Hotel El Patio

near Garachico, Tenerife, Spain Book from Eur68

Reviewed by Tom Bell
A simple manor house - the ancestral home of the first family of Tenerife - wrapped in a banana plantation that flanks a rugged coast
The de Ponte’s carry some weight in Garachico - they’ve been here since 1507. They built their own church in 1565, then ruled the island from 1608. This is their land down by the sea, and the dragon tree that stands in the courtyard is 400 years old.

These days they run a banana plantation. It’s all around you, with signed footpaths to guide you through it. You plunge off the main road, pass the small church, then roll down towards the ocean. The hotel is a curious mix of styles. Century-old palms soar in an ancient courtyard, and a sparkling pool lazes out back with sublime views up the mountain. Inside, the 26 rooms are simple, homely and spotless. Don’t expect designer chic; do expect cast-iron beds, floral bedcovers, colourful walls and terracotta-tiled floors. Rooms are split between the manor house, the winery and the stables. Others are half a mile up the lane in a pretty annex, offering total peace and quiet. Don’t miss the old garden, the lemon trees, the hanging ferns, the purple bougainvillea, the tennis court and the croquet pitch. A total escape, and deservedly popular with families from around Europe.

Highs

  • The pool: it's flanked by banana trees with views up the mountain
  • The people: Elena and Baltasar run their home with great charm and old-fashioned hospitality
  • The peace: you're in the middle of a banana plantation. You might be just a few miles from the (modest) resorts of Icod and Puerto de Santa Cruz, but you'd never guess
  • The courtyard: stately palms, tropical flowers, vast sofas, free herbal teas and fresh-picked fruit on tap
  • Nearby Garachico: an authentic little town that's beyond the tourist trappings

Lows

  • Dinner is only served once or twice a week; on other days you'll have to drive a couple of miles to Icod or Garachico
  • Some rooms are half a mile along the lane. We thought this was rather romantic; you might not
  • Service is brisk and efficient, but feels rather institutional
  • The weather in this region is cloudier and rainier than the southwest part of the island - but that means fewer crowds
  • Elena and Baltasar are of an older, less email-addicted generation; don't be surprised if your enquiry takes a day or two to be answered

Best time to go

Any time of year - the average temperature is 25C - though do bear in mind that this is the coolest, cloudiest part of Tenerife: between December and March it regularly drops to 15C (and the pool is unheated). Prices are usually lower between June and October, and the sea breezes mean that it rarely gets uncomfortably hot. February is carnival time.

Our top tips

Take a moment to visit the family church, built in 1565 and still used for mass. It's made of local stone and has a pointed archway. The altar is neo-classical and the central painting - the Adoration of the King - is of Flemish origin. You’ll also find a Canarian pitch-pine pulpit and damask wall hangings. The small house next door was used by Augustine monks from 1692-1701 when their monastery was destroyed by fire.

Above the tennis court is a lovely, sheltered, semi-outdoor sitting area - a great spot to retire for afternoon tea, or lunch if you're clever enough to have your own supplies (you can use the cutlery, crockery and microwave in the dining room).

Great for...

Beach
Family
Great Outdoors
  • = Makes the grade
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 26
  • Breakfast (+ dinner occasionally)
  • All ages welcome.
  • Closed: 4 May 2015 - 10 Jul 2015...
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Sauna
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Tennis Court
  • Croquet pitch
  • Golf practice course
Room:

Rooms

Rooms are nicely simple. So are their prices. If you want glitzy luxury then look elsewhere, but if you’re happy with country comforts, you’ll get more than you bargained for. Beds are dressed in colourful linen, floors are tiled with terracotta, and a daily maid service blitzes the hotel from top to toe. Bowls of fruit are left in the rooms and you can fling the windows open to let in the breeze. Bathrooms tend to be small - most are shower only - but they’re pretty. There are no phones or TVs - a deliberate ploy to let you shake the city from your shoulders.

The estate is centuries-old and there’s a bit of ramble to it. Rooms are split between the manor house, the bodega (winery), the stables and the annex up the lane. Those in the manor house are comfortable and authentic, with a touch of style. You get sofas, heavy beams, perhaps an old armoire. All of them have lovely views - some of the banana plantation and the sea, others of the mountain - plus a small terrace or balcony with wicker chairs and candle-lit lanterns. One Superior room can sleep 4 in a double plus a double sofabed - book it early if you're interested; otherwise most rooms can fit one extra child's bed.

Rooms in the bodega have small balconies overlooking the lush courtyard, where palm trees soar up to the sky. They come in warm yellows and pinks, with cast-iron beds, shuttered windows and beamed ceilings. They’re well-sized, but it’s worth noting that they’re above the bar, with tables and chairs scattered about the courtyard below, so you may hear a little noise in the evenings. However, the pace of life here is slow and most people come for the peace, so don’t expect a party.

