We found out before we set off for Spain that our clifftop hotel, Can Simoneta, was originally built well over a century ago, as a house for a monk whose doctor had prescribed a course of seawater treatments for some unspecified medical condition. We realised a couple of things immediately: 19th-century monks would not be impressed by the NHS, and our weekend in Mallorca was going to be a profoundly peaceful affair. After all, a poorly monk is likely to live in a nice tranquil spot, rather than heading for the noisy, bustling charms of somewhere like Magaluf.
We were right, about the second thing anyway. This was one brother who knew how to choose his location. Just an hour’s drive from Palma airport, we find ourselves standing on the edge of a cliff, gazing and sighing at the spectacular views over the Mediterranean towards the island’s smaller sister, Menorca. It is the perfect place, if you’re so inclined, to contemplate the wonders of God’s creation – or, in my case, to get up to some thoroughly un-monkish frolics with my own Mr Smith.
That monk must have had a pretty good time here, too. The house is way up on the cliff, and a staircase was cut out of the rock so that he could saunter down and take the waters in an amazing, secluded bath – like a natural Jacuzzi – carved straight out of the rocks on the beach at the foot of the stairs.
The hotel itself consists of two imposing stone houses that were lovingly restored and refurbished in 2004. One of the houses is much closer to the clifftop than the other, and this is the one to ask for. Its suites are exceptional, with muslin-draped four-poster beds, large windows to let in the summer breeze and, of course, those views over the sea. There is great variety of rooms in the second building, including one which is smaller and darker, with a very small window (presumably as a defence against the heat). Ask for either a terrace or a high room with big windows if you’re in this house.
All the rooms have satellite TV and an Internet connection, although we wouldn’t have minded if they didn’t. Of course there are those who want to check emails or watch the news, but in a place as calm and secluded as Can Simoneta, modern communications can feel like an unnecessary addition. That said, our bathroom, always a good indicator of the quality of a hotel, is thoroughly modern and immaculate. And if we needed any help getting to sleep, the sound of running water from the fountain outside our window would prove more effective than Temazepam.
Not that we spend much time inside, anyway. In the morning, we prescribe some seawater therapy for ourselves, on a very nice beach a short walk away. Unusually for the Mediterranean in high season, and Mallorca in particular, the pale sands are blissfully uncrowded. Back at the hotel, we spend the afternoon beside the pool, lounging on the rattan chairs all decked with the whitest of white linen cushions, seeking refuge from the sun and drinking in the view (as well as a few cocktails).
The hardest decisions we have to face during our stay are whether to have a massage in the hotel or under the pine trees overlooking the sea, whether to clamber into the Jacuzzi at the top of the cliff or walk down the stairs to the ‘monk’s pool’ at the bottom, and whether to take advantage of the yoga classes or simply lounge about in one of the hammocks hanging in the hotel’s extensive and beautiful gardens.
There are plenty of other activities to do in the surrounding area, should we wish to venture away from our clifftop haven: farms and caves to explore, the mediaeval tower at Canyamel that looks so beautiful in the distance, churches and prehistoric settlements. After less than 24 hours in the hotel, though, we are so relaxed that just imagining doing these things seems far too strenuous. Of course, we end up doing nothing, and it’s absolutely lovely.
We do devote a little bit of mental energy to wondering why more of the hotel facilities are not closer to the edge of the cliff, rather than 50 metres inland. It seems odd. Are they worried about erosion? Did the sickly monk also suffer from vertigo? No – the answer lies in the hotel’s location on the margins of a nature reserve. Can Simoneta has a very special position on the coastline, and apparently it’s a miracle they even got planning permission for the pool.
Though it is the location that sets it apart from similar boutique hideaways, the interior of the hotel is superb, too: elegant and simple. The staff are all extremely professional and discreet, and the peaceful restaurant serves delicious, refined Mediterranean food (it has to be excellent, we decide, to match the view from the terrace). For anyone looking to escape the natter and nonsense of the everyday and unwind in a spectacular, peaceful and soul-soothing environment, Can Simoneta is a very fine retreat indeed. In fact, you could say it’s just what the monk’s doctor ordered.