Head down to Cyprus where Greek goddess Aphrodite topped up her beauty and enjoy mezze and massages

My girlfriend was less keen when I suggested she might like to take a refreshing dip in the Mediterranean waters. It was January, after all.

We travelled to the gorgeous city of Paphos, on Cyprus, to catch some winter sun and rejuvenate after a busy Christmas dedicated to piling on the pounds and fighting off hangovers. Luckily for me, all was forgiven when we checked into our own fountain of youth — the stunning 5 star Almyra.

This seafront gem boasts five luxurious pools, three restaurants and a spa perfect for washing away any signs of ageing. There you can enjoy a range of detoxifying treatments, from familiar hot-stone massages to more exotic cleansing facials.

The Cypriot Sugar & Carob Scrub exfoliated and nourished my skin using ingredients I would normally chuck on a salad. The neck and shoulder treatment that followed got rid of any tension that hadn’t already been erased at the hotel bar.

The Notios restaurant offers an unusual fusion of Japanese purity and bold Mediterranean flavours.  The six-course omakase menu — meaning “trust the chef“ — was indulgence at its finest. The trust was amply repaid. I certainly felt rejuvenated thanks to the warm winter, expert cuisine and stunning scenery.

Temperatures reached a balmy 20C by day, with plenty of January rays, before dipping to 10C in the evening. Paphos seamlessly blends ancient history with modernity. Pockets of archaeological wonder nestle comfortably among beachfront resorts and chic shopping parades — without compromising either.

Our guide Mary told us new builds are often halted — or scrapped — when workmen stumble upon relics.  You would have to be brave or mad to be a property developer in Paphos. For any amateur Indiana Jones, a must-see is the Tomb of the Kings burial site. The fourth-century crypts were first excavated in the Seventies and since then more have discovered.

Their inhabitants may not all have been actual kings but they were certainly wealthy. I couldn’t help feeling envious after comparing their palatial necropolis to my pokey flat back home. Visit the ancient mosaic site to see intricate floor decorations, painstakingly unearthed, depicting classic Greek stories.

As our seven-night stay continued, we moved further down the coast to the Athena Royal Hotel. This 4H beachfront haven offers three restaurants, pool and enough activities to keep guests entertained as they soak up the sun.

The breathtaking view from the suite gives its temporary residents a great view of the Paphos coastline and is within walking distance of all the city’s hotspots. Cling to your youth on Bar Street, which offers a Nineties throwback to clubbing holidays with various aptly named drinking holes.

We spent a couple of evenings in the Robin Hood, downing shots, playing pool and listening to cheesy pop.  Having recently (reluctantly) left our twenties, the ensuing hangover prompted us to look for something trendier and a little more our speed.

Despite the name, Paphos’ Old Town somehow remains chic and modern. Locals have moved inland, setting up camp in trendy bars and fashion boutiques in the upper part of town, away from the tourist haunts on the coast.

Though it was winter, the busy square was bustling with metropolitan Cypriots. Muse bar played chilled house music, as revellers sipped wine and ate traditional food with a modern twist.

Helping win the fight against time is the Cypriot diet, a Mediterranean medley of marinated meats and hearty wines.  The traditional cooking at Fytos Souvlaki perfectly displayed the bold flavours about which I had heard so much from my girlfriend’s Greek-Cypriot family.

Set high in the mountains and offering panoramic views of Paphos’ vineyards, we were given a selection of local specialties.

Luganega is a must-try for any sausage fan and, if you are unsure what to order, most restaurants will offer a mezze for around 20 euros, showcasing the best food Cyprus has to offer. But be warned — the food won’t stop coming!

As wine fans, a trip to the Vasilikon Winery was a necessary break from exploring. A bottle of its Lefkada red complements meat-heavy menus well.

Seafood lovers need to look no further than Theo’s. Found in the picturesque harbour, its mezze menu includes fish caught locally and wine from the mountains.

Then take a stroll round the harbour’s medieval castle. The stone fort protected the city from would-be marauders but now serves as a romantic vantage point from which to watch the sunset.

After spa treatments and good wine, we returned to chilly Britain feeling pampered and full of fish and lamb.  Aphrodite was right . . . there’s something magical about Paphos.


GETTING/STAYING THERE: Olympic Holidays has seven nights’ half board at The Almyra from £995pp including flights from Gatwick and Transfers. Seven nights’ B&B at the Constantinou Bros Athena Beach Hotel is from £620pp including Gatwick flights .
Prices based on June 11 departure. Quote SUN150 to get £150 off any booking over £1,000. See olympicholidays.com or call 0208 492 6792

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