The owners of the Bellapais Gardens must have had me in mind when they built their hotel - everything about it was my idea of hotel heaven.
Setting - a garden full of fruit (oranges, almonds, grape vines), trees and flowers set on a steep hillside right beside the beautiful abbey ruins of Bellapais. The building housing reception, restaurant and guest lounge is at the top of the garden, the swimming pool at the bottom with guest accommodation nestled into the garden in between.
Small - just 17 rooms, housed in seperate little two-storied cottages, each cottage with a bedroom and balcony upstairs and a sitting room, bathroom and small terrace downstairs. The rooms were comfortably furnished and simply stylish, the newly renovated bathrooms spotless, the maid service smiling, quiet and efficient. Television, free wi-fi, tea and coffee making facilities were all in place to complete the amenities of the rooms. A designated car parking space by the cottage was handy for making a quick dash on a rainy return from sightseeing and for loading luggage on the day we left.
Service - friendly helpfulness personified. A family-run operation - one brother, Erkan, at the front of house; the other, Selim, the chef; all the staff genuinely involved in making their guest's stay as enjoyable as it could possibly be.
Spectacular - the only word to describe the view from the restaurant - the narrow coastal plain, the city of Kyrenia and the sea spread out before us, sparkling in morning sunshine, glittering with lights from sunset on.
Unique Quality: Signed-up members of the Slow Food Movement, the Bellapais Gardens delivers a whole package of what the movement is all about - "basic needs that never change - the need to be seen and appreciated! It is the need to belong. The need for nearness and care, and for a little love!"( Professor Guttorm Fløistad)
We're not great believers in eating in the hotel we're staying at but, after choosing to eat in house as a first night convenience, we ate there every night of our stay - the food was that good. A log fire, comfortable chairs and sofas and a well stocked library of books about Cyprus in the guest lounge saw us staying on after dinner, sometimes talking to a fellow guest , sometimes simply enjoying a last glass of wine in quiet comfort - the local red wine recommended by Calo, the maitre d', was excellent .
Breakfast offered a variety of dishes cooked to order and a simple buffet - fruit, delicious local yoghurt and honey, cereal, juice, breads and pastries - all served up with that spectacular view.
Our cottage, Number 7, was about half-way down the garden - the path a fairly steep slope. I have to say, the walk up to the restaurant from the lower cottages could prove arduous, especially in summer's heat although the paths to the lower cottages and the pool are levelled and stepped.
And then there's those views - not only from the restaurant but from every window and doorway of the cottages, views of Kyrenia and the sea, the mountains behind, the steep ravine beside the hotel and, rising vertically abovethe swimming pool, the abbey - stunning!
Directions: 4km inland from the centre of Kyrenia (Girne)