Azur Hotel

Cirali (Olympos), Mediterranean Coast, Turkey Book from Book from £69 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


    i-escape's Best for Kids Awards 2013
    Winner: Value category

    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:

    Our guests' ratings...

    Based on 30 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

    The hotel was beautiful (the gardens are really lovely, as is the pool). The rooms are comfy and functional, if a little dated in the decor. Breakfast was OK, we weren’t as impressed as other reviewers (there’s not a lot of variety over the course of a week, and is very heavy on cheese). The staff were helpful and friendly and the boat tour they organised was brilliant (and very good value).
    There are lots of good restaurants nearby (all within minutes walking distance). Kutle (by the beach) was esp. good, as was Lemon in the village.

    7/10,

    We had a brilliant stay at the Azur Hotel. The staff couldn't have been more helpful and were great with our 2 girls (8 and 5) who made friends and loved the freedom of the glorious gardens.
    The stone bungalow was small, but for sleeping only was fine. Breakfast under the trees is lovely with cheeses, cucumber, beautiful tomatoes, eggs, jams was good but the same every day.
    The food was a little disappointing, there appeared to be a chef missing so the menu was limited with lots unavailable and the same dishes varying day to day, however what we had was good and there were plenty of great places in town very reasonably priced with great atmospheres, beach restaurants for fish were a little pricier but still very good. The Cimera trip was fun, wear walking shoes, its a climb! and the boat trip organised by the hotel was amazing value and swimming with turtles was a real privilege! The Turkish massage at the Kimera hotel was wonderful. The whole area had a lovely relaxed vibe and I would definitely recommend. The same with the hotel although there were lots of kids during the summer holidays. Adults only may feel a little outnumbered!

    9/10,

    The staff are amongst the most courteous, helpful and efficient I have experienced in any Mediterranean location! Would gladly stay again. The gardens the chalets are set amongst are superb. A short walk to the beach with plenty to see and do on foot and some great eating choices in Cirali.

    9/10,

    The Azur Hotel is a wonderful, relaxing and beautifully put together place. So whilst the rooms are simple (and a little hot given the AC only works in one of the rooms) the surroundings are absolutely gorgeous. The gardens are designed to provide each cabin and veranda with privacy and the walk to the various amenities is a sight/ smell bonanza! The pool area is nicely done with no mad scramble of loungers, which just adds to the calm and peaceful atmosphere. A short stroll to the beach where you can hire umbrellas/ loungers, or the hotel will lend you one if you want to head further up the beach to more remote areas. The staff are warm, friendly and smiley and ready to help with any requests. Cirali is a sleepy seaside town, so not for those looking for any kind of nightlife but we loved the mix of restaurants in the one-street town and the fish restaurants on the beach front. Perfect for a one week stay. Would highly recommend.

    8/10,

    Set in a stunning location, this was a great find for a family holiday. The hotel staff where excellent throughout our stay: friendly and amenable, always available for us. There was a good mix of guests and plenty of other children for my two kids (aged 2 & 5) to get on with. The pool set up is good with a smaller shaded pool for younger kids. In terms of food, there was a range of fresh fruits available, along with toast, home made jams, cheeses for breakfast as well as more traditional cuisine for the evening - such as grilled meats, pide's and fish. I would recommend some of the other restaurants near by such as Lemon and Simge - both reasonable and excellent. We enjoyed a visit to Chimera (take marshmallows!) arranged by the hotel, but some other day trips e.g. boat trips may not be suitable for younger children as they can be 5 hours +. I would recommend staying here and would visit again!

    10/10,

    This really is a fantastic find - the hotel itself is so welcoming and relaxing with the prettiest gardens ever, a great pool, yummy breakfasts and the most lovely staff. It really is family friendly, with a special vibe and we met some particularly nice fellow guests there too. Plus the setting is amazing - Cirali and surrounding area are totally beautiful - so lush and green and unspoilt with crystal clear waters, some incredible Lycian ruins and dramatic mountains as a backdrop. There would be quite a few places to explore with a car but we were content to just completely relax and do the odd bit of sight-seeing by boat, on foot (the ruins of Olympus are at the end of the beach) or by transfer arranged by the hotel (the ruins at Phaselis are worth visiting too). And whilst the little town is small (which we liked), it has lots of nice places to eat with great, fresh food. In fact Azur and Aida's own restaurant on the beach is lovely, as are Symge (fab pizzas), Lemon (try the prawn casserole) and Yorruk (traditional Turkish fare). You can also get hotel transfers to restaurants that are slightly further afield - we totally recommend Rivera restaurant up in the mountains - delicious, authentic Turkish food fresh from owner Ali's farm served up on wooden platforms up in the treetops. We originally booked a stone cottage but ended up in a wooden garden lodge (a bit smaller but fine for a family of 4 as long as your kids will share a bed) as we preferred the garden setting and more modern bathrooms. We went in peak Summer holiday time and the pool can get busy at times, but there are always lulls in the day when you can enjoy some quiet times, plus there are free sun loungers and good snorkelling on the beach which is only 5 mins away - it is a little shingly so beach shoes are recommended for those with sensitive feet but you can buy these out there and it is a stunning setting. All 4 of us (including our sons aged 10 and 8) really loved this holiday and relaxed in a way that we rarely do, so much so that we would love to visit again at some point...

    9/10,

    The garden at this hotel is delightful and although our chalet was set away from the reception it was a lovely walk each day through the garden. It also meant that it was a quieter location than the chalets closer to reception so we were glad of this. Hassan and his team are industrious and hard working. They ensure their guests have an enjoyable stay. We really enjoyed our stay and felt very welcomed by the staff. The hotel is close to the beach which is relatively quiet and although semi stoney still beautiful water and swimable. The village has some nice places to eat and shops. A car is useful to see things further afield. The pool is a decent size to have a swim and was mostly quiet. It is a shame it doesn’t open earlier or later (opening hours being 10am-6pm). Generally we enjoyed our stay very much and the staff team were excellent.

    10/10,

    Cirali is a very special place and the Azur Hotel was an enchanting place to stay. A little bit of paradise, with amazing gardens. Accommodation was a bit small but perfectly formed and would have been good to have a few more food options for lunch.

    7/10,

    We had a lovely stay at Azur. The gardens are beautiful and the smell of orange blossom is devine. The simple and neat cabins are in the most gorgeous setting. This is a place to relax. Even the many kids seemed pretty chill. I would return in an instant!

    9/10,

    Our second stay here - the perfect place for a family holiday. Rooms are simple (but are all you need), great breakfasts, heated pool, fantastic beach and loads to do - ruins, mountains, walks. Would recommend hiring a car to really take advantage of what's around. The Riviera treetop restaurant up in the mountains is a particular treat. We went half board as there's lots of nice places to eat, and you can still eat at the Azur if you want.

    9/10,

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