Boutique Gillham Vineyard Hotel in Northern Cyprus is an oenophile’s dream: it’s surrounded by carefully cultivated vines. The hillside hotel, 15 minutes from the Mediterranean, is also home to a glittering pool and holistic spa, as well as the estate’s own wine centre for vineyard tours and guided tastings. Wobble your way back to the restaurant for leisurely dinners of Israeli-influenced Cypriot fare with a view of the rolling vineyards, and congratulate yourself on the completion of another perfect day.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £104.45 (€115), including tax at 5 per cent.
Rates include à la carte breakfast and a bottle of Etel Wine.
The Etel Winery, part of the same estate, continues the island’s long heritage of grape growing, which dates back to the Bronze Age.
At the hotel
Free WiFi, spa with treatment rooms, hammam, and fitness rooms. In rooms: TV, minibar, tea-making kit, Segafredo coffee machine, free bottled water, bathrobes and Gillham Vineyard bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Each Rosé Suite has a little private terrace with uninterrupted views of the vineyards. But splash out on a Sparkling Suite to for a choice of two private hot tubs: an alfresco number on the terrace and a sunken tub in the ensuite bathroom.
The large, outdoor pool is unheated and framed by a sunlounger-lined terrace and shade-providing trees. There’s also a heated freshwater pool in the spa.
Open from August 2018, Gillham's Wine Spa is at the edge of the vineyards and offers a range of grape-infused holistic treatments. Book a classic massage in one of the three treatments rooms, sip on a freshly pressed juice from the bar and take a soak in the vino-therapy wine bath, which looks out over the estate.
Bring your swimsuits, and sensible shoes fit for tromping around the vine-crossed grounds. (Pack your riding boots if you’re a horsey type, too.)
Although the common areas are all on the ground floor, the hotel does not have accessible guest rooms.
Leave the littles at home: this wine-soaked stay is for adults only.
Snag a seat on the terrace for alfresco meals with mountain views.
Don your floatiest fabrics and most forgiving waistbands to do true justice to the buffet.
Chefs Ben Siman Tov and Eyal Lavy have concocted a Mediterranean menu with an Israeli twist for Gillham's Chef Restaurant. All dishes incorporate fresh, local ingredients. Lunch options include fried calamari with roasted peppers, lamb kebabs, fish tempura, sandwiches and tomato salad. For dinner, start with ceviche and figs or braised dates stuffed with lamb before moving on to the sea bass with polenta and green beans. Finish with mascarpone-topped Pavlova or cognac-infused chocolate mousse with salted caramel. In the mornings there’s an impressive mezze spread of local cheese, smoked fish, traditional spiced sausage, yoghurt and freshly baked local breads. A la carte options include Eggs Benedict on local brioche bread, Israeli-style shakshuka and French toast with seasonal fruits and kaymak (Cypriot clotted cream) and honey.
Gillham's Wine Bar is in the estate's Wine Culture Centre and has views over the grapes and out to sea. Head over for organised tastings and to sample the tapas. There’s also a small lobby bar next to the restaurant; with just a few bar stools, it’s a good place to grab a quick aperitif.
Gillham’s Chef Restaurant is open for dinner from 7pm to 9.30pm. The Wine Bar is open for tipples and snacks from 11am to 11pm (tapas from 12 noon to 7pm).
Gillham Vineyard Hotel is in the semi-rural hills of northern Cyprus, and surrounded by vineyards.
Flights route through Istanbul to Ercan Airport, an hour away by car; private transfers are €40 each way. Larnaca is a two-hour drive; private transfers are €65 each way, and you'll need to cross the border into Northern Cyprus on your way.
If you plan to explore beyond the Gillham’s vineyards, hire a car at the airport (there’s free parking at the hotel).
Worth getting out of bed for
Your first stop should definitely be Gillham's Wine Culture Centre for a tasting – when you’re staying amid the vines themselves, it’d be rude not to sample the goods. Between glasses, explore the trails that traverse the picturesque estate… or just soak up the views as well as the vino at the hotel’s wine-soaked spa. Feel like heading further afield? Free shuttle services to the nearby beach and Kyrenia are available, and mountain safaris, boat trips and horse riding can be arranged too.
Walk to Ilgaz Koy Firini bakery in the local village of Ilgaz for sweet and savoury treats; sit on the covered alfresco terrace while you sip your tea and enjoy your loot. Restaurant Calamari in Lapta – a 15-minute drive from the hotel – specialises in fish mezze and crowd-pleasing grilled octopus, all dished up on a decked terrace that hangs out over the sea. It’s a bit of a trek to Kybele Restaurant (40 minutes away by car) in seaside town Girne, but you’ll be richly rewarded with fresh seafood platters, traditional pastas, and carnivore-approved steaks, all served alfresco amid perfectly crumbled stone ruins.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel in Cyprus and unpacked their bottles of grown-on-site wine, a full account of their luxury break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Gillham Vineyard Hotel in Ilgaz…
Perched on a pine-forested mountain in northern Cyprus, boutique Gillham Vineyard Hotel does exactly what it says on the bottle: the modern Mediterranean stay is surrounded by an artisanal winery and you, lucky guest, will reap the benefits. Wake up with leisurely breakfasts before exploring the estate’s picturesque walking trails or hopping over to the nearby beach. Spend your afternoon trying to pick out your favourite Etel wine and casually tossing out terms like ‘floral’ ‘earthy’ and ‘citrusy undertones’, before literally immersing yourself in the grape stuff at the hotel’s Wine Spa. Then dry off for dinners of Israeli-inspired Mediterranean fare with views of the rolling vines, before settling in to watch the setting sun’s light flit across the mountains…