Not too long ago, maybe 10 or 15 years, almost all of the accommodation choices around Gran Canaria were 3 star hotels or very basic, self catering apartments. People wanted a base, somewhere to sleep whilst spending most of the day by the pool and most evenings dining out then having a drink or two... or three. Recently that's all changed as all the new properties that are being completed have been 4 or 5 star hotels or more luxurious apartment complexes and to compete, many established places have refurbished to a higher standard. Now there's a great choice of accommodation from those cheap and cheerful self-catering apartments to 5-star luxury resort hotels currently with four of Spain's top 10 hotels (according to Trip Advisor) located here on Gran Canaria.
Gold by Marina
3) Gold By Marina - Playa del Ingles
4) Seaside Grand Residencia - Meloneras
7) Bohemia Suites & Spa - Playa del Ingles
10) Cordial Mogan Playa - Puerto de Mogan
Restaurant - Bohemia Suites & Spa
Gran Canaria is a seasonal destination with our high season being in winter, from November until Easter and again in August. We don't have a time of year when areas or hotels close down, the island is pretty busy all-year round. During high season you're not likely to find special offers or last-minute deals (in fact last-minute most places will be fully booked) though you would at other times of the year. The best time of year to catch a good deal and some of the hottest weather is June or September.
We recommend Booking.com for getting the lowest rates and they list most of the properties available here. Many of their listings have a "best price guarantee" so if later, you find you could have booked cheaper elsewhere on the Internet they will match the price. Additionally, though they take a credit-card guarantee at the time of booking the properties don't charge it until 1 or 2 days before arrival. Meanwhile you're free to make changes and often cancel with no cost on most reservations.
So the main resorts to choose from are :-
Playa del Ingles
The biggest holiday resort in the Canary Islands this is a very cosmopolitan and densly populated destination. All nationalities, all ages, singles, groups, couples, pensioners, gay, straight. As with all of the resorts there's a large influx of Scandanavians from November until Easter as they occupy no.1 of the list of nationalities visiting Gran Canaria but for the rest of the year they don't rank as so few travel here. The Brits are here all year round but especially so during July and August. Watch out for two events happening in Playa del Ingles - carnival at the beginning of the year and Gay Pride early May, both last a week and are huge (300,000 & 150,000 people respectively) or more extra visitors attending the events. If you look at a map you'll see around 10% of the resort is by the beach whilst much is a cab ride. Roughly 4 euros will get you from one end of the resort to the other and to walk from the top of Playa del Ingles to the bottom (marked by the main street Avenida de Tirajana) takes around a half hour. Everything's on the flat or with ramps so pretty easy to get around. The main areas to be close to for nightlife (or avoid if you're looking for peace and quiet) are the commercial centers Yumbo, Kasbah and Plaza. Many hotels and apartment complexes here rent out their ground floor space to shops, restaurants and bars so expect street noise until around midnight during the week and maybe and hour or so later at week-ends.
Gold by Marina
Our favourite hotels here include the 2 of the top 10 hotels in Spain Gold By Marina and Bohemia Suites & Spa, also a sea/dunes view apartment at Apartamentos Taboga, Parque Cristobal, Neptuno and Apartments Buenos Aires
Maspalomas Golf, Resort & Dunes
Another large resort strectching down to the beach where the sand dunes start by the lighthouse, up to Playa del Ingles further along the cost and there's even the bustling residential area of San Fernando de Maspalomas if you want to see a Spanish market or two or get some shopping done where the locals go and away from the tourist traps. Maspalomas is the quieter neighbour, lots of green areas and open spaces, bungalow complexes with gardens rather than high-rise apartment blocks and no concentrated night life zones. The resort is all on one level so easy to get around with good cycle paths and bike rental shops though walking from the far side to Playa del Ingles (uphill) on one direction is around 20-30 minutes or to the beach in the other again, 20-30 minutes. Generally the closer to the beach you are the more expensive the property. Again a mixed nationality though the Germans and the Brits are more noticable both in the summer and winter. Favourite places to stay is a sea view apartment at Oasis Maspalomas Apartments, Siesta Suites, Bungalows Club Maspalomas or the Cordial proprties - Cordial Green Golf and Cordial Sandy Golf .
