They commit to design, they reel us in with their attention to detail… they fascinate. The capital of the Balearic Islands is bang on trend, and so are its boutique hotels.
The city said to be the best city in the world to live in has spawned a plethora of little temples where visitors can soak up the authentic charm. Scattered around Palma's old quarter, these diminutive treasures combine the cutting edge with tradition and lull you to sleep with their stories. They are one-of-a-kind hotels that wrap you in their familial atmosphere and invite you to go back. About twenty are already up and running with another ten on the way. We chose five of these and took a look inside.
The first is the Hotel Sant Francesc, in the plaza of the same name. Part of Grupo Majestic and property of the Soldevila Ferrer family, the Sant Francesc embraces you with its delicate sophistication. Its manager, Ilka Karl, talks of "the luxury of simple things" and the "warmth" of its atmosphere, whose illumination transforms the building, giving it an almost magical air. This 42-room, five-star luxury hotel combines exquisite decoration with the à la carte cuisine of its Quadrat restaurant, whose al fresco dining area is in a league of its own. Subtle and elegant, the hotel also features a fairy-tale rooftop terrace, a bar open all year round and its own gym.
The Santa Clara Urban Hotel & Spa, owned by the Escalas family, is adjacent to the Santa Clara Convent gardens in Calle San Alonso. The hotel’s twenty intimate and luxurious rooms are seamlessly integrated into a 17th century building whose ancestry is visible in the exposed stone walls, the staircase and some of the original wooden beams that were carefully preserved in the restoration. A honeycomb sculpture with a luminous motif by the artist Pep Llambías greets the visitor in the reception area. The peace and restfulness that prevails throughout the building, the views from the Santa Clara tower and a setting that seems stopped in time are masterfully paired with a surprising modern design. "The restful atmosphere here is difficult to describe," says Santa Clara owner Tomeu Escalas from the roof terrace, as his eyes rove over La Seu cathedral, Bellver Castle and the harbour. He reminds us to mention the Santa Clara's buffet breakfast service based on locally-sourced produce. And if you stray from your diet… they’ll hire you a bicycle.
The mesmerising Boutique Hotel Posada Terra Santa was the first of the treasures created for the Hidden Away Hotels brand by Ignacio Jiménez and his wife Carmen Cordón, in Palma's flower-decked old quarter. Situated in an old manor house in what, in the Middle Ages, was one of Palma's most prosperous areas, the Posada Terra Santa turns its customers into guests as soon as they cross the threshold. In an elegant, familial setting of unostentatious luxury, this boutique hotel allows you to lunch or dine beneath impressive Gothic arches of noble stone in the La Despensa del Barón restaurant, or enjoy the addictive Egyptian cotton linen in one of its 26 rooms. Jiménez assures us with a wink that it is "a bonsai hotel: small but fully formed". A cosy English-style lounge, a spa with sauna and heated pool, and a terrace with solarium and gymnasium complete the offer.
The Puro Oasis Urbano extends a warm welcome in Calle Montenegro in the Sa Llotja district. Founded by Mats Wahlstrom and open 365 days a year, this bohemian hub in old Palma conveys a love for bohemian luxury while paying homage to minimalism. Its contemporary, pared-down decor is dressed up with the hotel’s own brand of hip music, its 51 rooms encapsulating the elegance of a "less is more" philosophy. The hotel’s Opio bar is a focus for Palma’s nightlife.
The Hotel HM Balanguera is situated in the street of the same name. Geared to a young and diverse clientele, owners the Horrach family have chosen to surround their guests with art. Elegantly and daringly designed by Antonia María Horrach under the general direction of her brother Antonio, this Mallorca family's commitment to contemporary art is self-evident. The Balanguera is "a very individual hotel" which "lives and breathes art in every corner", according to its manager, José Luis López. Here the magic bears the name of Zimmerman, or Susy Gómez, whose works fit like a glove in different spaces. Three conference rooms, a terrace with a salt-water pool and a rest area open all year round are others of its charms. This is an ideal hotel for romantic urbanites looking to discover new sensations.
After all, that's what it's all about, isn't it?
Text: Aina Solano