Stable rooms are to the side of the house. A sheltered terrace stretches along the front, and windows at the back look onto the courtyard. These rooms have cast-iron beds and high ceilings open to the rafters. The terrace outside is open-plan, and each room has a table and chairs outside the front door. Room 1 is entered from the courtyard; Room 2 is quite small and doesn’t have much of a view.

Rooms in the annex are cheaper as they’re half a mile down a lane that leads deep into the plantation. They’re very peaceful, and if you don’t mind the inconvenience of having to walk (5 minutes) or drive (1 minute) to the hotel, you’ll love them. They share a long terrace, with each room getting a table and chairs outside its door, plus a communal sitting room with sofas, armchairs and a fridge filled with drinks. They’re beautifully airy, with windows on both sides that flood the interiors with light.

Features include:

  • Terrace
  • Wifi internet
  • Safe box
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer

Eating

At the time of writing, dinner was only available once or twice a week, so be prepared to drive out in the evenings. But breakfast is offered daily in the dining room, whose full length windows offer wonderful views over the plantation and out to sea. And you can help yourself to hot drinks, biscuits and fresh-picked fruit throughout the day, then retire to a sofa or table hidden in the rampantly flowering gardens.

Breakfast is a rather institutional buffet, but there's plenty to choose from: plates of chorizo and salami, sliced cheese (not local,sadly), pastries, croissants and fruit. Unreformed Englishmen will also find cornflakes, bacon and eggs, even beans on toast. The coffee is pretty grim, though - we think it's the local variety which tastes somehow burned.

If you’re heading out for the day and want to take lunch with you, small picnics can be prepared by arrangement. You get a couple of sandwiches (ham and cheese, tomato and lettuce), a piece of fruit, a carton of juice, maybe a hard-boiled egg. Walkers seem to like them.

If you coincide with a dinner day (booking required), you can expect straightforward local fare such as pumpkin soup, homemade lamb stew, chicken thighs with baby carrots, or grilled fish with a green salad. Pudding might be lemon tart, chocolate mousse or tiramisu. Feedback has been mixed, so you might to check again before booking.

But it's no real hardship to eat out. In Icod, a few minutes east, we had a very satisfactory and reasonably priced Canarian supper in Carmen, just below the main church and 1000-year-old dragon tree. In Garachico, a couple of miles the other way, we've heard great things about Pizzeria Rugantino and Casa Gaspar; or you can splash out on upscale fusion fare at Hotel San Roque.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Dinner by arrangement
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • The banana plantation encircles you completely and runs down to impressive sea cliffs and a tiny, enclosed, black-pebbled cove. You’re free to follow your nose and paths are marked in different colours, each of which corresponds to the length of a particular walk
  • There's a tennis court and croquet pitch at the hotel, as well as a basketball hoop and ping-pong table (not in the best state of repair)
  • Golfers will be in heaven down at Ballasteros-designed Buenavista; seven of the holes run along the ocean (a magnet to most golf balls)
  • Head east to Icod de los Vinos to visit its unexpectedly pretty colonial heart, its much-vaunted 1000-year-old dragon tree, and the butterfly centre (which, like most attractions on the island, closes periodically for no apparent reason). Continue to La Orotava for stately mansions and leafy gardens, or to the historic bathing resort of Puerto de la Cruz for a swim in the Manrique-designed aqua park (not just for children!)
  • There's a decent black-sand beach at Playa San Marcos (La Mancha), a 2km walk (or 4km drive) to the east of the hotel
  • The other way lies lovely Garachico: don’t miss the town square of Glorieta de San Francisco, the tiny but wonderful gardens in Plaza de Juan Gonzales de La Torre, or the seafront rock pools, connected by labyrinthine paths cut into the volcanic boulders
  • A trip through the island’s hinterland takes you into some spectacular scenery. Climb up to El Tanque and you can stretch your legs in one of 3 nature reserves: the Teno Rural Park, the Forest Crown Nature Park and the Chinyero Special Nature Reserve. Then take the road on to Masca, a tiny village halfway up a mountain with vast views out to sea
  • You can keep going and do a tour around the volcano; most people do. There’s a lookout halfway along, where you can gaze all the way down to the coast. There’s also a good restaurant up here where you can get a bite of lunch
  • Head to the western tip at Punta de Teno for an 1883 lighthouse, volcanic coves, dreamy colours and spectacular views down the coast to the cliffs of Los Gigantes. There’s great hiking here, too

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • History religious
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Shopping
  • Croquet
  • Picnics

Kids

Children are welcome, and some rooms in the manor house interconnect. Extra beds and baby cots are available, but only in rooms in the annex.

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
7/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
9/
Overall

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