Majorca: the best hideaway hotels

by Sally.Davies

The Majorcan countryside has some of the prettiest landscapes in Spain, and over the past few years some gorgeous places to stay have opened. Here are five of the best

As the plane licks around the west coast of Majorca, emotions run high. Below are hundreds of tiny coves, backed by forested hills and only occasionally dotted with whitewashed houses. The water is a limpid turquoise and tiny boats graze the coastline.

Until recently, however, this has been the Majorca of a privileged few – the rugged terrain of the west coast means that there is little building and, by extension, few hotels. The island equivalent of the famous left turn at the top of the airplane steps is to exit Palma airport and turn west. The great unwashed would slink off to the right, to the unlovely built-up resorts of Cala Millor and the like, to the east.

Nowadays, however, there is a third option. Some of Spain’s most glorious hotels have sprung up in the interior of the island, offering stylish, bucolic accommodation with none of the high prices of the west-coast hangouts favoured (and, frequently, owned) by Claudia Schiffer, Richard Branson and the rest. Most of these alternative hotels are in converted farmhouses, surrounded by meadows or woodland; many have swimming pools and kitchen gardens. All are wonderfully peaceful.

Can Furiós

Towards the north of the island, this lovely hotel was created in a house of 16th-century and Moorish origins by Adrian and Susy Bertorelli (previously of the Charlotte Street restaurant of the same name in London). There are three elegant and spacious rooms and four suites, some with terraces. A decent-sized pool is surrounded by lemon and olive trees; the scent of jasmine and herbs fills the air; and a trickling fountain and a view across the fields to the mountains make the garden a delightful spot for breakfast. The décor is a mix of opulent and rustic and reflects the twin charms of Can Furiós' welcome – for all the immaculate service and food, it is an utterly relaxing, down-to-earth place. Rooms from €165.

Son Palou

The same could be said of Son Palou, around 25km away. Run by a charming mallorquí team, it sits in splendid isolation, surrounded by great walking. Rooms are light and airy, with terracotta floors and Persian rugs, and while even the most modest are perfectly comfortable, it’s worth splashing out on a superior double – these have terraces from which you appreciate the best of the area: glorious views, birdsong and the breeze riffling through the ancient holm oaks. Rooms from €120.

Son Cosmet

To the south of the island, inland from the beaches of Es Trenc, Son Cosmet is a vast house of baronial splendour set in acres of pastureland. Despite its lofty arches and antique furniture, the atmosphere is informal. If, that is, you bump into anyone else on your stay – various terraces, gardens and a discreetly hidden pool mean that guests roam undisturbed. The rooms are decked out in simple country-house style, and you can forget mod cons – there are no iPod docking stations or even TVs here. Instead you can watch the kites and kestrels hovering above, and at night listen to owls and the tinkling of goat bells. Rooms from €77.

Son Bernadinet

Also south of the centre of the island, Son Bernadinet has much in common with Son Cosmet, but is a little more zen, with a minimalist white and cream aesthetic. Flagstone floors and floaty white drapes are perfect for summer, while fires are lit in winter and create a cosy feel. Landscaped gardens surround the house and are dotted with orange, almond and cypress trees as well as a large pool, and herb and vegetable beds provide supplies for excellent meals. Rooms from €205.

El Puig de Maria

For a celestial experience of a very different sort, hardier souls will enjoy the old convent of El Puig de Maria, high on a mountain at the end of a hair-raising unpaved road. The convent and its cells are little changed since the last nuns left in the 1980s, with basic furnishings and shared bathrooms, but the restaurant can rustle up some fine meals with a little advance warning. There’s little in the way of creature comforts here, but it is possibly the most spiritual experience to be had on the island, with spine-tingling views and a quite extraordinary stillness. Rooms from about €50.

Sally.Davies

I came to Barcelona ten years ago for a long weekend, and showed a horrible lack of originality in deciding I couldn't leave. I made it back to London for as long as it took to pack up my things and hand in notice to my landlord, and that was that. Fortunately I was able to take my job with me – I edit Time Out's guides to Spanish cities and work as a freelance journalist for newspapers and magazines including the Guardian, the Observer, the Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph.

My Barcelona

Where I always grab a coffee: there are lots of terrace cafés along the pretty Passeig del Born, but my favourite is Rosal (no.27), which largely escapes tourist notice. Autumn update: though it's kept the name, Rosal has recently been subsumed by the faceless tapas bar next door. I'm back on the prowl for a regular haunt. Watch this space.

My favourite stroll: I’m lucky to live near the Parc de la Ciutadella, a storybook park with a boating lake, ducks to feed, a Gaudí-designed waterfall, playgrounds, sculpture and a thousand trees under which to read a book on hot summer days.

Fiction for inspiration: Cathedral of the Sea is never going to win any great literary prizes, but it’s a rollicking beach read, with a plot verging on Gothic and a fantastically detailed portrayal of the Born neighbourhood in medieval times, and particularly the construction of the 'People's Cathedral', Santa Maria del Mar.

Where to be seen: With a mixologist and DJs imported from London, the Eclipse bar on the 26th floor of the W Hotel is the current hot ticket.

The most breathtaking view: One for the brave, this one, because it does have a bit of a wobble when there’s a wind up, but the Monument a Colom (Columbus Monument) at the bottom of La Rambla has unmatched views over the city and out to sea.

The best spot for some peace and quiet: Again, it would have to be the Parc de la Ciutadella, although the gardens of the Antic Hospital in the Raval are also a lovely retreat from the crowds along La Rambla.

Shopaholics beware: Passeig de Gràcia has most of the flagship stores for Zara, Mango, Diesel et al, along with some very gorgeous designer stores. It’s also a wonderful place in which to simply stroll and take in the Modernista architecture; even the lamp-posts are works of art. For quirky boutiques and eccentric specialities, though, you'll need to lose yourself in the maze of the Old City.

City soundtrack: There’s a Raval-based band called 08001 (the Raval’s postcode), made up of a floating membership of great musicians from around the world. Its mestissa (ethnic fusion) sound is very typically barcelonin.

Don’t leave without... fer vermut (‘doing vermouth’). Sunday morning, tall glass, red vermouth, lots of ice, slice of orange, splash of soda water, a saucer of boquerones (fresh anchovies) and a couple of friends. My favourite Spanish habit.