Apokryfo

Lofou, Cyprus Book from

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 and a white wall at the end for occasional film screenings. A candlelit restaurant serves superb Cypriot dinners; a rooftop bar 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 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’d return like a shot
  • 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 and enclosed; but there are loungers and it's perfectly adequate 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.

  • Don't try and visit the Donkey Sanctuary in Vouni, mentioned in all the guide books: it moved in late 2012 and was seeking new premises when we visited.

  • 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.
  • Great for...

    Family
    Foodie
    Great Outdoors
    Spa
    Wedding
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • 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:

    Rooms

    The main hotel building holds charming rooms and suites, while across the lane there 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 still have a fridge.

    Interiors are the perfect melange of Cypriot vernacular architecture and stylish accessories from around the world, 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 a scallop-handled apothecary's chest. It's the kind of design you want to take home immediately. Our favourite touch was the little wooden box by the bedside: lift the lid to find a stylised map of the room with green buttons for each lamp, which you can touch on and off.

    Gorgeous bathrooms have white polished floors (barefoot bliss), 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 back to form towel hooks.

    Our favourite room for a couple was Almond, a spacious suite overlooking the pool, which feels almost Provencal with its 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. We'd suggest you avoid Pomegranate, which is extremely cosy.

    For a couple with 1 or 2 children, Sterna is ideal: it's a stone cottage across the way, with a small courtyard, a snug double bedroom and a lovely sitting room (kitchenette, balcony and 2 sofas which make very comfy single beds).

    As for the houses, Schoolmaster's in particular would make a gorgeous luxury escape for a large family. With 3 bedrooms, an excellent kitchen, a wonderful vaulted sitting area and a small courtyard, you can retreat here in the evenings, and head to the hotel for breakfast (included) and swims (all the house lacks is 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 buffet spread of healthy (and yummy) delicacies which you can enjoy in the poolside sun, sitting on canvas directors chairs brushed by fragrant camomile, sage and rosemary, while the well gurgles behind you. We loved the jams - fig, lemon, hawthorn - all homemade by Eleftheria; the fruit salad with pomegranate seeds, diced apple and juicy orange segments; the medallions of fresh halloumi, sliced tomato and flavoursome lounta (pork loin) atop fluffy, yellow, home-baked bread... all of it, in fact, and not a baked bean in sight.

    But dinner stole the show. The charmingly modest Eleftheria produced the most delicious sequence of 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, deliciously sweet lambs liver with caramelised onions, slow-cooked kleftiko lamb which fell apart in the fingers... Hard to believe she used to be the chambermaid until, one day, Vakis asked her to deputise for his highly qualified but underwhelming chef - and the rest, as they say, 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 their signature herb liqueur (behind which lies another story). Mmmmm.

    You can prebook half-board at a reduced rate - and, unless you're in one of the houses and set on self-catering, I urge you to do that. If you want variety, head to one of the village's 3 restaurants, or down to Limassol (30 mins) for a wide choice of international and Cypriot fare.

    Features include:

    • Bar
    • 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, halfway between the pine-forested summits of Chionistra and buzzy Limassol on the coast - meaning you can head up or down (or nowhere), depending on your mood:

    • Upwards will take you past the mountain town of Platres (where the colonial Brits had their summer capital) into the summit zone, for signed trails and mountain-biking tracks to hidden waterfalls, graceful Venetian bridges and imposing Orthodox monasteries, such as Trooditissa
    • Downhill brings you out at Kolossi, where the Crusaders built a chunky castle to protect their sugar crop; it combines nicely with the Greco-Roman ruins at Kourion (catch a performance of jazz or Shakespeare in the open theatre if you can)
    • 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 is said to have emerged from the waves (pretty enough, but go early or very late to avoid bus tours)
    • Staying in the foothills, Ayia Mavri winery (5 mins' drive away, in Koilani) has great muscadet, while Vlassides - hosted by the dynamic, English speaking Sophoklis - offers tasting tours of red, white and dessert wines
    • 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, meaning the vine terraces lie abandoned, but its handsome stone buildings are now being restored as summer houses
    • If you tire of village life, head to Limassol for some urban 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 in the woods, exploring villages and valleys, and returning to a comfy house or cottage with a (shared) swimming pool on tap. But don't expect any organised family activities at the hotel. You can book rooms, studios or a house, for anything from 1 night upwards. Rates, though they look very expensive at first, include breakfast, tax and service, and there are chunky discounts for longer stays.

    Best for:

    Teens (over 12)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Schoolmaster's House is perfect for a family of 4-6, with 3 bedrooms (double and 2 twins), generous living spaces, and a well-equipped kitchen. 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.

    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

    Distances:

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

    Our guests' ratings...

    10/
    Rooms
    10/
    Food
    10/
    Service
    9/
    Value
    10/
    Overall

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