The grande dame of European family hotels is back at the helm after a recent multi-million euro refurbishment. Setting the benchmark for luxurious resorts, Anassa Hotel overlooks the sparkling Mediterranean waters and has great food and beverage facilities, fantastic extracurricular offerings and endless activities for kids.
The property lies on the west coast of Cyprus in lush surroundings on the Akamas peninsula. Perched on the cliff’s edge and just a few steps away from the beautiful beach, a short boat ride takes you to the crystal clear waters of the blue lagoon.
There are two outdoor pools (one heated, the other fed by natural waterfalls) and one indoor pool, well-lit with natural light despite being subterranean and located adjacent to the spa. But whatever accolades and awards are attached to it, Anassa is surprisingly cool and relaxed. I wandered around in shorts and flip flops for the better part of four days, although I donned some pants and a polo for dinner, and no one cared.
Originally designed by an American architect, all of the rooms are super spacious. The recent renovation was the work of famous Parisian interior designer Joelle Pleot who was assisted by local artisans, the Charalambous brothers. The style is fresh, chic and Greek, flooded with light and sea views at every turn. Private, intimate and very spread out, Anassa always feels half empty even when it’s full.
Its reputation precedes it. Most guests rave about the stellar location, the beautiful flower filled gardens, the delightful suites, and the exceptional spa. And, as I discovered during my stay, for families, this is indeed a beautiful hideaway, with more activities than the kids could possibly undertake in a week. It is not, however, a romantic retreat for couples. In a nutshell, it’s a relaxed yet sophisticated environment for a luxury family vacation. Full stop.
- Daily breakfast for two
- Room upgrade upon arrival
- Subject to availability
- Early check-in / Late check-out
- Subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Exclusive benefits may vary by hotel or hotel group. Exclusive benefits apply when booking the Best Available Rate and are not combinable with any hotel offers or special packages unless stated.
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After a harrowing flight on Jet2.com aboard what must be the oldest B757 still flying, I landed in Cyprus on a rather grey and rainy afternoon. The hotel car was waiting, and I headed off on a 45-minute (not overly scenic) ride to the Anassa. Friendly staff greeted me, checked me in, and explained the layout of the resort and the restaurant options. They reserved me a spot at the beach BBQ that evening. We hopped into a golf buggy, and I was driven to my room.
Although it was raining, the hotel grounds were delightful to see. Large trees and gardens bursting with flowers, meandering walkways, and ocean views transported me instantly into vacation mode.
Rooms and suites
Rooms and suites are grouped in different buildings, with garden or ocean views. My Ocean Junior Suite was on the upper level of a two-level building which housed four suites. Bold and contemporary, interiors are a blend of silks and linens in nautical blue and crisp white atop gleaming marble floors. Drawing on the island’s heritage, the bed frames in painted metal and the wooden chests are all locally sourced. A mix of studio rooms, suites (one and two-bedroom), residences and four huge villas, are available. Some have pools.
At 53m² (570ft²), my suite was spacious, a perfect size for two adults and a child with plenty of room to spread out. Upon entering, there was a hallway leading to a large, open-plan room with a living area and an L-shaped couch and a large coffee table. There was also a cabinet housing a television and a DVD player. Better yet, there was no desk.
With the exception of the TV being located way across the other side of the room coupled with an un-cooperative remote control, these layouts are good, especially if you are travelling with a child or another adult who may be sleeping on the sofa bed. There’s space to spread out—important if you are staying more than a few nights.
And getting the right room is important too, as it will make or break your stay. Avoid the Garden View Rooms and Studio Suites; not that they’re unpleasant, but they are overcrowded with furniture and cramped.
For the ultimate in space and luxury, consider one of the villas where you won’t go wrong. Most villas comfortably accommodate up to six guests with acres of space along with fantastic sea views.
In-room technology here does not score highly. Given the size of my suite, the TV was far too small and old compared to what’s out there today. The choice of channels was less than exciting, and reception was fuzzy. On the plus side, the hotel’s WiFi and internet speeds were good.
Anassa’s bathrooms are large and lavishly decorated in cream marble from top to bottom. Featuring a large double vanity with twin basins, a lit shaving mirror and a hairdryer, everything is within easy reach. There is a large soaking tub, a walk-in shower and a separate WC.
One slightly odd thing, however, was what appeared to be the rationing of fluffy, white towels. Perhaps because I was staying on my own, housekeeping felt I didn’t need them. They were generous with the toiletries, though, from Miller Harris.
There’s a variety of cuisines on offer, with a total of eight restaurants and bars. Breakfast at Amphora Restaurant is a feast in itself, with a huge buffet, an egg station and a variety of goodies and a selection of local honey, even one infused with herbs from the garden.
