The last time I visited Mallorca was 16 years ago (before all of my children) to shoot fashion for the Sunday Mirror. We stayed in Porto Petro on the south east coast: a dream of pale pine forest and deserted wild beaches. All Mallorca stereotypes immediately dashed- but somehow the island's reputation for booze cruises and 18-30 package holidays still stopped me rushing back. However in the years in between the island has more than grown out of it's slightly dodgy past, quietly creating a reputation as a luxe destination to rival its Balearic sister Ibiza (read my Ibiza blog if you’re considering Ibiza this year).
So: A return was overdue. And a mother/daughter/sister bonding mini break was the obvious opportunity ( My husband may not have agreed). Time was tight- we had three nights family free to enjoy all the things children - and husbands- complain about. (Market shopping and multiple art galleries anyone?) Plus a choice of hotel that didn’t revolve around gym requirements. And yes- of course it was FABULOUS. Obviously we only scraped the surface in three nights and there is plenty more earmarked for a return trip. But here's what we did and how we did it. And as usual shopping features. (research!)
We stay at the small but perfectly formed HM Balanguera. It's VERY stylish ( think Balearic white rendering, quirky art and lots of cacti). There's a bijou pool on the roof- with cabana style decking and drapes, which combine to dictate a few hours sunbathing every afternoon, and rose drinking every evening. It’s just outside the old town, but an easy walk in under 15 minutes- even for my mum who turns eighty next year. (I'm boasting on her behalf as she looks decades younger) Want to be beachside? The Portixol hotel that we visit on the eastern edge of Palma is a vision of mid century coastal fabulousness.
On our first morning we make a stop at Es Baluard Contemporary Art Museum with it's 360 degree Palma views, and the next we tick the Joan Miro Foundation. (we like a gallery.) The foundation is a fifteen minute cab ride away, and is a trip highlight, set on a hillside with amazing mid century architecture and general Mallorcan countryside gorgeousness. Other non art highlights: wandering the neighbourhood of Santa Catalina with its colourful buildings, artisan shops, and quirky windmills; The Wes Anderson worthy Plaza Mayor ( We hold ourselves back from a reel); and walking the narrow lanes of the old town and the sunny boardwalk of Portixol. ( The Santa Maria Cathedral remains on the list for next time)
Most of our pre visit research revolves around where to eat (because, priorities) so we smugly pat ourselves on the backs for hitting the ground running. With only a couple of days to cram a lot of food, we lunch at the newly opened El Camino in the old town -with its restaurant stretching sit up bar, hand drawn wallpaper and breton striped team outfits; we dinner at the cool mid century Portixol hotel with its sea views ( tempura prawns and crab toast to die for) and we brunch at Mestis, a quirky Santa Catalina cafe full of cross stitch art and rattan lighting; Mental note made to only eat tapas ongoing.
Yes there are snack and cocktail stops too (obvs). Santa Catalina indoor market has sit up sushi and cava stands that are earmarked for the next trip (we leave with salted almonds to go with our rooftop rose); I try a spectacular orange and basil ice cream from one of the many excellent Gelato stores in the old town; Oh and spanish coffee over ice is mentally noted as an essential for summer time. If it ever arrives in the UK.
We eschew the big stores in favour of hunting out some independent and vintage recommendations. For fashion we discover the multi brand Folklorious stocking eclectic global brands from Farm Rio to Calla slippers. Rialto Living serves three floors of interiors and lifestyle, with select fashion brands and accessories, in a building that's as impressive as what's on sale. I research vintage fashion (there are many around the old town) but only manage to squeeze in one, the chequerboard floored Rita's House, an authentic rummage for treasure store tucked behind The Central Mayor Square. The streets of Santa Catalina are full of tiny artisan stores, from shoe makers (Like the famous Apargateria Concepcion) to lifestyle stores and tattoo studios. Almost as fun are the tiny deli's, and food stores- selling meats, nuts and traditional spanish cake from Horno Santo Christo
The hotel and restaurants were researched by scouring blogs and broadsheets and booked on booking.com. We flew Easyjet from Monday - Thursday and it was blissfully quiet. Dinners were between 30 and 50 euros per person. Galleries from 4 to 10 euros. Mini break/utter relaxation fully ticked for approx £500. The end.
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