Oh wow, a whole month has passed since I last blogged. Where has time gone! I’ve been super busy, and yes, boyfriend finally arrived from Australia, so I’ve got blog post ideas coming out of my ears from the time I’ve missed!
Last week we got back from a week in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, and I just had to review the hotel we went to. I’ve actually been here before, would you believe it, FOUR years ago with a friend, but we went in January (the Canaries are hot all year round, so its perfect for winter sun ideas, FYI!) – the vibe was definitely different in July, but we’ll get to that.
Anyway, we went for 5 nights (not a whole week sadly, but I had to comply with my work rotas), but it was the perfect little break. I came back feeling totally relaxed and inevitably disgusted at the slap in the face we call reality. But still, even though I was back at work, I was doing so all bronzed and sunkissed, and we all know that anything you do – ANYTHING – is better with a tan, right?!
So, the hotel. Hesperia Lanzarote. Its a 5* property and its located in Puerto Calero, the cutest little marina town just set aside from the main bustle of Puerto Del Carmen, which is one of the main resorts. It really makes a difference to be in such a secluded spot. It was so peaceful all the time, and the hotel is just a 5-10 minute walk to the marina area, where there are loads of really good restaurants and bars, and a supermarket and pharmacy. There is also a selection of elite shops, like Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss and Lacoste. The entire atmosphere is just divine.
The island is volcanic, so the majority of beaches are laiden with jet black sand (the ones that aren’t are artificial), so always pick a hotel with a good pool offering, as you’ll end up doing most of your tanning here! The Hesperia certainly offers that, with 5 pools set among rocks and bridges, with a variety of islands and pool bars to swim around. Its a real wow factor pool area, to say the least.
Don’t get me wrong, the hotel was A LOT busier than in January when we previously visited, which is to be expected, but there was never an issue getting sun loungers, or the daily fight to place your towel before breakfast, which quite frankly makes me nauseous, and such behaviour belongs in Benidorm, if you ask me! The entire pool area, around all the pools is really open, and so there isn’t a prime spot to fight for. Anywhere you choose gets the sun all day, generally, so its a really nice and relaxed approach.
When we checked in, around noon, (as our 7am flight from London Stansted had got in to Arricife at around 11.15) our room wasn’t quite ready, so we were told to wait until around three. We were given cards to collect towels from the pool lifeguard, and shown where we could change our clothes. I won’t lie, I was a little dissapointed that the room wasn’t ready, but I hadn’t gotten around to emailing ahead to let them know we would be arriving early, and I’m not a frequent summer traveller – I usually go at quieter times, and love winter sun trips, so I’m often used to hotels being empty and my room being ready immediately, so I really couldn’t complain. Around 2.30 we went back to the desk to ask if our room was ready, and it was (hurrah!), and my my my, it was definitely worth the wait. Our bags were carried to our room for us, and we had been upgraded to a pool view room, and were given a south facing balcony which got all the best afternoon and early evening sun. Our room was packed with upgraded amenities, like robes and slippers and toiletries, but the location was really the best part. We had been in our room all of 10 minutes, when we received a call from the Guest Relations Manager welcoming us to the hotel. About 10 more minutes passed, I was sunning myself on the balcony taking it all in, recovering from the 2am start we had earlier that day, when there was a knock at the door. A waiter was standing there with a platter of olives and mini breads with various toppings. He passed it to me, and left. I was baffled to say the least, assuming it was a mistake, until I saw a handwritten note from the Guest Relations Manager informing us that the platter was in fact for us as a welcome gift! The service really was impeccable.
We took the Bed and Breakfast board option at the hotel as I knew the great range of restaurants nearby, though it appeared that the majority of other residents had booked All Inclusive. The breakfast was absolutely fantastic. I knew it would be, as it was last time, but there really was everything you could possibly imagine. Every type of cheese, bread, yoghurt, bacon, sausages, pastries, juices, teas, and fruit. The chefs were cooking eggs to your liking in front of you, and a the other end of the buffet was a pancake bar, also serving omelettes and grilled sandwiches. The only thing we could fault was that upon arrival you were seated by the host, and then another member of staff came to take your tea and coffee order. The first three mornings this ran smoothly, though on the last two mornings, we were completely ignored, and it seemed as though everyone around us was being offered hot drinks except us. Very minor moan, but quite annoying! Other than this, we couldn’t fault anything about the breakfast offering. It really exudes 5* quality. You can certainly set a 5* apart from a 4* based on breakfast, and this lives up to expectations.
Though we never got around to eating there, we heard very good things about the evening buffet dinner, where you could have various cuts of fresh meat all cooked to your liking by the chef at the open grill, and there were two other a la carte restaurants to dine at, but were very strict on booking times. If I’m honest, I found the staff at the El Risco restaurant to be quite rude upon our enquiry as to whether they had available slots one evening. It was 9.30pm, so I had expected it not to be peak time and that perhaps there would be a table, but we were abruptly informed that they only take four tables per half an hour. Instead, we got room service. This was just one evening that we had lost track of time and couldn’t muster the energy to walk to the marina, and we were also quite full, so just wanted something small. The room service was disappointing. The menu seemed quite limited, though does say if there is something else you would like, we will try our best to provide it. With that, we called and ordered a pasta carbonara, and a delhi sandwich. The pasta had four options of which style of pasta, and four sauce options. We selected tagliatelle and carbonara, but were phoned back later to say they only had penne, which wasn’t a big deal, it just seemed odd. The sandwich was listed as containing pork, but on the phone I had asked for chicken instead, but the lady seemed baffled and acted as though I had asked for unicorn meat instead, so we held out no hope. When it arrived, it was okay, but nothing exciting. On another occasion we ordered the chocolate fondant, which came cold and hard, so I went to reception and asked for a new one, which was slightly better, but still average. We also ordered beer, which came in glass bottles with no bottle opener, so we had to go and get those opened as well. In sum, the restaurants are great, but avoid room service!
We tried a few restaurants in the local area of the marina. The Mexican restaurant was amazing – we had nachos and shared fajitas and enchiladas. It was full of flavour and really really tasty. We also had steak at Cafe Milla, which was really good, and we had pan friend chorizo for a starter. Delicious. Azure does great mains and snacks – we had coffee here on our first day, and a couple of milkshake runs throughout the week! (yes I have a weakness for shakes!). La Papardella served nice Italian food, though don’t be put off by the fact they insist on showing photos of the food on the menu. We had a tomato, mozzarella and avocado salad, followed by fresh pastas, and they were surprisingly good. Bad first impression, but good food and lovely staff. We became named the “Kangaroo Couple” upon our waiter seeing my boyfriend had an Australian bank card! We met friends who were also on holiday on the island at Buda Bar for cocktails, which is a cool chill out bar with sofas outside on the marina. Great Mojitos and Pinacoladas!
All in all, it was a great holiday, made better by this amazing hotel. Despite a few tiny niggles, and the worst and slowest check in experience ever, its still one of my favourite hotels I’ve ever visited, and will definitely be going back as soon as I can!