Spa
    Wedding
    • Boutique Guesthouse
    • 7 rooms + 2 houses for 4-8
    • Restaurant (open daily)
    • All ages welcome
    • Open all year
    • Outdoor Pool
    • Spa
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Daily Maid Service
    • Towels & Bedlinen
    Room: Schoolmasters House

    Rooms

    The main hotel building holds charming rooms and suites, most overlook the pool, while slightly farther-afield are independent houses (for 4-6) and separate studio cottages (for 2-3). The houses have sitting rooms and kitchens, the cottages have sofabeds and kitchenettes, while the rooms and suites are cosier but have a fridge.

    Interiors are the perfect melange of Cypriot vernacular architecture and stylish global accessories, courtesy of Diana’s Limassol-based showroom Thesis. Expect lofty lime-washed beams, white walls with classy black-framed prints, perhaps a Balinese four-poster bed or scallop-handled apothecary's chest. Our favourite touch was the little wooden bedside box: lift the lid to find a stylised room map with green buttons for each lamp.

    Barefoot bliss bathrooms have white polished floors, square porcelain sinks (his and hers, in some rooms), sleek Laufen tubs or wetrooms, funky Grohe taps and - Diana's hallmark - candle-snuffing scissors bent form towel hooks.

    Our favourite room for a couple was spacious studio Almond overlooking the pool, Provencal in style with pale palette and flagged floor. We also loved Olive, where we slept like a dream on the kingsize bed, with no sounds but the occasional hoot of an owl. For a couple with 1 or 2 children, stone cottage Sterna is ideal: it has a small courtyard, snug double bedroom and a lovely sitting room with kitchenette, balcony and 2 sofas.

    As for the houses, Schoolmaster's is a gorgeous luxury escape for a large family, as we can testify on our 2017 revisit. With 3 bedrooms, an excellent kitchen, a wonderful high-vaulted sitting area and small courtyard, you can retreat here in the evenings, and head to the hotel for breakfast (included) and swims (the house lacks its own pool).

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Bathrobes
    • CD player
    • Central heating or wall-mounted heating
    • Coffee / tea making
    • Cots Available
    • DVD player
    • Extra beds
    • Fan
    • Hairdryer
    • Kitchen
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Phone
    • Pool towels
    • Satellite TV
    • Terrace
    • Toiletries
    • WiFi

    Eating

    Breakfast is a yummy spread of healthy delicacies enjoyed in the poolside sun beside fragrant camomile, sage and rosemary. We loved the homemade jams - fig, lemon, hawthorn; fruit salad with pomegranate seeds; medallions of fresh halloumi; sliced tomato and flavoursome lounta (pork loin) atop fluffy home-baked bread; the eggs cooked to order... all of it.

    But dinner stole the show. The charmingly modest Eleftheria produced the most delicious mezes (mini-dishes) that we tasted on our trip. Ramekins of garlic-beetroot dip and smoky pureed aubergine, crisp-fried anari cheese still soft in the centre, slow-cooked kleftiko lamb with caramelised onions which fell apart in the fingers... She used to be the chambermaid until, one day, Vakis asked her to deputise for his highly qualified but underwhelming chef - and the rest is history. The coup de grace were some syrupy, hot loukoumades (pastry puff balls) offset by mastic ice cream - think slightly bitter vanilla - and a shot of signature herb liqueur (behind which lies another story).

    We urge you to prebook half-board at a reduced rate , unless you're in one of the houses and set on self-catering. For more variety, head to one of 3 local restaurants, or to Limassol (30 mins) for a choice of international and Cypriot fare.

    Features include:

    • Bar
    • Children's meals
    • Coffee / tea making
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Organic produce
    • Restaurant
    • Restaurants nearby
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    You're in the undulating, vine-rich foothills of the Troodos Mountains, between the pine-forested summits of Chionistra and buzzy Limassol on the coast:

    • Upwards takes you past the mountain town of Platres for signed trails and mountain-biking tracks to hidden waterfalls, graceful Venetian bridges and imposing Orthodox monasteries, such as Trooditissa
    • Downhill brings you to Kolossi, where the Crusaders built a chunky castle; it combines nicely with the Greco-Roman ruins at Kourion
    • A little further west is Pissouri, one of Cyprus' nicer beaches (with mixed sand and pebbles); and beyond that the iconic sea-washed rock where Aphrodite herself emerged from the waves
    • Staying in the foothills, Ayia Mavri winery (5 mins' drive away, in Koilani) has great muscadet, while Vlassides offers tasting tours
    • Lofou itself is a pretty, sleepy village of 3 restaurants, 1 church and countless cats; most of its 2,000 inhabitants left when the local sherry market collapsed, but its handsome stone buildings are now being restored as summer houses. After a stroll retire to the small basement spa
    • If you tire of village life, head to Limassol for some beach-and-bar action; or prebook Vakis' skippered yacht for a day cruise to Lady's Mile beach, with picnic and watersports

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Cooking classes
    • Golf
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Mountain biking
    • Museums / galleries
    • Sailing
    • Wine tasting

    Kids

    This is a good option for older or more adventurous children who like hiking, exploring villages and valleys, and returning to a comfy house or cottage with a (shared, unheated) swimming pool on tap. But don't expect any organised family activities at the hotel. There are chunky discounts for longer stays.