It's also worth mentioning that although the Sheraton Salobre Golf Hotel bills itself as being in Maspalomas it's not in the resort, it's a 15 minute drive away from the beach and by no means walking distance. They do however provide a free shuttle service and this is another of our favourite hotels. Fantstic facilities and watch out for some very good offers they have making it the cheapest luxury hotel for much of the year.
In the late 1990s Meloneras never existed. Everything there is new and built to cater for the luxury end of the market. Huge 4 and 5 star resort hotels line the coast such as Lopesan's Baobab or Costa Meloneras Hotels or luxury apartments, maybe the odd villa or two. The promenade the starts from the Maspalomas lighthouse where the dunes finish and runs the length of the resort all the way to Meloneras beach is lined with some fantastic restaurants and lounge bars open (and busy) for both lunch and dinner. Everywhere's near the beach in Meloneras and again an easy resort on the flat to get around. Another accommodation choice we like here is Meloneras Suites
Probably the most family-friendly resort thanks to one of the two beaches here which is very well protected by breakwaters and on the beach there's a very gradule slope getting into the water so safe for kids to play and splash about. Because of this all the restaurants and almost all of the accommodation choices cater very well for kids. The only down-side is the resort is built between and upon two very large hills so depending on where your accommodation is, you may have quite a hard treck to get back up to your hotel/apartment. During the winter the there's around 45% Scandanavians and 45% British with a 10% mix of everyone else but during the summer it's around 80% British & Irish. Adjacent to Puerto Rico and really part of the same resort is the more newly created Amadores beach.
Although protected by breakwaters it's a wider beach so they aren't as effective as on the main beach. Additionally the imported sand is a little gritty. Whilst not as ideal for little kids if the tide is calm it can be a great place to spend the day and has a much better selection of facilities including some very nice bars and restaurants. Almost all of the nightlife is down at the bottom of the valley in the large commercial center. My favourite accommodation choicesw there would be Marina Suites, Marina Bay View, Gloria Palace Amadores and Villas Opel at nearby Anfi Tauro.
Again maybe 10 or 15 years ago this was a sleepy little fishing port with a couple of small hotels and some duplexes to rent. Then the building boom hit stretching from the beach to the back of the valley. As of February 2015 there are perhaps a dozen or so big hotels and apartment complexes available to rent with a dozen or so more smaller residential complexes. Over the next 5 years expect that number to double as the valley fills up. The harbour area remains suprisingly peaceful and pretty with some fantastic-freshly-caught fish restaurants, the beach of course is not so peaceful having doubled in size and convcerted from dark and dirty volcanic sand to soft and golden sand. The extension of the GC1 motorway all the way to mogan has made a huge different cutting almost half an hour off the journey time to get there from the airport. Saying that this is as far away from the airport and major towns on the island as you can get. Very international crowd here all year round. As all of the accommodation choices here are newly built they are also of a high standard. Our favourites here are Cordial Mogan Playa and Edificio Playa Apartments
San Agustin & Bahia Feliz & Bahia Feliz
The most northerly of the tourist resorts San Agustin tends to be popular with the Scandanavian market all year round. I believe Scandanavian countries have an arrangement with the private hospital there to look after their citizens which is why many choose this resort for long-stay holidays of a month or more, some staying most of the winter months. July and August I always notice a lot of Spanish here too. The main resort of San Agustin has a fantastic, blue-flag beach and a sea-front promenade that lets you walk all the way to the neighbouring resort of Playa del Ingles. At the far south of the resort is one of my favourite beaches here Las Burras, a large golden-sand beach that's often half deserted. Favourite accommodation choices here are Dunas Don Gregory, Costa Canaria and San Agustin Beach Club.
We have more info on accommodation in our guide to Villas & Rural properties here.