During my university spring break in 2016, I travelled to Cyprus to visit a friend and spend the next few days enjoying the warm weather and exploring the country. But one thing that we absolutely had to do was to spend a day driving through the mountains, and visit the abandoned Hotel of Kings.
Hidden between tall pine trees, in the village of Prodromos, stands the long-abandoned Berengaria Hotel. It opened in 1931, and closed its doors in 1984. Originally a luxury resort, its guests were royals, politicians, and the building originally included a casino and night club.
The hotel was named after Berengaria of Navarre, queen consort to England’s King Richard I. They were to wed, but Berengaria’s transport shop was wrecked off the Cyprus coast and she was taken prisoner by it’s ruler at the time: Issac Komnenos. King Richard didn’t take this insult lightly, and broke from his crusading to conquer Cyprus, rescue Berengaria, and take Komnenos prisoner. Richard and Berengaria were married at a chapel in Limassol.
The meaning behind the hotel’s closure is unclear, there are stories of the owner’s greedy, jealous sons mismanaging it, and more sinister stories of sudden deaths, but all that is left is this beautiful ruin.
From what my friend was telling me, in the 1990s, a short while after the building was closed, the hotel was still fully furnished, clothing was still in the closets and postcards in the lobby. As though all the guests had suddenly evacuated, adding to the creepiness of the hotel. The site was treated with respect, but still visited by adventurers. A few years ago, the new owner of the hotel started to renovate the site in hopes of restoring it, so the building was stripped bare to the bones. But the project halted, and the hotel has been left to rot once more.
While we didn’t see any ghosts, there are stories of a manager who killed himself, a woman who was found dead in the swimming pool and now seeks vengeance, and a pale woman with raven hair who’s only visible at dusk. The atmosphere of the hotel was eerie enough, and we weren’t stupid enough to visit it at night. We’re both fantasy writers, and knew not to mess around with that shit.
We arrived about 5-6PM in the evening, but the sun was still high in the sky. There was a chain-link fence around the site, but a previous visitor had done the courtesy of driving through it and knocking a section down for us. We parked right outside the entrance (should we need to make a quick escape) and made our way inside.
The interior was covered with graffiti, in a mix of Greek and English. Most of it was just people’s names or football teams, but there were some more ominous phrases spattered through the hotel.
Some of the walls had fallen away completely, leaving it open to the elements, and we didn’t gamble with fate by standing under them for too long. We started from the top floor and worked our way down, trying to imaging how grand it looked in it’s glory days. There were windows peppered with shotgun holes from people messing around with guns, sweethearts had painted their names on the scrubbed surfaces, and there was a layer of dust that clung to the air.
We wandered to the bottom floor, and in one room the flooring had been stripped away to show only wooden beams and some stairs leading to the basement. There was still plenty of light, so we carefully made our way across the wooden beams, turned on our torches on our phones and descended the stairs to the basement.
After we reached the bottom of the stairs, we looked at the eerie space beneath the floor boards. The lighting filtered down through the roof, and illuminated some ropes hanging from the wooden boards. Both of us didn’t like the energy in the room, so we kept walking. The basement was more of (what I can assume) was once a hotel storage area, with lots of broken concrete and rusty pipes. Still unnerved from the room we just left, my friend grabbed a heavy pipe and I grabbed a piece of wood, because it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
After leaving the basement of the hotel, we went outside to look at the pool. It was situated behind the hotel, with most of the windows looking down at the pool and the seats around it. We looked around to see if there was anything else to check out, but it was just the pool and the changing area/bathroom underneath the seats.
We walked past the doorway to the changing area, and the hallway was pitch black. For a moment we were quiet, but we turned to each other with the same thought: we’re not going to tempt fate. But we still wanted to see just how long the hallway was. We threw some pine cones into the darkness and listened to them fade away, and we instantly knew not to mess around with that shit.
The two of us walked along the edge of the pool and looked around at the tall trees and blue sky. The pool was about a third of the way full, with rainwater, leaves and rot. There was the occasional aluminium can, but mostly plastic bags. The area around us was full of fresh air and the scent of pine, and it made sense why this was the perfect place to put a mountaintop resort.
With the hotel finished, we headed back to the car and began to head down the mountain. Visiting Berengaria Hotel was truly an amazing experience. I love abandoned sites, this was the first I’ve ever been to, and certainly not the last. I plan on going on many more adventures to these derelict destinations, and I’ll be sure to tell you all about it!