During our visit to Tenerife and Costa Adeje, we visited a few nice restaurants outside of Guayarmina Princess where we stayed on a halfboard package. Despite that the food there was really good, we wanted to sample some really local food as well.
Picamar tapas Bistro
Picamar is a small restaurant located up a few escalators in a sort of a shopping mall next to Playa de la Pinta. Service is super friendly and the food was mostly really good. We had local cheese and serrano ham with local honey, super crispy yet creamy croquettas with beef, octopus and cod; octopus potato and lemon salad bathing (in a good way) in grassy olive oil, we also tried the meatballs that were a bit *meh*, and finally their fusion-y tuna tartare with guacamole and soy sauce which was nice. Bread was like 50 cents each and came with a very tasty whipped garlic butter. Prices were decent and we paid approximately €50 for two for all the mentioned food, a bottle of wine and water.
The name El Makami comes from the first letters in the three owner’s Matteo, Cassandra and Amir’s first names. El Makami serves up a varied menu of tapas dishes on the beach walk next to Playa Fañabe and hence also provides a nice sunset view of the ocean. We tried a little bit of everything such as their garlic prawns, their grilled octopus, wrinkly salt cooked papas arrugadas potatoes with the best mojo sauce I’ve had, crispy croquettas, padrónes with sea salt and palm honey as well as a baked goat’s cheese. Like Picamar, service was super friendly and prices very affordable with less than €50 for us both spent on all the food plus drinks.
I had promised my mother’s husband to have a dry martini for him during the drip, a mission I of course worked hard to complete in the best possible way. After some researching we found Café Steps, and while not a mixology kind of place, a nice little bar with great friendly service, massive cocktails and free ”aperitivo-style” (the owner’s from Milan) snacks. With our approximately €8 drinks we had both crisps, olives and delicious mini Italian sandwiches with gorgonzola and ham. Mmm.
After two years of covid restrictions, cancelled trips and spending almost all of our time at home, we decided to try out how it was to travel in a changed world.
We decided that we wanted to stay in the EU for our first post-covid trip, and decided that Spain, and more precisely Tenerife, offered the weather, the travel rules (only covid passport when we went) and also the direct flights we were after.
Stocholm Arlanda – Tenerife South with Sunclass Airlines
Tour operator Ving’s airline Thomas Cook Nordics has changed their name to Sunclass Airlines (but why?!), but except for the new name I didn’t notice any difference. We booked their premium class onboard their A330, which to the Canary Islands just came with an extra 700 SEK price tag, for a 5 hour return flight! Super deal. When booking premium class you’ll get around 15 cm extra legroom, free checked in luggage, free headphones and a free meal. Not sure what these cost in regular class, but those 700 extra is probably just 3-400 extra after add-ons. We also decided to splurge and upgrade to their premium meal for the return leg for 195 SEK each, but that includes a drink which is ~70 SEK if you select wine. The meal which consisted of salmon mousse and smoked salmon, beef fillet with potato gratin, cheese and a tarte, was decent, but like many airplane meals, the meat had been cooked too long and was super dry. Last time I ordered the premium meal, on my way to Gambia, it was much better.
Entering Spain with our health control forms and Covid rules
After our flight had landed we showed our Health Control Forms that we had filled in online before the trip, these are currently mandatory for entering spain when travelling from a country at risk, but was quite easy (and free) to complete. We had printed our forms and just showed the QR-code which was then manually scanned.
While we visited in December 2021 there was an indoor mask mandate, meaning you’ll have your mask on basically everywhere when you have passed a doorway, doesn’t matter if the area has a roof or not. Shopping malls, inside the hotel, even in the outside pool area you wore a mask if moving around. Only time you took it off was when you sat down in a restaurant or on your sun lounger, or went for a swim. Apart from (almost) always wearing a mask the atmosphere was very relaxed, all stores, bars and restaurants seemed to be open and people both behaved and seemed to enjoy themselves.
