La Malvasia

Arico Viejo, Tenerife, Spain Book from

3 adjoining cottages (each sleeps 4-6) with shared pool, tucked between vines and villages 6km above sandy beaches
We spent ages looking for a stylish family option in Tenerife's sunny south - dodging the crass mega-resorts and the poky casas rurales - and by the time we unearthed this, all 3 of its pretty cottages were full. Of course they were. With their spacious interiors (each comfortably sleeps 4-6 in 3 bedrooms), their playful decor, their well equipped kitchens and large shared pool, it's just what the island has been crying out for.

But that didn't stop us. After a lazy morning on Poris de Abona's empty beach with buckets and frisbees, we drove the 6km up to Arico Viejo and buzzed at La Malvasia's gate for a tantalising nosey round. A gravel track led through healthy vineyards of listan blanco (as they are known here) to the 150-year-old finca, where the busy-bee owner Martín Rodríguez de Azero y de Ponte awaited us. Expect inviting leather sofas and woodburners, clean pastel lines with a touch of old stone, the odd Oriental print or huge teak-framed mirror. Views roll down to the cobalt sea, and across cactus-specked farmland to the pretty hamlet of Arico Nuevo - home to a lovely little restaurant. Above you looms Mt. Teide, all pine forests and lunar rocks; below you a string of beaches.

Highs

  • If you want a reasonably stylish yet affordable holiday in a perma-sunny part of the world, with an uncrowded beach nearby, bingo!
  • The pool and sundeck are glorious: we could imagine spending most of the day here with the kids, retreating to the covered chill-out area for drinks and shade time
  • Bedrooms are good-sized, with comfy double or twin beds, ensuite bathrooms and plenty of wardrobe space, so you can really spread out
  • We loved the beach of Playa de Punta beyond Poris: flat sands, sheltered waters, and we had it to ourselves for 3 hours
  • It's only half an hour from the airport, and there's no shortage of flights from all around Europe

Lows

  • Service is minimal: Martin doesn't live on site, and the caretaker (weekday mornings only) speaks little English
  • Maintenance is not the best in the world - some peeling paint or cracked plaster here and there - but this is the Canaries
  • Kitchens are rather spartan and supplies are minimal; buy basics like salt and tea towels from local shops
  • Arico Viejo is not a pretty village, but Arico Nuevo (1km away) is a jewel; and both feel a world away from the purpose-built resorts just round the coast
  • Be aware that you share the pool and grounds with the other guests (mostly families)

Best time to go

Tenerife is a year-round destination, but we'd advise you to avoid school holidays if you possibly can. March and November are both great times to visit, if you have free rein - warm but not overly so, and with few crowds. Summer (June-September) can get scorchingly hot, though these cottages are well insulated and air-conditioned. Winter (December-February) can be cool - it's not unknown for it to snow on Mt. Teide - but the south of the island is much sunnier than the north (we had 3 days of uninterrupted sunshine in February), and the cottages have woodburning stoves for chilly evenings.

Our top tips

If you're feeling energetic, hike to the sun-bleached pumice slopes and fairy towers of Los Escorriales ('Paisaje Lunar') above Vilaflor. To reach it, drive up the TF-21 from Vilaflor towards Teide and park your car at the 2nd left hand hairpin (about 2km above Vilaflor). Here a dirt track climbs to the right (east, then north), through cool Canarian pines, past Pino Padre (keep right) and Los Llanitos. You're at 1500-1800m altitude, so be prepared for cool winds or even patches of cloud.

If hunger strikes on the way home, stop at Rincon de Roberto ('El Tasca') on the main street of Vilaflor, for upscale home cooking (soups, stews, tapas) and excellent wines by the fireside.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Cottages
  • 3 cottages for 4-6
  • Self-catering only; restaurants nearby
  • 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
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Laundry Service
  • Maid service (weekdays only)
Room:

Rooms

We only popped into the cottages briefly, but saw enough to know that they are all smart and spacious, with playful contemporary decor and high-quality fittings. Expect spotless tiled floors and pale walls with the odd patch of exposed stone, giant mirrors and antique dressers, some oversized flower prints or pieces of 'exotic' art. You would barely guess that they were once a goatherd's cottage along with his adjoining grape barn and cheese-making room.

All have 3 bedrooms (1 kingsize, 2 twins) and 3 bathrooms (1 tub, 2 showers), as well as a generous living space (huge TV/DVD, iPod dock, woodburner) and a very well-equipped kitchen. We can't imagine that you would want for anything. Out back, each has its own walled garden with BBQ and (fake) lawn, which Martin was keen to show us - though we were much more seduced by the prospect of sitting around the shared pool, which has its own covered chill-out area (low tables and chairs).

