Azur Hotel

Cirali (Olympos), Mediterranean Coast, Turkey
Book from GBP Book from £129 per night

Azur Hotel

Cirali (Olympos), Mediterranean Coast, Turkey

Beachside bliss on a budget: simple cabins and villas set in idyllic gardens, with pool, restaurant, big smiles and stunning landscapes

Beachside bliss on a budget: simple cabins and villas set in idyllic gardens, with pool, restaurant, big smiles and stunning landscapes

In my many 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 three, 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 32 cabins and houses among them, screened by citrus trees. They may not be the most stylish inside, but they’re extremely comfy, and practical too (netted windows, impeccable bathrooms). There’s also a 20-metre pool and a small playground. Best of all, it’s only five minutes’ stroll to one of Europe’s most stunning beaches: the two-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 three full-time gardeners
  • 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 al fresco at candlelit tables
  • Fantastic value, especially in the shoulder seasons

Lows

  • The accommodation is simple, but just right for the setting
  • The beach has seen some modest growth of (mostly Russian) tourism, with accompanying gulet tours; head left, though, and there’s acres of space
  • We've also heard reports that the beach (a turtle reserve) is no longer so turtle-friendly, with some loud music and sea-borne litter
  • As is common around the Mediterranean, there are stray cats (and the occasional dog) that roam the grounds freely
  • If you haven't prepaid, the hotel prefers to settle in cash on arrival so make sure to get cash

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
    • 32 cabins and houses
    • Restaurant (open daily)
    • All ages welcome
    • Open all year
    • Outdoor Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • Beach Nearby
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Car recommended
    • Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • WiFi
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Board games
    Room:

    Rooms

    There are 4 types of accommodation: the original 8 stone bungalows, 21 wooden cabins dotted among the lush gardens, 2 Green Valley Houses, and 2 Azur Villas. We’d recommend the garden cabins for couples with (or without) 1 child; and the bungalows or villas for families with 2 children.

    The Wooden Bungalows are identical, and 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. There's also one Wooden Studio which is simply an ensuite bedroom without the living area, offering a more basic but great value option.

    The Stone Houses 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.

    The Green Valley Houses and the 2 Azur Villas are new since we last visited. They are simple in design but look spacious inside. The Azur Villas are good for families as they have two double bedrooms each, plus a kitchen. The Green Valley Houses enjoy an enviable location close to the beach.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Beach towels
    • Cots available
    • Hairdryer
    • In-room treatments available
    • Mosquito net
    • 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.

    The hotel serves lunch and dinner by the pool, on a shaded patio area. On offer is a limited but delicious array of grilled meats, seafood and homemade salads, followed by baklava-style sweets and thick Turkish coffee. 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.

    If you're staying in the Azur Villas you get your own kitchen for preparing food - ideal if you've got kids in tow.

    Features include:

    • Bar
    • Kids' meals
    • Organic produce
    • Restaurant
    • Restaurants nearby
    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
    • Take part in a yoga class, held in an airy wooden hut nestled within the lush gardens
    • 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)
    • Kick back on the loungers by the pool if you want a lazy day
    • 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
    • Yoga

    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 Houses 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 Azur Villas have two double bedrooms and their own kitchens so are ideal for a family of 4 - providing the kids don't mind sharing a bed. The Wooden Bungalows are perfect for a couple with 1 child, using the double sofabed for the child.

    Cots Available, Extra Beds Available, Family Rooms

    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 17 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

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    Rates for Azur Hotel

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