Vacation time at the Guayarmina Princess in a Platinum room
When staying in a platinum room you have a separate check in desk that also works as concierge. It took a little time to go through all details, but you got a glass of complimentary cava (or orange juice) while waiting, which was nice.
Junior suite with side sea view
We didn’t really care for size of the room, but wanted the Platinum perks which starts from junior suite, and since the price was almost the same for a ”side sea view” junior suite compared to one without a view, we decided to go for that room category.
The room was quite cool with a free standing bath tub in the middle of it, almost next to the bed. The minibar was stocked with both beer, white and sparkling wine as well as soft drinks, and the first round was free when in a platinum room. The room was situated next to a slope, so despite being on the fourth floor people walking by outside were quite close. The sea view was angled but quite good and we could see both the ocean and the neighbouring island of La Gomera from our balcony. We did not spend a lot of time there however as views are everywhere in the hotel.
Cocktail hour with sunset and volcano eruption views (at least in December 2021)
One of the nicest perks with Guayarmina Princess’ platinum concept is the daily cocktail hour between 17 and 18 o’clock (5-6 p.m.). it is pretty much what it sounds like, each day you’ll be served a couple of different drinks (as many as you like) and snacks for an hour. There was beer, soft drinks, rosé, red, two kinds of white wine and bubbles the days we went. The snacks were usually olives, something deep-fried like croquettas, and small canapes with for instance tuna. The cocktail hour is held adjacent to the platinum restaurant which has a terrace with amazing view over the ocean, La Gomera, and the sunset. In December the sun went down a few minutes past six, so each day offered a great sunset paired with your drinks. And we got to see the last puff of the volcano eruption on La Palma while sipping on our drinks on one of our first nights, but probably not something to expect for the next 100 years or so.
Due to covid, Guayarmina Princess’ Restaurants are booked by a super convenient new service, they call it an app, on their website. You log in, pick a time slot and then you have your allocated time. This works (and is mandatory) for breakfast, dinner and the pool chairs. Me being a planner, and someone that also gets stressed by the constant ”hope it’s not too busy at breakfast” and ”hope we’ll be able to get a sun lounger before other guests claims all of them with their towels”, thought this was amazing. You could sleep until late breakfast at 10, then after finishing you’d go back to the room, relax for an hour and then rock up by the pool and your reserved lounger at noon. Like a holiday always should’ve been. Great concept indeed.
Restaurants in Guayarmina Princess (with platinum full board)
When we booked our stay, our plan was not to eat that much in the hotel. But the price for what we thought was daily buffet was about €10 each, so we thought we’ll book that and then we use it to eat in on some nights and go out on some. When we arrived however, we were told that we as Platinum guests could choose any restaurant we want when on half board. Meaning we could opt for full a la carte meals in both the Roast steak restaurant and the semi-fancy Platinum restaurant as many nights as we’d like.
The buffet ”Food market”
You can have both breakfast, lunch and dinner at Food Market, and while we only tried breakfast and dinner, I’m sure their lunch is good too. I’ve had quite a number of buffets in my life, eating the smörgåsbord on the ’Finland ferries’ from Stockholm to Helsinki crossing the Baltic Sea to visit relatives, more times than I can remember.
Despite not being a huge buffet fan, I can happily say that Food Market is really good. Maybe not ”a gastronomic dream for true foodies” as their website discretely states, but still very good for a hotel buffet. The selection is huge, the quality is of quite a high standard, food is replenished often, and there are several stations where they make a la carte stuff as you order it. Also extra marks for local Canarian dishes such as rabbit, the classic wrinkly papas arrugadas salt boiled potatoes with delicious mojo sauces and fresh sea food. It’s also nice that you can sit outside which makes the experience a little less busy. It’s not super tranquil inside.
Breakfast is also good and of the same quality. The amount of choice is borderline spectacular, and they have (nice) oddities like fries, which one headachy morning (damn you Café Steps dry martini) gave me the opportunity to make a BLT breakfast sandwich with a side of fries. There are two egg cooking stations for freshly made eggs and omelettes, there’s churros and a nutella pump, good bread, yoghurt, fresh fruit, and lots of other stuff.
