With its rich heritage and cosmopolitan flair, old and new worlds collide at Parklane, a Luxury Collection resort.
The glistening turquoise waters of Cyprus had been calling us since March 2020, but with postponed trip after postponed trip, our long-awaited escape was made even more magical. It’s easy to forget quite how far away this Greek/Turkish island is. A hop over the water and you’re in Lebanon, or Syria, depending on which direction you hop. After our not quite long-haul flight, we catch a late-night transfer and immediately feel that exotic, Middle Eastern sizzle: this is Europe, but not as we know it.
Parklane is situated almost equidistant between Paphos and Larnaca airports, making it remote enough to be off the tourist trail yet easily accessible. We’ve had long delays but soon realise that to enter the hotel’s art gallery-like lobby at midnight is to see it at its best: lit up and with nobody else around. In the cavernous white hall, we’re welcomed by enormous floral displays, complete with spiky orange Bird of Paradise flowers, and we’re in no doubt that we’ve found our Eden. Here, it’s difficult to concentrate on the formalities of checking in when there’s the distraction of large-scale sculptural artworks, designed to dazzle. Cleverly, they’re designed to be appreciated at every height and angle, too. A spectacular coloured glass installation hangs from the ceiling with each floor of the hotel acting as a unique viewing platform. Whether the glass represents abstract birds or falling leaves, we’re reminded that, despite Parklane’s sleek contemporary interiors, we’re also inextricably connected to nature.
Park View One Bedroom with Private Pool
Having taken in the hotel’s illuminated vista from our balcony – with sparkling wine and nibbles and our first taste of rich Cypriot halloumi – we’re greeted in the morning by glorious sunshine and a beautiful view of the marina. Lofty palm trees lead the eye out to sea via a volcanic sandy Blue Flag beach, while the pools below look so inviting we’re tempted to skip breakfast altogether and dive straight in. But that would be a mistake here: the buffet offering at Lanes restaurant is vast. Like wide-eyed children in a sweet shop, we fill up on eggs and salmon and locally made pastries and chocolate-covered waffles… and we eat until we simply cannot, which will become a theme of this trip. Proudly hospitable, this is an island of feeders. There’s food to fuel our adventures, but then there’s coffee. Before we head off to explore the island we meet for an epicurean moment in the art-filled lobby and get a fascinating history lesson on the tradition of Cypriot coffee making as we sip.
Beach Restaurant and Gallery Lounge
Bellies full and with caffeine in our veins, our first port of call is the site of the ancient city-kingdom of Kourion, famed for its intricate mosaics, which decorated the floors of once magnificent mansions and courtyards. Astonishingly, the house of Achilles dates back to the 4th century AD, and as we’re guided through the ruins, we’re invited to imagine ourselves living as these well-to-do ancient islanders did, with preserved structures – not unlike modern property foundations – allowing us to picture living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens in their earliest incarnations. The archaeological site includes the Kourion theatre, a Greco-Roman stone amphitheatre built into the rugged landscape, complete with majestic Mediterranean views. As we sit, just as audiences of old did, we take in the sheer enormity of it all, feeling both overwhelmed and wonderfully connected to past civilizations.
From mosaics to mythology, we stop off at the birthplace of the goddess of love and dip our toes into the waters surrounding Petra tou Romiou, otherwise known as Aphrodite’s Rock. According to legend, those who swim around the rock three times are granted eternal youth, beauty, good luck, fertility and true love. It is tempting, but a traditional mezze lunch in the quaint village of Pissouri awaits, along with a gang of hungry but healthy street cats, waiting patiently for scraps.
Park Suite Park View One Bedroom with Private Pool
Back at the hotel, there’s time to fully relax and unwind in the serene Kalloni Spa, where we are spoilt with a blissful massage. As our tired bones are gently pummelled we drift in and out of half-sleep before cosying up in fluffy robes and the biggest reclining armchairs imaginable, herbal tea in hand.
A gear change (think detox to retox) sees us meeting for cocktails at chic indoor/outdoor space The Gallery, which, if timed right, is the perfect spot for watching a glorious sunset. The evening light really is special here and we cannot resist the photo opp. We head to the poolside Il Teatro for an Italian tasting menu dinner complete with wood fired pizza, handmade pasta, and ingenious wine pairings. Never have we had such fancy pizza but it proves an idyllic end to a day filled with adventure and relaxation.
Parklane’s logo is that of a traditional amphora, used in ancient times to store precious fragrances, and so it’s apt that we head to the nearby historical perfume factory (or theme park as it’s hilariously translated) to get the lowdown on the area’s sweet-smelling heritage. But this is where local – truly local – knowledge is a must: the outdoor Pyrgos perfumery is home to such precious artefacts that its exact location is a closely guarded secret, flummoxing many a head-scratching cabbie and even Google Maps with its mysterious coordinates. We’re given a tour of the exhibition with fascinating insights and anecdotes about how the pots and distillery apparatus would have been used, how they were miraculously preserved, and how they were procured. But this is no hands-off British Museum: before we know it we’re lighting fires and stuffing ancient pots with fir branches; trying our hand at the pottery wheel (so much harder than it looks); and finding our inner archaeologists with an exciting excavation dig that’s admittedly aimed for visiting school kids but we scrape and shovel, nonetheless, with spirit and gusto. Of course, no trip to a perfume factory would be complete without having a go at perfume making, and we end our visit passing pipettes around a trestle table until we’ve created our very own fragrance, the results of which are at best, dubious, and if nothing else, we leave with a newfound awe and appreciation for the art of fine fragrance.
Our stay at Parklane coincides with the hotly anticipated opening of Nammos Limassol, the latest in a small but global chain of exclusive dining destinations. Situated within the hotel’s elegant grounds, the restaurant and event space is suitably chic and minimal with its long white canteen-style tables making way for an all-important dancing space. To our delight, amongst a line-up of top Cypriot acts, we’re entertained by The Gipsy Kings as we quaff endless glasses of Champagne and dine on the delectable set menu. Everyone here is dressed to impress and we spot some familiar faces, from the perfectly preened influencers who’ve flown in from Dubai to the giant NBA stars who amusingly block our view just as the opening rhythmic strums of Bamboléo ring out. Complete with a jaw-dropping fireworks display behind the stage, the night is impossibly glamorous.
We spend our last day in Cyprus dipping in and out of boutiques in picturesque Lefkara, which is famed for its embroidery and lacemaking. It’s said that when Leonardo Da Vinci visited the Queen of Cyprus, he brought back a Lefkaritiko lace tablecloth, which to this day adorns the Duomo chapel in Milan. Of course, we cannot resist a little retail opportunity. If it’s good enough for Da Vinci… We’re keen to spend our last few hours basking in the sunshine, and there’s nowhere better to do that than at Parklane’s choice of luxurious pools. Feeling fully relaxed and positively spiritual, we say our mental goodbyes to the island as a gentle breeze rocks us in our half-in/half-out poolside sun lounger. It is nothing short of heavenly.
Rates start from €300 per night, including breakfast (+357 25 862000; parklanecyprus.com)