Agaete, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
Armando swings the Punto around the narrow, tight corners of the white village of Agaete where the late afternoon sun is reflecting its blindness off every white wall. Past the white Town Hall we drive, our wheels almost touching the kerb outside the white bakery and on beyond the white cottages before we climb the narrow hill and exchange the stark white stone for brown fields punctuated with the flowing dreadlocks of Canarian palms and neat rows of fruit trees.
On the distant hillside the white houses of San Pedro cluster above the road and isolated white fincas lie scattered across the valley, every dwelling obeying the rules of Agaete – only white. As we round a bend in the road our eyes are drawn like moths to a flame to Finca Las Longueras, the red house over yonder.
On the far side of a small barranco, nestling in a sea of green orchards at the foot of the parched cliffs of Tamadaba Natural Park, the elegant arched windows and tall gables of the Red House are a picturesque reminder of Gran Canaria’s Colonial past. Built in 1895 as the autumnal residence for the Manrique de Lara family, the hotel’s orange, lemon and avocado groves now host the shoes of Chiefs of State, Ministers, Bishops, Ambassadors and bullfighters where once the feet of painters, designers and composers strolled.
One of only two houses in the valley, and the only legitimate one, that doesn’t conform to the white dress code, Finca Las Longueras has always worn its distinctive red coat and if you want to reproduce the colour at your own homestead, pop into the local ferretería and ask for English Red.
Buzz Trips opinion:
An elegant and charming rural hotel set just 2km outside the white village of Agaete where you feel like a weekend guest in the company of Downton Abbey meets the Darling Buds of May. The house is packed to its Colonial rafters with personal ornaments, photographs, antiques and collectables belonging to the Manrique de Lara family. Everything about the house says decadent luxury from a bygone era, updated to provide modern essentials like constant hot water, WiFi and flat screen TV.
Perfectly located for exploring the myriad hiking trails of the Tamadaba National Park, the serenity and beauty of the surroundings is matched by the comfort of the rooms and the warmth of the welcome. It’s the sort of location you designate your ‘quiet place’.
We were lucky enough to have the suite on the second floor where we had copious floor space in the double bedroom with its ornate, carved wooden headboard, polished floorboards and shuttered window onto the orange orchards and chickens at the back of the house. A spacious en suite bathroom with separate wash room and a small sitting room which led to a pretty terrace overlooking the banana palms and the mountains – the perfect place to escape the heat of the house in the still night air of the valley.
Popping our heads into several of the other rooms, all had their own character and furnishings but they shared in common the crisp, white linen; plump pillows, fat mattresses, polished floors and elegant, en suite bathrooms.
Pastel walls, timber floors, florals, frills and flounces abound in the maze of sunny sitting and reading rooms. Dinner is served in the faded grandeur of the dining room where guests share a table as if they were at a dinner party. Not for the reserved but an easy way to make friends with fellow guests. We shared our table with a Dutch couple who were nearing the end of their two week hiking vacation on Gran Canaria and Joanne said she had sent a text to her daughter to declare that she had “felt like a Duchess” being served dinner on their first evening.
Breakfast is served on the pretty outside terrace overlooking the finca and consists of a buffet of fresh fruits, cold meats, cereals, cakes and pastries. Dinner is a set three course menu of unfussy home cooking such as chickpea soup followed by pork with orange sauce and a dessert of gofio mousse.
The Las Longueras piece de resistance is undoubtedly its secluded swimming pool and its endless trails of orchards and gardens where you uncover secret corners, wrought iron benches and tables and profusions of tropical blooms. The front of the building has a long, latticed gallerie where, on our last day, a Spanish film crew were shooting scenes from an 18th century period piece and costumed actors and actresses strolled and lounged between takes. We were the ones who felt distinctly out of place.
Double rooms with breakfast at Finca Las Longueras start at €95 in summer.
Buzz Trips were guests of Gran Canaria Natural at Finca Las Longueras.
Andrea (Andy) Montgomery is a freelance travel writer and co-owner of Buzz Trips and The Real Tenerife series of travel websites. Published in The Telegraph, The Independent, Wexas Traveller, Thomas Cook Travel Magazine, EasyJet Traveller Magazine, you can read her latest content on Google+