One night we decided to visit The Roast, the hotel’s ’modern’ take on a steakhouse. They have a semi-a la carte concept at The Roast, where starters and dessert are served at a buffet but mains are ordered a la carte. We tried a few starters which featured items for making your own salad, a bit surprisingly sushi (not great, but not terrible) and a few others. The roast also differs a little bit from the other restaurants as they have a couple of dishes that, like the other restaurants, are included, but they also have a few premium cuts that comes with an additional fee. We were a little bit tempted to try, but being cheapskates we went for the included-in-half board mixed grill instead, which featured a quite generous plate of grilled meats and sausages; pork, chicken, entrecôte/rib-eye, chorizo, morcilla blood sausage as well as a few fried pimientos de padrón. This came with chips, and we picked up a couple of sauces from the buffet since we like sauce. We really like sauce. Desserts? Can’t honestly remember, but they were probably alright.
The Platinum Restaurant
Like Food Market buffet restaurant, the Platinum restaurant serves both breakfast and dinner, both inside and outside on the amazing cocktail hour-terrace, mentioned earlier. Bookings for dinner are open from 6.30 by the way, so if you get a last order of drinks a few minutes before six, you might be able to stick around until dinner time if you ask nicely.
The breakfast includes a small buffet with slightly fancier ingredients and items than in the ordinary buffet, such as freshly squeezed orange juice, pastries, and on some days sparkling wine. The selection is much, much smaller though if that is important to you. The main difference however is that you also can order a la carte breakfast dishes, as many as you like. We usually went for their delicious pan tomate; Spanish bread fried in olive oil topped with grated tomatoes and a slice of serrano ham. There is also a fresh fruit platter, full English breakfast since many (most?) of the guests are from the UK, Spanish tortilla omelette, eggs to your choice, pancakes, and a few other dishes.
Dinner is, as mentioned, served from 6.30 and is a la carte except for starter which, like at The Roast is served at the buffet. The Platinum restaurants starter buffet is much nicer than in The Roast though, some nights there was all you could eat shrimps and langoustines and while I still would’ve prefered starters a la carte too, the quality was very good and you always found something you liked.
There was about six or seven main courses to choose from each day, and on top of that they also had a few extras such as a daily pasta and special meat dish. The quality is not amazing, but good. Think cruise ship. Our favourite of our three visits was the Iberian pork. Super juicy grilled fillet with red wine sauce and roasted potatoes, that we changed to fries since we are heathens. As in Roast restaurant you are free to complement your main course with items from the buffet, we could, for instance, not have enough of their mojo sauces, and the aioli was decent too.
Like the mains, there was a decent selection of different ones to choose from. The quality was, again like the mains, quite good, and we particularly liked their homemade flan with cream. There is a Nespresso coffee machine which you can use (whenever during the day, but also at dinner) if you’d like coffee with your dessert. There is also cheese, crackers and jam in the buffet if you want something less sweet to finish. Or both, as our waiter advised us.
The Platinum swimming pool
The last one of the perks, and booked through the Guayarmina Princess web app, is the amazing Platinum pool. Amazing in terms of views, mostly, as the pool itself, while heated and pretty is quite small. The area around the pool with the bar and the incredibly views over the Atlantic Ocean and La Gomera is spectacular. A top tip is to check the numbers on the sun loungers your first day to see which one you prefer. You can only reserve chairs for one day at a time though. We usually picked one by the pool, but there are also cabanas/day beds that looked really nice. If you get thirsty there’s a bar and there are also bathrooms at the end of the area, away from the bar, close to the stairs/fire escape.
Just got back from a short, fun and busy trip to the great busy Spanish capital Madrid. Unfortunately the image quality is not that great since I only brought my phone. But nevertheless, below are the (mostly) great restaurants I visited.
Most restaurants that has a man or woman hand slicing pata negra when you enter turn out to be great places in my experience. The thin, nutty and fatty pata negra ham did not dissapont at all to start our meal.
