Cyprus is the birthplace of some of the great travel-writing clichés of all time, but they’re hard to avoid: it really is a country of contrasts, where old meets new, where the mountains meet the sea, where east meets west and where you can ski and swim in the same day (at least at certain times of year). It also boasts an enormous choice of accommodation, but we have whittled it down and selected what we think are the best places to stay in Cyprus (if you'd prefer a villa or apartment there's a great choice on booking.com, our online partner).
Small though Cyprus is - the Republic of Cyprus, excluding the Turkish-occupied North, covers just 14,400 square kilometres - it still has its pockets of wilderness: the rocky and barren Akamas peninsula, where sea-turtles lay eggs on deserted beaches; the Troodos mountain range (rising to the 1,952m summit of Mount Olympus); and the thickly forested hills of Tillyria where wild boar and mouflon roam.
Cyprus also boasts a number of world-class ancient relics – notably, the Hellenistic mosaics of ancient Paphos; the huge Roman theatre at Kourion; the medieval castles at Colossi, Limassol and Larnaka; the wonderful frescoed Byzantine churches of the Troodos; and the outstanding Cyprus Museum with archaeological finds spanning several millennia.
Nicosia, the capital, is only an hour or so from the main beach resorts. It is sadly bereft of charming hotels, but its walled medieval centre has bags of character.
Although split in two by the no-man’s-land of the 1974 ceasefire line, it is possible to cross (via a city centre checkpoint) into the Turkish zone for a look at its medieval buildings and shabby but colourful markets.
If you want to experience the wilder side of this stunning island, some of the best places to stay in Cyprus are truly remote. Some boast stunning views, others are perfect for those who want to do a spot of birdwatching or amble round country paths checking out the local flora and fauna.
Resort areas range from the somewhat brash Agia Napa and Protaras, near the eastern tip of the island, to the slightly more sophisticated Paphos in the west. Cyprus's two major coastal cities, Limassol and Larnaca, were the island’s original tourism hubs, with large and sunny, but bland, resort hotels along the coastlines in both directions.
The best places to stay in Cyprus to make the most of its cultural highlights can generally be found in the heart of the old towns. Here the scents and flavours of the island's past come to life. You will also find that activities range from year-round golf and tennis to winter sports on the Troodos slopes, scuba diving off the northwest coast, windsurfing and sailing.
Nr Limassol, Cyprus
An historic building in a traditional village has been transformed into a charming small hotel, off the beaten track. House party feel, with small spa and good food.
A gorgeous little rustic inn in the Troodos mountain area. Bougainvillea filled terrace and swimming pool area. Plenty to do in the area; sightseeing of monasteries and churches and mountain sports. A rural refuge, and great value.
Wonderfully unique hotel in the Troodos mountain region. Chic rural charm throughout rooms and suites - stone walls, wooden beams, fireplaces, beautiful linens. Excellent spa and restaurant with terrace. Plenty to explore in the mountains and villages around. Very romantic.
A back to nature experience in charming rustic accommodation in the hills. Lovely rooms with balconies have wooden beams, stone walls and beautiful valley views. Small spa, cosy taverna, and plenty to do in the surrounding nature. Rural, romantic.
A traditional building in upper Paphos - the more authentic part of town -makes an attractive hotel with plenty of character. Beaches and entertainment just minutes away.
Excellent small family-run hotel with a tranquil setting and views of wooded hills, in a quiet pocket of Cyprus. Riding and walking nearby, a good pool for relaxing, or beaches a drive away.
Smartly designed but no frills family-run hotel in the heart of Larnaca’s old quarter, close to the waterfront. Ideal for stopovers when flying in or out, as just minutes from the airport.
Ayia Napa, Cyprus
Exceptionally stylish, colourful boutique hotel of bungalow suites, with lovely lawn and pools and a gourmet Japanese restaurant. Well located on Nissi Bay.
Charming little B&B with spectacular views a few miles from the beach. Just two bedrooms with a shared kitchenette in traditional style. White washed walls, paintings, picturesque terraces and a lovely pool. A great spot for a family holiday near the beach.
Chic Five Star luxury on the coast in Paphos. Stunning views, unique services, all white rooms and suites with balconies, roof terraces, excellent restaurants, beach access and extensive spa. Family friendly and super cool.
Coral Bay, Cyprus
A sophisticated beach front hotel with excellent restaurants, extensive spa, and fabulous sea views. Beautiful creamy suites with ochre hues have huge private balconies and private butlers (for each). A short drive from Paphos and access to all beach life. A romantic spot with privacy of distance.
Hotel-within-a-hotel at a low-rise, luxury resort with an intimate, village feel and great golf. Kids clubs and teens clubs with gym, nine tennis courts, riding, and a private beach club.
A unique spa healing resort designed as a refuge from the modern world. Simple contemporary chic rooms, suites and bungalows in neutral tones. Fantastic spa with every treatment under the sun. Lovely pool area and a great restaurant. Lots to do around. Romantic and rejuvenating.
Kato Akourdalia, Cyprus
Family run small guesthouse with courtyard restaurant-bar, home-cooked, mostly organic food from the family farm, and a pool. Great walking, birdwatching, and beach nearby. Would suit families.
Luxury hotel chain flagship with large grounds, top-notch facilities and service, close to archeological sites. Huge rooms, great views, lovely pools, private beach and excellent restaurants.
Gorgeously characterful hotel in a sleepy village with an excellent restaurant. Rooms, suites and 2 villas (sleeping 8) in elegant traditional design. Exposed brick work, creamy furnishings, fireplaces and wooden balconies. Delicious food and wine, and a great spa. An ideal base to explore from.
Five Star services and facilities typical of the Four Seasons group. A luxury resort on the beach front just outside Limassol. Wonderful botanic gardens and pool area lead to a private beach. Gourmet restaurants, extensive spa, and contemporary rooms and suites. Romantic and family friendly.
A cool contemporary chic hotel on the coast just outside Limassol. All white rooms and suites are modern in style with huge bath tubs and private balconies. Stunning pool deck over the sea, excellent food, and a luxurious spa. Ideal for a lazy summer holiday.
A stunning bay front beach resort with beautiful suites, restaurants, spa, enormous pool and private beach. Tasteful suites and family suites have wooden furniture, stone floors, private balconies and all the mod cons. Romantic, but still family friendly (kids club), and perfect for a beach holiday.
One of the island’s finest hotels, with glorious Tuscan-style grounds, fabulous rooms, top spa, excellent restaurant and superb views from lovely terraces. Village harbour a short walk away, and activities include hiking and scuba diving.