In June 2012 The Foody Traveller posted an article on Mallorca – ‘An Island for all Seasons‘. Two years later, Anna Hyman was back, to visit three hotels, to discover a fantastic restaurant and to spend time in one of her favourite cities – Palma di Mallorca. Above Image: Doug Goodman
Finca Dalt Murada
Set on a 500 year old farm estate in the wine growing region of Mallorca, close to the little town of Binissalem, a mere 25 minute or so drive from Palma and the airport, is the recently-opened Finca Dalt Murada.
When we arrived the sun was scorching the little courtyard where a family of feral cats and kittens played around the tables or dozed in the shade of the old plum tree. Across the narrow road the finca’s swimming pool, the water invitingly cool.
The family-owned finca, a sister establishment to the Hotel Dalt Murada in Palma, has tiled floors and wooden-beamed ceilings. It is furnished with old Mallorquin furniture, paintings and family heirlooms and memorabilia. The finca is remote and hiring a car is advisable, but bikes are available.
In all honesty we did have a few issues with the finca, such as not everything in the rooms worked satisfactorily and the grounds round the pool need attention, but the bed was comfortable, the shower water hot and it is reasonably priced.
We drove into Binissalem in the evening for a drink in one of the restaurants surrounding the main square beside the parish church of Santa María de Robines.
I was intrigued by the name ‘Binissalem’. Research revealed that not only is it one of Mallorca’s oldest villages, but the name appears to be of Arabian origin.
It’s a quiet little town but in Roman times it was fairly important – a useful stopping place on the main north/south trade road.
The Romans thoughtfully planted vines on the Sierra Tramuntana mountains and today Binissalem is at the centre of the Mallorcan wine industry.
Do try some of the local Mallorcan wines – they are excellent. Maybe plan a visit for September when the annual Binissalem wine festivities take place.
Hotel Bon Sol
The little resort of Illetas is a mere eight kilometres from Palma. On a cliff top, set in beautifully terraced gardens dropping down to a tiny, tiny beach, we found the elegantly comfortable Hotel Bon Sol Resort & Spa. It is a hotel that feels as if it is loved by the family who own it, and by the staff, many of them having worked there for years.
My room was in one of the Beach Villas which involved me setting off several minutes before the appointed time to get to the bar for a pre-dinner drink (a) because I kept getting lost and (b) because it really was a long walk involving steps, lifts and two long corridors. It took me a couple of days to realise that in fact those two long corridors had taken me beneath two roads.
Between the steps and terraces are little corners with loungers for shade and sun lovers alike, along with several swimming pools.
The hotel is divided into three sections: in the main reception building is a bar where one evening I stopped and watched a display of Spanish dancing; a somewhat formal restaurant; a comfortable lounge with cosy corners and outside a tennis court and mini-golf. In the middle section a fitness room and the spa.
In the third section is a beach snack bar, a beach restaurant, volley ball court, a children’s play area and a boules pitch. It must be said there are a lot of steps down to the beach restaurant area and anybody with mobility problems would find it difficult, if not impossible, to reach it.
The Nirvana Spa at Bon Sol is great for both men and women with an incredibly wide variety of programmes and treatments. A nice touch we thought was the complimentary yoga and tai-chi classes.
The Bon Sol is proud of its ecological credentials and we were impressed to learn that to help offset any global warming caused by the hotel they have already planted some 200,000 trees in Costa Rica.
Once upon a time it was a 16th century palace, today it is the stylish Hotel Tres wonderfully located a few yards from the Passeig del Born in the heart of the historic district of Palma, Mallorca’s vibrant capital. The rooms are sleek and modern and the service is terrific. It is a hotel I love.
There is the comfortable lounge and bar, a little library in the old, but modernised wing, and from the roof terrace with its loungers and small pool lovely views across the roof tops of Palma
Tres also has one of the best wi-fi connections I have ever experienced.
When it was too hot to explore the city streets it was no hardship to sit in the hotel courtyard with glass of one of their excellent Mallorcan wines beside me, clearing emails and catching up with tweets.
But when it was cooler I wandered off to check out one of my favourite cities.
I crossed the Passeig del Born and wandered round to see if the swans were still on the lake close to the Almudaina palace – they are and with babies too. I called in at one of my favourite buildings, the richly decorated church and elegant cloister of the convent of Sant Francesc where one of Mallorca’s most famous citizens, the 13th century mystic and philosopher Raymon Lull, is buried.
Leaving the church I wandered through the narrow streets catching glimpses of Gaudi’s architecture and the tucked away courtyards for which Palma is so famous.
Visit, like I did, the bustling Mercat de l’Olivar, Palma’s largest produce market and marvel at the fresh fruit and vegetables on offer as well as the meat and fish counters. Some of the crustaceans in their tanks were so big they could have fed a small family for several days!
A coffee seemed like a good idea and my feet took me into the quaintly pretty tearoom of C’an Juan De S’aigo where I was seduced along with an excellent coffee by a glorious cava ice cream for a mere €2.20. The little tea shop dates back to 1700.
Later I strolled along the esplanade over-awed by the size of the yachts resting at their moorings and made my way up to the terrace of Es Baluard Museu d’Art Modern i Contemporani. The gallery has an excellent reputation for its many works of art but it also has an excellent reputation for its bar and restaurant, it’s a great place to people watch too. I can vouch for the staff’s ability to make a good Aperol Spritz,
I met an old friend for dinner and what a treat that was. We ate in the Canela Bistro, a rather unprepossessing building, once an old spice shop. You’ll find it on the narrow Carrer de Sant Jaume (close by the C&A store).
What an evening; what a meal. My friend asked if I liked spicey things. I do, so long as they are not searing hot. Fascinated I watched as our barman crushed up one chilli for me, two for friend, blending them with lemon juice and vodka into what he called a Diablo. It set the right note for the stunning tapas-style meal cooked by chef Fabian Fuster.
This is a young man making a name for himself as a seriously good chef. Mallorcan by birth, he worked at leading restaurants in Amsterdam and London before returning to Mallorca and opening his own restaurant with his bubbly, delightful partner Irene Rigo who looks after the front of house side of the operation.
Fabian cooks like an angel drawing inspiration from, and adapting, Mediterranean, Japanese, Thai, Peruvian and Korean cuisines to his own ‘simple’, elegant style of cooking. Irene’s choice of our wine was spot on too!
Next morning before packing for my flight home I had time to call in at my favourite Palma store, the stylish Rialto Living conveniently close to Hotel Tres. Once it was once an old palace, before becoming a cinema, before being transformed into the stylish store it is today – complete with its own rather nice looking restaurant.
Whilst I waited for my taxi I sat in my favourite corner of the courtyard of Hotel Tres with a glass of white wine and the best-ever Club Sandwich. One day, maybe next visit, I’ll ask them how they make it.
Finca Dalt Murada: www.fincadaltmurada.com
Hotel Tres: www.hoteltres.com
Canela Bistro. 13-15 Carrer de Sant Jaume. www.canelabistro.es