Pulpo, eg. squid grilled and seasoned with smokey paprika.
Grilled seafood. Langoustines, prawns, crayfish, clams, razor mussels and lemon. So good.
Our main was a perfectly sized (after the enourmos amount of tapas to start) beef fillet, served with only a few chips and piementos de padrón.
Surprisingly, you got to cook your own steak on a hot plate set in front of you, something I did not realise while booking. This is the steak, pre-grilling. By some reason I took no post-grilling pics. The meat above was really good and was served together with some really good chips/fries and a nice, slightly acidic sauce to baste it in while grilling.
Starters were handed out before the meat and consisted of salad with a mayonnaisy dressing; a ratatouille-like tomato and vegetable stew topped with quail eggs, and deep-fried potato baskets. The same baskets were included with the blood sausage scrambled eggs.
Despite being the fancy restaurant of the trip, I was a bit dissapointed with La Lonja del Mar. Although the dishes were okay, they did not at all impress. Above is the two best dishes, a Donistiarra style hake with clams and Torrija, a Spanish version of ‘French toast’ served with missing cherries and ‘Amarena’ ice cream. Tasty enough, but by no means great, unfortunately.
Our visit to Bodegas Pablo Morate, a small family winery just outside of Madrid was a highlight of our stay. We got to try some excellent wines (unfortunately not the 101 year old bottle above) and got served some of the best tapas I’ve had. Extra good because Pablo Morate’s mom, the cook of above feast, joined us and told us about the food and even gave us the recipe for the incredibly tasty Spanish tortilla omelette.
Tapas tour in the Salamanca district
Our last evening we decided upon a walking dinner with stops at three acclaimed tapas restaurants in the Barrio de Salamanca where we stayed at the Novotel Madrid Centro, which was pretty good.
La Castela restaurant
Cold but quite tasty shrimps to start the evening.
Pizza-like sandwiches with cheese, grilled and peeled peppers as well as ham. Went down well with a glass of red.
We got served a plate like above at each of the places visited. A mix of whole deep-fried fishes – to be eaten with bone and all, piementos de padrón and some crunchy stuff I can’t remember.
We had lots of sandwiches. This one was quite inventive, being the vessel of one of Madrid’s most famous dishes; oxtail stew. By this point I was so full, but still managed to chew one and a half of these guys down.
As a bonus, we also visited the cool rooftop club/bar ‘The Roof at ME’. Not a very high up skybar (7th floor), but a really nice place to dance off the tapas from earlier, have a few nice drinks and admire the (although limited) view. Admission was 20 euro, but included a drink, including cocktails.
A breakfast plate at Novotel Madrid Centro, where we stayed. This is just picked up from the buffet, but I would like to mention it because of the nice assortment of charcuterie/coldcuts that they served. The watery juice above is some kind of watered down mango juice I mistakenly took. Fortunately they also had proper fresh squeezed orange juice that was much better.
We also managed to make a quick stop at Mercado de San Miguel food hall in the central parts of town. During the 10-minute visit I had both the above duck foie gras pincho with onion compote and fig jam (I think), as well as churros dipped in hot chocolate. Mmmm……
Our last night at the Palm Oasis Maspalomas, and on the south side of the island for that matter, we decided to head for the Wapa Tapa restaurant that had got some great reviews.
Wapa Tapa is located in the touristy Yumbo shopping center, and was a little bit tricky to find among the other restaurants and shops in the mall. But there are signs pointing the way fortunately. When we eventually found the place we were immediately seated by the extremely, and I mean that in the best of ways, friendly co-owner that also gave us a run-down of the menu and also some suggestions of what to try. There was a chef’s choice menu with wine included for €40 a head, but we decided we wanted to choose ourselves.
Canarian papas arrugadas, the island’s ‘national’ dish. This one was made with a breed of potatoes locally grown on Tenerife, that originally was from Peru. Served with great mojo rojo and salsa verde sauces. Both deliciously garlicky with a hint of cumin.
