Liz and her husband have stayed in many hotels. They aim to help other travelers make informed choices by sharing their experiences.
Why We Chose Long Beach Resort
With the UK's departure from the European Union imminent and wary of the disruption it might cause to travel between the UK and the EU, we decided to search further afield for a break in the fall. We had visited Cyprus previously and the warm climate appealed to us. Apart from a day trip to the north, we had stayed in the south, within the EU. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is outside the EU. We could even choose to fly via Istanbul, Turkey, avoiding the EU altogether.
General location sorted, but where would we stay in North Cyprus? After many hours of online research, my husband found Long Beach Resort Hotel, just over 10.5 miles north of Famagusta on the east coast. The reviews were very good, the beachside location looked great and we found a very reasonable package deal with Cyprus Paradise. In fact, the deal was so cheap, it was almost too good to be true. Taking advantage of a free upgrade to half-board, we followed the advice of other visitors and paid a little more for a beachside mini villa.
As the date of departure approached, we wondered how this extremely reasonably priced trip would work out. I even joked with friends about arriving to find a shack on a beach. Far from it. Read on to find out why we call Long Beach Resort a "hidden gem".
The transfer process was very smooth from the airport if a little quirky. Arriving late at night, we were directed towards a man with a laptop, outside Ercan airport. After checking our details and scanning our passports he showed us to a large and very comfortable Mercedes taxi. Water bottles had been left for us in the holders and we were whisked to our final destination.
The only hiccup was the annoyance of the taxi driver when he realized that we had no small change for a tip. The following day a Cyprus Paradise rep told us that there was no need to tip.
We were greeted by the 24-hour staff on reception, offered wrapped sandwiches, and quickly checked in. Our suitcases were taken and we were led along paths, past villas until we arrived at the white wooden door of our mini villa. We appreciated the lantern light near the door as our guide found the hole for the key.
At gone midnight, after a long day, I remember being struck by the size of the lounge area, but little else, as we ate the sandwiches before hitting the pillow.
A New Day Dawns
Long Beach Resort offers a choice of mini villas/bungalows. Taking online advice from previous guests, we pushed the boat out and went for a beachside mini villa with a large separate lounge. There were also smaller bungalows with no lounge and cheaper locations with a pool or garden view. We were not disappointed with our selection.
Beach Front Mini Villa
The single-storey mini villas had a pleasant, traditional feel to them, with their whitewashed outer walls and the blue edging around the windows and doors. The added touches of the curved arch over the front entrance and the shape of the patio door were pleasing to the eye, as were the terracotta tiles on the sloping roofs.
The wooden blue rail near the front entrance was a nice touch. The white dividing walls at the front and rear of the property gave a secluded feel and added to the privacy.
The design of the villas meant that the water tank and solar panels that we assumed were on the roof, were not visible from the beachside.
The front door opened into a hallway, with a door on the right into the shower room. Further along on the left, there was a door into a bedroom. Straight ahead an archway led into a large lounge. An interconnecting door potentially linked this villa with the adjoining one next door, useful for a family group. The patio door opened onto a terrace. A pathway and low wall separated this from the beach and sea beyond.
The mini villa was painted magnolia throughout, with white wooden doors and frames. The decoration was minimal with one moderate-sized modern art print in a rectangular gold effect frame near the uplighter in the lounge and two woodland prints in black frames in the bedroom.
Floors were fully tiled in beige, laid out in a square or diamond pattern.
Cream textured curtains hung from dark wood poles in the lounge and the bedroom.
There were modern air conditioning units in the lounge and bedroom. Each came with remote control. The villa remained cool, despite the heat outside, but we made use of the heating option on a cooler evening in November.
Plug sockets were three-pin, so British guests had no need for adapters. We noticed that plastic adapters were in for some two-pin appliances, such as the kettle.
This was the biggest room in the villa. Full-width glass at the end ensured that the sea view was maximized. The patio doors were bordered either side by full-length windows and finished off with an arched window above. The white fretwork, giving the impression of individual panes was a nice touch.
A large dark wood unit stood in the corner. It contained a big cupboard and three deep drawers.
Along the opposite wall was a dark brown vinyl sofa, with two matching leather armchairs and a medium wood rectangular coffee table. A further small square dark wood coffee table was in the corner by the uplighter.
