As an award-winning travel writer, editor and photographer, with more than 20 years experience, I have written numerous travel books for publishers such as Michelin, Dorling Kindersley, Thomas Cook and Insight. The author of three blogs, I have contributed to broadsheets such as the Guardian, Observer and Sunday Times.
I love living in Hackney, East London, but my favourite place in the world is little island of Lanzarote, which is prettier, with better weather and is altogether more relaxing. As author for the AA’s Essential Guide to Lanzarote and online guides to Lanzarote, I have stayed in rustic fincas, lived it up in luxury spa hotels and even retreated to an eco yurt. I visit the island several times a year for work and pleasure, as my family conveniently have a holiday home there.
It is a bit of a secret that Lanzarote is one of the most unspoilt spots in Spain. Development is restricted to just a few resorts in this UNESCO biosphere reserve, thanks to local artist and decorator César Manrique, who protected most of the island. I don't think it is stretching things to say that Lanzarote's climate is pretty much perfect, hovering between 22 and 29 °c year round, so there really isn't a bad time of year to go.
My Favourite Dining Spot: Dining at Lagomar, Omar Sharif’s 1970s home in the mountains, surrounded by caves and grottos.
Fiction for Inspiration: Pedro Almovódar’s latest film, Los Abrazos Rotos, (Broken Embraces), starring Penelope Cruz, was filmed on Lanzarote. Watch the critically acclaimed offering from one of the greats of world cinema to set the scene before your trip.
My favourite place for a stroll: I head off to the north of the island and jump on the ferry to the practically deserted island of La Graciosa for a brisk walk along the beach to blow away the cobwebs and to really get away from it all.
Best spot for a bit of peace and quiet: I take off for a drive through Lanzarote's dramatic volcanic landscape with its great swathes of lava fields
Shopaholics Beware: I love the island’s variety of local markets selling high quality produce and crafts. but tend to avoid Teguise market for actually shopping, as it is a bit of a tourist trap. My favourite market on Lanzarote is in Haria, every Saturday between 10am and 2pm, for local produce and a real slice of local life.
Don't leave without: Visiting the wine region of La Geria, calling in at some of the charming small bodegas and sampling a few of the wonderful local wines, particularly the reds, on offer.
My expert information
Michael Palin has a lot to answer for. When he coined the cruel term ‘Lanza-grotty’ back in the days when package tourism was just taking off, he sounded the death knell for the island. Or did he?
Unspoilt and undiscovered
Unfair though it may have been, I know plenty of expats and locals in Lanzarote who are secretly grateful that he damned their island. It is partly thanks to Michael’s moniker that Lanzarote remains so unspoilt and relatively undiscovered, and many residents and repeat visitors to the island are happy to keep it that way.Read more...
Tucked away in the southern most corner of the island, Playa Blanca, whose name means ‘White Beach', is the newest resort on Lanzarote and the one that has seen the most significant development in recent years. It is still the most relaxing of the three resorts, attracting largely families and couples, with a pretty lighthouse and the original attractive fishing village at its heart. There is a good range of villas and apartments here, along with plenty of mid-range hotels and a few upmarket options.Read more...
Although Costa Teguise was built from scratch in the 1970s, the development has been very sympathetic and most of it is low-rise, with whitewashed buildings. The large, mostly modern (although some developments are in need of renovation) resort features mostly self-catering accommodation, with some upmarket villas, as well as some very good hotels, notably the five-star Gran Meliá Salinas , one of the most luxurious on the island.Read more...
Large and lively
Lanzarote’s largest and liveliest resort long ago outgrew its fishing village status. Today, international visitors - many of them British - flock here to stay in the mostly mid-range hotels and self-catering accommodation and to sun themselves on the 6kms of beaches.Read more...
Lanzarote’s wine valley is a lovely rural area in the interior of the island. It may only be a short drive from the coast, but this lunar landscape is a world away from the busy resort scene. Visitors can make scenic drives through this fascinating landscape, trying and buying the wine in a series of bodegas, one of which houses a wine museum.Read more...