What's the score?
Sun, sex and sobrassada: Mallorca is a destination with a long-standing reputation for stag-do debauchery, but there is so much more to the isle than free-flowing cocktails, regrettable tattoos and scorching summers. A beguiling blend of rugged mountains, gin-clear waters, vineyards and distinctive culture, Mallorca offers scintillating gastronomy, a vibrant wellness scene and a plethora of outdoor activities that have drawn British travellers for decades, even centuries.
Located off the eastern coast of Spain, it’s the largest of the Balearic Islands with flat, fertile plains, mountainous peaks and 340 miles of coastline, not to mention over 200 beaches. From breathtaking cliff top drives along the Tramuntana mountains to the hidden coves and remote beaches of Llevant to the island’s interior and its many sun-soaked villages, bodegas and artisanal markets, there’s a little something for everyone. Whether you choose to hammer the hills on a road bike, perfect your downward dog poolside, play the full 18 holes, hit up Palma’s rooftop bars or feast on plates of local manchego and pata negra, Mallorca promises a heavy dose of Balearic bliss.
WHERE TO STAY?
Cami de Carrossa KM 3.4, 07570, Artà
Set over a private and peaceful 800-acre estate in a restored manor house on the eastern side of the island, Carrossa Hotel & Spa is a five-star resort to be reckoned with. Packing in everything you could possibly want from a rustic seaside idyll, this is a rural retreat with truly cortisol-lowering properties. There are 75 bedrooms here, including 45 contemporary suites with terraces, 30 manor house bedrooms (ten with balconies), four luxury villas and three fincas with private pools. Hemmed in by bucolic countryside, a hotel with such a secluded location risks feeling confined, but considering the vastness of the estate and its incredible landscaping, this is far from the case.
Even at full capacity, you feel as if you have the place to yourself to frolic freely through the many acres of sunny orchards and meadows. Rooms are spacious and sizeable, with king-size beds, walk-in showers, floor-to-ceiling windows, and suntrap verandas. All are equipped with espresso machines, hairdryers, thick robes, and a pillow menu to cater for even the most demanding of sleepers. With stone walls, contemporary furnishings and restful dusty grey textiles, the bedrooms are light-filled and spare, while remaining undeniably luxurious.
There are endless possibilities to stay active at Carrossa. From horse riding, hiking, boat rides, golf, and cycling, there are few holiday activities that aren’t available on the menu. For those who don’t fancy testing their physical limits, less strenuous options include wine tasting, local markets and a spa, as well as a dreamy outdoor infinity pool flanked by a solarium with cabanas and sun loungers, which drink in sweeping views of the bay of Alcúdia.
The spa at Carrossa is purpose-built and high-spec, housed in a huge modern stone building near the outdoor pool and fragrant with the scent of aromatherapy oils. There is a large indoor swimming pool, two saunas, a steam room with twinkling ceiling lights and a relaxation area filled with sun loungers and sheer violet curtains. Between the glimpse of a naked bottom and the alignment of your chakras, enjoy one of the many spa treatments on offer including aromatherapy, reflexology, facials, and massages. Equally, stretch it out at an hour-long morning yoga class run by the in-house teacher.
Aside from incredible wellness facilities, Carrossa is known for its cuisine, and the flagship Carrossa restaurant is a recognised spot across the island for Mediterranean fine dining. For more casual plates, there’s also Bistro Badia, with its enormous al fresco pergola and panoramic ocean vistas. With the choice of two bars and a bodega, Carrossa promises to slake your thirst. Bar Oro, located in the main building, is hallmarked by its incredible cocktails and glamorous gold lamps which hang from the high, stone ceilings, while the outdoor pop-up bar serves drinks perfectly suited for poolside debauchery in the summer months. With infallible service, a first-class spa, two gastronomic restaurants and hundreds of acres of serene Mallorcan countryside, Carrossa is the kind of hotel that pays attention to every detail. A stay will have you planning out your next visit soon after leaving.
Rooms from £303 per night; carrossa.com
WHAT TO DO?