In the corner near the archway, there was a dark wood square table with a cream top and two green plastic chairs. On top were two glasses, coasters, and two wine glasses.
Around the corner to the right, there was an under-counter fridge. This was the minibar, fully loaded with drinks and a price list.
On top, there was a kettle, two cups, saucers and teaspoons, sachets of coffee, and whitener.
There was a generously sized flatscreen TV on top of the large unit in the corner.
There was a modern uplighter in the corner by the window, as well as a central light.
There was a useful pale wood folding suitcase holder.
A telephone was next to the TV.
We had never come across a note before like the one we found in the lounge, banning us from bringing any food and drink into the hotel from elsewhere. With cereal bars and snacks stashed in our cases as well as peppermint teabags, it felt like we had already overstepped the mark. Not to mention our usual habit of buying drinks and food from local supermarkets to consume in our room.
At breakfast the following morning we asked a Cyprus Paradise rep about the note. She said that such notices were common practice in hotels in Northern Cyprus, but she thought a few bottles of water would be fine.
I kept snacks out of sight in a cupboard and tried to be discreet when walking back from the supermarket, which was 800 meters north of the hotel, on the other side of the road and reached via an underpass. This was no mean feat when the route back from shopping took us past the main terrace and reception area. But we never had a problem.
This appeared small, compared to the lounge, but it was adequate as a bedroom. The highlight was its twin aspect. One window overlooked the garden area at the front, with palm trees, rubber plants, bushes, and paths towards the pool area and another looked out towards a palm tree, patio, wall, beach, and sea at the rear. They were both at waist height and slid across to open halfway.
The double bed on a beige base had a wooden headboard in two shades attached to the wall. The medium brown bedside tables each had a single shallow drawer and a shelf on the bottom, with crossed beams at the side.
There was a dressing table to match with two shallow drawers near the front window. An upright wooden chair with a dark brown padded seat and back stood nearby. There was a tall rectangular mirror in a dark brown frame to the side, partially obscured by the dressing table. (I said the room was small.)
Opposite the bed, there was a tall wardrobe inset in the wall. As well as the two large dark brown doors, there were two further ones above up to ceiling height. A hanging rail ran the full width with 5 hangers on it. Not the most generous provision, but more were supplied quickly upon request. There was a shelf above with spare bedding. The top cupboard opened to reveal a loft hatch in the ceiling.
The bed had white sheets and a green and beige checked throw. There were two white pillows, with an extra one in the wardrobe. We requested another, which appeared very quickly. There was also another sheet and a red patterned blanket in the wardrobe.
There were lamps on either side of the bed with curved black stands and yellow shades. In addition, there was a central ceiling light with a cream shade.
Although there was a label on the dressing table for a hairdryer, the drawer was empty. We were offered a hairdryer at reception.
With a simple layout, of the shower to the left, sink opposite the door, and toilet to the right, the walls of this room were covered in large mottled beige tiles, decorated with a narrower row part way up. A small, square UPVC window, high in the wall, gave a little natural light.
The white shower tray ran the width of the room and was fully enclosed by a sliding screen. The shower control was low on the end wall, with the adjustable shower head on a rail above.
The modern white circular sink was set on a dark brown wooden stand, with a beige top and a useful shelf below.
The toilet was slotted in neatly next to it.
There was a chrome towel rack high on the wall above the toilet. This was a slightly unusual location and did have its drawbacks, as I found one day when I dislodged a towel into the toilet below.
There was also a towel rail by the door. A simple rectangular mirror was mounted on the wall above the sink, with a chrome holder and frosted glass on the wall below.
There was a useful double-level chrome toiletry rack in the corner of the shower.
There was a single globe light in the center of the room. It was a little dim, but we managed.
Toiletries and Towels
Two shower gels and two shampoos were regularly replaced. Two reasonable-sized bath towels and two hand towels were replaced daily if required.
Don't Flush the Paper!
We were informed by the rep at our welcome meeting that toilet paper was not to be flushed, due to the risk of blockages, but was to be placed in the bin in the shower room. He explained that this would be emptied daily by the cleaner. It took a little getting used to, but it is not uncommon to find this in some Mediterranean countries. It might have helped if the bin had had a lid, but there was the option of emptying the contents into a lidded dustbin near the front door.
