Gran Canaria is a first class tourist destination in Europe, a cosmopolitan and exuberant island that sports a valuable standard: the Royal Hideaway Hotel.
Cities wear their emblems with a certain arrogance and display their decorations with lofty audacity. Aware, perhaps, of the fierce competition between them, it is not surprising that from time to time these emblems change creating new ones, it happens in New York, London or Dubai, but also in Madrid, Seville or Barcelona. On the opposite side, cities where their emblems remain constant over time, even when modernity has also flooded their streets.
It happens in the most populated city of the Canary archipelago, the most cosmopolitan and generous. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has been sporting a singular emblem for 130 years, a beautiful hotel in the very center of its elongated outline. This construction was designed by the Scottish architect James M. MacLaren and renovated by the most prolific of Canarian architects, Miguel Martín-Fernández de la Torre, who respected the English colonial style, introducing ideas from his famous brother Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre, internationally renowned painter.
Hotel Royal Hideaway, the emblem of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
One of the singularities of the hotel is its location, in the Doramas park of the island capital. An extensive park, with a beautiful fracture, designed for the British residents of the 19th century, but reconverted to the singularity of the Canary Islands, by renaming it in homage to Doramas, a Gran Canarian warrior who faced the Castilian troops. The inclusion of flora, endemic plants and the symbology of ponds, fountains and statues decorate an oasis worth visiting.
Accompanying the hotel, an iconic and highly respected cultural emblem of the islands: the Pueblo Canario. The Martín-Fernández de la Torre brothers were in charge of devising a space of peace and traditional Canarian architecture, where the details of several centuries of construction are collected, including the Néstor Museum, where a large part of the artist’s work is exhibited. In short, there is no better place for the wonderful Royal Hideaway Hotel, a building through which all kinds of celebrities have passed, from Winston Churchill, Agatha Christie or Prince Charles of England, to Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck or the Princes of Asturias.
Artists such as Julio Iglesias and presidents such as Felipe González have passed through the hotel
In 2017, the Barceló company won the contest that put the Hotel Santa Catalina up for auction, owned by the city council. To its credit, a generous recreation proposal, always respecting the parameters that have made the property a Historic and Artistic Monument of the island, recovering the splendor and excellence of the classic style with which it was built. For this, the company promised to invest 24.5 million euros. The works began in 2018 and ended almost two years later, in 2019.
Another award that makes it extremely unique is that of being the oldest hotel in the Canary archipelago, which has allowed numerous media stars to enjoy its splendor, which reached its zenith at the end of the 50s and 60s of the 20th century. Personalities of the stature of the soprano María Callas, the former presidents of the Spanish government Felipe González and José María Aznar, or renowned artists such as Julio Iglesias or Lola Flores have passed through it.
The Royal Hideaway is one of the best and most sustainable hotels in Europe
The hotel has 204 rooms with views of the city or the landscaped park. The most exclusive room is the Royal Suite, with an approximate price of 355 euros per night, fifty square meters of surface, views of the ocean and the garden, a large terrace, separate living room, two bathrooms, access to the infinity pool of the Rooftop and the possibility of enjoying the hydrotherapy circuit throughout your stay.
Last year, when it reopened, it was awarded at the World Luxury Hotel Awards with the categories of best historic luxury hotel in Europe and best cultural luxury hotel in southern Europe, two more feats to add to its long journey. Another important joy was the property in June 2019 when it was chosen as one of the ten projects that best apply sustainability and hotel renovation, a recognition made by the Re Think awards. They also highlighted that the hotel is an example of conservation and protection of the environment of Gran Canaria.
The hotel was refurbished, focusing on the culture of the islands and its people
Obviously, adapting an old building to modern concepts of comfort is not an easy task, even more so when the property has maximum administrative protection. Beatriz Galán, an expert restorer of works of art and preventive conservation, was involved in the rehabilitation process. The Patio de las Tortugas, the Bar Carabela, the Salón Arencibia or the Salón Miguel Martín-Fernández de la Torre are some of the rooms where the expert hand of the rehabilitator was necessary.
The building is full of art: works signed by the muralist painter Jesús Arencibia, works by Santiago Santana, who stood out for his indigenous Canarian style, or Manuel Martín González, the best Canarian landscape painter of the 20th century. The mural set executed by the painter Fernando Álamo, winner of the 2014 Canary Islands Fine Arts Award, is spectacular. It consists of two works that are located in the hotel gallery, at the exit of the García-Escámez Room. These murals offer, we are told, a link between the past and the present.
The restaurant Poemas by Hermanos Padrón, is inside
But, for earthly lovers like me, the best is at the restaurant Poemas by Hermanos Padrón, a business run by Juan Carlos and Jonathan Padrón, the only chefs of Canarian origin with a Michelin star and two Repsol suns. It is a fantastic place to enjoy regional and international cuisine. As if that were not enough, the Canarian designer Pedro Palmas has made 13 exclusive designs for the hotel staff. Designs that evoke British influence, respectful of the image of the idyllic building.
Of course, the hotel has rooms for meetings and events, a fabulous pool, wellness area, fitness, and all those wonderful little things that make our stay unique. In the end, Barceló has not only relocated a valuable property to the place it deserves, but has also winked, through artists and professionals from the islands, to the inhabitants of the city. A wink that is appreciated.
*Old images courtesy of the “Historic Photography Archive of the Canary Islands. Fedac/Council of Gran Canaria”.