When I was flying back from lovely Lithuania in March, I read in Ryanair’s inflight magazine about its top 5 vodka bars in Europe. I was pleasantly surprised to see Koi in the list – this is the bar attached to Capo Bay Hotel in Protaras, Cyprus, and is where I was due to spend ten nights over the Easter holidays.
After drinking at Koi, I agree with the Ryanair list but would go one further – it is the best hotel bar in the world.
Protaras is on the south east tip of Cyprus before you reach Cape Greko. We stayed at Capo Bay Hotel, right on Fig Tree Bay beach but also ideally located for the bars and restaurants on “The Strip” of Protaras. It’s not far from being a boutique hotel – it’s got a pretty good reputation, and as it was the Greek Orthodox Easter when we were there, lots of Cypriot families were staying there too.
Capo Bay Hotel has more than one bar, and after our 11pm arrival and check-in, we had a night-cap at its indoor bar, Bitter Lemons. This was my first taste of the local lager, KEO, which is nothing special to be honest, although Kat was happier with her Kir Royale – sparkling white wine and blackcurrant.
Anyway, after our first day in the Cyprus sun we decided to pay a visit to Koi before dinner. To enter, you cross a little foot-bridge over the moat which surrounds the bar. The moat is made up of a series of pools, all of which are full of Koi carp.
There is the odd frog in there too – we saw one of these and it was tiny, but you wouldn’t believe the dog-like noise they make. Kat was convinced there were loudspeakers emitting frog barks every so often. After taking our seats and ordering a KEO beer (€4.20) and a glass of Pinot Grigio (€6.20), we sat and relaxed, listening to the in-house DJ and snacking on the bowl of nuts that came with our drinks. There was the occasional splash, as the fish jumped out of the water. As the Koi carp are all fat beasts, the noise they make is surprisingly loud. It can get a bit nippy at night in Cyprus during an April evening, so the staff wheeled a patio heater to our table and gave Kat a blanket. With the prices for drinks being pretty steep here, we decided against a second and went off up the road in search of somewhere a tad cheaper.
In the daytime, holidaymakers from other hotels in Protaras visit Capo Bay Hotel, and in particular Koi, to see how the other half live. The kids club attached to the hotel, “Little Koi Carps” feed the fish twice a day but this doesn’t stop others feeding them scraps of bread. Koi has an outdoor area with massive sofa seats that look a little like four poster beds. Towards the end of our stay the evenings were a bit warmer, so we had a cocktail each out here (€19 for a Piña Colada and a Gin Fizz). It’s a great place to chill out and watch the sun set over Fig Tree Bay.
We both absolutely loved the food on offer in Cyprus, but after a week we were getting a bit tired of tzatziki, stifado and kebabs. As well as being a bar, Koi is also a restaurant, serving food until 10pm. Coincidentally, it was the 5th anniversary that Kat and I met while we were on holiday, so we decided to splash out and eat at Koi one night to celebrate.
Koi specialises in a fusion of Asian and Mediterranean food, our two favourites so we couldn’t really go wrong. We shared a bottle of Cypriot dry white wine, and both opted for chicken satay salad to start with and pork Pad Thai for mains. We were both far too stuffed for a pudding, so we shared a shisha hubbly bubbly pipe (mint flavour) before paying up and moving on to our second favourite bar in Protaras, “Fools and Horses” where a pint of lager is just €1.60 and a Delboy’s Delight cocktail €4.