Once the preferred choice of kings, queens, the literary elite and Hollywood starlets, the Hotel Santa Catalina is full of old-world Spanish charm. Located in heart of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the hotel is centered just a few kilometers from both the old town of Vegueta and the modern tourist centre along Las Canteras beaches. A marble lobby that was filled with gold accents, the Hotel Santa Catalina looks like something Wes Anderson would dream up.
My boyfriend and I, along with his parents traveled from Madrid to Las Palmas to celebrate Christmas and we spent seven days at the Hotel Santa Catalina. Breakfast was included in our stay and we were blown away by the options. Although it was a bit repetitive (same things offered every day), there was enough variety that with a bit of creativity you could have something new and interesting each day.
Because we were there over the holidays, Christmas Eve dinner was included in our stay. From day one, we were intrigued by the menu (phew, given that attendance was compulsory): lobster bisque, fish, and lamb shoulder followed by coffee, tea and desserts. It was grandiose, but hey, it was Christmas!
The lobster bisque was divine. Dave and I were seated beside an old Englishman who didn’t want the bisque and let the staff know, but they just kept bringing him bowls. Every time his place was empty a bowl would appear, so he’d give it to us. Pretty good deal for us, if I do say so! The fish and scallops were done beautiful and then there was the lamb. By this portion of the night I could have stopped, but never one to turn down food I soldiered on. It was amazing—and the entire shoulder. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much meat on one plate. The wait-staff was incredibly attentive and for most of the night all four of my glasses were never empty!
While the hotel was beautiful, charming, and teeming in tradition, there were a few snafus during our stay:
Despite being advertised as in the centre of it all, we found it was a bit from the beach and most restaurants. The one restaurant that was at the end of the driveway was AMAZING, but we only discovered it on the last night. All of the others we had to walk for 20ish minutes to find something (anything).
There was a bit of confusion with the rooms. We had booked a standard double, which in all of my previous travels has been a room with a queen or double bed. This was not the case with the Santa Catalina. Instead we were treated to two single beds. Thankfully the hotel staff was more than accommodating and was able to give us a new room, complete with a king-sized bed and terrace.
My in-laws were not as fortunate as they were given a larger room that had no terrace and only one small window, meaning that it was dark in their room for a good portion of the day.
While the new room was luxurious and perfect for us, it was located on the 1st floor (not the ground floor, to be clear) and incredibly close to the banquet room. This meant that we could hear (and sing along to) the music being played at private holiday functions. Not a problem in the evening, but at 2 AM it was a bit of a different story.
Even worse was the Saturday following Christmas, the hotel was hosting a James Bond themed party – or at least that’s what I assumed given that we could hear the theme song blaring as we walked up the hotel’s expansive driveway after dinner. Anticipating that it might be loud in our room, Dave and I went to talk to reception just to get an idea of when the party would be finishing, and in true Spanish style it was scheduled until 6 AM. Again, the hotel staff was more than accommodating. On their insistence we were given a room just for sleeping located all the way on the top floor; they knew it would be loud in our room, so it was easier just to move us for the night. Fine by us. The room was perfect for sleeping, but even five floors up we could faintly hear the music, and could occasionally feel a vibration or two. We slept well, but I couldn’t help but think of our comrades on the 1st floor who weren’t so lucky.
The hotel boasts multiple pools, a gym, and other such facilities, what it fails to mention is the additional cost – anywhere from € 2-9 each per day. As a fairly active group (somewhat, I’m definitely the laggard of the four) we were all disappointed to have to pay an additional fee to use these often included hotel facilities. To have to pay an additional € 9 EACH a day to access the indoor pool left us feeling a little nickel-and-dimed.
My final note of contention with the hotel was their lack of pool chairs. It was hot, and some days all you wanted to do was lounge by the pool. But, unless you arrived at 8:30 AM to stake your claim to one of the handful of chairs you were out of luck. For a hotel with more than 100 rooms 30-odd pool chairs just isn’t enough.
Despite a few hiccups here and there, our time in Las Palmas was exactly what we wanted—relaxing. The hotel was full of old world-charm and ambiance; the staff was polite, helpful, and accommodating; and it made for the perfect jumping off point to explore the island (recaps of our trips to the north and south of the island to come soon).
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