“Our favourite boutique guesthouse in Cyprus: a gorgeous, spoiling hideaway in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains”
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).
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.
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:
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.
Teens (over 12)
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.