Azur Hotel

Cirali (Olympos), Mediterranean Coast, Turkey Book from Book from £66 per night

Beachside bliss on a budget: simple wooden cabins set in idyllic gardens, with pool, restaurant, big smiles and stunning landscapes
In 12 years of hotel reviewing, this is one of the happiest places I’ve stayed. Staff welcome you with open arms and beaming smiles; by day 3, they’re kissing your children like a favourite aunt. At breakfast tables shaded by mulberry and palm trees, and laid with fresh-picked loquats, homemade poppy seed jam and juicy tomatoes, guests - mostly from Germany, England and Turkey, many with kids in tow - greet each other with broad grins and glowing accounts of the previous day’s gulet excursion.

The gardens here are so idyllic - fringed with blood red hibiscus, orange lilies and rampant dogrose - that you feel as if you’ve unearthed a 21st-century Eden. You’d barely guess that there are 20 wooden cabins among them, screened by citrus trees. They may not be the most stylish inside, but they’re extremely comfy (superb mattresses and sofabeds), and practical too (netted windows, impeccable bathrooms). There’s also a 20-metre pool, a small playground and a handful of 2-bedroom bungalows. Best of all, it’s only 5 minutes’ stroll to one of Europe’s most stunning beaches: the 2-mile pebble-and-sand sickle of Cirali. Flanked on one side by the ancient town of Olympos, on the other by the bizarre flames of the Chimaera and the pine-clad majesty of Mt Tahtali, this is paradise indeed.

Highs

  • It’s a stunning part of the world, perfect for coastal hikes, snorkelling, boat trips, exploring ancient ruins or just lazing on beach loungers (at their sister restaurant)
  • The gardens really are a treasure: hidden hammocks, canopied tea houses, lush lawns, all tended by 3 full-time gardeners (5 at harvest time)
  • The pool is a godsend in the scorching summer, particularly for energetic children
  • Dinners are excellent: grilled meats and fish, salads and sweets, all served alfresco at candlelit tables
  • Fantastic value, especially in the shoulder seasons

Lows

  • The garden lodges are simple, clad in wood with few embellishments, but just right for the setting
  • You can’t bring food and drink to your rooms - understandable as they don’t have kitchenettes, but sometimes you just fancy a snack on your terrace
  • The beach can see several visiting gulets and a clutch of sunbathers at the Olympos end, but head the other way and there’s acres of space
  • You may be asked to settle your accommodation bill in cash on arrival - and be aware that the nearest cash machine is a few miles away

Best time to go

The best times are the shoulder seasons of April-May and mid-September-October, when the sun is not as fierce. It's the perfect time for gentle coastal hikes, and the sea remains warm enough for swimming until early November (though in early April it takes some bravery to plunge in). If you come in high summer, be prepared for temperatures nudging 40 celsius (or escape by cable car to the summit of Tahtali, where it's always around 20 degrees cooler). Don't rule out winter either: it's a mild 20 celsius most of the time at beach level, though the sea will be chilly and the summits covered in snow.

Our top tips

  • Bring toiletries as there was no shower gel or shampoo when we stayed. But no need to bring beach towels - these are provided, along with bathroom towels of course.
  • For a different kind of swim, seek out some of the secret river pools nearby. My favourite is a crystal clear stream shaded by pines, with only the frogs, terrapins and butterflies for company. To find it, from the top of the Chimaera, continue walking up to the crest of the ridge, then follow a small red-waymarked path downhill for about 15 mins. Just before reaching the valley floor, bear right and down. On your left is the biggest pool - deep and long enough for a cooling swim. Back on the main path, if you want to make a loop: continue to the junction with a larger stream, cross on the wooden bridge, and follow the forest track left to emerge after half an hour on the Cirali road, just below a simple roadside eatery. Here you can eat your fill for a few euros before (with luck) hitching a ride back to Cirali (2km).
  • Great for...

    Beach
    Cheap & Chic
    Eco
    Family
    Great Outdoors
    • Beach Hotel
    • 28
    • Restaurant (open daily)
    • All ages welcome
    • Open all year
    • Outdoor Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Board games
    Room:

    Rooms

    There are 2 types of accommodation: the original 8 stone bungalows, which sleep up to 4 in one double bedroom and one twin; and 20 newer wooden cabins dotted among the lush gardens, which each have a double bed (no twins) and a double sofabed in a half-separated room. We’d recommend the garden cabins for couples with (or without) 1 child; and the bungalows for families with 2 children.

