For me, the AC Gran Canaria’s offers an urban adventure. Apart from the beach, the port location is handy for good-value shopping, nightlife and restaurants, both ethnic restaurants and earthy neighbourhood haunts. Below the hotel is Parque de Santa Catalina, a square which offers a slice of Las Palmas life, day or night, not just at Carnival. Watch stallholders, sailors, shoeshine boys and chess-players go about their business. This is also the red-light area but feels pretty safe, even at night. While not on top of Las Canteras beach, the hotel is only a few minutes’ walk away so makes a good stepping-stone for the urban beach scene.
If tempted to visit the hotter beaches in the south of the island, then the bus station is five minutes’ away. Services run to the airport and to the beach resorts of Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles. The hotel is also handy for Mesa y Lopes Street, the main city thoroughfare. Vegueta, Las Palmas’ lovely old town, is unmissable. Vegueta is not just my favourite district but the most beguiling old quarter anywhere on the Canary Islands. It boasts the most eclectic nightlife scene, from sophisticated restaurants to quirky bars and happening tapas joints. But you’re only five minutes’ away from the hotel by cab (around 6 euro).
At Carnival, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to view some of the masquerade from your room. The square below is the venue for the Drag Queen Contest, the highlight of Carnival, and it’s an entertaining, family-friendly affair that I enjoyed for the first time this year.
The bedrooms are Modernist and fairly neutral, with complimentary WiFi and pleasant bathrooms. But what fans rave about is the free mini bar in the room, a clever touch. Request a room as high up as possible in this 26-storey tower, both for the view and for the peace and quiet. (Rooms on the lower floors facing the port can be a bit noisy). This is especially true when open-air concerts and events are staged in the Parque Catalina below. The view over the city, including at night, are enough to keep you rooted to your balcony. For instance, some of the rooms on the 19th floor enjoy panoramic views of city, as well as ocean views.
The AC looks like a characterless, business-orientated hotel but couples and families will find compensations. Even so, the public areas have a rather functional feel, an impression confirmed by the lack of atmosphere in the lobby area, and the absence of a buzzy bar. Business guests will find plenty of functional meeting rooms.
Eating and drinking
Buffet breakfasts generally feature an array of cheeses, Iberian hams, pasties and yoghurts. Le Volant Restaurant, located on the 23rd and 24th floors, offers creative cuisine inspired by Canarian produce but there are myriad dining options nearby.
Apart from the bedrooms, the most appealing area is the rooftop, with its 360 degree views of the Atlantic, beach, port and cityscape. There are sometimes complaints that the circular pool on the rooftop is both too small and too chilly. The hotel also has a fitness centre and sauna.
Las Palmas itself is the biggest `leisure facility’ so explore the Vegueta cultural quarter, as well as Las Canteras, the urban beach scene around the corner. Lining the seafront are enough bars, restaurants and ice cream parlours to making a day at the beach deeply enjoyable. As a contrast to the gritty port area around the hotel, explore the more stylish bars on the Marina, further south. Keen shoppers can head to the nearby El Muelle shopping mall on the seafront.
Service ranges from businesslike to personal and friendly.
Who stays there
Expect an eclectic international mix of guests there for business or leisure. Solo business people, families, couples and culture-vultures predominate.
Book early for the city’s fabulous Carnival in February, which is centred on Parque de Santa Catalina, the bustling square overlooked by the hotel. If coming by car, definitely pre-book car parking through the hotel (around 13 euro daily) as parking is otherwise tricky.
- Fitness Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Room Service
- Swimming Pool
- Business travellers
- Culture vultures
- Families with teenagers
- No fuss
Pros & Cons
- The complimentary mini-bar, restocked daily
- The views from the higher floors - whether seascapes and cityscapes
- Handy location for dining and shopping around the port area
- Convenient for Las Canteras beach, shopping and public transport
- Mutterings that the rooftop pool is small and on the chilly side
- The hotel isn’t within walking distance of Vegueta, the old town
- I like the district but the gritty port area isn’t for everyone