Just two hours from the UK, flights depart throughout the summer from all cities via the major airlines. But for 2018, forget paying expensive BA prices – we’ve nabbed Air Norwegian returns from Gatwick for a fraction of the cost.
Which part to visit…
Palma, Mallorca’s capital, is the obvious choice for a city break, with boutique hotels aplenty. But neighbouring towns on the south west coast also boast proximity to great restaurants, bustling beaches and fun nightlife – Bendinat, Calvia and Illetas are all good choices during the summer months.
Move up the coast for a different scene; Andratx may be close to Magaluf but the glittering seaside town has both glamorous and rustic appeal. For a more relaxing, grown-up trip, head to the hills of Deia or Soller, or try Pollenca on the island’s northern coast for a less tourist-heavy experience.
How to get around…
Taxis may be easy to order, but the prices soon rack up. Uber is yet to hit the island, so our best advice is to rent a car – you’ll be grateful for the relatively short drives to dinner that would otherwise cost a fortune.
What to wear…
When it comes to dress code, Mallorca has an understated glamour – think somewhere between Marbella’s high-octane style and Ibiza’s bohemian aesthetic. We recommend floaty evening dresses with gold sandals, statement earrings and a killer lip colour – the perfect balance of high-low dressing.
WHERE TO STAY:
For a Total Escape: Fontsanta Hotel
Venture down to the lush greenery of the south, where the unique Fontsanta hotel is situated. As the only source of thermal water in the Balearic islands, make the most of the hot springs all year round, lounge on oversized white day beds by the pool, or head to nearby Es Trenc, the island’s best beach for glittering blue waters.
For Authenticity: La Residencia
Belmond-owned La Residencia is never going to disappoint: guests have included Princess Diana, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss, Sting and Stella McCartney. Set high in Mallorca’s historic Deia, surrounding mountains and isolated roads make for an idyllic atmosphere, with distant church bells the only thing to disturb the poolside tranquillity. Enjoy a Michelin-starred meal in the rustic El Olivio courtyard, or venture into the town to rub shoulders with nearby neighbours – Michael Douglas, Claudia Schiffer and Andrew Lloyd Webber all own properties in the tiny town.
For Killer Location: Sant Francesc
Palma is a destination in itself, with boutique stores, cobbled streets and the majestic central cathedral drawing in legions of tourists each year. Set back from the heart of the city centre is the newly opened Sant Francesc. While interiors buffs will love its gilded gold accents and dramatic monochrome floors and sushi fans will be easily seduced by the sky-high Japanese bar, all will fall in love with its enviable rooftop pool. Foodies are also flocking to upscale courtyard restaurant Quadrat thanks to menu offerings, including burrata with caramelised pistachios, pickled pear and ricotta ravioli and wild boar ragu with cocoa beans.
For Peace and Quiet: Hospes Maricel
The Maricel is everything you could want from an adult-only hotel; revamped seven years ago, the minimalist marble space is a neutral sanctuary with stunning sea views. Enjoy cliff-edge massages, private pools and cocktails on the world-renowned terrace – The Night Manager fans will recognise the luxury destination instantly.
For Ridiculous Views: Cap Rocat
A former military fortress located on a secluded section of Palma’s bay, Cap Rocat has become a need-to-know destination in less than a decade since its opening. ‘Fortress’ is the perfect description of the space: rooms are located within the towering walls, isolating the impressive castle-inspired main house, with panoramic sea views round every labyrinthine corner. With a luxury spa, multiple restaurants and a private beach available there’s no need to leave, but if you feel like venturing out, nearby quaint seaside town Portixol offers tapas, fresh seafood and ice cream stalls aplenty.
WHERE TO SHOP:
The capital is the island’s most obvious shopping destination, with Jaime III at the heart of it. Stroll up El Bourne, popping into Oysho, Uterque and Massimo Dutti en route, then hit the Spanish boutiques and hole-in-the-wall wine bars of the winding Palma passages.
WHERE TO EAT:
For A Bit Of Drama: Forn
Located off a narrow, cobbled road in Palma’s old city, Forn is an elaborate maze of brightly painted rooms, rickety wooden chairs and statement art, with a menu that keeps foodies coming back for more. This is traditional tapas on steroids – SL returns again and again for cold shaved foie gras, beef; cannelloni with parmesan truffle sauce; cornets filled with ceviche of sea bass; and langoustines with coconut foam. Our top tip? Head to neighbouring bar Abaco for after-dinner drinks; the high-octane fruit displays, candlelit chandeliers, rose-petalled floors and colourful canaries in cages make the expensive cocktails worth it.
For Cool Points: Spot
It’s taken a long time for a cool foody scene to emerge in Palma, but Santa Catalina, a small collection of streets to the west of the city, has solidified its status as the trendy restaurant district. Cavernous, Cali-style Spot is our favourite: oversized palm trees, hot pink sofas and concrete architecture characterise the space. A vast menu can often be a warning sign, but truffle pizza, beef tacos and rigatoni gratin sit happily alongside Asian-influenced dishes – think tuna sashimi tortillas, crunchy soft-shell crab and chilli fried edamame.
For A Blow-Out Dinner: Zaranda
The island’s only two Michelin-starred restaurant is heaven for those who love good food but aren’t always enticed by OTT cooking. Located in the beautiful Castell Son Claret hotel, the bow-tied waiters serve up the perfect balance of professionalism and charm, delivering eclectic, modern interpretations of traditional Spanish dishes with aplomb – the pickled pearls oyster was a favourite on our last visit.
