Your luxury travel guide to Tenerife: What to see plus the best bars, restaurants & hotels
Ten years ago my husband and I each went on our own separate coming-of-age trips to Tenerife: my husband on a lads’ holiday to celebrate the end of school, while I was looking for a cheap trip for sun, sea and sand – and sangria.
Tenerife is a popular choice among teens and young families because of it’s cheap hotels, family-friendly attractions and year-round sunshine. But the Canary island also boasts a high-end, luxury market sometimes overlooked and often under the radar. Thanks to Tenerife Tourism Corporation and Tenerife Select that was exactly what we were planning to explore – the isle’s five-star hotels, eateries and excursions.
After collecting our hire car from the sheltered bays of Tenerife’s small but busy airport we made our way to La Caleta de Adeje for an al fresco lunch on the sun-kissed terrace at Restaurante La Masia del Mar. A delicious banquet of grilled sardines, Canary potatoes and roasted vegetables reenergized us for our journey on to our first hotel of the three-night stay – five-star Iberostar Grand Hotel Salomé in Costa Adeje.
The hotel – like Tenerife – offers the best of both worlds; family and luxury. While Iberostar Anthelia hosts hotel rooms, suites and duplexes for families looking for a fun and action-packed vacation while the contemporary, white-washed walls of the Grand Salomé, nestled inside the complex – an exclusive, adult-only hotel boasting beautiful, modern suites.
The manager greeted us in the grandiose lobby – complete with shiny marble floors, palatial pillars and fountain – and guided us through Anthelia to Grand Salome; an oasis of calm with undisturbed ocean vistas. We were lucky enough to spend two nights in a stunning penthouse suite. The door led into a comfy and spacious living room while a huge super king-sized bed filled the well-proportioned bedroom with a gleaming bathroom beyond. In a dreamy touch butlers left us a bottle of bubbly on ice with chocolate-covered strawberries to enjoy as we watched the sun sink below the horizon washing the sky with rich reds and pinks. The incredible panoramic views from our glass-fronted suite were the icing on top of the beautiful, pristine white cake.
Despite our weariness we had a busy evening ahead. Following a tasty, gourmet dinner at Poseidon – one of the hotel’s six restaurants – we were off to nearby Las Americas for an evening of culture and art. I must admit, driving through the neon-lit resort brought memories I thought were safely a decade behind me screaming back. For those hoping to escape this side of Tenerife and enjoy the finer things in life, this probably isn’t the place for you. But, thankfully, we were soon stepping inside the Hard Rock Café’s auditorium and away from the masses. Carmen Mota’s ballet show gave us an insight into the traditional culture of flamenco, Spanish music and passionate dance. While I couldn’t help but feel the production could have been better (and the auditorium could have been a few degrees warmer!), the show was a real spectacle with incredibly talented dancers, powerful music and beautiful outfits. This is definitely an activity for anyone who wants to experience something culturally authentic while visiting the island.
After a much-needed night of slumber in our soft, snug bed, we were up early to sample the flavours of the vast, varied buffet breakfast before another day of exploration and adventure. Our guide Eva met us to whisk us off on another day packed full of culture, history and staggering natural beauty. Our first stop: Teide National Park and Teide Volcano. After a steep climb up meandering roads we made it to the cable car to continue our journey up towards the heavens. Once we peeked above the cloud line – or Sea of Clouds as it’s known locally – the views were breathtaking, as was the bitter cold wind! We surveyed the landscape and navigated the mountain, carefully and slowly (the air is very thin at almost 3,700m) picking a path down to the Pico Viejo vantage point.
After a few more stops to enjoy the soak up the stunning scenery we headed to the north of the island for an overindulgent lunch at the rustic hacienda of La Casa del Vino. We sampled three of the island’s best wines and moseyed around the museum before it was time to sit down for a wholesome and heart lunch. Feeling extremely satisfied – and somewhat full thanks to a delicious, three-course meal – we then journeyed over to the historic city of La Laguna, a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site, for an informative and enlightening tour. Keeping us company – and informed – during our visit was tourist guide Eva. Her love and loyalty to her home was infectious and charming. While she painted a beautiful picture of island life, she was also incredibly open and honest about the reality of life as a Canarian. Despite the rain shower which soaked the gridded web of streets, she showed us La Laguna’s best sights and even shared a ghost story or two!
It was a fairly typical day of tourist activities made all the more luxurious thanks to our sleek, classy mode of transport – a chauffeur-driven, tinted-windowed Audi A8L to ensure our long and busy day was completed in comfort and with ease.
The following day, we awoke to bright blue skies and warm, soft winds for a morning on the waves. Tenerife’s coastline is rich with marine life so boat trips are a popular tourist activity. In fact, the area is one of the most important habitats in the world for pilot whales. We boarded Big Smile Charter’s beautiful yacht from the modern marina of Puerto Colón – not only does the boat cut a stunning sight, but it is also the only vessel on the island with a microphone to hear the whales and dolphins communicating under water. Just minutes after Sailor Sergio had served us a platter of fresh fruits and drinks to sip in the sunshine, we were scrambling to the front of the 15m yacht, straining for our first view of three pilot whales making the most of the area’s warm waters and plentiful fish supplies. Their dorsal fins glinted in the low, warm sun as we edged slowly closer. They teased us with a brief show, surfacing several times over a few magical minutes before diving back down into the depths of the deep. We were soon surrounded by a family group of the majestic sea creatures, systematically bobbing above the water, arching for a breath before riding the gentle waves. Captain Marco turned off the engine and left the yacht drifting, plunging the microphone into the water so we could listen to them whistle as they passed beneath us – pure magic.
