The SLMan Guide To Mallorca
WHERE TO VISIT
Palma, Mallorca’s capital, is the obvious choice for a city break, with plenty of boutique hotels to choose from. But neighbouring towns on the south-west coast are also full of great restaurants, beaches and nightlife – Bendinat, Calvia and Illetas are all good choices during the summer months. Move up the coast for a different scene; Andratx is a seaside town with both glamorous and rustic appeal. For a more relaxing stay, head to the hills of Deià or Soller, or try Pollenca on the island’s northern coast. If you’re looking for a truly tranquil trip, the east coast is the area to book for a grown-up and less tourist-heavy experience.
HOW TO GET AROUND
Taxis have been notoriously difficult to get post-Covid and can only be flagged down at dedicated taxi ranks. And as Uber is yet to hit the island, 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.
WHERE TO EAT
El Txoko de Martin, Palma
Located in a trendy part of Palma, this excellent restaurant is a great spot to book out of season. An informal restaurant, where guests can experience top chef Martín Berasategui’s cooking, the menu comprises a selection of tapas and more elaborate dishes. Our recommendation? The scallop and prawn roll.
Vandal offers guests the opportunity to travel the world via intense flavours, aromas and textures. From former Nobu chef Bernabé Caravotta, this industrial spot serves some of the best small plates on the island. Inventive dishes include the likes of ceviche cornet with coconut foam; smoked whisky sour oysters; Patagonian squid with beets and squid-ink sand; and burrata with courgette flower tempura and Sicilian tomato pesto.
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 – think cold, shaved foie gras with 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.
El Camino, Palma
Eddie Hart, one of the founders of Barrafina, is the man behind this restaurant in Palma. Like Barrafina, El Camino serves Spanish tapas at a no-reservations countertop, with the chefs and waiters working opposite the diners. Also, like Barrafina, be prepared to get there early and join the queue. Here, the chefs source the very best fresh produce, cured meats and cheeses from local markets and suppliers to create a menu of sharing dishes and daily specials. There is also a focus on Mallorquin wine. If you’ve got a group, keep an eye out for the semi-private dining room, which is available to book.
The island’s only two-Michelin-starred restaurant is heaven for those who love good food but aren’t always enticed by OTT cooking. Recently relocated in Palma’s Hotel Es Princep, the bow-tied waiters serve up the perfect balance of professionalism and charm, delivering eclectic, modern interpretations of traditional Spanish dishes with aplomb – the oysters with pickled pearls, horseradish and caviar were a favourite on our last visit.
Cor Barra, Palma
You’ll find Cor Barra in a less touristy part of town, right next to one of the most famous markets in the Balearics, Mercat de L’Olivar. Of the a la carte menu, don’t miss its modern twist on a paella, or the eye-catching mille-feuille style patatas bravas. Its sister restaurant at El Llorenc is also well worth a visit.
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.
Mar de Nudos, Palma
On the Moll Vell marina in the port of Palma, you’ll find this chic waterside restaurant. It’s not cheap, but its relaxed atmosphere makes it a great spot for families and groups. The best bit? The restaurant has two kitchens, one focused on Japanese food, and the other on Italian. Both the sushi and truffle pasta are excellent.
Ca’as Patro March, Deià
One for fans of The Night Manager: the eerie dinner setting that sees Dickie Roper’s son kidnapped by the bad guys is, in fact, a hidden gem restaurant on the Deià coast, featuring wooden fixtures, no-frills furniture and turquoise water views. The restaurant serves traditional Spanish fare (we love paella, padrón peppers and gazpacho), along with buckets of rosé. Our top tip? Make a reservation – queues spill out onto the beach from about 1pm – and don’t forget change for parking.
Ca’an Pedro, Génova
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. 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 roof terrace for simple cooking at its best.
Bens D’Avall, Soller
Trust us when we say Bens D’Avall has views that are in a league of their own. Located in Soller, just next to Deià, the menu features contemporary, seasonal twists on classics Mallorquin dishes – that means 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.
Purobeach, Various Locations
Whether it’s a relaxed pool day or a more rustic beachside setting you’re after, Spanish beach club group Puro offer both on the island. Head to the Can Pastilla outpost for a huge 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 an evening of indulgence.
Periplo Portixol, Palma
If you’re looking for a romantic evening, get a booking in at Periplo Portixo. This is one of the best places on the island to see the sunset, so make sure you go for an early dinner. Sister restaurant La Bodeguilla – also in Palma – is lower key, but also serves a delicious, smart take on tapas.
Fine-dining hotspot Fera is down a quaint alley in the centre of Palma. Its Mediterranean-Asian menu is inspired by head chef Simon Petutschnig’s love of Japanese flavours, paired with seasonal ingredients found in Spain. A tasting menu focuses on texture and flavour, but an a la carte offering is available for those after a speedier supper before heading out for drinks.