    Best for:

    Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    The three-storey Schoolmaster's House is perfect for a family of 4-6, with 3 bedrooms (a double and 2 twins), generous living spaces, and a well-equipped kitchen. If there's more of you, book bijou cottage Gatehouse as well, as both can share the courtyard. Archontiko is slightly smaller (2 bedrooms, a double and twin, plus a double sofabed) and cheaper. Both have private courtyards, flatscreen TV/DVD, and board games (including backgammon) for the evenings

    Children's meals:

    Staples such as pasta can be cooked to order if your child isn't up for sampling the excellent Cypriot fare in the restaurant (as ours wasn't)

    Kids Activities on site:

    • Shared swimming pool
    • Board games (including backgammon)

    Kids Activities nearby:

    • A great water park at Fasouri outside Limassol (open May-October), and another in Paphos
    • There's also a zoo at Limassol
    • Hiking

    Families Should Know:

    There are plenty of steps and levels for very small ones to navigate

    Distances:

    • Airport: 60 mins (Paphos)
    • Hospital: 30 mins (Limassol)
    • Beach: 30 mins (Kourion)
    Kid Friendly:

    Location

    Apokryfo is in the small village of Lofou, which is 25km northwest of Limassol (Lemessos) in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains, in Greek-speaking Cyprus.

    By Air:
    Both Paphos (Pafos) and Larnaca (Larnaka) have scheduled and charter flights from UK and Europe. Paphos is slightly nearer, Larnaca has a slightly wider range of flights. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.

    From the Airport:
    You can take a taxi, book a transfer, or hire a car - see our car rental recommendations.

    Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.

    More on getting to Cyprus and getting around

    Airports:

    • Paphos 60.0 km PFO
    • Larnaca 92.0 km LCA

    Other:

    • Beach 30.0 km
    • Shops 0.1 km
    • Restaurant 0.1 km

    Our guests' ratings...

    Based on 36 independent reviews from i-escape guests

    10/10
    Room
    10/10
    Food
    10/10
    Service
    10/10
    Value
    10/10
    Overall

    It was absolutly amazing and definitly worth the trip. Very nice atmosphere to just relaxe on the terrace, read a book and enjoy the silence. The staff was super friendly and the food very delicious. We would highly recommend this wonderful hotel!

    10/10,

    Amazing hotel, absolutely beautiful. It has been renovated with great care and attention, with lovely design touches. The food and service was wonderful. Our suite, Olive, was the largest of those above the restaurant area, with a private veranda overlooking the pool. A car is necessary to get around, otherwise it's just walking around the village and a choice of two tavernas there. We'd love to return.

    10/10,

    You have to like the refined beauty of the hotel, which is a little isolated in a sleepy village. Nothing flashy, only enjoying and relaxing. But we specially liked the (hudge portions of) food and the kindness of the people working there. Kind regards to all the team.

    10/10,

    This is a beautiful, tranquil hotel which has been designed to create a real retreat from the world. The food is simple and local but the cooking is excellent and the portions generous- really wonderful dining.

    8/10,

    Just fabulous! The most friendliest and helpful staff we have ever encountered in a hotel. A relaxing place in a beautiful, UNESCO protected mountain village, away from the business of some of the Cyprus coast. First time for us in Cyprus and we will be returning.

    10/10,

    A beautiful setting for a hotel. Very relaxing and staff most helpful. We had the Lavender bedroom with an end balcony which gave us views over the village. Food is delicious but not a huge choice. A romantic venue, we were lucky that the only children there were young, as it would get a bit noisy with older children.

    10/10,

    A perfect getaway: Idyllic and relaxing setting, friendly service, delicious food. Went as a solo female traveler and was completely at ease.

    10/10,

    The staff were extremely friendly and helpful. The property is exquisitely decorated with a fab spa!

    9/10,

    My partner and I recently spent a wonderful week at Apokryfo, enjoying the blissful tranquility which seems to swathe the whole village. Outstanding features included the most comfortable bed imaginable; the lavish breakfast buffet as well as consistently delectable evening meals (astonishingly good value, in our opinion) and most memorably the complete charm, friendliness and effortless hospitality of all the staff. The hotel is a destination in its own right, and the perfect choice for those wishing to avoid the resorts.

    10/10,

    A very special place. We were there for a week in February and really enjoyed our stay. Highlights were the staff ( warm, attentive), the food (we're usually meat eaters but found the vegetable dishes good enough to do without meat) and our comfortable, spacious bedroom. A small negative: the hotel did not have a laundry service which makes a difference if you're there for a week.

    10/10,

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