Hand-carved, acorn-fed Iberico pig jamón. That is, the best damn ham I ever had. So nutty, fatty, tender and awesome. To the right are a bunch of almost equally good cod croquettas (much like the bolinhos de bacalau we had in Rio last year). Crispy and delicious.
Another great dish: Grilled king prawns with a squeeze of fresh lime and sea salt.
There are plenty of South American references on Gran Canaria (or lots of Gran Canarian references in South America). Here was one of our faves from last year’s South America-trip: Grilled Provoleta cheese, that we had lots of in Buenos Aires. This was even more delicious with an amazing grilled cheese crust covering the melting cheese. Served with crusty bread and tasty tomatoes. Mmmm…..
Then it was barely enough space in my belly for a small dessert. This was a pot au chocolat with white chocolate shavings. We also tried their sticky toffee pudding. Both were muy bien, but not as muy bien as the spectacular tapas dishes we had. If you find yourself near Wapa Tapa, book a table (several drop-ins were turned away during our visit) and eat some of the best tapas you might ever have.
We paid roughly €100 for two, with 7 shared tapas, 2 desserts and 3-4 drinks each.
After our first two days in Playa del Inglés, we managed to make a last minute booking for the Palm Oasis Maspalomas. Their cheaper studio apartments were sold out, but instead we secured a 70 sqm apartment for about €120 a night, which I found very affordable given the hotel’s ratings, the apartment’s size and the general luxurious feeling of the place. In the taxi from Playa del Inglés going to the Palm Oasis, I saw a palace-like structure and secretly wished it was the actual hotel, which it was.
A very nice aspect of the hotel was the fully equipped kitchen. I usually never cook when abroad, but hey, we were in the Canary Islands for 8 more days than planned, so why not save some money. Above is our apartment-made green olive tapenade ‘pintxos’ and a chilli-butter-red wine slow-cooked meat sauce served with spaghetti and parmesan cheese. The kitchen was extra convenient since the Palm Oasis Maspalomas has their own supermarket within the hotel (with slightly but not that much inflated prices), as well as there is a Spar supermarket a 3-4 minute walk away on Calle Einstein with a proper deli, quite an assortment of wine and beer and so on.
The room/apartment at Palm Oasis Maspalomas
Above is the view from the terrace that came with our apartment. You could see all the way to the Maspalomas dunes as well as the pretty pool area just to the right in the above picture. There were also two sunloungers so you could laze around your room all day still getting a tan. Our apartment also featured a big flatscreen tv with great picture quality; well-functioning wifi; a separate bedroom, and a bathroom that even had a jacuzzi hot tub.
The main restaurant
On two occassions we tried the hotel restaurant. Not much to write home about, but the food was decent enough. Above is from the ‘Gran Canaria night’ buffet which featured local delicacies such as the wrinkly Canarian potatoes ‘papas arrugadas’ with mojo rojo and salsa verde as well as grilled food, a few salads and some not-so-Canarian desserts. Some of the dishes (especially grilled entrecôte, chorizo and papas) were actually quite tasty, but most was standard buffet stuff.
The location is a bit off from the beach, but the hotel has solved this with a free transfer bus to Maspalomas beach that leaves four times a day and also return back to the hotel in the afternoon. To reach the Faro lighthouse and its restaurants or eg. Yumbo shopping center (both close to beach and restaurants) is about 4-5 euros with a taxi that the hotel happily order for you.
Since we had not planned on staying in the Canary Islands for more than three days we had no real idea what to do. One of the days though we went for a whale and dolphin tour with Spirits of the Sea tour company. It was actually very worthwile. We paid roughly €30 per person including hotel pick-up and got to see loads of dolphins playing around the boat. No whales unfortunately. Still a great trip though with a friendly crew.
The hotel in summary
Nice rooms, great pool area, and friendly staff. A bit far from the beach and good restaurants, but I would stay again given the easy and free transfer bus to the beach and affordable local taxis.