Christmas Day is breathing down our necks. CC La Villa in La Orotava is buzzing with shoppers and the TF5 motorway beside it is gathering rows of red and white car lights like a cobweb gathers dew.

In holiday booking terms, the beginning of this week is the lull before the storm as hotels gear up for the Christmas Eve influx. But not in Hotel Las Águilas which sits calmly, both physically and metaphorically, above the shopping bedlam. Here, the hotel is currently on 80% occupancy and hurtling towards full to the brim.

As the sun sinks on the Monday before Christmas, Tenerife Magazine heads to the hotel on the hill for some early festive R&R.

A cut above the rest
Winding up the hill that leads to the Hotel Las Águilas in Puerto de la Cruz, you quickly realise that you’re not just checking into any old hotel. Set in two and a half acres of botanical gardens and woodland on its panoramic hilltop, think country estate with pools and parasols.

Inside the lobby, the marble effect walls and floors coupled with the Titian-style mural lend it an Italian classical look, but wander through to the Internet lounge and you’ll find sepia images of Native Americans. Descend the stairs to the stylish and spacious bar lounge area and it’s pop art that adorns the walls. Refreshingly devoid of the uniform look of hotel chains, the style of Hotel Las Águilas is both contemporary and traditional, an elegant simplicity bringing eclectic themes together.

View from a Hill
The sky is just beginning to glow orange as we check into reception so we take the elegant, sweeping staircase down a level, through the chic bar lounge to the beautifully manicured gardens, palm filled lawns and freeform swimming pool with its rockery waterfall, to watch as night falls gently over Puerto de la Cruz. Following the path beneath the tunnel beside the poolside restaurant, we make our way to the children’s pool and the larger swimming pool with its walk-behind waterfall where views open up across the rest of Puerto de la Cruz.

At our backs the slopes of the La Orotava Valley twinkle against the deepening sky, fading to obscurity as they reach the edge of the Teide National Park, ahead of us the Atlantic Ocean is slowly slipping from azure to cobalt blue while below, the street lights, Christmas decorations and windows of the town are gathering strength in numbers.

Over indulgence
With the sun well and truly over the yard arm, there’s just enough time to order a cold beer and try out the bar stools in the Vulcano Lounge before dinner. Resisting the temptation to order another couple of beers in the amiable company of the bar tender, we make our way to the restaurant where one look at the evening’s buffet selection has us instantly regretting the small bowl of nuts we just demolished.

Fresh and fabulous salads accompanied by cheeses, cold meats and more toppings than you could shake a lettuce at, give way to heart warming, home made chicken soup and an entire wall of piping hot, freshly made, main courses including several fish, meat and pasta options. Vegetables are fresh, meat cuts are succulent, the fish is savoury and vegetarians would be just as happy as the carnivores. The fruit and desserts section would be the undoing of even the most avid of dieters.

Half hoping that some things would be less than average when it comes to taste and I can spare my waistline a millimetre, my hopes are dashed when everything proves to be every bit as good to eat as it is to look at.

The Essentials

Location: Atop a sizeable hill on the border of Puerto de la Cruz, La Orotava and Los Realejos so that you get some of the best views anywhere over mountain, valley and coast. Rooms at the rear of the hotel overlook the La Orotava Valley, Puerto de la Cruz and naturally, the ocean, while those at the front have widescreen vistas of Mount Teide, the Tigaiga Mountains and La Orotava Valley. Puerto centre is a 20 minute stroll or a ten minute taxi ride away and the hotel has a free, daily shuttle bus service to town.

Rooms: Former apartments, the rooms are some of the most spacious you’ll find on Tenerife with a lounge/kitchen/dining area, a large bathroom incorporating a Jacuzzi bath and a spacious bedroom with a bed so large you’ll lose each other during the night. Walls are pale lemon with floral prints, art nouveau style mirrors and lamps giving them a contemporary, simple elegance. Furniture is bleached pine with mahogany fitted wardrobes and cupboards. Double sliding doors lead from the bedroom and from the living room onto a completely private balcony large enough to house the Royal family at a State occasion.

Service: From managers to gardeners, everyone we encountered provided us with warm, friendly and efficient service. In the dining room, plates were cleared, tables cleaned and drinks served with the minimum of fuss and a smile.

Food: Any hope that the calories gained at dinner could be forfeited the following morning evaporated in the face of one of the best breakfast buffets we’ve eaten. Six varieties of cheese and six more of cold meats accompanied cereals, fresh fruit, yoghurts, jams and a baker’s dozen varieties of bread. Hot choices were too numerous to list but included such decadent goodies as churros with chocolate and pancakes with honey. You don’t have to be a guest to try the excellent food at Hotel Las Águilas, pop along at weekends for breakfast, a barbecue (Saturdays) or paella (Sundays) on its terrace.

Entertainment: The youngest guests of the hotel are treated to their own Mini Club and Mini Disco entertainment programme and once the Sandman takes them to beddy bo-bos, live cabaret keeps adult feet tapping in the Vulcano Lounge.

Overall: The winner of our current holiday competition is in for a real treat. Without doubt, one of the top hotels in Puerto de la Cruz, Hotel Las Águilas is packed to its friendly and stylish rafters with comfort and taste. Beautiful grounds, excellent food and spacious accommodation are the trademarks of this unique hotel which is ideal for families and couples.

Hotel Las Águilas, Doctor Barajas, 19; 4 stars; Puerto de la Cruz; (0034) 922 37 28 06; email [email protected]