Hotel Jardin Tecina Santiago, La Gomera

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The Independent Travel

Hotel Jardin Tecina is a four-star cliff-top retreat on the south coast of La Gomera, the second smallest of the Canary Islands.

Hotel Jardin Tecina (00 34 922 145 850; www.jardin-tecina.com) is a four-star cliff-top retreat on the south coast of La Gomera, the second smallest of the Canary Islands. Although there are 460 rooms in all, the accent is on seclusion and tranquillity. The complex is laid out as a small Canarian village of two-storey cottages set in over 70,000 square metres of luxuriant tropical gardens, stocked with exotic flowers and plants and home to colonies of songbirds. Hotel Jardin can be a beacon of luxury and relaxation after a hard day's walking in La Gomera's spectacular National Park or simply a destination unto itself for some much-needed winter sunshine. The hotel offers plenty of facilities for fitness enthusiasts - tennis courts, a gym, a diving school and a nearby golf course. But for most visitors the attraction of dozing with a book under a palm tree or two proves pretty hard to beat.

LOCATION

La Gomera is a magical island with a stunning interior landscape of mountains and forest, and a rugged coastline. The Jardin Tecina is built on the site of a former banana plantation and enjoys the sunniest aspect of the whole island. Its cliff-top location is necessarily secluded, but the nearby fishing village of Santiago on the rocky beach below (easily reachable from the hotel via a lift built into the cliff face) provides a reassuring presence of ordinary island life.

GETTING THERE

The new airport is only five minutes' drive from the hotel. It has flights from Gran Canaria and Tenerife's North airport. From the south of Tenerife, where most of the flights from Britain land, it is easier to travel by sea. Ferry crossings from Los Cristianos in Tenerife take about 40 minutes, with one-way fares at €21 (£15). The large Fred Olsen car ferry ( www.fredolsen.es) crosses to La Gomera's capital of San Sebastian, five or six times daily. The road journey to Santiago takes a further 40 minutes. Crossings for foot passengers on the smaller Garajonay Expres ( www.garajonayexpres.com) leave daily at 9am, 2pm and 7.20pm and continue direct to Santiago, for a fare of €17 (£12). A five-minute taxi ride can then take you and your luggage up the hill.

ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?

Rooms occupy either the ground or the first floor of the cottages. All have private patios or balconies, with views of the gardens or out to sea. Interiors are pleasant, light and airy, with cool, tiled floors and bathrooms. Refurbishments are under way - to be completed in 2008 - to replace 1980s ginger pine fittings with more contemporary furnishings.

Freebies: Nothing to write home about in the bathroom department but repeat guests are well looked after with a range of perks from special dinners and complimentary bottles of cava to free car hire.

Keeping in touch: two computers with internet access are available for use by guests and the hotel can receive and pass on personal e-mails. Otherwise, just a phone, satellite TV and patchy mobile phone reception.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Rooms are usually let on a half-board basis, with a double room plus half board for two people start at around €160 (£114) a night in low season. Junior suites - considerably more spacious, and with balconies directly overlooking the sea - cost about 30 per cent more.

I'M NOT PAYING THAT

Then you're out of luck - Jardin Tecina is the only hotel in Santiago. But a number of small self-catering apartment blocks have sprung up around the village seafront. The nicest of these is Apartamentos Tapahuga (00 34 922 895 159; www.tapahuga.com), with a roof-top swimming pool. A twin-bedded apartment with a private balcony and small kitchen costs €50 (£35) a night.

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