There’s more to Mallorca than package hotels and packed sands. The capital, Palma, in parts, feels like a beautiful mini Barcelona, with its streets of plane trees and dashes of Art Nouveau masonry. It’s got a lively local music scene and a hulking yet decidedly romantic Gothic cathedral where you could imagine Quasimodo swinging from the bells. Palma is the perfect base from which to explore the beaches, the jagged mountains that drop to Capri-steep craggy capes in the west, and the sleepy medieval villages of the interior where you’ll hear little more than birdsong and the gentle sound of goat bells.
Smack bang in the medieval centre of Palma, a few hundred metres from the gorgeous, gold-encrusted 13th-century basilica of St Francis, are these compact, split-level flats; some with Mediterranean-white expanses, while others flaunt palm-frond wallpaper and warm woods. If you’re looking for a romantic weekend, stay here: the units are made for couples, with little upstairs kitchenettes featuring dining space for two, separate living areas and clear-glass shower boxes right next to the beds.
These bright, spacious duplexes occupy a converted 18th-century cotton mill turned textile factory in the heart of Palma’s buzzing nightlife district. Old typewriters, gramophones and other vintage objects found on market trawls adorn the spaces. Admittedly the pool on the roof is the size of a toreador’s cape, and parking, while possible, can be a challenge. But bikes are yours for the borrowing, and after dark you’ve got tapas, jazz, flamenco and cocktail bars on the doorstep.
Hovering above a lively market square, the Remolars is in a plum location indeed. In the midst of tavernas and tapas bars, it is just a one-minute walk from the cathedral and the seafront Parc de la Mar green space. Although the property is historic, interiors are fresh, spacious and Terence Conran contemporary with clean whites, light laminates and colourful scatter cushions beneath the old timber-frame ceiling beams. Something to consider before you book: parking is limited to public waterfront spaces, which fill up quickly in summer.
A handy 15-minute drive from the airport, these simple flats make for relaxing stays, decorated in light creams and wood-laminate surfaces immediately off Plaça Major, central Palma’s market-filled main square. The Ikea-style furniture in primary colours is comfortable, kitchenettes come with all the requisite breakfast-making paraphernalia, while large windows and al fresco balconies mean Mediterranean sunshine is as good as on tap.
In central Palma, a few metres from the waterfront and close to restaurants, bars and clubs, this is a good-looking base. Expect big-city-hip living, with urban-chic modern kitchens, funky-utilitarian sinks in bathrooms and timeless plain-white walls maximising the sense of space throughout the historic property. If you’re planning on renting a vehicle, do bear in mind that nearby public parking is very limited.
With acres of whitewash, sparse furnishings and light, laminate flooring, the Sant Miquel feels functional – to some, maybe, a little spartan – but large French windows let the Mediterranean light flood in. The street outside is mercifully quiet, although you’ve got restaurants and the lively Olivar Market two blocks away. It can be a struggle to climb the stairs with heavy bags; and if you’re mobility challenged, be aware there’s no lift.
Keep your swimming costumes at the ready: while located in Palma’s Old Quarter, these flats are mighty convenient for Cala Mayor Beach and Playa de Palma, while just five minutes from the awesome Cathedral. Interiors are plain-Jane, but perfectly habitable: whitewashed walls, cream floor tiles and high-street-cheap-chic furniture. The one to ask for has an al fresco balcony of wicker sofas, affording wonderful views of the aforementioned Gothic cathedral.
Calling all art-history fans: book this one and you’ll be staying in a beautiful Art Nouveau building designed by Gaspar Bennàssar, who was part of the same artistic movement as Gaudí. Better still, you’re within olive-stone-spitting distance of the tapas bars, cafés and shops of Plaça Major. The flats have minimalist, muted tones with full-height windows and furniture that looks carefully chosen, not catalogue-bought – so it’s a yes from us.
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