Lagar (meaning wine press) was perhaps our favourite, situated at the far end, with a separate reading room whose picture windows look out towards the hamlet of Arico Nuevo. Chocolate leather sofas and prints of giraffes and African women give it a nouveau colonial feel.

In the middle, Barrica (barrel) has a huge sitting room with exposed eaves and a rash of clocks adorning one wall ("only my mother knows why", says Martin drily). Nearest the car park is Bodega (winery), a tad smaller - though still generous for 4-6 - with pale yellow walls and decorative loops of black rope hanging from the extra-high ceiling. It is important to note that one twin bedroom in each of these two cottages has an external entrance from the patio, and may not be suitable for young children.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Barbeque
  • Beach towels
  • Cd player
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • Dvd player
  • Fireplace
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • Tv
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi
  • Woodburner

Eating

Each cottage has a separate kitchen - small and functional - with everything you would expect in a contemporary suburban home: fridge, electric hob, oven, dishwasher, washing machine, microwave, toaster, kettle, iron, orange juicer, hand-held blender and so on. There's a table for 4-6, though most of the time we imagine you'd eat outside - either in your back garden or (if you can be bothered carrying it there) around the pool.

If you're feeling lazy, drive the 1km into Arico Nuevo where, tucked down a narrow whitewashed lane in its own cute little plaza, lies the gorgeous Sarras restaurant (formerly called El Pimenton). We have not tried it since Patricia and Isaac took over, but they promise local tapas (including bacalao, cheeses, hams and gofio), homemade cakes and puddings, and the best Cumbres de Abona wines.

There are decent shops - and some simpler eateries - in Arico Viejo (5-10 mins walk from La Malvasia); or if you're spending the day on the beaches around Poris de Abona, grab a thickly stuffed pitta bread or seafood platter at the tiny but wonderful Café al Mar. If you need anything unusual, it's best to stock up in the supermarkets around San Isidro, near the airport.

Features include:

  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Head down to Poris (6km), a whitewashed holiday village which has a pretty little beach and lots of bathing decks with ladders into the sea
  • If that's crowded, continue along the small road to Playa de Punta, a yellow-sand beach backed by a few paint-peeling houses and knobbly black rocks; outside school holidays you could have it to yourselves, save for a few fishermen trying their luck from the jetty
  • Explore the looming volcano (and National Park) of Mt. Teide in the centre of the island: immeasurable lunar landscapes pocked with gnarled outcrops of rock, and frequented by day trippers (the circular hike from Las Canadas is especially popular)
  • On the way down, stop at the charming mountain town of Vilaflor, on the edge of Teide's pine forests; at the top of the village is the church and terraced square of San Isidro, where you can get a delicious (and cheap) lunch
  • There are all manner of sandy beaches heading south along the coast: we liked the sheltered waters south of El Medano, kitesurfers will love the long beach to its north
  • Whizz up the motoroway to Santa Cruz (30 mins), Tenerife's shiny capital and bustling port, for aquaparks, opera and the Sahara-blond sands of Playa Las Teresitas; or to (San Cristobal de) La Laguna (40 mins), the island's historic capital, for colonial architecture, pedestrianised plazas and craft-filled boutiques

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kitesurfing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Whalewatching
  • Windsurfing
  • Wine tasting

Kids

This is a great choice for families: each cottage sleeps 4-6, with a fully equipped kitchen (including washing machine) and a sitting room (with TV/DVD player and WiFi for movie time). There's a good-sized shared pool, with shaded sofas, tables and various board games to keep parents happy while the little ones splash about.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

All three cottages are spaciously proportioned and have two twin bedrooms along with the master double room so are perfect for extended or larger families. One of the twin rooms in both Bodega and Barrica have a separate external door, so we recommend these rooms for older children or adults. All cottages also have a bathtub in one of the three bathrooms. The largest of the three is Lagar, which has a separate reading room with a view.

Baby equipment:

High chairs are available

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

Kids Activities on site:

  • Shared pool

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Beaches
  • Snorkelling and windsurfing
  • Golf
  • Boat trips
  • Aqua parks in Santa Cruz

Families Should Know:

The grounds are rocky and many plants are prickly. The sun can be very fierce in summer - keep your children (and yourselves) creamed up, and consider spending the early afternoon indoors to avoid the hottest period. There can be a swell at the beaches.

Distances:

  • Shop: 5 mins walk
  • Airport: 30 mins drive
  • Doctor: 5 mins drive
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

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

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