Cyprus calm matches its charm

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Cyprus calm matches its charm

Being on holiday on October 7 felt wrong but I couldn't have been in a better place

Louisa Walters is Features Editor at the Jewish News and specialises in food and travel writing

Everyone remembers where they were on October 7 and I was at the Annabelle, a charming, peaceful haven right near to Paphos harbour. Usually swarming with Israelis at Simchat Torah, the area was depleted of them within 24 hours, but I stayed in the embrace of this very special hotel during that terrible week.

It’s the promenade that I love the most – miles and miles of flat walking along the seafront, as good for the soul as it is for the step count and a foil for the calories consumed at the Annabelle’s range of restaurants.

My favourite is the Italian-style Mediterraneo, where, seated on a plump cushioned banquette, I tucked into an eponymous Branzino Mediterraneo (sea bass in a vegetable minestrone sauce with white beans and basil pesto).


I enjoyed tapas, cocktails and live music at Ouranos on the roof and authentic Asian at Notios, which is at sister hotel Almyra next door. Yet it’s the simple, fresh, home-style lunch at traditional Cypriot taverna Ouzeri overlooking the sea that is the experience has stayed with me.

Bright white bedrooms with balconies that look on to the two large pool areas, there’s even a secret cave pool with a swim-up bar and who doesn’t love one of those? Fat cushions on the beds and towels that cover the length of them – little touches that elevate this hotel to luxury status which has an intimate, boutique hotel feel despite the 244 bedrooms, rooftop spa and indoor pool with a beach area.

It’s tempting to do nothing more than lie on those sumptuous deckbeds under a sun which which still shines strongly in October, but I ventured through the harbour town to see the Paphos Mosaics, considered among the finest in Europe. Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they were only discovered in 1962, after a farmer ploughing his field accidently unearthed one of them. The intricate mosaics, which depict scenes from Greek mythology, are the remains of four villas of Roman noblemen that date from the 2nd to the 5th centuries AD.

On a run as the sun went down on Friday evening, by husband’s route took him past Chabad. A hive of activity as services were about to commence, he stepped inside to light a yarzheit candle for those who had lost their lives in the terrorist attack just a few days before. His was one of many.

More and more modern, glitzy hotels are being built in Paphos, yet the Annabelle has a very high percentage of returning visitors. “It’s about how you make people feel, says manager Ravzan Bordea. “People care more about that than how it looks.”

I know how calm it made me feel, even during the most terrifying time in our recent history.

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