My love for Mallorca is very well documented in this blog. It is an island I have visited over 20 times (I kid you not) and I try to make a special effort to return every year. Why? Because I still feel I haven’t scratched its surface – there is always something more to see or do (or not do at all) in the largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands.
On this trip with Sovereign, I also discovered one of the most special hotels I have had the pleasure of staying at: the stunning Belmond La Residencia.
The hotel is very well known, as it was previously owned by Richard Branson. It is located in Deia, in the north-west coast of Mallorca (around 45 mins from Palma de Mallorca, the island’s capital). This little town is very special as it is a UNESCO World Heritage village, at the heart of the Tramuntana mountain range. As you can probably gather, the setting is quite spectacular.
Getting to Belmond La Residencia
Mallorca is probably one of the best connected islands in Europe and getting there is not a problem. We travelled with British Airways from London Heathrow, from where there is an increased Summer schedule. Flight time was around 2 hours and on arrival, we were met by our private Sovereign driver, who took us to the hotel. The transfer time was around 1 hour, as there was no traffic.
On arrival, we quickly checked in and were asked if we wanted a little tour – which I would highly recommend you accept when you check in. Why? Because this is no standard hotel – the buildings (because it isn’t just one) are quite unique and it always helps to know your bearings. Once the bar, the 2 restaurants and the sitting room were located, we made our way to the main pool area, which then connected to the building where our suite was located.
It took me a good 2 days to get my bearings right – and it was a lovely problem to have as we stayed for 5 days. And we felt we needed a lot more.
Our suite at Belmond La Residencia
Suite 61 would be our home for 4 nights and I have to say – it was pretty perfect. You will notice that the decor follows a very ‘rustic chic’ style and it feels so so right. Just so you know, beds (and bedding), showers etc are all modern, so you really have everything you need. And a bit more.
Our suite was made up of a very large living room which also included a dining area, and a separate kitchen. We had, of course a bedroom with a spacious bathroom. But we had something I wasn’t quite expecting. So bear with me.
There was a pop up TV by the end of the bed (which we never used) and my only comment is that there were not plugs by each side of the bed – we used those by the side desk and it felt strangely liberating. I loved the little turndown gifts we got each day, which came with a story. My favourite was, the olive salt, which I will tell you more about in just a moment or three. Because Mallorca = salt, in case you did not know. I kind of didn’t, I must confess.
I loved the suite – and the desk with the view, especially. I would imagine it would be the perfect place to pen the perfect blog post, but you know I tell no lies – I did not write a world while I was there. Because it would be so rude to.
But our favourite bit? The outside terrace, with its own jacuzzi.
And guess what, the view from our room wasn’t bad either. And notice the swimming pool on the room below us… there are a few of those, so bear that in mind when booking your room.
Our suite bathroom at Belmond La Residencia
If you read this blog regularly, namely my hotel reviews, you will know I am ever so slightly obsessed with well-designed bathrooms. Ours was really good – and proof that a classic design goes a long way.
I loved that the (very spacious) wardrobes were inside the bathroom – it really makes things easier. Needless to say, the shower was excellent too.
The only thing I thought it was rather strange was the mismatch of toiletry brands. We had a mix of Bulgari, Penhaligon’s and Molton Brown and I found that really bizarre. You will know that some of these brands made my ‘toiltetries worth stealing list’, and I will admit that I behaved very well, except for one item: the Molton Brown African Whitewood face wash which was really foamy and smelled divine. It is from the Men’s range (but who cares?). The good thing is that I also got some more at a recent stay in London. Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.
Eating and drinking at Belmond La Residencia
The food was terrible. I am joking. One of Mallorca’s best kept secrets is its food – and I loved how the hotel really embraced the local delights, and I really mean it. Not only did we know we were in Spain – we knew very well, and without a doubt, that we were in Mallorca.
We enjoyed breakfast every day – the Mallorcan corner was my favourite, of course (and needless to say, you could order anything else you’d like, all cooked to order). And top marks to the staff, who really were excellent. On our first day, we arrived 2 minutes before it ended and not a problem at all. We then made it up the next day by being the first ones (almost) as we had some plans, and it became a running joke throughout our stay.
