Hotel El Mondalon

near Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain Book from Eur85

Reviewed by Matthew Hirtes
A family-friendly finca that showcases the island’s rustic-chic side, with a pool, restaurant and away-from-the-crowds tranquillity
If you think a holiday on Gran Canaria means an all-inclusive break in Maspalomas, or a plastic wristband-wearing stay in a Playa del Inglés hotel, think again. Gran Canaria is far more than the sum of its resorts. The great-value Mondalón, which opened for business in 2011, is a perfect example of GC's other, more charming side: laid-back, tranquil and subtly sophisticated.

Set 20km from the airport, at the base of a peak which forms part of the Monumento Natural de Bandama park, this 10-bedroom rural hotel proves the island’s as much about turf as it is surf. Dating back to 1800, it’s a great centre for hiking, with zigzag trails leading out from the front door and through 25 acres of farmland: native Canarian flora, vineyards, olive trees and vegetable gardens. Later, sink into a sofa by the pool and enjoy a drink while the sun sets, then head to the restaurant, Bodegón, where the generous portions offer a perfect way to refuel.

Highs

  • Easy location, with the airport and the capital city of Las Palmas both a 20-30 minute drive away
  • Bedrooms, though simple, are mercifully unkitsch; beds are super-comfy, and you get either a terrace or a view
  • We loved the pool, heated by solar panels, with its quirky fountain and Jacuzzi
  • Kids will love the playshed, chock-a-block with toys and games including table football, and visiting the hotel's donkey, sheep and lambs
  • A peaceful setting in a picturesque valley - one for those who want to get away from it all

Lows

  • Reports suggest that the restaurant's food can be hit or miss, with a limited menu that doesn’t change. It's also closed Monday-Wednesday, so be prepared to drive 20 minutes out for meals
  • As often in the Canaries, service can be slow
  • Rooms will be a squeeze if adding extra beds
  • The sauna in the gym is as roomy as an airing cupboard and you have to pay to use it
  • There are 80+ beaches on Gran Canaria, but the nearest (10-15km away) are not the nicest

Best time to go

Weather-wise, you’re visiting a year-round destination. Gran Canaria is especially popular for winter breaks as there’s minimal difference in temperatures from season to season. The hotel closes during August but is otherwise open all year.

Our top tips

The pre-Lent Carnaval in Las Palmas is the most-circled date on Gran Canaria’s calendar and sees locals apparently trying to outdrink the Club 18-30 crowd. One to avoid - or perhaps one to join in... we won't judge!

Great for...

Family
Great Outdoors
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 10
  • Restaurant and bar (open Thursday-Sunday only)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Board games
Room:

Rooms

Simply styled bedrooms have beamed wooden ceilings, exposed brickwork and super-comfy beds. With a nod to Mondalón’s wine-route location, all take their name from a grape. Four are on the ground floor with private terraces; the remaining 6 are on the first floor with great views. Bigger ones can fit one or (at a pinch) two rollaway beds. There's a selection of pillows housed in your wardrobe. I slept well in my allotted room of Tintilla, the most spacious along with Moscatel, and would have dozed on indefinitely if it wasn’t for an alarm from the school opposite.

We really liked the bright Albillo and Listán rooms, on the first floor at opposite ends of a typical Canarian interior patio. They lack the big windows of other first-floor bedrooms, but an interior glass door ensures light, whilst a side window and terrace door guarantee ventilation. The former would suit a couple looking for a romantic break, its intimate terrace the ideal venue to watch the sun go down.

Bathrooms have a shower only, but you get bathrobes and toiletries; a nice touch.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

We ate very well during our stay, though recent reports have been mixed. Breakfast, so often disappointing in the Canaries, was generous here: staff went supersize on local cheeses, cereals, cured meat, fresh fruit and pastries.

The Bodegón restaurant has a terrace overlooking local vines and is a great place to eat; the temperature doesn’t drop much even when the sun goes down (open 12-11pm Thursday-Saturday; 12-5pm on Sundays).

Many ingredients on the menu are sourced from the hotel's organic garden. We started with Servicio, which consists of the famous pan de puño (bread made of dough kneaded with the fists) accompanied by olive oil, pulped tomato and sea salt. Next came the biggest mixed salad we'd ever seen. Platos de Cuchara ('Plates to Eat with a Spoon') followed, including everything from soups to stews. Afterwards, we entered the delightful realm of Para Endulzar El Paladar ('To Sweeten the Palate'), trying the sugary Polvitos Uruguayos (a cross between a cheesecake and a tiramisu).

When the hotel restaurant is closed, you can either drive 20 mins to Las Palmas for a wide choice of eateries, or head a similar distance inland (as we did) to Casa Martell in El Madroñal, between Santa Brigida and Vega de San Mateo. You won’t forget your meal here in a hurry: there’s no menu, but the owner has a canny ability to second-guess what you want to eat and deliver it on a plate - literally. Broadly speaking the food is Canarian with a twist, and veggies are all from his organic garden.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Visit the capital of the island, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, often described as a short-haul Havana. Retrace the footsteps of Christopher Columbus in olde-worlde Vegueta then make your way to one of the world’s greatest beaches, Canteras, which boasts 2.8km of golden sand

  • The hotel is set in the Monumento Natural de Bandama natural park, formed by a volcanic crater and Bandama's peak; you can walk to the bottom of the crater in 30 minutes, or do longer circular walks

  • Another memorable hike is the Cave Houses of Guayadeque, one of the most remarkable archaeological sites on Gran Canaria. The group of caves was once used for dwellings and barns

  • Play a round of golf at the nearby Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas. Founded in 1892, it’s the oldest course in the whole of Spain

  • Get fit rather than fat on holiday by horse-riding through the surprisingly verdant countryside. Gran Canaria is not known as a miniature continent for nothing, with the greener north offering an astounding contrast to the arid, desert-like south

  • Take back a taste of Gran Canaria by visiting one of the local vineyards for tastings and purchases. The hotel is within comfortable driving distance of the major wineries on the island; staff can advise

  • Although the east coast is not the prettiest, check out the beautiful beaches of Agua Dulce and Tufía, which are in a protected zone - one that includes archaeological evidence of pre-Spanish Gran Canaria, the aboriginal Guanches

  • Back at the hotel, lie by the pool, raid the library for some reading material, or book a massage with a visiting therapist

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Wine tasting

Kids

The establishment is family-friendly in common with the rest of the island and indeed the whole of Spain; children are made to feel more than welcome here. The hotel has baby cots (free to borrow) and extra beds (supplement cost). Please note that the largest room is recommended if adding cots or beds as the rooms are small. There's a small playground and playshed to keep them amused.

Best for:

Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Large Double Standard rooms (Tintilla, Gual, Castellana and Moscatel) can accomodate up to 4 people, 2 of them in extra beds (though 4 in a room is a squeeze). The Double Standards can fit 1 extra bed or baby cot.

Babysitting:

Available on request

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • Highchairs

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Small portions of the hotel's menu can be ordered

Kids Activities on site:

  • Games and toys in the playshed
  • Farm animals to say hello to
  • A solar-heated swimming pool to splash around in
  • Children's entertainer every Saturday, Sunday and public holidays 1400-1800

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Horse riding in the reserve
  • Beaches 10km away

Distances:

  • Airport: 20 minutes (20km)
  • Shops: 5 minutes
  • Hospital: 20 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
7/
Food
8/
Service
8/
Value
8/
Overall

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