Mallorca, the largest of Spain’s Balearic islands, has gone through a regeneration in recent years, thanks mainly to a new breed of superb five-star hotels on the island. And the cream of the crop is, without doubt, Belmond La Residencia.
Located in the Tramuntana foothills, overlooking a delightful artists' village called Deià, the hotel is a rural and rustic retreat. At the property’s heart are two centuries-old manor houses, both carved from honey-coloured masonry. Around these run a labyrinth of terraces, courtyards and pathways flanked by terracotta pots, pine trees and manicured gardens and flowerbeds.
The hotel’s century-old architecture means that each guestroom has its own unique feel. They are lofty, white, full of Mallorcan provenance with fittings and fixtures that feel personally tailored to each room – including antique wooden beams, mosaic tables and traditional woven baskets – as well as original contemporary artworks by locals. Another highlight of each room is, of course, the view; across the gardens to the Cyprus tree landscape and pink-granite mountains beyond. Personal touches also celebrate the hotel’s location – ceramics made in the local village and olive oil pressed from nearby trees. There is even a suite complete with interiors made by the British fashion designer Matthew Williamson.
Amongst the outdoor oasis are the hotel’s two swimming pools, the perfect spots for soaking up some sun. Loungers are attended by staff on hand to provide snacks and drinks, as lunchtime rolls into the afternoon in this wonderfully serene setting. Next to the larger pool is a fresh and delicious salad and pizza restaurant. There is also a spa complex located up the hillside, with an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, gym and six treatment rooms – all with picture-perfect views.
And to compliment the slow way of outdoor life that Belmond La Residencia promotes, is the slow dining ethos of its restaurants. Café Miró located on a terrace with stunning alpine views is a great spot for some Mediterranean classics at lunch time – such as freshly caught sea fish. Then, at night it transforms into a bar which is the perfect spot for a sun downer (with live piano sometimes) or nightcap under the stars. There is another bar inside that pays homage to Mallorca’s most famous artist, Joan Miró, where guests can keep the night going surrounded by 33 of his original artworks.
The hotel’s signature evening dining experience comes courtesy of El Olivo restaurant. Housed in the estate’s former olive mill, the setting is as rustic as it is charming, as guests dine around the original presses – a constant reminder of the property's history. Dishes here have distinctly Mallorcan touches, such as Balearic prawns on a bed of sea salt, monkfish sautéed with citrus fruits and roasted lamb with an olive crust.
Breakfast is also worth a mention – the perfect start to the day on the terrace with a selection of local delicacies and warm pastries straight from the oven, as well as freshly squeezed juices. There are also English and American offerings too – just make sure you save room for lunch.
Another highlight of the hotel’s culinary offerings is the La Residencia picnic. Prepared by the hotel’s chef it includes local cured meats and cheeses, olive oil and fresh bread, and Spanish savouries such as empanadas – all beautifully presented ready for a walk around the hotel’s vast estate filled with olive groves and a shepherds’ refuge (complete with famous resident friendly donkeys).
Should you wish to walk a little further, Deià is well worth a visit. With a handful of shops and cafes, it is one of the most charming villages on the island. There are many local art galleries in the town, and back at ‘La Resi' guests of the hotel can get hands on with an artist in residence to create the ultimate, original souvenir, all in the spirit of the town's creative heritage.
La Residencia is the understated king of hotels in Mallorca. It prides itself on a sense of tranquillity, rustic charm and privacy that the Belmond group has come to be known for – while staying true to its magical Mallorca roots.
Words by Toby Mellors