On balance, we decided this was better than the alternative of blocked drains.
The view from the front door and the bedroom window was a pleasant garden scene of crazy paving paths, palm trees, rubber trees, and bushes. "Long Beach" was set into a slanted flower bed opposite (just in case we forgot where we were). Through the trees, we could just make out the edge of the swimming pool area.
We grew accustomed to hearing the dawn chorus from the birds in the trees just before sunrise.
With its views towards the beach and the sea beyond, the terrace was undoubtedly the highlight of the mini villa. Beige steps from the patio door went down to a crazy paved patio area. It was furnished with two white slatted plastic sunbeds with blue cushions, two white plastic chairs, and a cream umbrella with a white stand. We noticed that our patio was missing a small table, but no sooner had we mentioned this to a staff member than he disappeared, returning with one a few minutes later.
The dividing wall between us and our neighbor made it feel as if there was no one on the other side. A slabbed path, bordered on either side by a sandy patch of ground, linked our patio with the concrete path, which ran behind a low white wall. Lights in globes were located on the wall at regular intervals. There were gaps in the wall for beach access.
In the fall we had the sun on the terrace from sunrise until mid-afternoon when it moved over, gradually leaving the beach in shade.
Palm trees lined the sea terrace, although ours was set back near the bedroom, giving us an unbroken view from the lounge.
Issues and Solutions
Nowhere is perfect and, given the reasonable price tag, I guess our expectations were set a little lower.
I had read online about some previous guests, who had a problem with an unpleasant smell from the drain, so we were prepared. The first morning we woke up to an unpleasant odor coming from the shower room. But, before you dismiss Long Beach Resort Hotel from consideration, I need to complete the story. That morning, when the rep asked if everything was okay, we mentioned it. Immediately he spoke to staff at reception. By the time we returned to the villa, there was a clean, fresh smell, which the cleaners endeavored to maintain throughout our stay.
We noticed that our shower was a little slow to drain at times, but the issue was always sorted by the cleaner when we mentioned it.
Later on day one, the curtain pole in the lounge came away from its fixing. Within a very short time of our telling reception, a member of the maintenance team arrived and fixed it.
We had read that there were no safes in the villas, but that there was a safe on reception for the use of guests. I was a little wary about how this would work out, but in practice it was fine. We just had to be organized and remember to collect any cards or cash from there before going out. The staff gave us a large envelope to put our valuables in and wrote our room number on it. It was then placed in a big. old safe behind reception. Access was via the production of the room key. I was a little concerned about security and sometimes lingered to check the envelope made it back into the safe. But my suspicious nature soon eased. Staff quickly recognized us and our valuables were secure.
We were prepared to overlook the odd minor inconvenience because the staff were so helpful and friendly. One day the cleaner left flowers in a vase in our lounge, another day she beckoned us over to give us a freshly picked bunch of dates.
Set a few yards away from the villa area, near the car park and overlooking the beach, the distinctive low rise whitewashed building behind a white balustraded surround was the hub of Long Beach Resort Hotel. Inside to the left was the reception desk, manned 24 hours. The staff here were always pleasant and helpful. The curtained glass office of the manager was immediately next to it.
The floor was covered with beige tiles. Opposite reception, there was a lounge area, with attractively patterned armchairs around glass-topped coffee tables. In the corner, there was a selection of local souvenirs for sale on shelves. Further shelves accommodated a library and a flat-screen tv was fixed to the wall above.
The whole area was very light, due in part to the many windows, which looked out onto the terrace and the sea beyond.
Beyond the lounge was the bar, with the restaurant buffet area in front of it and an indoor dining area beyond, with further access to the terrace.
Free wifi was available near reception, which probably explained the popularity of the seating here in the evening. We also picked it up on the main terrace and around the pool.
There was a choice of two locations for dining. The restaurant, beyond the bar and buffet area and the terrace outside, which could be accessed from the restaurant.
The dining area occupied a large section at the end of the main building. Its high sloping ceiling was unusually decorated with sailcloth drapes. Dark wood tables and dark brown high-backed chairs, covered in padded vinyl were arranged in rows with small gaps between them. They were decorated with white tablecloths and blue runners.