Artà Street Market
Located just three miles from Carrossa, the charming town of Artà boasts boutique shops, galleries and a weekly market that snakes the streets every Tuesday from 9am to 2pm. Held in the Plaza del Conqueridor, the pedestrian street of Ciutat and some adjacent roads, it offers everything from flowers and artisanal ceramics to textiles, jewellery, leather bags and local Mallorcan delicacies, without a great deal of tourist tat.
The indoor farmer’s market is a particular highlight. A large, ancient room filled with dangling hunks of sobrassada sausage, baskets of salt cod, fruits and vegetables and tables adorned with Mallorcan patisserie. Here you must buy Mallorca’s most famous delicacy, the ensaïmada mallorquina, a coiled, flaky sweet pastry dusted with icing sugar that’s best enjoyed with an espresso sat on the shady steps of a nearby doorway.
The world has not heard much about Mallorcan viticulture and winemaking since its glory days during the Roman Empire, yet over the past few decades an explosion in the number of vineyards on the island offers proof of an exciting winemaking renaissance. The best way to learn about Mallorcan wine is to attend a wine tasting, and Carrossa hosts its own in a wonderfully mysterious and gothic bodega, with stone masonry, wine barrel tables and Dracula-esque candelabras. With the guidance of a local expert, you will sample an array of wines, including a selection from nearby vineyards.
It’s a refreshingly accessible and informative experience. Expect to learn a lot about local wine production and the trials, tribulations, and politics of Spanish winemaking; and to be encouraged to give honest views on the vino. It’s a fantastic opportunity to get a feel for the Spanish winemaking system, and its beautiful and lesser-known grape varietals.
Hike it up
It’s time to put that breakfast buffet to good use and burn some calories, because there are a silly number of breathtakingly beautiful rambling routes throughout the island, from scenic coastal paths to countryside trails to high peaks. We recommend the hike that stretches from Calonia de Sant Pere to Son Serra de Marina, which is predominantly flat and hugs the coastline throughout. Taking around two hours, it offers broad vistas of navy waters, arid mountains and a stop-off in Son Serra de Marina for an ice-cold Estrella and bowl of gordal olives before heading home.
The beaches en route are quieter and more secluded than the busier, better-known ones such as Cala Mesquida and Cala Agulla, and perfect for a quick dip, sunbathe and podcast session.
WHERE TO EAT
Autovía Palma-Sa Pobla, salida 37, 07310, Campanet
View on Instagram
If you’re a fan of Tomos Parry’s Brat or Mountain in London, then Ses Coves will light your fire. Located next to the Lord of the Rings-esque Campanet Caves, this wood-fired restaurant is known to be a favourite of Parry’s, greatly influencing his technique and culinary style. At Ses Coves, they like to keep it local, cooking up plants and animals from their farm, using their own timber to stoke the parrillas and sourcing local Mallorcan seafood. The result? Flame-kissed fare that cannot be rivalled.
From glossy carabineros prawns and tuna loin to brawny hunks of Galician ox, Ses Coves know their way around good produce. What’s more, the restaurant setting promises to make you swoon. Chow down, shaded by a canopy of vine leaves as you look out onto the undulating hills peppered with cypress trees. Vamos!
Cami de Carrossa KM 3.4, 07570, Artà
Over the past two decades, Mallorca has experienced a culinary transformation, its tourist fare brought firmly into the world of modern gastronomy. The island is now home to eleven Michelin stars. The hotel’s flagship Carrossa restaurant is no exception; a recognised spot throughout Spain for its enlightened fine dining. The restaurant is located in the main building, flaunting high ceilings, secluded alcoves and lofty windows with views of the inky night-time sky. The tasting menu here changes daily, with four courses of unadulterated deliciousness.
Head chef Kim Toro takes reliable ingredients and treats them with minimal intervention to produce beautiful food that’s emblematic of his hallmark Gallic cooking style. Expect to eat handsome plates of solomillo, grilled butterfish with lemony beads of fregola, and slivers of tuna carpaccio swimming in piquant pepperonata. Each course is accompanied by thoughtful wine pairings, attentive service and a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere.