Casa Los Geranios

Los Canarios (Fuencaliente), La Palma, Spain Book from

Gorgeous traditional Canarian house (sleeps 2-8) in La Palma's sunny south, with gob-stopping views over volcanoes to the shimmering Atlantic
It may be named after the geraniums which spill in shocking pinks and reds down the terraced garden; but it's the views out to sea which makes you catch your breath. Your eye tumbles over sun-warmed vineyards, bursting improbably from volcanic soil, to a coastal strip of banana plantations fully 500m below; and, beyond that, the shimmering Atlantic stretching away towards America. At sunset, the peachy hues, fronted by the silhouettes of cactus and aloes, are unpaintably beautiful.

Inside is a handsome traditional Canarian residence. Lofty pine-wood eaves and window frames, beautifully curved love-seats, vintage chests and mirrors are set off by sparkling chandeliers and coloured tilework in the bathrooms. To say it's restored with immense TLC is an understatement: when a 2009 forest fire ravaged the house, the indefatigable Lourdes and her professor-turned-carpenter husband recreated the house exactly as it was, and even improved on a couple of minor niggles. The main house (sleeps 4-6) now boasts 2 bathrooms, while the adjoining annex-for-2 got its own bougainvillea-fringed terrace with sunloungers and BBQ.

Highs

  • The main house is perfect for an outdoorsy holiday with the kids; the annex for a romantic hideaway in the sun; or both together for an extended family group wanting a bit of separation
  • Astonishing value - a lovely 3-bedroom house for the same money as a standard hotel room
  • Lourdes - though she speaks little English - could not be kinder, offering homemade cake and wine, beach toys for our young son, restaurant and wine-tasting tips...
  • Though it's traditionally furnished, everything is actually new, from the dreamy mattresses to the power shower and snow-white bathrobes
  • It's in one of the sunniest spots on La Palma

Lows

  • No pool - and it can get very hot in summer
  • The beaches (5-10km away) are not always swimmable due to the swell, and most are gritty black sand or pebbles
  • The 2 parts of the house share a terrace (with a low dividing wall) - if you are a couple in the annex with a family next door, you might feel outnumbered
  • The neighbours' dogs set each other off on nocturnal barking competitions - but Lourdes told us (with a rather alarming glint) that she would sort it
  • You'll need a hire car for shopping and beach trips; and La Palma's roads are quite demanding (not least the steep access lane)

Best time to go

La Palma is feasible all year. In winter (Dec-Feb) it can be cool in the evenings, and decidedly cold on the high mountains (snow is not uncommon); but daytime temperatures are normally a pleasant 15-25 celsius at sea level. In summer (June-Sept), that can rise to 30-40 celsius, so come prepared - though sea breezes keep the beaches cool, and the mountain forests are beautifully shady.

Our top tips

Buy small bags of flor de sal salt crystals from the lighthouse at Fuencaliente on the island's southern tip - they make unusual, long-lasting and very transportable gifts.

Being in the far south, you normally escape the patchy cloud which settles over some parts of the island; but if you do find yourself under a cover of grey, there's almost always sunshine at the other end of the island!

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
Family
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Villa Rental
  • 3+1
  • Self-catering; restaurant nearby
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room:

Rooms

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.

Features include:

  • Barbeque
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Iron (on request)
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Radio
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi

Eating

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.

Features include:

  • Coffee tea making
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Toaster
  • Welcome hamper
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Zigzag down through banana plantations to the coast (7km) for cliff-ringed coves at Playa Zamora, or wilder black-sand beaches further north: one has a natural rock arch, another has other-worldly dunes right down to the water's edge (be wary of the swell when swimming)
  • Follow the water-channel-path from just below the house, past crumbling cliffs (look out for ancient rock art) and scattered pines, to Teneguia volcano, a rewarding hike which culminates on a rusty-rocked summit still warmed by fumaroles (it last erupted in 1971)
  • Continue down the waymarked trail - the island has over 1,000km of them - to the lighthouse and salt pans of Fuencaliente, where blue-aproned men shovel flor de sal crystals through a grading machine into sachets
  • In Los Canarios (or Fuencaliente, 3km), taste La Palma's excellent wines or peer down into the bowl of San Antonio volcano - only a 15-minute walk from the carpark
  • Further afield (30 mins) are Los Llanos, the island's biggest and most colourful town, and Santa Cruz, its capital and main port: within modern suburbs, both conceal a charming colonial centre, with cobbled lanes, pastel houses and street cafés (Carnival is a blast!)
  • Keen hikers should not miss the stunning walk into the Caldera de Taburiente, surrounded by jagged and misty 2000m peaks, then down the ochre-coloured Angustias ravine: one of my most exhilarating day treks ever
  • To get above the clouds - which tend to gather in one of the island's valleys - drive up to the observatory atop Roque de los Muchachos (and stay on for some star-gazing); or trek there along the knife-edge Ruta de la Cresteria
  • There are sheltered beaches at Puerto de Naos (home to the island's only resort hotels) and Tazacorte (our favourite, with pedalos and a laid-back tapas scene)
  • Or arrange some paragliding, sea-kayaking or mountain-biking with a local operator - see our island guide for suggestions

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Hiking
  • Mountain biking
  • Paragliding
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Stargazing
  • Swimming
  • Trekking
  • Volcanoes
  • Wine tasting

Kids

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.

Best for:

Toddlers (1-4 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available

Families Should Know:

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.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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