The predominantly white painted walls combined with the windows along the outer walls to make this a light and airy room.
This was our favorite dining area. The tiled expanse wrapped itself around the main restaurant building. It was bordered by a white stone balustrade and had a slightly raised platform in one corner with chrome railings. Glass-topped circular tables were surrounded by wicker chairs. There was a limited supply of brown padded cushions, but we found the chairs were fine as they were. The overhang of the sloped, tiled roof, gave shade for those who wanted it.
At breakfast, tables were set and covered with blue and white checked cloths. Doors from the lounge area and the restaurant opened straight onto the terrace and there were steps up from the beach. An outside bar area backed onto the inside bar.
Warm temperatures and early morning sun made this a great location overlooking the sea. Meals and drinks could be taken out here. Some preferred to take their evening meal out here after dark. If we were around during the day, we found it a pleasant spot for a reasonably priced drink.
We opted for a half-board basis, made all the more attractive by a free upgrade from bed and breakfast, meaning that our evening meals were free.
This was in many ways our favorite meal of the day, not so much because of the food, although this was very good, but because of the setting and the service. We were very fortunate with the weather during our stay in the fall, so that we were able to eat breakfast out on the terrace overlooking the sea. Serving times were 7.30 am - 10.30 am, but in practice and in keeping with the relaxed atmosphere of the resort, anytime after 7.00 am and even a little before was fine.
The cold breakfast buffet was laid out in front of the bar with a good selection of cheeses, cold meats, olives, and salad, all clingfilmed in case of flies. The cereal selection was limited to Weetabix, chocolate rings, and cornflakes. There was always a bowl of fresh fruit salad, another of yogurt, and also tinned grapefruit. Around the other side, there were apples, oranges, and satsumas.
The hot serving area stocked pancakes with optional chocolate spread, boiled eggs, baked beans, scrambled egg, fried egg, and a vegetable option like a cabbage/onion fried mixture. Some days there were small hotdog sausages in tomato sauce.
A chef was on duty by the servery and they would cook omelets to order, offer us the best quality bacon we have come across in a hotel and fry halloumi on request. There were also heated pastries as well as bread with a toaster at the end and a selection of jams. We recommend trying the cherry jam.
At the end of the bar, there was a drinks station with a choice of water, apple, cherry, and orange juice, a hot water dispenser with a selection of tea bags, and a coffee machine.
Tables were laid ready for breakfast, often soft music played in the background as we strolled backward and forwards from the terrace. Staff were friendly and quick to clear tables. It was only a short time before the chef was making up our favorite omelets as soon as she saw us arrive for breakfast.
The whole breakfast experience was very relaxing and made a great start to the day.
The advertised time for this was 7.00 pm - 9.30 pm, but in practice, the buffet opened when it was ready, which was usually between 6.00 pm and 6.30 pm.
The supervisor was quick to come and take a drink order and it wasn't long before he remembered our order and got drinks ready for us when we arrived. Unlike problems we have encountered in much larger hotels, there was no issue transferring the bill onto our room account and some evenings we didn't even sign a receipt. But, at the end of the stay, the account was correct.
The buffet was well-stocked with a good variety of salads, cold meats, and cheeses. Fresh bread was always available.
Each evening there was a soup of the day, as well as a different selection of hot dishes, with a choice of vegetables. We sampled grilled chicken, macaroni, spaghetti, sprouts, carrots, beans, artichokes, minced meat with aubergines, grilled battered fish, to name just a few.
Desserts were my downfall. The small cakes, often with honey as an ingredient, were too good to miss as well as the strawberry mousse, gateaux, and fresh fruit. Each evening there was a different selection.
Occasionally there was 'live entertainment', which consisted of a duet, playing assorted instruments in the corner of the room and sometimes singing. It was never too loud and it added to the meal experience. At other times, soft music played in the background.
Cats and Dogs
The first time we ventured to the sun loungers and umbrellas further up the beach, I was surprised to come across three stray dogs basking nearby in the sun. I was a little wary of them at first, but they actually proved to be no bother at all.
