The largest of the Canary Islands archipelago, Tenerife has had a bit of a bad rap as a cheap ’n’ cheerful package holiday destination since the tourist trade took off in the 1970s. But take a closer look and you’ll find there’s much more to the volcanic island than year-round sunshine and Brit-style pubs.
The largest of the Canaries, Tenerife boasts beautiful beaches, boutique-filled towns and quaint fishing villages. And, thanks to an eruption three million years ago, it also has lunar-esque landscapes made for exploring.
Tenerife’s central asset, the dormant volcano Mount Teide rises to 3,718m and is often described as the highest mountain in Spain (despite it being more than 1,700km from Madrid). The Parque Nacional del Teide is centred on the vast crater at its summit, meaning there are plenty of hiking routes if you want to swap the pool and sandals for a day of exploring.
So, cast aside your preconceptions and discover white-sand (imported) and black-sand (solidified lava) beaches, all the sunshine you can handle – plus stylish hotels offering everything from Michelin-starred cuisine to sublime spas. And not a full English fry-up or disco bar in sight.
The best hotels in Tenerife are:
- Best for kid-free relaxation: Red Level at Gran Melia Palacio de Isora
- Best for rocking out: Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife
- Best for dining: Royal Hideaway Corales Beach
- Best for sports: The Ritz-Carlton, Abama
- Best for all-out luxury: Bahia del Duque
- Best for authentic island life: Hotel San Roque
- Best for spa time: Hotel Botanico y Oriental Spa Garden
- Best for family fun: Bahia Principe Fantasia Tenerife
- Best for relaxation: Dreams Jardin Tropical Resort & Spa
- Best for a budget break: H10 Tenerife Playa
Best for kid-free relaxation: Red Level at Gran Melia Palacio de Isora
Neighbourhood: Guia de Isora
Seeking peace and quiet? This adults-only enclave within the larger Gran Melia Palacio de Isora hotel has its own (blissfully calm) pool, a lush garden with hot tubs, and daily one-hour open bar timed for the sunset.
You’ll get preferential bookings in the hotel’s Clarins spa too, and can even get your butler to run you a bath on your balcony. Heaven.
Best for rocking out: Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife
Neighbourhood: El Roque
There’s music everywhere at the Hard Rock Hotel, from the pool all the way to your room, where you can request a bass guitar to be delivered, or chill to the beat of one of three “Rock Om” yoga videos.
The kids’ clubs give little ones the chance to join the band, while adults can sip cocktails at one of the pool bars (named, naturally, Oasis and Nirvana) or retreat to the Rock Spa to recuperate.
Best for dining: Royal Hideaway Corales Beach
Neighbourhood: La Caleta
The Padron brothers are renowned in these parts for their gourmet cuisine (their restaurant Rincon de Juan Carlos holds a Michelin star). Foodies should not miss their latest opening, the rooftop Maresia restaurant, which sits alongside the glorious pool atop this adults-only five-star hotel.
Suites are exquisite too, with vast balconies complete with bathtubs. Breakfast downstairs by the second pool can occupy you for hours with its copious buffet.
Best for sports: The Ritz-Carlton, Abama
Neighbourhood: Guia de Isora
Golfers and tennis lovers will find no need to leave this palatial hotel – there’s a tennis academy with seven courts and a history of hosting pro events, plus an 18-hole links golf course, driving range and putting green.
Also on site are two Michelin-starred restaurants (the Japanese Abama Kabuki and the super-luxe Basque-inspired MB), numerous swimming pools and a funicular to a bijou private beach.
Best for all-out luxury: Bahia del Duque
Everything at this beachfront hotel feels super-sized, from the over-the-top, faux 19th century Canarian architecture, to the huge suites with their ceiling fans and canopy beds. Among the palm trees you’ll find eight restaurants, 13 bars, five pools and direct access to a white-sand beach (one of the island’s best).
There’s even an astronomical observatory for tours of the night sky. You’re in the heart of the action too – right outside, the beachside promenade leads into the resort centre.
Best for authentic island life: Hotel San Roque
Away from the touristy south coast, the tiny northern town of Garachico retains a local vibe, complete with men in flat caps playing draughts in the square. This delightful small hotel in the centre has just 20 rooms, spread throughout a 17th-century mansion, with a heated swimming pool at its centre.
Book ahead for a laidback dinner at the hotel’s Restaurant Anturium, where tables are arranged around the pool, or head out to soak up the town’s authentic Tenerife nightlife.
Best for the spa: Hotel Botanico y Oriental Spa Garden
Neighbourhood: Puerto de la Cruz
It’s worth booking into the Botanico for its Oriental Spa Garden alone – though you’ll also find super-spacious rooms with marble bathrooms, views of Mount Teide and arguably the island’s best Thai restaurant.
The spa offers all manner of massages in small pagodas beneath the palms, while a “thermal circuit” package includes access to indoor and outdoor heated pools, a Japanese sauna and Turkish baths. The hotel also has its own dreamy botanical garden with plenty of quiet corners to escape into.
Best for family fun: Bahia Principe Fantasia Tenerife
Neighbourhood: Los Abrigos
Wow the kids with a stay at this all-inclusive hotel, which comes with its own Cinderella-esque castle. Little ones will be dazzled by the miniature waterpark and nightly circus shows, while adults will love the included kids’ clubs and the opportunity to escape to the gym, spa or adults-only infinity pool.
Food and drinks are unlimited, and it’s a short walk into the pretty fishing village of Los Abrigos for a slap-up seafood supper.
Best for relaxation: Dreams Jardin Tropical Resort & Spa
A tropical heated swimming pool, extensive gardens and a beach club with saltwater pool make this four-star hotel an enticing place to just sit and do nothing. Alternatively, there’s an al fresco fitness centre and massages by the pool.
Couples should book a table at clifftop Las Rocas, a romantic setting for local seafood dishes. You’re very close to Puerto Colon too, where you can catch ferries to neighbouring La Gomera and go on whale-watching trips.
Best for a budget break: H10 Tenerife Playa
Neighbourhood: Puerto de la Cruz
All the amenities of a luxury hotel with room rates more akin to a budget B&B, the H10 Tenerife Playa is also ideally located for exploring the island’s north. You’re in the centre of Puerto de la Cruz here, just 50m from gorgeous al fresco swimming pool complex Lago Martianez, designed by renowned Canarian architect Cesar Manrique, and 20m from the cultural and historic sites of capital Santa Cruz. Rooms are simple, but there’s a pleasant poolside bar, live music and a small spa.