La Vida Lanzarote

Before visiting Lanzarote, I never thought I would get so excited over a potato. But the Spanish island’s traditional dish of papas arrugadas (Canarian wrinkled potatoes) has instilled in me a newfound enthusiasm for the humble spud. Boiled in the skins in salty water, these sweet little treasures are mopped up with either green (coriander and parsley) or red (peppers and paprika) mojos sauce. These were just a few of the mouthwatering delights on offer at The Hesperia Lanzarote in Puerto Calero on the island’s south west coast.

Devouring said spuds was one of the many enjoyable activities we were introduced to, which also included a spot of  “sea-bobbing” (more on that later), wandering through a volcanic cave, discovering an underground salt water lagoon and thoroughly sampling the famous local white wine (purely in the name of journalism you understand) …

To the British at least, Lanzarote has a reputation as more of a family resort for those wanting to soak up some sun, party and do little else. But this charming volcanic island, with its dramatic rock formations and stunning local art, boasts a lot more than simply sun and sangria.

The one arguably great thing about the island is that, being the size it is, you’re not spending precious holiday time on the road getting from one place to another. You can visit most of it in a few stress-free days, so even the most slothful of beach bunnies among you will have less of an excuse to roll their eyes when someone suggests “let’s do something today …” as you can take in some sights in the morning and be back by tea time.

A great place to start your tour is the Jameos Del Agua, located in the north of the island. These are a series of volcanic caves, which were formed around 4000 years ago and have since been given added artistic touches by Lanzarote-born artist César Manrique (whose roadside sculptures can be admired at various points around the island). The artist has turned several of these caves into a majestic 600-seat auditorium – where Pedro Almodovar had the premier for his film Los Abrazos Rotos in 2009 – as well as a swimming pool, gardens and restaurants. But the highlight has to be the stunning underground lagoon Jameo Chico, which is populated by thousands of blind albino crabs, which look striking and ghostly under the turquoise waters.

Another must-see “hotspot” – quite literally- is Timanfaya National Park (Timanfaya is the island’s only non-extinct volcano), where you can take a bus tour through the Martian-like Montañas del Fuego (Fire Mountains) that were formed when over 100 volcanoes erupted during the 1700s, causing devastation to many local villages.  Being a semi-active volcano, temperatures in the area can reach as high as 400-600 degrees just a few metres underground. The heat is even used for cooking in the park’s aptly named El Diablo restaurant.

But when it comes to spending some much-needed down time, The Hesperia Lanzarote is the perfect place to indulge and de-stress. A convenient 15-minute car journey from Arrecife airport, the hotel is known for its calm, tranquil surroundings, making it ideal for families and couples or honeymooners – many weddings also take place here – with unflappably cheerful staff who go out of their way to ensure your every whim is catered to.

Built on a hillside which leads down towards the sea, you can admire the views from the hotel’s picturesque terrace, where you can enjoy a tipple and admire the ocean (we glimpsed several doe-eyed honeymooners doing just that) with background music provided by a pianist in the evenings. The views can also be enjoyed from the hotels rooms, which boast comfortable, classic furnishings. There are 250 standard rooms and 42 suites – as well as a sprawling Presidential Suite – the latter of which can come with jacuzzis, a private terrace or garden filled with exotic indigenous flora. Large families can also opt for a Kids Room, which combines both double beds and bunk beds, as well as toys, games and a kid-friendly mini bar.

Those wanting to catch up on sleep can choose from three pools based on three levels to laze by; they can also pay a visit to the luxurious day spa and thalassotherapy centre which boasts a jacuzzi, sauna and hydrotherapy pool. Gastronomes can also have fun exploring the hotel’s four restaurants: El Risco where Italian-inspired fare is given an international twist; as well as La Caleta – where our group tucked into the aforementioned papas arrugadas, together with some other tasty dishes, from the traditional to the more unusual (our favourite was the magret of duck with pineapple and eucalyptus essence).

You can also dine at Botavara, the hotel’s main restaurant, where a lavish breakfast buffet is served, with eggs and other delights cooked to order, as well as evening buffets where different themed-cuisine – from French to Arabic – is served each night of the week. But the highlight of our trip – gastronomically speaking – had to be the moreish seafood paella (Paella de Marisco) we greedily devoured at The Pool Bar overlooking the sea and sunshine.

And if spending an entire day sunbathing doesn’t appeal, you can try your hand at seabobbing – where you are propelled across the waves by an bullet-shaped contraption which allows you to “bob” under the water to admire the sea life (proficients can even attempt a loop-the-loop). For someone previously against the idea of donning a wetsuit and  – with three failed driving tests to their name – averse to controlling any kind of moving vehicle, it was a surprisingly fun-filled morning, skimming across the waves. Like swimming but with far less effort.

But the one thing that makes Hesperia Lanzarote particularly appealing is the calming, cheerful and family-friendly atmosphere (there being enough activities available for little ones so as not to disturb the tranquility for other guests). For those quick to dismiss Lanzarote as a ‘party island’ – we certainly beg to differ. Pass those potatoes

by Viola Levy

The Luxury Link Travel Group is a collection of luxury travel websites offering value-added experiences at five-star accommodation around the world at insider prices.

Luxury Link offers 3-7 nights in a suite at the Hesperia Lanzarote Hotel from £502, based on two people sharing. Includes welcome drink, breakfast, €40 daily dining credit, €100 resort credit, complimentary wifi and access to spa facilities, plus early check-in and late check-out, subject to availability. To book please visit or call 0808 189 0029

The hotel can arrange guided tours around the island, which can include lunch and entrance into various local attractions.

Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline, operates year round flights to Lanzarote from Birmingham, East Midlands, London Gatwick, London Luton, Leeds Bradford and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, starting from £39.99 one way (£63.53 return)

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