If you're the kind of family that likes choosing the path less travelled, then fly like a bird to the wonderfully lush Canary island of La Gomera. We stayed in Hotel Gran Rey, in the resort of Valle Gran Rey on the island's west coast. Right by the beach, boasting a roof top pool, we realised that choosing the path less travelled can be quite luxurious.
SETTING – I’m starting with the setting as it’s a huge factor in choosing Hotel Gran Rey in Valle Gran Rey. La Gomera is a small, authentic island, and Valle Gran Rey is its most developed resort, yet full of charm and integrity. The hotel is right on the beach, there are independent cafés, restaurants and boutiques dotted along the seafront and in town, so there’s quite an eclectic, sophisticated vibe. There are three beaches for visitors to choose between, including a sheltered ‘baby beach’ that became our second home in Valle Gran Rey. The hippie presence in the town is noticeable and it’s a really welcoming place for kids.
CHECK-IN – When we arrived at Hotel Gran Rey the ample, free parking was a welcome sight. We were swiftly checked in and then offered a drink. What a fabulous start. After a ferry and car journey (with two tots in tow) to be holding a glass of fizz was utterly delightful. The boys opted for OJ. Why don’t hotels in Scotland do this? it’s lovely to welcome guests with Cava or Orange Juice. A small detail but it made my day.
OUR ROOM – We were booked into a family room. It was clean, tidy and comfortable. The decor wasn’t particularly modern but we noticed that the hotel had installed quality fixtures – solid wood, stone floor coverings – that were built to last, not ripped out every year to fit the latest trend. What mattered more than chichi decor was a lovely, soft, big mattress that had been added to the sofa bed, which actually made it a pleasure to sleep in. As a parent, who often hops between beds at the whim of my children’s colourful sleep patterns, I do dislike a thin, rock hard sofa bed. We also had an ensuite bathroom: useful for washing black sand and suncream off the kids.
FACILITIES – The rooftop pool is a stunner. With sun-loungers all around it everyone gets the sun, so there’s no rush to bagsy the best spot. The pool has stunning views of the surrounding area, and Valle Gran Rey is noted for having one of the best sunsets in Europe. Sitting poolside is a delightful place to watch day turn into dusk. Tots need supervised here, as the shallow end isn’t particularly shallow and the water is unheated, but older children may make a splash. A small plunge pool and a Wendy House shaped like a castle also caught our tots’ attention. There is also a tennis court for any junior Andy Murrays.
FOOD – Like many hotels on the Canaries, dinner at Hotel Gran Rey was a buffet affair, but it is of a high standard. We ate there three evenings in a row and it always felt fresh, varied and filling. It was ideal for feeding the children, as they could try different things, and I could eat exactly what I desired. I always destroy myself at the pudding/dessert counter, and I heartily tucked into the local delicacy, Palm Syrup, which I slathered all over custard pudding (with a creme caramel and tiramisu on the side of course). Junior loved the Canarian potatoes – baby salted tatties that are the pride of the island. Admittedly he is a bit of a carb fiend. An A La Carte menu is available in the 3rd floor terrace-restaurant if you’d prefer it.
Breakfast is also served on the rooftop terrace offering both indoor and outdoor seating. Again, it’s a buffet affair with lots of options. Eggs, crepes/pancakes and omelettes are all cooked as you watch, so Junior and I went into overdrive on the freshly made pancakes.
LOCATION – Valle Gran Rey is a great base from which to explore La Gomera. If you want to simply chill out by the pool or on build sandcastles on the beach you can totally do this. Equally there is a lot to do on La Gomera, from hiking in a mystical rainforest to a jaw-dropping viewpoint or take to the waves for a spot of whale-watching. My next post on the island will round-up the child-friendly activities we experienced.
La Gomera is ideal for families who aren’t attracted by the mass tourism of the other Canary Islands. Or, perhaps like us, you simply fancy an interesting change and the chance to see somewhere new. La Gomera has its own identity and we admired that. For the rates at Hotel Gran Rey click here, and look out for the discounts for children.
OUR STORY – We’ve visited Tenerife with the kids three times now, due to direct flights from Aberdeen and Edinburgh airport, so we wanted a change of scene. We flew VERY cheaply from Edinburgh to Tenerife with Norwegian.com. We spent three nights in Tenerife before nipping to Los Christianos to catch the Fred Olsen Express ferry to La Gomera. Los Christianos is very close to Tenerife South airport if you want to go directly to La Gomera. The ferry takes 45 minutes, usually in glorious sunshine, and visitors arrive at San Sebastián, the capital of La Gomera. We picked up a hire car from Rent a Car La Rueda, which had no queues compared to other hire car companies, and we drove 1.5 hours across the island to Valle Gran Rey.
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