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.
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.
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.
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.
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.