    All the garden cabins or lodges are identical, and in terms of setting there’s not much to choose between them: all are nicely screened by fig, palm, orange or mulberry trees. Inside, you get plenty of wardrobe and storage space, mosquito-netted windows (handy for night breezes, though there’s also A/C), and a gleaming tiled bathroom with spacious power shower that would be a credit to a Scandinavian city hotel. It does all feel a bit boxy, but we slept blissfully on new pocket-sprung mattresses (which grace the sofabeds too, though being only 140cm wide I wouldn't recommend them for 2 adults); and the sliding door between the 2 parts meant that we could read after our son was asleep.

    The stone bungalows are next to the restaurant, which can be handy for families wanting to use baby monitors. All of them have a secluded rear terrace looking onto the gardens and playground. The main bedroom is spacious, the children’s twin-bedded (or bunk-bedded) room less so; both have simple decor with a couple of kiddies’ sketches on butter-coloured walls. They share a slightly more dated but still perfectly effective bathroom with shower.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Beach towels
    • Cots Available
    • Extra beds
    • Hairdryer
    • Mosquito net
    • Phone
    • WiFi

    Eating

    Breakfast is a blissful start to the day. At wooden tables shaded by palm and mulberry trees, smiling staff bring a platter of rolls and homemade spreads (including poppy-seed paste and a yummy cinnamon-flavoured marmalade), fresh cherries or succulent orange loquats from the gardens, and healthy Turkish fare (cucumber, tomatoes, wrinkly black olives and mild feta cheese) for those who’ve gone native. For the more conventional, there’s also cereals, eggs as you please, fresh OJ and unhomogenised yoghurt which you can sprinkle with walnut halves and viscous honey (a jar of this is yours to take home if you book through i-escape). The coffee is strong, and there’s all manner of teas and infusions including a powdered apple cay to set you up for the day, or what’s left of it after such a lavish, leisurely spread.

    If you’re down on the beach at lunchtime, try their sister restaurant Azur Aïda, whose octopus salad, marinated sardines and aubergine-garlic yoghurt all slipped down a treat. At one point, the young waiters jumped up in symphony, hosed the dirt track down and then grabbed our parasols; a moment later, a strong gust of wind came - they must have seen it rippling across the sea. Alternatively, eat a light lunch at the hotel's Antik Pool Bar, which also serves drinks until 11pm.

    Come dinner time, the hotel offers a limited but delicious array of grilled meats, seafood and homemade salads, followed by baklava-style sweets and thick Turkish coffee, all served in leafy gardens where kids run around the ancient mulberry tree. We ate here on the first night, and rapidly realised there was no real reason to do anything else during our week. Lamb skewers, fresh calamari and the local ratatouille were highlights, but nothing disappointed - least of all Hassan, Chennai and Turkan’s cheery service. If you do want variety, there’s no shortage of eateries within walking distance, including a pide (Turkish savoury pancake) restaurant, which was warmly recommended. Or you could drive to Ulupinar (5km) for fresh trout on the banks of the plane-shaded stream.

    Features include:

    • Bar
    • Children's meals
    • Organic produce
    • Restaurant
    • Restaurants nearby
    • Vegetarian menu
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Walk to Cirali beach (2 mins away along a direct path) and swim in the wonderfully clear blue waters, grab a sunlounger at Azur's sister restaurant Azur Aida, hire a kayak, go snorkelling - or come for a night-time dip and marvel at the underwater phosphorescence
    • Explore the ruins of the Lycian city of Olympos at the end of the beach: a riverside quay (it was a wealthy port) with ruined houses, cisterns and vaults, a small theatre, a hammam, scattered sarcophagi and a monumental arch hidden in the jungle... you could spend hours here
    • Head the other way to the astonishing natural flames of the Chimaera (2km), where sulphurous flames lick out of gaps in the rocky hillside; sailors once used these as navigational aids, and they're best seen as night falls (bring a torch for the walk back down)
    • Follow footpaths north along the coast towards Tekirova (signed 'Lycian Way') to reach a series of lovely secluded beaches fringed by vibrant green pine forest and clumps of pink oleander
    • Book a cruise on a gulet (traditional wooden boat) - the hotel can advise - for secluded coves, snorkelling and picnics Robinson Crusoe style
    • Drive or sail to the atmospheric Lycian ruins of Phaselis (20km), another 2500-year-old town with aqueducts, streets and a theatre looking out to Mt Tahtali
    • The hotel arranges occasional jeep tours into the mountainous interior, all jagged peaks and wild forests dotted with boar, eagles and riots of wild flowers
    • Keen hikers can tackle the 2,300m summit of Mt Tahtali (starting from Beycik), and descend by cable car; families can book a gentle donkey tour to Beycik waterfalls (book through Vira Natura)
    • The towns of Tekirova and Kemer (20-30km) offer an unexpectedly bling taste of shopping and nightlife

