Review of Elysium Hotel Paphos
Paphos is known for its archaeological remnants and beautiful mosaics, earning itself a place on the UNESCO list of cultural and national treasures. The name itself comes from the mythological son of Galatea and Pygmalion. The story goes that the sculptor created a beautiful white statue of Aphrodite and fell in love with it. Flattered, the goddess brought the work of art to life. Geographically, the city is split into Greek and Turkish parts, and is also famed for its beautiful year-round weather and coastline. As you can imagine, it’s particularly popular for those of us who aren’t ready to part with summer and are looking for those last minute rays of sunshine. 28 degrees in October beats the temperamental British climate any day. The 20 minute drive from the tiny Paphos airport to Elysium, where we would be staying as part of a press trip for the next three nights, takes us past terrace restaurants, the odd Irish pub and a palette of beige and sandstone. The city I saw is aged and driven by tourism, but without the shrewdness of most places that cater to dollars and Sterling.
The amicability of Paphos is no different at the old-school luxury resort. Through its tall gates and grand facade, there’s warmth in the grandeur. Having arrived at midnight (the easiest flights to take from London to Paphos is via Easyjet and with this airline, you are bound to have delays), Guest Relations had left us a gourmet spread of cold cuts, cheese, fruit and dessert bites. It felt like a home away from home. The resort has 250 rooms and as the northern hemisphere moves into November, you can expect them to fill up quite quickly. And as with most expensive properties, the crowd tends to be older, generations of families and retirees – those that have the luxury of a quick getaway. Perhaps we can add millennial freelancers to that list now. Even with such a wide demographic to cater for, everything was impressively personal. From the waiters that remember little details about you while you were ordering a glass of local wine, to the ladies at the spa reception that smile as if they recognise you. The only thing that reminds you that perhaps, you aren’t the only person in the world here, is that by 10am you’ll peer out at the sparkling sea and landscape of palms and pools to find various shades of pink and brown bodies on the loungers. Even if I had been travelling alone, I don’t think I could feel isolated.
Elysium Hotel is a medley of modern design thanks to a refurbishment two years ago that combined this with the comforting aesthetics of an established, elegant hotel. Ornate fresh flower display, check. Rolling living rooms made of interior dreams, check. And the facilities are vast: a fitness centre fully kitted out and with a class schedule that rivals any gym, tennis courts, an arcade room, beach cabanas, the Opium spa with an indoor pool. You wouldn’t want to just return next year, you’d want to live here.
Food at Elysium Hotel
You can’t write about a resort without mentioning food. When the whole point of choosing a holiday like this is to never have to leave the comforts of your hotel, there’s not much that’s as important as good dining options. Elysium Hotel has five restaurants, some like the Lemonia Piazza is open only for breakfast, while others are buffet only and some are a la carte and require reservation. We didn’t get to try Ristorante Bacco, the Italian restaurant with fresh pastas and alfresco dining but walking into the courtyard feels like you’ve uncovered a rustic Tuscan gem in the middle of the countryside. We’ll save that for the next time. We dined at the Mediterraneo restaurant, which is open from May to October, and features Cypriot staples like grilled octopus and the fresh catch of the day. Complimentary company includes three cats waiting patiently for a bite of your pita bread, which gives the outdoor restaurant a real sense of place, something that so many upscale restaurants lack.
And what five star hotel would be complete without afternoon tea? We got to sample the patisserie selection created at the Elysium kitchen and what a difference it makes. A must-have for lovers of buttery warm scones and cloud-like sandwiches. We were recommended the ice coffees, which Elysium serves with a scoop of ice cream, but even if you were looking for a less decadent version, they do a great iced soy latte. Decent coffee is pretty hard to come by at restaurants from my experience!
If you’re looking for a spot of pampering, I’d thoroughly recommend the holistic body massage with hot stones (€155) using ESPA products, a full 100 minutes of floating in dim lighting amid the sounds of meditation music. It gives you the ultimate chance to reset and energise, because tanning and deciding what to eat at the buffet is hard work. First, the therapist uses a dry brush to remove dead skin cells. Frequent use has been associated with reduction of cellulite, lymphatic drainage and brighter limbs. Admittedly, it’s not so comfortable so I’ll leave it for the occasional spa treatment instead of home use. Next a mint body scrub is applied all over, which unlike many exfoliants, doesn’t feel itchy or uncomfortable if it’s left on the skin for a few minutes. After a quick rinse off in the shower, I’m back in the treatment room for the main event, kneading by hand to ease up the muscles before hot stones are used. My face is tended to using a relaxing lavender scented serum and a pink clay scalp mask is applied to my hair line before the final head massage. I’m told that this product is ideal for people with psoriasis because it’s so moisturising and soothing and can also be left in all day. After luxuriating in that zoned-out serenity that comes post-massage, I head back out into the sunshine, skin supple and prepped for Vitamin D.
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