This restaurant and cocktail bar belongs to the Horrach Moyà Gallery, and has long been a place where film directors, actors, musicians, writers, artists and designers dine out. It’s also been used as a backdrop for The Night Manager. This is a great spot for a casual dinner – just ignore the slightly naff interiors and grab a seat on the pretty square in Palma’s old quarter.
WHAT TO DO
Fundació Pilar I Joan Miró
The Fundació has obvious appeal for art fans, with over 6,000 paintings, sculptures and other works of art created by famed Spanish artist Joan Miró. 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.
The Caves of Drach
At 1,200m wide and 25m 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 Phantom of the Opera-like as it sounds, but the striking beauty and drama of the space shouldn’t be missed.
Cartuja De Valldemossa
Take a detour en route to Deià to Valdemossa – home to glass-blowing factories, authentic tapas bars and, most significantly, the Real Cartuja. Once a monastery belonging to the Spanish royal family, the venue then became the winter respite for classical composer Chopin, before transforming into a modern art gallery featuring works by Picasso, Miro and Juli Ramis. It’s an unusual space that will interest history, art and music fans alike.
Mallorca isn’t known for its glittering blue seas and white sandy beaches, but a growing number of 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-style beach or put on your hiking boots for a scenic walk through neighbouring Mondrago National Park to Cala Mondrago. The prettier beaches tend to be found on the east coast – some of our favourites include Cala des Moro and Cala LLombards.
WHERE TO STAY
For A Long Weekend
Sant Francesc, Palma
An SL favourite, Sant Francesc is in the middle of the historic city of Palma. Gilded gold accents and dramatic monochrome floors lead up to a stylish rooftop pool, while foodies are known to flock to the upscale courtyard restaurant, Quadrat, which has a menu offering burrata with caramelised pistachios; pickled pear and ricotta ravioli; and wild boar ragu with cocoa beans. There are 43 rooms to choose from, some of which have balconies overlooking the neighbouring basilica in the Plaza Sant Francesc square. After a day of sunbathing or exploring the sights, head to the rooftop bar for cocktails and sangria.
Concepció By Nobis, Palma
Concepció is part of the luxury Nobis group and Design Hotel collection. On the edge of Palma’s Old Town, there are 31 rooms available, as well as a pool, covered patio area and spacious lounge. If you’re planning a long weekend, the hotel has everything you need for a comfortable stay, from plush linens and fluffy robes to beautiful en-suite bathrooms. The restaurant serves tapas, while the bar has a great selection of regional wines.
Nakar Hotel, Palma
Located on Jaime III Avenue, one of the most central streets in Palma, Nakar is a modern, minimalist hotel. With 57 sleek rooms, it offers a laidback vibe at good value. Don’t miss the view from Cuit Bar & Restaurant on the eighth floor, run by renowned Mallorcan chef Miquel Calent, where guests can enjoy views of the historic centre and cathedral.
For Something Different
Palma Riad, Palma
Launched last summer, this Marrakech-inspired hotel is a five-star, adults-only retreat, with only 11 suites. Each has been individually designed and features plush furnishings and beautiful bathrooms. Designed for travellers looking for something a bit different, the riad is located right in the centre of Palma, and has its own restaurant, bar and a solarium with sun-loungers.
For A Guys' Trip
Bikini Island & Mountain Hotel, Port de Sóller
For a fun guys' week away, this hotel is a great choice. Set among the orange groves of Port de Sóller, a beautiful and traditional village, guests can take in views of the sea and the Tramuntana mountains. Every room comes with its own terrace or balcony, while the stylish pool area has plenty of sun loungers and day beds. Neni serves up delicious food at long tables, while the neighbouring bar (created by Joerg Meyer of Le Lion Bar fame) offers incredible cocktails and homemade lemonades – ideal for a mid-afternoon refreshment.
For Total Relaxation
Cap Rocat, Cala Blava
This refurbished fortress was built in the 19th century and now houses an impressive hotel with some of the most stylish décor on this list. Rooms are located within the towering walls, with panoramic sea views around every corner, while the rest of the property offers two pools, two restaurants, and a top-rated spa. There’s also a private beach, and the nearby quaint seaside town of Portixol offers everything from tapas and seafood to ice-cream stalls. For a treat, book the Suite El Cabo which has a private pool, an elegant, canopied bed and a separate living area where you’ll feel totally secluded.
El Llorenc Parc De La Mar, Palma
El Llorenc Parc De La Mar has the longest infinity pool in Palma, as well as another indoor pool in the spa. Since opening, the Dins Santi Taura restaurant has garnered several Spanish food awards, while the interiors (the work of Swedish designer, Magnus Ehrland) fuse classic design with modern accents. For a romantic getaway, choose a suite, which also come with two balconies overlooking the inner patios and the shaded streets of the La Calatrava district. After a day exploring, head to the rooftop to relax on the Balinese-style sun loungers and sample one of the hotel’s signature cocktails from the bar.
Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden, Palma
An eco-hotspot, Can Bordoy sits inside a 16th-century building in Palma’s largest private garden in the old quarter of La Lonja. Dishes served at Botanic all use organic produce, while the pool is treated with salt rather than chemicals to keep things as clean and sustainable as possible. With only 24 suites, the house maintains the atmosphere of a private residence to ensure guests always feel at home – ideal for a romantic retreat. Spend an afternoon at the spa, then head to the private garden to sunbathe.
Fontsanta Hotel, Campos
Venture down to the south of the island, where you’ll find Fontsanta Hotel. As the only source of thermal water in the Balearic Islands, guests can make the most of the hot springs all year round, or lounge on oversized day beds by the pool. For those craving some beach time, head to nearby Es Trenc for blue waters or join one of the hotel’s yoga classes for a spot of restorative relaxation.
Pleta De Mar, Capdepera
Surrounded by acres of woodland and gardens, with direct access to the beach, Pleta de Mar is one of the most stylish adult-only hotels on the island. Located in the Capdepera district, there are 30 suites to choose from, each with its own private terrace and outdoor shower. For a romantic holiday, book one of the Privilege Suites and dine at the restaurant at sunset with a glass (or two) of sangria. After sunbathing on the loungers by the pool, book an outdoor spa treatment, and ask the hotel to organise a private boat trip to explore the beautiful coastline and coves.
Can Simoneta, Canyamel
Perched on a clifftop looking towards Menorca, adults-only Can Simoneta is an intimate retreat, offering just 26 suites. Choose from many of the activities on offer, which include golf, tennis, cycling, water skiing, mountain biking and hiking. After an activity-packed day, there’s little need to go in search of food. The dishes served at the hotel’s restaurant focus on modern Mallorcan delicacies, using mainly local and seasonal produce. Make sure you get a table outside overlooking the Med.
La Finca, Llubí
With some of the most beautiful interiors on this list, La Finca is a stunning villa in Llubí. This secluded retreat is surrounded by scenic Mallorcan landscape, with beautiful views of the Tramuntana mountains. Ideal for a large group trip or family holiday, the property sleeps up to ten with three double bedrooms in the main house and one in the adjoining guest wing, all of which have en-suites. Surrounded by olive trees and roses, guests can relax in the pool, dine al fresco on the terrace, or retreat indoors to the spacious living room.
La Residencia, Deià
If you want to treat the family, La Residencia is a beautiful hotel located in the Tramuntana mountains, on the edge of the artistic village of Deià. Set in a collection of 16th-century manor houses, the property is surrounded by beautiful gardens with olive trees and Mediterranean flowers and herbs. Families should book the interconnecting suites and bedrooms, where a children’s bed can be added if needed – the Double Deluxe room comes with a king-size bed and a free-standing bath. Adults will appreciate the delicious dishes served at El Olivo, while kids will love the tasty tapas plates at the relaxed Café Miro which has a lovely outdoor terrace. There’s also a kids’ club with babysitters, an outdoor pool and a spa.
Son Bunyola, Banyalbufar
Son Bunyola is a collection of three stylish villas surrounded by 680 acres of land in the Banyalbufar district, on the north-west coast of Mallorca. For a special family holiday, book the Sa Punta de S’Aguila villa which has five bedrooms and sleeps up to ten. Built in traditional Mallorcan style, with exposed beam ceilings and terracotta tiled floors, the villa has been built into the landscape, with panoramic sea and mountain views. Kids will love the private outdoor heated pool, while adults will appreciate the stylish outdoor pergola – perfect for al fresco meals and late-night drinks.
The Body Camp, Sencelles
If you’re after a week of holistic fitness and activities, The Body Camp is the luxury Mallorcan bootcamp to know about. Located in Sencelles, just 30 minutes from Palma, it’s the perfect mix of work hard, play hard. Mornings follow a strict regime – think hiking, cycling, boxing, weight training – while afternoons can be spent relaxing poolside, walking through the beautiful gardens, or exploring the surrounding area. Food is at the centre of the retreat, and guests can enjoy healthy and nutritious dishes cooked by the resident chef. For the ultimate experience, book the Poolside Room which has doors leading straight onto the garden.
Son Brull Hotel & Spa, Pollença
Part of the Relais & Chateaux group of hotels, five-star Son Brull is located in a former monastery and still offers a peaceful place to get away. Located in the foothills of the Tramontana mountains in the north of the island, it’s a great base for anyone who enjoys hiking. After a long day on foot, reward yourself at Restaurant 365, which offers an impressive eight-course tasting menu, but if you’d prefer something more relaxed, the neighbouring Bistro serves delicious tapas in a restored olive mill.
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