We had our first and last dinner at the hotel too. The first was at Cafe Miro, which has a more casual approach to dining and we loved the tapas. And the wine. And you can see where I am going with this. Whilst you eat, you can also enjoy looking at one of the 33 original Miros that the hotel owns.
The other option, is El Olivo, which is considered one of the best restaurants in Mallorca and which did not disappoint, at all. It was a very elegant restaurant, yet not stuffy – and one of the things I really liked at the hotel.
Everything was understated, simple. The service was discreet and very friendly. And the hotel felt like one of a kind. This is one of the reasons why I really like Belmond as a hotel company. And if you are curious about some of my previous experiences with them, you can read about my stay at Reid’s Palace in Madeira, the British Pullman train and, of course, the Venice-Simplon Orient Express train journey from Venice to London.
In terms of drinks, well, every night you would find us at the terrace where we enjoyed some epic gin & tonics with a view. A comment here – 8 EUR for a Fever Tree tonic (the gin still worked out at the usual 5-star 19-22 Euro price, but it was a bit disconcerting to be charged 8 Euros for a bottle of tonic!).
The pools at Belmond La Residencia
You will have noticed the big pool at the top of this article – and we cannot fault it in any way. We also cannot fault the hotel guests as everyone was blissfully quiet. Just the way we like it.
Whilst walking around the hotel, we discovered a second pool (besides the private ones in some suites) which we also quite liked. This one is even quieter, if that is possible.
The Spa at Belmond La Residencia
The spa at the hotel isn’t very big (and it really books up quickly), so we were only able to have 1 massage each during our stay, due to availability. It was a shame as I really enjoyed my ‘Citrus Siesta’ (130EUR for 50 minutes), which is the hotel’s signature treatment, which includes a scrub and a massage – and some post massage napping time with quite a view.
The spa area also has an indoor pool and an outdoor jacuzzi which are, again, very quiet. And by quiet, I mean the people using it were quiet.
I also managed to book a very different ‘treatment’. One week per month, the hotel has a residency with Anja Burkhard, who joins La Residencia Spa for a week of BodyTalk consultations. It is very hard to explain what Anja does – but by using an astonishingly simple, hands-on holistic therapy, Anja can quickly identify how everyday stresses are affecting your body and help you find a new balance. My consultation lasted 90 minutes and cost 160 EUR and I have to say it was incredible. I couldn’t believe how much Anja found out about me, my medical issues, aches and pains. And she was a delight to be with.
Activities at Belmond La Residencia
You know that my favourite activity is sunbathing and drinking gin, so you will be surprised to learn that I actually went on some planned activities. Why? Because they were fabulous.
Every day (weather permitting and subject to space), the hotel organises a 2-hour boat trip, departing from nearby Port de Soller. On our day, we were only joined by another couple and it really was lovely. It isn’t a big boat (it is quite a simple one, in fact), but we were able to swim in the clear waters and also sightsee a bit. This activity is complimentary and includes all transfers to and from the hotel.
And the other? A cooking class! I quite enjoy cooking, and I have been on some cooking classes, but I tend to find them a bit frustrating, as I then find it difficult to replicate most things at home. But this one? Not so much. I discussed with chef Guillermo the night before and he told me he understood what I meant. And he really meant it.
We made ‘pan amb tomaquet’, i.e. bread with tomato, the local version of ‘pan con tomato’. We discovered the delights of black garlic, the local olive oil and, most importantly, the local salt.
Salt is an important part of my life (a sentence I never thought I would write!!), and coming from Portugal (where some of the world’s best sea salt comes from, if you don’t mind me saying), I understand the differences and appreciate ‘fleur de salt’ probably more than the average person. On any trip to Spain or Portugal, if you were to check my luggage, you would probably find a few kilos of salt. Baking salt (so I can make my signature fish baked in salt), ‘Flor de Sal’ and some more.
What I had not explored or experienced, in all honesty, was flavoured salt – and this is where Chef Guillermo opened a whole new world for me. Olive Salt is the best thing in the world (and it is one of the little turndown gifts the hotel gives you). And have you tried hibiscus salt with olive oil and chocolate? Pretty amazing.