We started to notice them elsewhere, sometimes on the sun loungers near the villas or lying by the pool. They were never any trouble, although we were saddened at how thin they were and some guests went out and bought dog food for them. Others thought that they were given scraps from the kitchen.
There were a few cats as well, who tended to hang out around reception. One breakfast, as I returned to our table on the terrace I was met by a very animated Frenchman. "Le chat, le chat, le lait, le lait, la table". he said as he waved his arm towards our table. It took a minute before I worked out that in our absence one of the cats had jumped on the table to drink our milk. Apart from that isolated incident, there were no other animal issues.
Online photos of the beach so close to the mini villas had influenced our choice of Long Beach Hotel Resort. As its name suggests, this was a long stretch of sandy coastline.
After reading through the reviews, though, we realized that not everywhere is always as idyllic as it seems. Other visitors wrote about the rocks in the sea near the villas and the difficulty of swimming here. But the sea did look very inviting and what could be more convenient than walking straight from our terrace onto the beach and into the sea. So, on day one, undeterred by the reports we tried it out. I got in okay and managed to swim, but coming out was another story. Underwater rocks are slippery. Losing my footing, I fell. I was lucky not to spend the rest of the holiday admiring the view with a plaster cast on my wrist.
We weren't the only ones to be tempted by the sea near our mini villa. On our last day, we watched a newly arrived group of Germans gamely trying to get into the water with varying degrees of success,
There was a lifeguard station between the reception building and the villas, but this was not manned while we were there.
The following day, we walked along the beach, past the reception area and terrace to a stretch of beach with loungers and umbrellas set out for guests. Here there was a sandy entrance to the sea for a much safer experience. The water was shallow and the beach gently shelved, so this was an ideal spot for families. There was also a nearby play area with a plastic climbing frame and a beach bar for use in high season with changing rooms down the side.
The first few days at the end of October into November, the sea was very calm and we found that we had no use for the pool, as the sea temperatures were still warm. One morning at breakfast we commented that it was like a lake. Within an hour though a breeze got up and the waves increased. It was still fine to lie by the beach on a sun lounger, but getting into the sea with the waves was quite a challenge.
Time to check out the pool.
Located in the center of the resort, the well-maintained pool area was a focal point between the beachside villas and other villas behind it. This was noticeable at night when the pool was lit up. The whole area was partially surrounded by a semi-ornate white balustraded border with ornamental urns at intervals containing plants and columned entrances at either end. Villas on a raised level behind it were screened by hedges and those below by the gardens and palms. The car park and approach to reception were at one end, but this was at a reasonable distance and well-screened off from the pool area.
I have sometimes been disappointed by the size of hotel pools or their shapes, which though pleasing to the eye, are not best suited to any serious swimming. My rough guess would put this at around 11 yards wide at its narrowest by 22-27 yards long, with a maximum depth of 2 yards. Plenty of scope for a good swim, although the raised wall of the circular paddling pool at the end was not the easiest to kick off against. The pool branched out towards the paddling pool end, with gentle steps down in each corner, supplemented by a ladder further up on either side.
The paddling pool had bars around it, but even so, care needed to be taken here to watch the more adventurous children. There was a tiled area on this level with sunbeds and shades. The tiling extended over a large area around the pool. We had read reports of sunbeds in short supply in high season, but in October, November there was no problem at all and we were sometimes the only ones there. There was always a reasonable number of white plastic loungers with padded cushions and sunshades.
Towards the beachside villas, there was a swim-up pool bar, with a shaded terrace area behind equipped with tables and chairs. Unfortunately, out of season, this was not open. There were also open-air showers nearby.
I guess you can't have it all. The pool was not heated and felt cooler than the sea. But once in, it was fine for swimming and often, we needed to get in to cool off with land temperatures reaching the high 20s degrees C in the Fall.
We preferred setting up sunbeds and shades on the landside, around a third of the way along the pool. There was a handy ladder into the pool nearby, it was reasonably sheltered and there was a good view between the villas to the sea beyond.
Always a bonus. We had noticed online before traveling that the hotel supplied pool towels. It was easy enough to pick them up and return them to the reception. Granted they were not the thickest or the biggest, but they did the job and saved us bringing our own with the added hassle of laundry issues.