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Kayaking
    • Mountain biking
    • Nightlife
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Private guided tours
    • Shopping / markets
    • Snorkelling
    • Swimming
    • Trekking

    Kids

    Despite having no formal creche nor much in the way of baby equipment, this is a fantastic place for children of all ages. The huge lawned gardens are safe, and when our son did manage to get lost he was quickly returned by a member of staff (they learn your names, and whose child is whose, within minutes). The large pool is great for splashing about; it has a separate shallow section for children (but no lifeguard). It's 5 minutes' walk to a partly sandy beach with warm, safe waters for swimming - though it does shelve quite steeply. The hotel can book boat trips which are extremely popular with older children, visiting secluded coves and stopping to swim in the most azure waters. Above all, the staff and the other families - German, English, Turkish or other - were all extremely friendly and welcoming when we arrived. By the end of our first dinner, our 4-year-old had made firm friends while being chased around the mulberry tree.

    Best for:

    Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    The stone bungalows are best for families of 4-5, having 1 double room and 1 twin (with kid-sized beds), plus space for 1 baby cot (provided on request). They are also within baby-monitor distance of the restaurant, though you'll have to bring your own monitor. The wooden cabins are perfect for a couple with 1 child, using the double sofabed for the child (or 2 children, if they don't mind sharing).

    Children's meals:

    Restaurant staff can provide half portions or cook a particular dish to order (within reason) for your children.

    Kids Activities on site:

    There's a small playground with sandpit, seesaw and swings, aimed mostly at toddlers, and a pool.

    Kids Activities nearby:

    Apart from the beach, older kids will enjoy walking up to the natural flames of the Chimaera which lick out of the ground; and going on skippered boat trips to remote coves and coastlines (pirate hats optional).

    Families Should Know:

    The sun can be scalding in midsummer: anoint your children liberally, keep them in the shade in the middle of the day, and think twice before coming with babies.

    Distances:

    • Supermarket: 30 mins (Tekirova)
    • Hospital: 45 mins (Kemer)
    • Airport: 60 mins (Antalya)
    Kid Friendly:

    Location

    Azur Hotel is situated in the seaside village of Cirali, near ancient Olympos, and about 80km south of the city of Antalya. It's in the shadow of Mt Tahtali, the Lycian Mt. Olympos, on the Mediterranean (south) coast of Turkey.

    By Air:
    Antalya (80km / 1 hour) has lots of flights from Europe, mostly charters. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving this airport.

    From the Airport
    If you don't intend to explore much, you can book an airport transfer through the hotel (see Rates), and then use local buses or taxis for the occasional day trip.

    By Car:
    Otherwise you might prefer to rent 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 Turkey and getting around

    Airports:

    • Antalya 80.0 km AYT
    • Dalaman 250.0 km DLM

    Other:

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

    Our guests' ratings...

    Based on 36 independent reviews from i-escape guests

    9/10
    Room
    8/10
    Food
    10/10
    Service
    10/10
    Value
    9/10
    Overall

    The hotel was even nicer than we thought it would be from the website! We loved the garden rooms, amidst all the lush vegetation they felt very secluded. The food was good, particularly the breakfasts - the evening meals were nice but basically the same menu every day, it would have been nice to have had more variety. The staff were lovely and the excursions they organised were worth doing. We loved the fact that we had free access to the sunloungers outside their sister restaurant on the beach. And the pool was great too. Only the bathrooms could have been better - the extractor fans were too weak and if you have to put your used toilet paper in a bin rather than down the loo it would be nice to have a bin with a lid!

