In the village of Lapta at the foot of the beautiful Kyrenia Mountains in Northern Cyprus the Babel Boutique Hotel ( Babil Bahçeleri ) sits in the peaceful and beautiful setting as one can imagine. For its owner Celen Kamburoglu it’s the culmination of a vision that she’s had for over 30 years.
The hotel, managed by Celen’s niece Emel, sits in 2.5 acres of beautiful landscaped botanical gardens, host to more than 600 species of plants and trees including camellias and horse chestnut which are very rare in Cyprus. The hotel has 4 large double bedrooms with en-suite facilities with two of the bedrooms overlooking a stunning lily pond from a large terrace balcony.
Guests have full access to the gardens and there are plans to build 5 mini-bungalows in the grounds, secluded but close to the house. Celen says, ‘the idea was to make the site as eco-friendly as possible from the outset’ . Everything is produced organically and all the fruit and vegetables used in our cafe are grown in our own gardens. People thought that you couldn’t grow anything here without using chemicals but all around you is the proof that you can.’
Brought up in Cyprus, Celen returned to live there in 1999 after spending 30 years living and working around London. Many a cold winter’s evening was spent there making sketches and designs for a house and garden back home. She is a long-time member of the Royal Horticultural Society and often visited their gardens at Wisley and Kew Gardens in London to seek inspiration and ideas. ‘There was never a strong gardening tradition in Cyprus but as a child I remember my father tending to our farms growing our own food such as fruits vegetables making our own olive oil cheese and bread. Gardens in were primarily used for farming. (needs a few words on the initial inspiration to become a gardener)
On her return to Cyprus in 1999 she bought a piece of land on the outskirts of Lapta, a village, 10 miles to the west of Kyrenia with aim of creating first a garden centre and then a house to follow. Celen laughs when she remembers the state it was in. ‘it was like a jungle, thick brush, brambles, trees run wild. I could see that I’d taken on a challenge’. It took xx months to clear the land and start planting and on (needs date) the Gardens of Babel opened for business.
Once the centre was up and running and she could ‘see the wood from the trees’ Celen decided on the location of the house, which sits at the top of the south garden, and finalised the design. The house is built around an airy central atrium with 4 large double bedrooms on the first floor. She designed the house to incorporate both Ottoman and British features (maybe highlight a couple of features) from the two different branches of architecture he most admires. ‘I wanted to incorporate features that would be cool in summer and warm in winter’ says Celen.
The house took 18 months to build and was completed in 2006. Celen and Emel have lived there ever since and following the renovation of her mother’s house in Gecitkale where she now spends more time Emel has converted the house in the Babel Boutique Hotel.
We hope that you will come and stay with us soon.