A 3 star hotel with 5 star views...
Last month, Terry, Max and I spent a week in Tenerife, on our first ever foreign holiday as a family of three. We stayed at the 3 star Panoramic Heights aparthotel,in the Costa Adeje area of the island: and here’s how we got on…
Panoramica Heights Aparthotel, Costa Adeje, Tenerife (Website)
December 2nd – 9th, 2019
AutoReisen Rent-a-Car (Pick-up at Tenerife South airport)
When I was reading Trip Advisor reviews of Panaromica Heights, it very quickly became clear to me that many of the things that other people consider to be a negative to a hotel are the very things that drew me to it in the first place – location being one of them.
(The other thing that became clear to me from reading Trip Advisor reviews was that PEOPLE BE CRAZY. Seriously…)
I mean, with a name like ‘Panoramica Heights’ it seemed pretty obvious to me that this particular hotel wasn’t going to be at the bottom of a valley, say, but I read quite a few reviews from other guests who were absolutely astonished to find that the panoramic views hinted at in the name come courtesy of the height of the hotel. So, before I go any further here, let the record show that Panoramica Heights is, indeed, located at the very top of a hill – and it’s a steep one, too. Well, you don’t get views like this at sea level, do you?
For Terry and I, the view was the main selling point, here: as we were travelling with a baby, we knew we’d be spending a lot of time on the balcony while he napped, so we figured we might as well have something nice to look at while we were there. (Not all of the rooms at Panoramica Heights have a sea view, by the way, but if it’s similarly important to you, you can pay a bit extra to guarantee one.) That was definitely a good call on our part: we had a discussion while we were there along the lines of, ”Would you rather stay in a 5 star hotel with no view, or a 3 star with one?” and honestly, I think the view wins every time for me: this one was just glorious, and, thanks to the early wake-up calls from Max, we got to see a few amazing sunrises from it, as well as the beautiful sunset from the top of the hill every night.
The hill in question is Torviscas Alto, and it’s located behind Costa Adeje, about 2km from the main Del Duque beach area. You can obviously choose to walk that distance if you feel like it, but it’s a very steep hill, so most of the people we spoke to at the hotel chose to either take the bus into town, or use taxis. Terry and I had hired a car, so the distance was never an issue for us, but it’s also worth noting that the area around the hotel is residential, so, apart from the small on-site supermarket, there aren’t any shops, bars or restaurants within easy reach – you do have to go down into Costa Adeje for pretty much everything. Oh, and the hotel itself has no pool bar, kids club, or animation team: again, I know these are things which some guests consider to be a negative, but for us it was perfect – as a misophonia sufferer, noisy pool bars are the absolute bane of my life on holiday (In the last hotel we stayed in, the constant thumping baseline from the pool bothered me so much that I had to wear earplugs any time I was in our room…), and there are few things I hate more than trying to enjoy my book by the pool, and being constantly pestered by someone trying to get me to join in some kind of team game: er, no thanks – I’ll just be over here in Introverts’ Corner, hating everyone, thanks…
In other words, then, this quiet, somewhat remote hotel was the perfect choice for us, but obviously, if you’re looking for a lively resort that’s right in the heart of the action, it might not be the one for you! Similarly, the hillside location (The resort is actually built into the cliffside) means there are lots of hills and stairs within the complex itself, which might not be suitable for people with disabilities or mobility issues: definitely a pretty good leg and butt workout otherwise, though!
(I must’ve burned a million calories pushing Max up this hill every morning. Shame I gained them all back at the breakfast buffet, though…)
As I mentioned, the Panoramica Heights resort is built into the side of the cliff, so it’s spread over a few different levels, with the pool and snack bar at the bottom, and the restaurant and reception at the top. I suspect the outdoor areas might have been refurbished fairly recently, because it all looked pretty new to us, and everything was immaculate: we saw cleaners out every morning, and the entire place was always spotlessly clean, so top marks there.We only used the pool area to take Max to the baby pool (Which he absolutely loved!), but, again, it all looked well kept, with plenty of sunloungers available. I particularly liked the design of the sun terrace, which meant it would be easy to find a fairly private spot, rather than being crammed in with other sunbathers – also, there were no loungers around the pool, which meant no rush to reserve loungers with a towel, either. (There were actually signs up forbidding this, but as there were also plenty of empty sunloungers, I don’t think it would’ve been a problem…)
Our room was a one-bedroom self-catering apartment, which had pretty much everything we needed for our stay. The kitchen came complete with fridge, microwave, toaster and kettle, and the hotel also provided a cot for Max, which we’d requested in advance. It’s worth remembering here that this is a 3 star hotel, and the room reflected that: some of the furniture was a little bit worn, for instance, and while the room was clean, it wasn’t what I’d call spotless, exactly – it had obviously been cleaned prior to our arrival, but there were still lots of fingerprints on the white gloss units, for instance, and on some of the mirrors. Not a big deal, obviously, but I DID have to resist the impulse to clean them a few times.
(I managed it, just FYI. I may like things neat, but I’m not INSANE…)
With that said, the maid did come in every day to make up the beds (And I assume to change the sheets at points, too: I’m not sure if this was done daily or not, but they always looked clean to me, so no complaints…), empty the bins, and change the towels, etc. Basically, it was exactly what you’d expect for the price we paid, really: so, not five star luxury, but still a pretty comfortable base for a cheap week away.