For People Watching: Wellies
An institution in Puerto Portals, the superyacht destination in the island’s south west, Wellies had a revamp in 2016, firmly putting it back on the map as a Mallorcan must-visit. Bought out by slick Spanish coffee house and hotelier Cappuccino, the décor has had a much-needed update (we love smart rattan furniture, French stripe accents and Aesop details), whilst the breezy roof terrace, walled garden and airy white washed indoors now has Santa Monica vibes – think Shutters on the Beach with a Spanish twist. Original fans can still get the iconic Wellies burger, whilst a seriously reasonable breakfast menu gives you an excuse to pitch up for the day.
For Sea-To-Table Fish: Rocamar
Rocamar’s original outpost in the village of Portixol may have been an island favourite, but impossibly fresh fish and delicious Spanish fare still couldn’t give it the glam factor. Enter a new opening in Andratx; the bustling port with cobbled streets and twee ice cream shops favoured by stylish locals and celebrity expats alike, with prime real estate positioning and sweeping coastal views. Pitched underneath the rocky cliff edges, this is the perfect spot to watch the sun go down – order pitchers of sangria and watch as the twinkling lights from the sprawling Andratx mansions light up the sky.
For An Insta-Worthy Lunch: Ca’as Patro March
Another one for fans of The Night Manager – the eerie dinner setting that sees Dickie Roper’s son kidnapped by baddies is, in fact, a hidden gem restaurant on the Deia coast, featuring rickety wooden fixtures, no-frills furniture and turquoise water views. Indulge in traditional Spanish fare (we love paella, padrón peppers and gazpacho) along with buckets of rosé wine. Our top tip? Make a reservation – queues spill out onto the beach from about 1pm – and don’t forget change for parking.
For Classic Mallorquian: Ca’an Pedro
Just a ten-minute drive from the centre of Palma sits Génova, a tiny, finca-filled town featuring an endless stream of traditional Spanish food. Set high in the hills, Ca’an Pedro is the most iconic of the bunch; don’t go expecting glamour – the locals show up in trainers and jeans – but do expect a serious buzz. Meat cuts hang from the wall of the sprawling, tiled space, and the smell of burning hot plates fills the air. Sit inside for an authentic experience (plan to visit on a Friday night when the mariachi band is in full swing), or head to the airy roof terrace in summer for fuss-free cooking at its best.
For Serious Views: Bens D’Avall
It may sound like we’ve already given you views aplenty but trust us when we say that Bens D’Avall is a league above the rest. Located in Soller, just next to Deia, the menu features contemporary, seasonal twists on classics Mallorquin dishes – that means Minorcan veal ravioli with a la pedra chocolate; tender sheep cheese duquesas with olive oil and honey; and lamb loin meatballs with barberry and yoghurt. The sweeping sea views from the terrace are spectacular, but the quality of the food makes this a must-visit all year round – huge armchairs and roaring fires make indoors a seductive winter option too.
WHAT TO DO:
For A Culture Trip: Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró
The Fundacio has obvious appeal for art fans, with over 6000 paintings, sculptures and other works of art created by Spanish artist Joan Miro. But even non-aesthetes will be seduced by the mesmeric space – from sculpture gardens to libraries, light-bathed water bodies to quirky architecture, the museum itself is as captivating as its subject. Ideal for a quiet morning’s culture fix or mid-afternoon coffee.
For Something Adventurous: The Caves of Drach
At 1200 meters wide and 25 meters deep, the Caves of Drach are the hidden underbelly of the island’s East Coast. Featuring one of the largest underground lakes in the world, the tour is one of a kind, with classical music echoing off stalactites as you make the journey through the caves by boat. It’s as camp and Phantom of the Opera-like as it sounds, but the sheer beauty and drama of the space shouldn’t be missed.
For Music Buffs: Chopin’s Monastery
Take a detour en route to Deia in idyllic Valdemossa, home of glass-blowing factories, authentic tapas bars and, most significantly, the Real Cartuja – once a monastery belonging to the Spanish royal family, then the winter respite for classical composer Chopin, to a modern art gallery feature works by Picasso, Miro and Juli Ramis, it’s the unusual space that will captivate history, art and music buffs alike.
WHERE TO SOAK UP THE SUN:
For Untouched White Beaches: Cala Esmerelda
Mallorca isn’t known for its glittering blue seas and white sandy beaches, but a growing number of previous unearthed spots on the island are changing that. Miles from the busy, touristy Palma hub is Cala Esmerelda on the south-east coast – pitch up for the day on the Caribbean-esque beach or put on your hiking boots for a scenic walk through neighbouring Mondrago National Park.
For Major Glam Vibes: Puro Beach
Whether it’s a relaxed pool day or a more rustic beach-side setting you’re after, Spanish beach club group Puro offer both on the island. Head to the Portixol outpost for a sprawling white terrace and swimming pool built into the sea edge – book a day bed to be plied with ice cold drinks and fresh fruit all day, or look to the newer Illetas setting for a leisurely lunch setting with loungers peppered around the surrounding rocks. Snack on tiradito, Asian prawn salad and courgette carpaccio with burrata, or book a sunset massage for real indulgence.
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