“Gorgeous traditional Canarian house (sleeps 2-8) in La Palma's sunny south, with gob-stopping views over volcanoes to the shimmering Atlantic”
The main house has 3 bedrooms (2 twins and 1 double), 2 bathrooms (1 tub and 1 shower), a sitting room and a kitchen-dining room. Floors, ceilings and beautiful window seats have been painstakingly finished in local téa (Canarian pine), which gives a handsome, almost stately feel. Padding about barefoot is a joy. There are patterned rugs, brass candelabras, vases of dried flowers, vintage dressers and art deco bedside tables: don't expect contemporary (it's not that sort of place), just good old-fashioned semi-formality. Views from two bedrooms soar out over the Atlantic (don't miss sunset); the third is a shorter straw but still spacious and peaceful (it comes with TV to make up for it). Mattresses could not be comfier, and the double bed is mercifully wider than most Canarian casas rurales. In the sitting room is a TV-DVD, two high-backed burgundy armchairs and an ecclesiastical pue-for-two; though we thought the lighting could be improved, and some of the art was not to our taste. There's also free WiFi and a landline (in the main house) for incoming and local outgoing calls. Given how much of the day you'll spend outside, it's all more than comfortable enough for a week's stay. Bathrooms come with stacks of fluffy towels and robes, starter bottles of shampoo and soap, and intricate coloured tiling. Downstairs - next to the huge yoga room, which is available for a supplement - is a washing machine which you share with the annex guests. The separate annex is about a third of the size - just right for a couple - with a kitchen-dining room, a twin bedroom (beds can be pushed together, of course) and an ensuite shower room. Decor is equally traditional, and equally spotless. It has its own sun terrace which is just far enough away to start a conversation with your neighbours if you want, or not if you don't. The friendly German couple who overlapped with us have stayed here every year since 2000 - apart from the 2 when it was being rebuilt - and each year, when they leave, they book it for the next. Many others do likewise; so you'll want to plan ahead.
Both houses have their own fully-equipped kitchen: fridge-freezer, oven, hob, microwave, plenty of pots, pans, cutlery and implements. Unless you plan gourmet feasts, you won't want for anything - though make sure you know how to operate the touch-sensitive hob! The dining table (big enough for 6-8 in the main house; for 2-4 in the annex) comes laid with fresh fruit, a carafe of local wine and a fantastic homemade sponge cake, as a thankyou for booking through i-escape.com. We ate in on 3 evenings, and dined out the other 4. There's decent (though not brilliant) fruit, veg, meat and staples in the minimarkets of Los Canarios (3km) or Las Indias (2km); once we cheated and bought a ready-roast chicken from the butcher, with an off-the-cuff mango, almond and green salad lending colour and vitamins. In terms of restaurants, there's one in the hamlet of Los Quemados (a short walk), but we preferred to drive 3 minutes up to La Casa del Volcan on the edge of San Antonio volcano, for oven-baked fish, chorizo-tinted tortillas, hearty lentil soup and crisp squid rings in a cosy, rustic environment. For more variety, head to Bodegas Tamanca in Los Canarios (grilled meats and endless wines to taste), Casa Goyo near the airport (great fresh fish), or Los Llanos (refreshing veggie fare at La Vitamina). You can also get honest grub (and local rum) at the beach shack overlooking Playa Zamora, another favourite of ours.
Well-behaved children are welcome in the house, but bear in mind that it is the owners' labour of love, so please respect the antique furnishings (and, if relevant, the guests in the other part of the house). For this reason, Lourdes tends to accept a maximum of 2 children in any single booking. Also, be aware that there is no pool (summer days can be very hot) and the swell means it is not always easy to swim in the sea (though sheltered beaches like Tazacorte are almost always fine). And most of La Palma is made of volcanic rock, which is very hard and sharp! Having said all that, we stayed for a week with our 4-year-old son, and had a whale of a time - playing hide and seek in the gardens, following the water channel to Teneguia volcano, dodging waves on the beaches and, on the rare cool evening, watching DVDs on the flatscreen TV. The house has a (shared) washing machine, a bathtub (in the main house), plenty of cooking equipment (but no high chair and not much baby crockery), beach toys and - on request - a cot.
Toddlers (1-4 years)
The garden has steep steps, and if you are not taking the whole place you need to be respectful of the guests in the annex.