Our only real issue with the room, then, was the keycard door entry system, which somehow managed to break down on us twice, leaving us standing outside the room with no way to get inside. Both times, maintenance had to completely remove the lock and replace it, which wasn’t ideal, obviously, but it was done immediately on both occasions, so at least we didn’t have to wait around too long. After the second time, though, I’m pretty sure we gained a reputation as The People Who Keep Getting Locked Out of Their Room: ah well, there are worse things to be known for, I guess!
We generally prefer to eat in different restaurants when we’re on holiday, rather than sticking to the hotel, but booked half board this time, purely because we got such a good deal with Jet2 that we figured even if we only used the hotel for breakfast every day, it would still be worth it. As it turned out, we did end up eating out most nights, so only used the hotel restaurant a couple of times for dinner. We had breakfast there every morning, though, and were glad we’d booked it, because Max likes to eat as soon as he wakes up in the morning, and I reckon it would’ve been a bit of a struggle to get all three of us up and out the apartment in time to drive down to town for breakfast every day. And, I mean, sure, we could just have fed him in the room, I guess (We did keep some food in the fridge for snacks, etc), but if it’s a choice between making something myself, and an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, I know which one I’m choosing, is all I’m saying.
(Spoiler alert: IT’S THE BUFFET. OBVIOUSLY.)
Now, at home, I never usually want anything other than coffee for breakfast, but, on holiday it instantly becomes my favourite meal of the day, and this was no exception, because, guys, it was a REALLY good breakfast buffet, containing all of the usual suspects: so, everything from fresh fruit and toast to eggs, bacon and sausages, plus the usual selection of meats, cheese, teas and coffee. God, I miss that breakfast buffet. I might ask Terry if we can start doing one every day at home, actually: maybe get one of those toasters that you only ever see in hotels, where the bread basically goes on a little journey through the machine before popping out at the end, only slightly more toasted than when it started. Or, on second thoughts, maybe not…
(And, if you take your eyes off it for a second, someone ALWAYS steals your toast, don’t they? Yes, Man Who Wore A Baseball Cap to Breakfast: I’m looking at you, here…)
Where was I? Oh yeah: breakfast in the hotel was great. Dinner, on the other hand, I was a little less impressed with – and it surprises me to write that, because, to be totally honest, I have fairly low standards when it comes to food. Like, I used to quite enjoy school dinners, for instance. And I really like airplane food. I think it’s the little plates with the different compartments? But anyway. To be fair to the hotel here, we did, as I mentioned, only eat dinner there a couple of times, so I’m not really in a position to write a full review here, but, in short, the food was fine… but not particularly interesting, really.
Again, dinner was buffet style, and there was always a mix of pasta, pizza and maybe some rice, curry etc. Each time we ate there we had plenty to eat, and, as I say, it was really, really cheap, so I think it was a case of, “You get what you pay for,” here – if you’re expecting fine dining, you’d obviously be disappointed, but, then again, if you were expecting fine dining, you probably wouldn’t book a 3 star self-catering hotel in the first place, would you? OR WOULD YOU?
(Note: some Trip Advisor reviewers totally would, by the way. I often read those reviews and just think, “What the hell were they expecting?!”)
One slightly odd thing to note about the restaurant, finally, is that, even although we were half board, rather than all-inclusive (Which wasn’t actually available), we were still made to wear plastic wristbands at all times, to prove we were hotel guests, and thus allowed to eat in the restaurant. I’ve only ever been made to do this with all-inclusive hotels in the past, and we also had to present a booking slip with our names and room number on it to the restaurant staff, too, so I was a little bit taken aback by the wrist bands – especially when the receptionist who checked us in tried to put one on our 11-month-old baby. (We point-blank refused to allow this, and, to be fair, the woman didn’t try to insist on it. Still a bit odd, though – babies eat for free anyway, and it wasn’t like Max was going to rock up at the restaurant on his own and demand more food, was he? I mean, give him a couple of years before he starts those kind of shenanigans…)
Anyway, I guess it’s a measure of how far parenthood has ground me down that, the last time I was made to wear a plastic wrist-band, a couple of years ago, I spent the entire holiday prising the detested thing off my wrist every time I left the hotel grounds (Because it DIDN’T GO WITH MY OUTFIT. I mean, SERIOUSLY, PEOPLE.), and then replacing it when I came back, but this time I just meekly held out my wrist for the offending piece of plastic. Then it took me over 24 hours to remove it when we got home. I’d probably still be wearing it now if it wasn’t for the fact that, every time I took a shower, I had a moment of panic, thinking I’d left my watch on by mistake. But I digress.
I couldn’t end this review of the Panoramica Heights without quickly mentioning one of the best things about it: the people.
Seriously, every single member of staff we encountered there was so lovely – everyone had a smile and a ‘hola’ for us as we walked past, and Max in particular was a big hit everywhere he went, with the hotel staff all stopping to talk and interact with him, which he absolutely loved. I was aware, of course, that Spanish culture is very family-oriented and child friendly, but, this being our first trip with a baby, this was the first chance we had to experience it for ourselves, and it was really eye-opening. It wasn’t just at the hotel, either: pretty much everywhere we went, people would stop to say hello to Max, and it was just a really nice experience – for him, and for us.
So, would we go back to Panoramica Heights? Absolutely. I mean, I’d g TOMORROW, if I possibly could.
What about you, though: would you rather stay in a three star hotel with an amazing view, or a five star without one?