For dinner, the gourmet options are Basiliko, which fuses Asia and the Mediterranean in its dishes, such as wagyu beef cannelloni with teriyaki mushrooms, or Helios, with its classically Mediterranean dishes, such as red mullet pan-fried with saffron, garlic and tomato.
Pelagos, taverna-like in style, overlooks the pool and the sea. It serves delicious mezze, salads, pasta and seafood (open for lunch and dinner). There is also a weekly barbeque on the beach. For sundowners, Armonia Bar is the place to go, but nothing tops the rose petal mojito cocktail at Meltemi, the swim-up bar in the infinity pool.
I have to say that it was rather a mixed bag when it came to the quality of food and service. At the excellent end of the scale was the beach BBQ and the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, Helios. I generally shudder at the thought of a beach BBQ—all that plodding through the sand only to find a selection of charred offerings that all, more or less, taste the same. Not so here, where a menu awaits you on the table outlining an excellent selection of dishes, all of which are served course by course, family style. The food, service and ambience were all good.
Helios is another dining highlight. This delightful room with its well-spaced tables is the perfect spot for foodies. I started with the roasted lobster and scallop ravioli, followed by the grilled fillet of beef. Excellent fare, I could have eaten a double-helping of the ravioli it was so tasty.
The restaurant has a good wine list, although the service staff didn’t know much about the wines on offer—something I noticed in all the hotel’s restaurants. Service overall was very pleasant and well-paced.
Basiliko is the hotel’s much-lauded restaurant. It’s an intimate, romantic spot and one of the few places in the resort that is a child-free zone. The food and service, however, are underwhelming. I started with the tuna sashimi which was pleasant enough, followed by the spicy prawn curry. It was hands down the worse prawn curry I have ever eaten: bland, overcooked prawns served with lukewarm, undercooked rice. Worse than the food, however, was the attitude I received from my waiter when I explained why I had left most of the dish; I was given a scornful look while the bowl was whisked away without an apology.
When it comes to breakfast, I have one single piece of advice: stay in and order room service. The Amphora restaurant itself is fine, but at peak times, it’s a zoo. You will likely have to wait for a table, and when you do get one, you’ll be surrounded by crying babies and screaming toddlers. The message I give to all hotels is a simple one: not everyone has children so make an area available for those without—it’s so easy really. And while staff most certainly did their best to deliver good service, the general mayhem along with the rush of guests at certain times made it a real challenge to eat my meal.
Spa and wellness
The neoclassical spa is a vast, quiet space; exactly what you want when you are seeking some inner peace. Everything is here: Thalassotherapy, massages, organic facials, olive oil scrubs—all executed with a caring touch.
The Thalassa Spa at Anassa ranks as one of the best I have seen in a long time. I chose the 90-minute deep tissue massage, and it was excellent. My therapist, with fingers of steel, managed to cajole every muscle into an unknotted and relaxed state for which I was enormously grateful. As I sat, post massage, gently poaching in one of the Thalasso pools, I noticed that for the first time in a long time, I had no aches anywhere.
The list of treatments is extensive and impressive. I would encourage anyone staying here to experience the spa as it is one of the best I have been to anywhere in the world.
Personal training sessions are available in the gym as are tennis coaching and yoga sessions.
Pool and beach
Anassa has two main pools, the indoor exercise pool and the large outdoor pool. I particularly liked the setup of the outdoor one with its tiered design, offering various levels attracting a variety of guests. Those without children tend to gravitate to the top levels, while families head to the lower levels and the large grassy area in front of the main pool.
A swim-up bar is located next to the pool which serves excellent cocktails along with a bar menu. Overlooking the pool is the Pelagos restaurant that serves salads and freshly caught grilled fish (among other pool-side staples) for lunch.
Like on many Mediterranean islands, Anassa’s beach is made up of small pebbles which can give one’s feet a good workout so this is the only time it’s acceptable to appear in public wearing Crocs. Thankfully, however, there are wooden walkways that lead to sun-loungers and on down to the crystal-clear water’s edge.
The offering of activities for children is extensive. Moreover, there are completely different programmes for all age groups. Although chargeable, days will be fun-filled from start to finish.
Staff and service
Service, for the most part, is extremely polished and the friendly staff go out of their way to make you feel at home. However, I did feel I was on a rollercoaster that ranged from exceptionally good to rather indifferent in terms of service. That, of course, excludes the whole breakfast experience for which staff deserve a gold medal for just surviving the ordeal every day.
A fundamental ingredient of any luxury hotel offering is its service, something which Anassa needs to work on a little harder.
My fellow guests were overwhelming British with a sprinkling of Europeans and Russians. Families with small children and babies were the order of the day.
The hotel was kind enough to let me retain my room until my early evening departure. Check-out was smooth and I was on my way to the airport within ten minutes.
How to get there
45 minutes by road transfer from Paphos Airport
166 Rooms & Suites