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Sun, sea and souvlaki in sunny Cyprus

Those exotic, far-flung, sunny destinations are a thing of the past now that we have a family. Nowadays we try to keep things simple with a staycation or hop over to Europe. But as it gets later and later in the year, we’re limited on where to go for some guaranteed sun, which is why choosing Cyprus was such a pleasant surprise.

The weather stays warm up until November, so if you’re looking for a cheeky getaway during half term, Cyprus is a brilliant bet.

The location

Did you know that Cyprus is a UNESCO World Heritage site? Neither did I. It’s dotted with Roman ruins and old villas and is steeped in culture and history. This year the city was awarded the European Capital of Culture along with Aarhus, Denmark so it’s been buzzing with cultural and historic events which carry on until the end of the year.

We decided to stay away from the commercialised Coral Bay resort and picked Kato Paphos instead. We flew direct from East Midlands (yayyy a 20-minute journey from our house) via Jet2 and the journey was smooth sailing from start to finish. The flight is a little bit longer than we would usually do but we packed a load of sticker and reading books to keep the mudlet busy and had a few episodes of Peppa Pig recorded for back up. We landed in Paphos in just under 5 hours and the drive to our hotel was 25-30 minutes so we had checked in and freshened up just in time for dinner.

The hotel is located on Poseidonos Avenue – it’s a brilliant base and you’re in good company with the swish Annabelle hotel to your left and Alexander The Great to your right and the lively harbour is only a 10 minute walk which is filled with restaurants and cafes.

The hotel

Okay I’ll admit it, I’m a fusspot when it comes to hotels and even though I’d heard lots of good things about The Almyra, I still did my own research.

Inside, the hotel is spacious, cool and seriously stylish – the website describes it as “a pure, crisp white decor sits within earshot of the crashing waves.” Our room was minimal but comfortable; marble floors, a compact bathroom, fluffy bath robes and sliding doors opening up to the outside world (we didn’t have much of a view but if your budget can stretch, opt for the sea view room) the only thing the room lacked, was table space.

There are four (yes, that’s right) marble-tiled freshwater pools. Two for families and the two by the spa are for adults only – I can make my peace with that! Each one looks as stunning as the next and surrounded with olive trees and immaculate green lawns. The main pool is partly shaded with a beautiful tree blossoming with bright pink flowers.

There are tennis courts, a small zip wire, a luxurious spa and a playground complete with trampolines. The staff are friendly and each one acknowledged our mudlet, some even remembered his name which is impressive considering how many kids they must see every day.

Facilities

The Almyra spa is well worth checking out and really pulls out all the stops. If you want a break from the kids (whether they are your own or someone else’s), escape to the infinity pool which overlooks the sea. Treatments are indulgent and prices range from €50 to €180 but hey, you’re on holiday so why not treat yourself and zone out completely.

This was the first time we checked into a hotel with a kids club and I think I was more excited than my toddler. There are two kids clubs available; The Adventurers Club for those under 5 and the Explorer’s Club for the older kids. The Adventurer’s club was bright, airy and kids can help themselves to what they want from train sets to books, painting to puzzles, there really is something for everyone. I visited with my toddler about three times and each time he cried when we had to leave. You also have the option to leave them with fully trained staff for a morning, afternoon or the full day for an extra fee.

The hotel also offers a Baby Go Lightly service from which you can order a variety of things from food jars, nappies, baby gym sets to puzzle, books and milk and cookies for bedtime. Some are complimentary and some you have to pay for.

Scoff/quaff

Notios restaurant serves lunch from 12.30 and dinner. They also have a menu for kids serving anything from fish fingers and chips to toasted paninis meanwhile the menu for adults is inspired by Japanese and Asian flavours. Ouzeri restaurant was my fave and is just tucked away just at the bottom of the stairs that lead to the sea. Overlooking the harbour, it’s a cosy spot serving traditional mezes, seafood and lush Greek salad topped with yummy feta. In the evening, there’s often live music and it’s a beautiful spot to enjoy a glass of wine.

Mosaic Restaurant is the main restaurant which serves breakfast and a buffet dinner. Don’t expect chips, pizza or burgers here. When we visited they had everything from sushi to red thai curry, tofu spring rolls to pork madras and the dessert bar didn’t disappoint – I mean how can you with so much on offer?! The food would make the most fussiest eater smile with glee.

There was always one main hot veggie option but it would have been good to see a bit more variety. The salad bar was always my first port of call and on more than one occasion I stuffed my face with cheese, croutons and crackers. If you opt for the buffet dinner, drinks are not included so you may need to think twice before ordering that second bottle of red.

Across from the hotel is the picturesque Porto Bello restaurant. It serves Italian food but really really good Italian food. I ordered a baked tortellini dish which was delicious and Mr Muddy ordered a pizza which I could not keep my mitts off and they also do a kids menu.

Out and about

You could easily stay at The Almyra and laze around to your hearts content, which a lot of people did, but if like us, you like to explore, there’s plenty to see and do. After all, there’s only so much splashing around in a pool you can do!

If you’re not in possession of children I strongly recommend visiting the ancient Roman mosaics also Petra tou Roamiou, the mythical birthplace of the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite and of course the Tombs of the Kings. But with a kid in tow, we still managed to make the most of our trip by spending one day in the old town and strolling around the local shops and market watching live demonstration of traditional handicrafts, pottery, basket making, weaving and more.

We spent a day at the beach in Coral Bay but the trek back to the main area is uphill and in the blazing sun it wasn’t exactly comfortable but it’s a good way to work up an appetite in time for the strip of restaurants that await you. We also spent a few hours at Kings Avenue Mall, good for a quick mooch. They had a soft play area which we visited once when the sun was too unbearably hot. You can also head to the ancient castle close by which was once a Byzantine fort. There’s also a zoo, an archaeological park and waterparks you can visit.

Another good thing about the location is that the bus station is just around the corner from the harbour and offers a good service in air conditioned vehicles. It’s €1.50 for any journey but a word of warning, during peak times the buses can get super busy so don’t always expect a seat.

The Muddy verdict:

Good for: families with children under 10 (but in my opinion it’s best for those under 5); if you want to be in the hub of everything but at the same time away from it all, staying in gorgeous and stylish surroundings, this is the place to be; romantic couples; it’s a family hotel but we didn’t experience any noisy brats perhaps because we were here after the summer rush.

Not for: those who want to be right by the beach or are on a tight budget.

£££: Definitely on the more pricier side. Kate Paphos is home to more upmarket hotels and you pay for what you get. The rooms start from €260 B&B per night via www.almyra.com or you can book via Jet2holidays like we did and get a package deal which luckily for us included a free upgrade to dinner. Dinner at the Mosaic Restaurant is €32 per person, a main meal at Notios starts from €14.50 and at Ouzerie food starts from €6.50.

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