While the pilot whales were keen to say hello, the bottlenose dolphins played harder to get. After a short search of the fishing grounds we came across a family pod – half a dozen adults and a mother with her calf close by. The playful pod danced and darted around the boat, all the while chattering to each other in clicks and squeaks as we eavesdropped into their mysterious world beneath the waves. Defying all the odds, we even caught a brief glimpse of a leatherback turtle as it popped its head above the water before plunging back down below.
While there is a plethora of companies offering boat trips and whale watching experiences on Tenerife – from catamaran excursions to smaller, authentic experiences – there’s really only one way to do it in style and that’s aboard the beautiful Big Smile Charter yacht.
After enjoying the wonders of the natural world, our next stop was to one of the island’s newest marvels – one of the man-made world: Baobab Suites. The minimalist, chic five-star hotel is like an art gallery. The building stands strong and robust, built with volcanic stone and glass while small pockets of sand and tall palm trees soften the architecture and serve as constant reminders of where you are. Guests can help themselves to the cava and caviar bar at breakfast, served inside the bowels of the volcano – a squash court tucked behind a lava rock wall.
“We like to be different…” Camilla explains as she shows us around. While to some it could feel cold and impersonal, staff insist on offering their guests the personal treatment – nothing is too much effort at this five-star hotel. Each suite is unique offering its guests a one-off experience. While many of the suites boast their own, private plunge pools, terraces or hot tubs, staff understand that, for some, only the beach will do. So guests are welcome to make use of the hotel’s private transfer to the beach. Or, if they’d rather stay close they can head just across the street to the state-of-the-art gym and wellness centre, which provides guests with the opportunity to relax and reinvigorate. The casual Fuel Restobar cage emanates beach-bar vibes with its delicious, healthy menu – boasting vegan and vegetarian dishes – and attracts regular live music events to keep guests entertained.
The final destination in our whistle-stop Tenerife tour was also to be our bed for the night: Hotel Jardin Tropical. The four-star resort was just nearing completion on a major refurbishment project as we arrived for our stay (unfortunately, there were a few areas which remained unfinished and taped off). The architecture and design couldn’t have been more different from our earlier destination – the rough, textured walls would be more comfortable nestled into a Cycladic landscape in Greece and tropical, vibrant plants emerge from every crack and crevice around the huge site. While our room was compact and more modest than our previous stay, the patio doors onto the balcony made the space light and airy, framing the picturesque far-reaching views across the shoreline.
We arrived as the day made way for night so we headed straight up to the Sunset Bar to soak up the views and soak in a chilled glass of bubbly, a saxophonist creating the perfect soundtrack for our last evening in our Canarian utopia. Our excessive dinner was enjoyed at the cliff-top Las Rocas – a pretty spot set down by the sea serving fresh fish and the finest seafood, of course. Chef Jorge Peñate’s team treated us to a special eight-course tasting menu bursting with flavours of the ocean and the best seaside ingredients, made all the more genuine thanks to the (very brisk) sea breeze and the candle-lit salt pool beside the restaurant’s terrace. In the height of summer – when temperatures don’t plummet at night – I imagine this is one of Costa Adeje’s premium dining spots. But, if high-end seafood isn’t your thing, then there are also two other eateries to choose from as well as the vast Laguna Food Market – probably the best buffet restaurant I’ve ever come across on my travels. Designed like a market, different stations offer different menu choices from freshly-made sushi to beautifully-decorated mini desserts – and even three glossy, flowing chocolate fountains! Chocolate fountain for breakfast, anyone?
Tenerife has a lot going for it – whether you’re on a shoestring budget or are prepared to splash the cash. One thing’s for sure, if you’re looking for a touch of luxury while soaking up the winter sun, then Tenerife will definitely have something for you. And I’d certainly recommend giving this charming Canarian island a chance to win you over.
Amy’s trip was provided by Tenerife Tourism Corporation and Tenerife Select (webtenerife.co.uk/tenerifeselect).
Car hire provided by Canarias (canarias.com).
Accommodation was provided by Iberostar Grand Hotel Salomé (thegrandcollection.com), prices for an ocean view suite from 214€ per night; and Hotel Jardin Tropical (jardin-tropical.com), prices for a double room with sea view from 310€ per night.
Carmen Mota Ballet Show Antología at La Pirámide de Arona (piramidedearona.koobin.com), tickets from 49€ per person.
Teide Cable Car (telefericoteide.com), from 27€ per adult.
Lunch at La Casa del Vino (casadelvinotenerife.com), price for wine and honey tasting with tapas 6.10€ per person.
Three-hour whale watching excursión provided by Big Smile Luxury Charters (bigsmilecharters.com), prices from 60€ per person for shared charter.
Tour guide Eva Rodrigues Mateos (firstname.lastname@example.org), tours and prices vary.