The layout of Long Beach Resort Hotel contributed to the general relaxing ambiance around it. Paths of crazy paving ran around the area bordered by flower beds, bushes, and many date palms. It made the stroll back from the reception area to the villas very pleasant. At night the area was adequately lit and the crickets could be heard in the trees.
The main reception area was separated from the villas by a broad crazy paved path towards the beach, decorated at intervals with large anchors and flower beds. Some villas had well-tended lawns in front of them. We often noticed staff working on the grounds while we were at Long Beach.
Nowhere is ever perfect. I picked up a few insect bites while I was staying at Long Beach Resort Hotel, which I expected from the climate and shaded location.
There are no direct flights to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus from anywhere outside Turkey. This leaves two options for traveling to Long Beach Resort.
The first is to travel via Istanbul into Ercan Airport in North Cyprus, around 31 miles from Long Beach. We disembarked a flight from London Stansted, took a coach into the terminal at Istanbul, went through security, headed to a gate and boarded a coach, which took us back to the same plane, where we sat in the same seats. Coming back we changed planes. Security was heightened at the gate for our onward flight to London, due to Istanbul being a hub for many Middle Eastern destinations. This is cheaper, combined flight and transit times are longer, but the transfer is only around 40 minutes in North Cyprus.
The second option is to fly direct to Larnaca airport in the south of Cyprus, around 44 miles from Long Beach. This is more expensive. The single flight is shorter, but the transfer time is longer at over an hour and there can be delays crossing over from the south to the north.
Getting Out and About
Meet the Rep
Having seen a Cyprus Paradise representative in the reception area early on our first morning, we assumed that she would later conduct the meeting for newly arrived guests. In fact, she introduced us to Umut, from Tourplus, who fulfilled the role of our resort rep and also informed us about trips run by Tourplus, of which there was a good selection.
Guests were able to book a place on the shuttle/local bus which stopped on request at Long Beach Resort Hotel to collect guests. Once onboard a nominal fare was charged and we were asked to indicate our return time. We were dropped at the Sea Gate in Famagusta and told to be there 10 minutes early for the return journey. We used the bus twice and it worked well for us; much cheaper than a taxi.
Varosha, The Ghost Town
The once-thriving tourist area south of Famagusta, now deserted and within the empty buffer zone between north and south Cyprus, has become a tourist attraction, as visitors try to catch a glimpse of the Ghost Town. We did a self-guided trip whilst in Famagusta, but other guests recommended a personal tour that Umut conducted.
A short taxi ride south of the resort took us to the Roman ruins of this historic site on the coast.
St. Barnabas Monastery
Slightly inland from Salamis, the burial site of St. Barnabas is a popular tourist attraction, with an archaeological museum now housed in the monastery buildings. It too can be reached via a short taxi ride.
Famagusta, Varosha, Salamis, and St. Barnabas monastery all feature on a day trip by Tourplus. Although our next-door neighbor was a little disappointed to find that the included lunch was served at Long Beach Resort Hotel. He had hoped for a change of scenery.
Our package included a free day trip to Nicosia with a guided walking tour of the northern part and free time to explore and cross the border. The catch was a lengthy visit to a jewelry business on a trading estate near the city. On balance it was worth it but you need to allow for not reaching Nicosia until late lunchtime.
A day trip offered by Tourplus with several stops and lunch included as we explored the 'panhandle' of Cyprus up in the northeast. Interesting sites and scenery as well as the wild donkeys, with a friendly and informative tour guide.
Kyrenia. Bellapais and St. Hillarion
We didn't take this day trip, as we had previously visited the first two places. But from our experience, they are worth visiting.
There was also a Guzelyurt tour available to the northwest of Cyprus. Maybe we will try it next time.
Some tours were unavailable in the Fall, but might be an option at other times, such as the turtle tour, scuba diving, aqua park, boat tour from Kyrenia harbor, Cypriot night (traditional meal and entertainment), jeep safari, Turkish bath, Kykkos monastery tour taking in the Troodos mountains south of the border and the Larnaca and Lefkara tour.
Another option would be to hire a car. This can be arranged through the hotel reception for a very reasonable cost. Petrol prices are subsidized by Turkey. It's probably one of the cheapest places you will buy fuel.