palma-mallorca

Unseen Majorca: where to stay and play on the sun-soaked Balearic island

Here's why Majorca offers so much more than a beach break…

Fiona Ward

It would be easy to dismiss Majorca as just another beach holiday destination, having never visited before. The largest island in the Balearics, it's often known to Brits as an easy short-haul spot, with time best-spent on a sun lounger (though there's nothing wrong with that, of course). But, there's plenty more to this Mediterranean mecca than presumptions might allow - the capital city of Palma, for example, easily surpasses expectations with the majestic Santa Maria cathedral overlooking a cascade of sandy buildings - while pretty Port de Sóller, on the west coast of the island, is almost retreat-like in its calm.   

Palma, Majorca's stunning capital

While package resorts are a tempting way to experience the Majorcan sunshine, the island is growing in independent offerings. In Palma, the city's very first boutique hotel was the Portixol Hotel and Restaurant - standing proudly on the edge of the harbour with its classic blue and white exterior. A unique spot for city-breakers, it's the ideal place to retreat to after a day exploring the old town - and happily has a stunning outdoor pool, too, so those craving that sun lounger still get the best of both worlds.

MORE: Introducing HELLO! Escapes - your destination for holidays fit for the A-list

Portixol is certainly a 'curated' hotel - there's art in every corner. A family-run labour of love, owners Johanna and Mikael Landström have put their all into creating something unique, yet traditional, in keeping with the original 1950s building. And, the hotel group recently celebrated a new partnership with Champagne Lanson, meaning there's now a tempting choice of tipples - including their Black, Rose and White Label Champagnes, and their extra-special Extra Age - to enjoy in Portixol's equally impressive restaurant (the grilled red tuna is particularly delicious).

The gorgeous Portixol Hotel and Restaurant was Palma's first boutique hotel

Those with sea legs will love the ample opportunities to sail, surf and swim on Majorca - and while the sweeping port in Palma is home to an impressive selection of super yachts to spy on, there's also chance to try your hand at a selection of water sports across the island's many beaches and coves. 

READ MORE: The UK’s best pop-ups to visit this summer

Another way to see the idyllic Majorcan coastline is to book a boat trip - charter your own, or opt for one of the many excursions on offer from the island's ports. For a truly luxurious voyage, the historic Falcao Uno offers tours from Palma's main harbour, fully customisable to create the ultimate day-out on the waves (incredibly, they can even arrange for a DJ to play on the top deck). Once owned by the Belgian royal family, its timeless style makes for an unforgettable experience exploring the many bays and coves of Majorca - not to mention the delicious food offering on board.

A boat excursion is the ideal way to see the Majorcan coast

Elsewhere on the island, Port de Sóller was once one of Majorca's best-kept secrets - though tourists looking for a quiet, scenic break have flocked to the picturesque seaside village in recent years. A charming bay found at the foot of the glorious Tramuntana mountains (a top-spot for keen cyclists), it was a completely isolated site until the Sóller tunnel opened up in the 1990s, giving cars much-awaited access.

READ MORE: The Middle East's rising star: 5 reasons you should be booking a break in Bahrain

Here, it's the gorgeous Hotel Esplendido that's our top pick: climbing up the mountainside, it's a never-ending maze of spacious suites and calming leisure areas, not to mention home to a spectacular infinity pool over looking the peaceful port. On the menu, don't miss the incredible fresh grilled Sóller prawns, either. A delicacy from the local waters, they are almost red in colour and incredibly sweet - a must-try for any seafood lover. 

Port de Sóller is a must-visit

Even better, flights from Heathrow take just 2 hours and 25 minutes to Palma - and can be snatched up for as little as £150 return in high season. Double rooms at Portixol start at €350 per night during the summer, while Esplendido's standard doubles start at €290 per night in the summer months. Majorca, we'll be back… 

More on: