When it comes to five star European summer retreats, I think there are few more talked about hotels than the Belmond La Residencia.
Built into the foothills of a stunning Mallorcan mountain range, with views of the sea of one side and of the picturesque town of mountain town of Deia on the other, La Residencia truly embodies understated luxury.
We were lucky enough to come here for lunch at their Bistro restaurant Cafe Miro (more about this later), and so were shown around the property by the charming Louise.
Sadly the hotel was fully booked, despite it being mid-September (which is a fantastic time of year to visit the island – with milder weather and less tourists). Thus while we did not get to have a glimpse of the rooms, it did mean we got to witness the hotel at full capacity, which you would not have noticed had you known. A real plus is the way the hotel is built, with the numerous buildings and facilities on different levels or ‘terraces’, meaning that the hotel is spread out enough to give you the privacy and space you need.
The hotel has everything you’d expect from a five star hotel. It has all the facilities: two pools (one adults only), tennis courts, a spa, gym and indoor pool. Bright green lawns to relax on while sipping a cocktail, three restaurants and a range of accommodation, including suites with private pools. Yes please. La Residencia also has its own resident donkeys, which bray happily all day long, and which can accompany for a walk up the mountain.
What I had not realised is how artistic the town of Deia is. It has inspired creatives for years, such as Robert Graves (who lived here until he died), but also local artists and musicians, who are clearly inspired by the breathtaking landscape and views. What I loved is that the hotel has embraced this artistic climate and worked it to their favour. Art is clearly an important part of the hotel, with lots of modern art on the walls (often from local artists). They have a gallery with an exhibition that changes frequently and even a sculpture studio, where guests can take lessons from the resident sculptor.
But without doubt my favourite thing about the hotel is the views, which can be described with every cliche but perhaps even Graves’ writing will not do it justice. Through every archway and window, from every angle, you’ll catch glimpses of the silver olive groves, warm honey coloured stone houses and jagged mountain tops which surround La Residencia. Usually I crave sea views. Here I could sit contently and watch Deia and her surrounding mountains for hours.
Now apart from the fact that La Residencia is aesthetically pleasing in every way, the food needs a special mention. We had a long, languid lunch at El Miro, their charming bistro (with sweeping views, of course). Three greedy girls embraced the menu with rigour and ordered the entire local tapas menu (which changes regularly), as well as an irresistible prawn linguini. Pudding, in the form of a chocolate fondant, might have been the real piece de la resistance though. Melt in the mouth delicious.
You can’t visit La Residencia without a stroll through (read: up) Deia’s narrow, winding cobbled streets. I found it surprisingly quiet (might be different in August). Grab a freshly squeezed orange juice on the way up to Església de Sant Joan Bautista and cemetery, from which the views of Mallorca’s North West coast are even more breathtaking. If you go to one bar make sure it’s Sa Fonda. Old locals have seen Mick Jagger perform here.
On the way home we drove past Valldemossa. You simply can’t miss it because I’ve rarely seen such a pretty town, all bell towers and summer villas with oversized verandas, all in that stunning honey coloured stone and surrounded by green mountains and terraced olive groves. Too pretty for words.
Mallorca has quickly become a new favourite destination of mine, and since it is the largest of the Balaeric islands, I know there is still much to see and many reasons to go back.
On my wish list for next time I visit Mallorca:
- Port de Soller. So close to Deia yet so far. We didn’t make the 15 minute drive to the famous and beyond pretty port of Soller. Apparently you can take an old fashioned little chu chu train all the way there, through the mountains, from Palma.
- Port de Pollensa. Another gem, this port is in the North of the island. Son Brull is meant to be a fantastic Relais & Chateaux hotel nearby.
- Palma de Mallorca. I know, the embarrassment. I only visited it’s airport and yet I know this capital city has so much to offer. Top places for drinks are apparently in the Santa Catalina area or at Cafe La Lonja. La Bungalow is meant to be nice little restaurant by the sea close to Palma.
- Beach wise apparently Cala Varques on the East Coast (near Manacor) is stunning, as is Calo des Moro.
- For more info on sights worth seeing, check out Insight Guides blog on Mallorca.
I’ll be back.