The classic Annabelle Hotel in Cyprus is Emma Hiley's go-to hotel for winter sun trips with the whole family in tow. Post-Covid, and with a huge multi-million pound refurbishment complete, she checked to see if it's still at the top of its game.
When all around, hotels are vying to be shinier, brighter, more dazzling and boundary pushing than ever, sometimes what actually feels most innovative is an old-school classic.
The Annabelle has been a stalwart fixture on the Cyprus scene for close to 40 years, quietly cruising along with a year-round loyal following of repeat guests. They are drawn in by its fantastic setting right on the water’s edge, the tiered landscaping and hibiscus-lined gardens, the wildly welcoming staff and sense of reassuring solidity — all is always well with the world here.
In 2018, a £10million refurbishment pepped things up again for years to come, adding a fourth floor to the property, as well as a glass sided, sea-view spa and a spruce-up of all of the rooms. Regulars were thrilled; so were the newcomers who finally started to pay some well-deserved attention.
There’s a kind of retro glamour to the place now (I think it might be the deep navy and white striped seating and beach towels which remind me of an elegant ocean liner). Orange trees frame the swimming pools; lizards bask on hot stones.
For families, a stay is thrillingly straightforward — especially if you’re travelling in the October half-term (book now, you’ll thank me later) when the sun is still shining, but not to the extent that you go through ludicrous amounts of sun cream. There are spacious, interconnecting rooms — so you can configure a room set-up best suited to your needs and don’t end up with a child sleeping precariously on a sofa at the end of your bed — a breakfast buffet feast, served under the palm trees in balmy morning heat, tennis lessons, a kids club (book in advance), multiple swimming pools and sunbeds with a handy push button that, when pushed, summons a nearby member of staff proffering iced coffees and piña coladas.
It’s simply not possible for any thumb-twiddling or complaints of boredom.
More adventurous children will love the water sports centre which can organise boat trips, paddleboarding and hours spent messing around on motorised bobcats and pedalos. It’s worthing noting that there’s no beach other than a tiny scoop of sand in front of the hotel, but you can dive in right there and snorkel along the rocks on the look out for turtles (and let’s face it, children and sand is never a happy mix).
Sign up for the ‘dine-around’ option and you can eat in any of hotel restaurants, as well as those in the next door Almyra. Traditional Cypriot taverna Ouzeri is especially lovely with live music and tiny cats weaving between the table legs.
The coastline around Paphos is an un-pretty jumble of hotels and the town itself, other than its ancient archaeological site, is overrun with more fast food joints and souvenir shops than is ideal, but you likely won’t even notice. When the weather is this good and the children are so happy where they are, you’ll likely never need to leave the hotel grounds.
P.s The lobby bar does a mean dirty martini (for parents only).
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