Esme Fox finds a boutique refuge and plenty of culture in Mallorca’s historic capital – Palma.
Making my way down a cute winding alley way, flanked by cream stone buildings, I knew I was back in Spain. I liked Palma instantly; it was so different to the Mallorca I had seen before – the tacky bars and clubs of Magaluf and Palma Nova. Everyone seems to head away from Palma as soon as they arrive on the island, either to the infamous clubs island’s west coast, or the boutique and island life luxury of the mountain villages to the north, but I’d come here to see what the city itself had to offer.
I was staying at the Hotel Tres, housed in an old atmospheric Mallorcan courtyard, which I’m told was once a 16th century palace. I was greeted immediately by a giant palm tree and a trickling blue fountain, two things that instantly remind you you’re in Spain.
The inside, however was a stark contrast to the traditional Spanish exterior – sleek white marble floors, clean glass lines and modern art filled the public spaces giving off the vibe of stylish Swedish and Norwegian boutique hotels.
The room mirrored the public spaces – everything lustrous, clean and white with sharp edged lines and a photo of a part naked body on the wall. The only splash of colour was a ginger and brown cow hide bench that sat at the foot of the bed. The pièce de résistance surely had to be the bathroom though – open plan and only divided from the main room by a white curtain. On one side sat a toilet cubicle and on the other a shower – big enough for at least four people.
The only thing it seemed to be lacking was a balcony with views over the charming central courtyard, however after a bit of exploring around the hotel, we soon found plenty of public spaces with even better views – the balcony of the hotel’s cosy library, the rooftop terrace and the pool terrace on top of the new part of the building.
After enjoying a glass of Spanish cava from one of our newly-found view points over-looking the now moon-lit courtyard, we decided to explore the local area. The alleyway below was now buzzing with life and laughter spilled out of the many tapas bars lining the street. People sat on old wine barrels, sipping glasses of vino and nibbling on plates of Padrón peppers sprinkled with salt, roasted almonds and sharp tangy olives, this was an authentic, traditional Spain, something that I hadn’t expected from Mallorca.
After wandering for a bit we found ourselves at a charming paella restaurant, filled with old carriage wheels and flickering candles. Here I had the best paella I’ve ever eaten – rice perfectly chewy, vegetables cooked just so, with plenty of flavoursome saffron, garlic and tangy lemon squeezed on top. The evening ended back at the hotel where we headed up onto the dimly-lit roof terrace for one of the best views of the famous Palma Cathedral anywhere in the city.
The next couple of days in Palma were spent visiting the old cathedral, where we came across a traditional wedding; wandering the narrow back alleys, where we discovered an ancient Arab bath house and shopping for souvenirs at the city’s regal looking Plaza Mayor.
This was a Mallorcan city break free of seedy nightclubs, British pubs and lobster-red beach goers and the quaint towns of Valldemossa and Deià, this was a Mallorca full of historic sites, vibrant culture and Scandinavian chic.