The craziest thing I tried (and loved) was lemon sorbet, with chopped apple, olive oil (for real, I kid you not, and I almost resisted!) and hibiscus salt. It is also one of the hotel’s signature desserts at El Olivo. It was fabulous.
But I am saving the best for last. One of my favourite things in the world are prawns. ‘Caught-in-that-morning’ prawns, to be more specific. It is one of the things I miss the most from my previous life in Spain and Portugal. As we were trying the various bits and bobs I mentioned earlier, the daily catch arrived. As it does every day. And the Soller gambas (a town close to the hotel) are the best in the island.
And how did we prepare it? We half peeled them (left the heads on) and then oven baked in salt for 3 minutes. And that was that. Incredibly tasty and simple. I have replicated these at home quite a few times and have been very successful.
So as cooking lessons go, this really was one of the most enjoyable and useful. So if you go, ask for the ‘Mrs. O gambas cooking lesson’ and you are good to go.
The Sovereign Concierge
Whenever you book a holiday with Sovereign, you get access to its 24/7 concierge service which I always find very useful. But this time around, I have to say, it was exceptional. Why? Because I really asked for stuff and they really delivered.
I was contacted a week before my arrival and my first challenge was to get some dinner booking. And some really are not easy and never are, like Flanigans in Port Portals. Or ‘The Night Manager’ restaurant in Cala Deia (literally 5 minutes from the hotel). But Kim made it happen and I was very grateful. In one of them (I will not say which), we were playing with names and waitlists and how we pulled it, I will never know. But she was there for me all the way.
Also, a couple days before, I decided needed a car but I didn’t want a car for the whole 5 days and definitely wanted to avoid the airport (and also take advantage of the complimentary Sovereign private airport transfers). I was given a list of cars to choose from (Range Rover Evoque? Volvo XC60?) and I couldn’t believe when at 4pm on a given day, a nice gentleman from a local company called OK turned up with our chosen Volvo and the Range Rover in case we wanted to upgrade). We sat down at the hotel terrace, we signed the rental agreement and paid (125 Euros for 2 days, with no excess and everything, everything included). It was my car rental dream experience. We had the car for 2 days, and on the last day, we drove to the hotel, gave the car keys to the hotel concierge and that was it.
Above you can see Mr. O enjoying the last rays of sunshine at Palma Airport and our private transfer back from the airport.
After the cooking lesson, I was also curious about the salt farm – Salinas de Es’Trenc (I don’t know what the word ‘Salinas’ in English is) and emailed her, and she sent me the address, visit times and told me also not to miss a nearby beach. What a day!
The hotel grounds
We spent a fair bit of time at the hotel – but felt it was actually not enough. The problem here is Mallorca and all its temptations. We loved walking around it – and also loved that Mallorca is one of the latest Flytographer locations and did one of the first shoots in the island.
As we weren’t in Palma, the minimum shoot time is 1 hour (at a cost of $350) and Emma was fabulous. All the photos here with us looking decent were taken by her.
The hotel really is gorgeous – it was one of those instances where it is difficult to find things I did not like (and you know I am picky). I thought the service was great too. I really cannot fault much.
I loved the quirkiness of the interiors – it did have a lot of soul. I felt I really was in Mallorca and that, for me, is the most important thing.
So without a doubt, our stay at the Belmond La Residencia in Mallorca was exceptional and definitely Mrs. O approved.
Until the next time!
Disclaimer and Fact Box: I was a guest of Sovereign on this trip and opinions are, as always, my own.
– Sovereign (Phone: +44 1293 765 003) is offering a seven night holiday to Mallorca, staying at the five star Belmond La Residencia on B&B basis, UK airport security fast passes and access to No.1 Lounges (where available), private airport transfers and return from London Heathrow with British Airways. Based on departures 2 May 2017.
- Classic room and economy flights from £1,565 per person – saving up to £527
- Classic room and business class flights from £1,749 per person – saving up to £542
- Executive suite and economy flights from £5,799 per person – saving up to £485
- Executive suite and business flights from £6,049 per person – saving up to £504
– As always, we really enjoyed our photoshoot with Flytographer. A 30-minute session costs 250$ and a 1-hour season costs $350