Gran Canaria: Playa Del Ingles

I’ve been on holiday again to the largest of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria, with my friend Selina. Despite the size of the island (and the length of this post), I won’t lie, we didn’t see very much of it. We did however thoroughly cover the area we were staying in, so let’s get started.

I’d received some recommendations about the area I was staying in and Trip Advisor had oodles to say about the restaurants and nightlife too. Expectations were raised!

Unfortunately I learnt first hand that expectations lead to disappointments. 

We stayed at Gold by Marina on a bed-and-breakfast board basis. Our hotel was absolutely lovely, and completely deserved of it’s trip advisor rating. Everything was clean and modern, exactly what I had hoped for in this relatively new hotel.

Breakfast was great, and honestly, our only reliable meal of the day. The buffet was the same everyday but there was so much to choose from that there no two days were the same. If you don’t book for bed-and-breakfast you can pay in the hotel.

Upon arrival we were welcomed with some complimentary bubbles before heading out for something to eat.

As it was around 10pm, we asked at reception where we could get something local to eat to save us roaming around after dark. We were pointed in the direction of the second floor of the shopping centre, Yumbo, where we were told has lots of restaurants.

And then the negatives begin, precisely every time we left our heavenly hotel.

Yumbo, “where sad people go and they stay sad there,” says Selina. We were told it was hot spot for the gay scene with a buzzing nightlife. In reality it’s an open air shopping centre containing tired restaurants serving frozen seafood and overcooked pasta, with a scattering of drag shows.

Regardless of where I am in the world, I’m always sceptical of restaurants with staff members standing outside with menus to entice you in, especially when they’re empty. There is a lot of this going on everywhere in Playa de Ingles. From fragrance retailers to ice cream vendors, you will be hassled. We settled for a restaurant called La Candela. I ordered the ‘spaghetti candlelita’: prawns, diced small Canarian potatoes, garlic, basil, chilli olive oil. Selina ordered the ‘fresh sea bass with a smooth sweet herbs sauce and Provençal tomatoes’. As you can see there was no smooth sweet herb sauce or Provençal tomatoes. Very basic food but Selina said the mash was actually really nice. 6/10.

The following day, we took to Trip Advisor to find the best restaurants in the area and spotted Greek Village. It was after this meal we began to question the standards of people leaving positive reviews on the site. It is made to sound so wonderful with some reviewers saying, ‘food is amazing here’ and ‘gorgeous’ but trust the bad reviews. Despite being a full sized restaurant with additional seating outside there were only two waitresses and the service was super slow. We waited over 30 minutes for our starters which were simply tzatziki with pitta, and five tiny little garlic prawns with garlic bread. Both take a grand total of 5 minutes to produce.

We couldn’t finish our main courses of moussaka and roast lamb because they were so salty. Looking closely at other reviews, this has been complained about before so I don’t think it was a one off. My meat was actually cooked really well, coming off the bone smoothly, and Selina’s moussaka did have a lovely taste but the experience was such a disappointment. 5/10.

The number one restaurant in Playa del Ingles was called Wapa Tapa. Scared of any more rubbish restaurants, we were sure this would be a success. It seemed as though everyone else also had the same idea as it was fully booked for the rest of our trip. We were given the phone number so we could check if there were any cancellations but it just wasn’t meant to be. We fortunately had a back up (I recommend you never leave the hotel without one either) of another tapas in Yumbo called Mana 264. One of the four dishes we ordered here, the ham and prawns, ended up being my second favourite dish of the whole trip! Very strong drinks. 7/10.

On our journey from the airport we spotted a restaurant called El Gaucho that seemed very busy on a Saturday night and so went to check it out one night. El Gaucho reviews seemed promising although we had already decided that Trip Advisor could not be trusted. It was the one of a handful of ‘real’ restaurants we managed to find. A freestanding building, with actual tables and chairs, and waiters and menus.

We both enjoyed our meals here as did the table next to us who I overheard saying, “I’m so glad we came here tonight, I would have been sitting in the buffet again like :/.” It was let down slightly by bad service at the end. We had to ask for the bill three times, as did the table next to us. Upon leaving, the host was also quite pushy about telling us where he thought we should go next – we actually did end up going there but we would have done so anyway. 7/10.


Selina pointed out an issue which I hadn’t even thought of; there are no locals. We didn’t see a single house where actual Canarians lived. The Playa del Ingles skyline comprises of hotel after hotel after hotel. Even after leaving over half my food on the plate, the waiter would just whisk it away to the kitchen. The restaurants don’t care if you didn’t like the food, why would they? They will never see you again.


One particular experience sticks in my mind which has unfortunately tainted the entire place in which it occurred. Kasbah. We thought we had been hassled enough in Yumbo, oh were we wrong. There were more bars and clubs in Kasbah than in Yumbo, but every single venue had an army of reps patrolling the centre shoving their card in your face whilst shouting over their competition with the same promise of 2 for 1 drinks. Their approach is so rude and forceful that it puts you off going to their bar even if you wanted to. Oh, and forget going to Pacha.

We were recommended Cafe Opera (L’Opera) in Kasbah by the host at El Gaucho, and actually felt like it was the only bar we would have ended up anyway. The staff were uniformed and only approaching people who were already approaching the bar. We had two very strong G&T’s there and spent our evening watching their miming, thrusting Michael Jackson impersonator. 6/10.

Overall, the food in Playa de Ingles is awful. We had one meal by the beach and I shan’t bore you with the details, but it is called Long Beach and it deserves no more than a 1/10. Do not eat here. Do not even look at it. The safest place to eat on the beach is McDonald’s.

Despite this post sounding entirely miserable and whining, Selina and I had a great time and I would thoroughly recommend Gold By Marina if anyone is brave enough to try out Playa de Ingles themselves. There are activities to do in the area such as go karting and a water park. We did have one particularly wonderful day outside of our hotel but that deserves a post of it’s own. Coming soon…


Harleigh Reid
Harleigh Reid

I write about food and eat a lot.

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