    9/10,

    It is many years since our last visit and we were very impressed by the room upgrades. The garden is even more beautiful and the entire site well maintained. A peaceful oasis with friendly helpful staff. Our particular thanks to Hassan and Yasmin.
    The breakfasts were really good. Unlike last time there were less
    people at dinner .The food was good and Hassan tried really hard to give us variety but it was rather prescriptive. A lovely place to stay and return to again.

    10/10,

    We returned to the Azur for a second time, and received the same great service. The staff are always on hand, and super friendly. The garden rooms are fairly basic, but set in beautiful gardens and contain everything you need.

    9/10,

    We had a fantastic stay at Azur Hotel, Cirali (2 adults and 2 boys aged 7 and 4). The setting is brilliantly located for beach and town and is just beautiful in terms of the expansive, colourful and fragrant gardens that are immaculately tended to. Our stone bungalow, although fairly small, was ideal for a family of four and was located next to the restaurant which was extremely handy but had the advantage of a more private sitting area to the rear where we could sit with drinks in the evening/dry clothes/park our beach equipment etc. The pool area was fantastic for families, immaculately clean, busy and sociable but never overly noisy or without space and the pool bar/restaurant had everything we needed. We ate lunch and dinner at the Azur as well as taking drinks at the bar each evening but also ate at many of the beach and town restaurants and found all to be of a really great standard with lots of options. Cirali is beautiful, unspoilt and is a rare combination of relaxing whilst offering so much to do. We visited the Chimaera, Olympos ruins, did an all day boat trip, hired bikes and cycled around the town, swam, snorkelled, had massages at the Azur, visited a treetop restaurant as well as spending plenty of time playing in the pool and on the beach. The hotel's staff are all wonderfully friendly and attentive although also offer guests total privacy. They learnt our names straight away, were so friendly to our children and attended to every need we had, always with a smile. We would highly recommend the Azur to families with children of any age.

    10/10,

    We have just returned from a brilliant 10 day stay at Azur. The hotel is great - a really special place. The staff are warm and welcoming and are so happy to help with anything. They were especially great with our two boys (4 and 2) and made such a fuss of them every morning at breakfast. They were even happy to start the evening food service early to accommodate our children.
    The bungalows are all tucked away amongst the fruit trees so it feels very quiet and private. The gardens are beautiful and very well maintained. The pool is great and kept our boys well entertained and the beach is only a few minutes away too. We would highly recommend this hotel and expect to return at some point!

    10/10,

    This place is paradise , the garden is truly beautiful, the pool lovely and quiet and the staff friendly and welcoming. Cirali itself is also breathtaking, with a lovely view of mount Olympus by the swiming pool. This place is amazing value an a wonderful place to take the kids for a quiet week of R&R . Thank you Azur we had an amazing time

    10/10,

    Our group (four adults and six children aged about 10) spent a fantastic week in Azur Hotel. The wooden cabins were excellent, the staff always attentive and friendly, the gardens amazing and the pool area and adjoining bar/ seating area was ideal. The breakfasts were enjoyed by all; we didn't otherwise eat much at the hotel, but I can recommend the cheese pide. Altogether a great experience.

    10/10,

    We loved the hotel, the gardens, the staff and the pool. It was perfect.

    10/10,

    We had a wonderful stay at the Azur with our 3 year old daughter. The idyllic gardens were a treat to walk through each day and the close proximity of the Azur to the beach and village shops/ restaurants was great. Our daughter loved it here too. Highly recommend if you want a relaxing family break with plenty to keep younger children occupied (beach, pool, playground, gardens, other children)!

    10/10,

    Azur is wonderful. The grounds are majestic, with plenty of books and crannies to laze away the day. The pool area is superb, the loungers are comfortable and pool is sparklingly clean. The beach is a short walk away. You need beach shoes to navigate the pebbles which lead to down the incredibly blue water. It feels almost Thailand-esque with the mountains in the background. Have a massage with Hakan - he’s great! The food is fresh, full of flavour and simple in a way that you want to eat there everyday. Finally - the staff are kind and considerate, going out of their way to be hospitable. Wholly recommend it!

    9/10,

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