Have you already planned your spring and summer vacations? This was a normal question at the beginning of 2020 – and the answer most probably would be Yes, since many of us got used to prepare spring / summer trips several months in advance. In 2021, the situation has changed dramatically. With the COVID-19 restrictions all over the world changing every day, one starts feeling lost, confused and even paralyzed. I also experienced this feeling of helplessness and for one year I was waiting for better times to start travel again but recently I’ve understood I couldn’t put my life on standby. Traveling is liberating and empowering, it’s a source of energy and inspiration for me, so I pulled myself together and booked my first trip of 2021: Tenerife!
Having already visited one of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote, in January 2016 (you can read about this trip here), I knew the weather in this area would be nice in winter. Tenerife is the island of eternal summer: around 22 degrees Celsius all year long and the temperature of water is 19-20 degrees. Rainfalls are rare on Tenerife and you can be sure to enjoy sunshine during your vacation (even if it gets cloudy, the sun usually breaks through at some point). To sum up, the weather on Tenerife in winter and spring is warm enough for me to swim in the ocean – and that’s what I did almost every day during my trip!
What are the travel rules during pandemic? One week before my departure France adopted the new restrictions concerning international trips. Most of them are related to travels outside of the European Union: you cannot leave the territory of the EU or enter it without a sufficient reason confirmed by the documents; this means touristic trips from/to France outside of the EU aren’t authorized anymore. As for the trips to the EU countries, a negative PCR test made not more than 72 hours before the flight is required to enter the territory France (if you travel by plane). The same rule works for Spain, which means you have to make a test two times: before going to Spain and before getting back to France. In France, PCR tests are free but in Spain they’re very expensive for the foreigners: 125 euros! It’s a new point to add to your travel budget but I accept this price to be able to travel again.
Also, when you go to Spain, you must fulfill an information form on the website of the Spain Travel Health and get your individual QR code.
To sup up, during the boarding in France and on your arrival to Spain you will need:
- A negative PCR test made not more than 72 hours before your flight;
- An individual QR code.
I recommend you print out these two documents because if your mobile gets out of charge, you’ll find yourself in a difficult situation.
On your way back to France from Spain, you will only need a negative PCR test (again, you can show it on your mobile but don’t take risk, print it out).
If you respect these rules, you will have no problems with crossing the border. Don’t forget a mask for the plane (mandatory during the whole flight), use sanitizer and wash your hands frequently. Planes aren’t full in low season, so my trip was comfortable and pleasant.
Where to stay on Tenerife? My choice fell upon the historical hotel La Quinta Roja in Garachico, on the North coast of the island. Here I should normally say “Let me tell you a few words about this place…” but actually it will be quite a lot of words, because the location became one of the main factors of success of the trip.
Garachico is a small town but with plenty of charm and individuality. Its narrow streets, authentic architecture with incredibly beautiful wooden details and unique coastal line formed my lava attract lots of visitors, but it still stays a place out of beaten path. If you decide to visit Tenerife in spring, you will find Garachico calm and cozy, with the locals taking their barraquito on the terraces in front of the sea. You want to know what barraquito is? Well, you’re right – to be honest I became quite addicted to this traditional Canary layered coffee cocktail by the end of the vacation. Barraquito is a combination of espresso, condensed milk, Liquor 43 and milk foam completed by lemon zest and cinnamon. This drink is so delicious that it can be served as dessert !
But let’s get back to Garachico and talk about La Quinta Roja, the gem of the town located directly on its central square. The 16th century manor house looks rather like a fortress than a hotel but inside you will find gorgeous high-ceiling rooms and a magnificent courtyard with a fountain and palms. This courtyard is a perfect place for an aperitif in the evening, but if you prefer to watch sunset, there’s also a rooftop terrace offering 360° view over Garachico.
The sea is just within five minutes of walk from La Quinta Roja. There’s no beach but swimming in the natural swimming pools is a really cool experience!
The hotel is named after its original owner, the Marquis of La Quinta Roja. It was a family property during the centuries, and it has changed the owner only recently, to be transformed into an exquisite boutique hotel. It should be added that the manor is one of the rare buildings in Garachico which wasn’t destroyed during the volcano eruption in 1706, so all architectural elements of La Quinta Roja are original, for example, impressive stone stairs, wooden terraces and terracotta tiles. You definitely feel yourself out of time here and I applaud the new owners who managed to renovate the manor offering all modern facilities to the guests while keeping the incredible historical atmosphere.
Three categories of rooms are available to the guests: Double Standard, Double Plus and Junior Suite. I stayed in the Double Plus room but visited other two categories and can confirm that all of them are very nice and comfortable. The main difference between the rooms of different categories is their size, Double Standard being the smallest and Junior Suite disposing an extra bed (convenient especially for the families with children). What I loved the most about Double Plus and Junior Suite though are their amazing wooden ceilings, so high that you have impression to stay in a loft or in a house! Lots of air and space, colonial style furniture and natural materials create relaxing atmosphere. In February nights were fresh but for hot summer days each room is equipped with the air conditioning (which, I can imagine, wasn’t easy to install in such an ancient building).
Breakfast is served in the garden exposed to the beautiful morning light. The famous serrano ham and local fresh cheese, croissants and pains au chocolat, frittata or boiled eggs, freshly squeezed orange juice à volonté and fruits – perfectly healthy start of the day, simple but delicious, thanks to fresh products.
Paloma, the owner and director of the hotel, manages La Quinta Roja with impressive efficiency. For the new season she will introduce to the guests some new features, such as sport bike rental (brand new bikes are already stocked in the basement waiting for the first clients), sports massage and a rooftop mini gym. She’s also a source of precious information about the island and her advice helped me a lot to make the best of my vacation!
What about safety and security measures at La Quinta Roja? This question became crucial during pandemic. La Quinta Roja took it very seriously and incorporated an important number of precautions to assure the guests’ safety:
- All stuff and guests are required to wear masks on the hotel’s territory;
- At check in, you must give a copy of your negative covid test;
- Hand-sanitizers are available at the lobby;
- Safety protocol sheets are placed in the rooms to outline the new policies in place;
- There’s no buffet and breakfasts are served at a table (room service is available, too).
I felt very safe staying at La Quinta Roja, also because the hotel is very spacious, and you can easily keep the distance with other guests. Two days before leaving, I asked Paloma to help me with my PCR test necessary to get back to France. She fixed an appointment at the laboratory for the next day. There was no waiting line at all, the whole procedure took ten minutes and the only document required was my passport.
Obviously new safety rules can seem annoying but in fact they didn’t prevent me from enjoying my vacation. I expected more complications while traveling abroad and was rather agreeably surprised. Of course, everyone takes his decisions based on his priorities and health condition. On my part I can safely say I will plan more trips this year and will probably get back to Tenerife. Why? Because one week was definitely not enough to explore this island which has so much to offer!
La Quinta Roja
Glotieta San Francisco
38450 Garachico – Tenerife
Telephone: +34 922 133 377