In Palma’s historic La Lonja quarter, restored mansion Can Bordoy is a triumph of decadent design. Standing for centuries, this noble house and nunnery has been artfully refurbished to marry house and garden in inspired style. On the inside, original features were either restored or recreated by local design studio Ohlab, then paired with art deco and mid-century designs – the Thirties-style headboards and custom-made drinks cabinets are a particular feast for the eye. Outside, the centrepiece courtyard garden and pool is a sanctuary in the heart of the city, screened by fruit-laden orange trees and perfumed by shrubs and flowers. Unwilling to be tamed, the greenery has also crept inside, inspiring the organic menu at restaurant Botànic and running wild in the fairytale lounges, where the ceilings are crossed with creepers and ferns.
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A cocktail each and a gift in the room; for stays of four nights or more, each guest gets a 35-minute back, neck and shoulder massage
Each suite was lavished with attention, ensuring the furnishings highlight the character and quirks of the historic rooms. Some have floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto the courtyard, others have wooden beam ceilings or restored cornicing. If we had to pick, we’d go for one of the impressive Premium Suites. In each, the art deco-style bed can be encircled with a thick velvet curtain, separating the bedroom from an inch-perfect living area and freestanding oval bath tub.
The long, slim pool is in the gardens, and is unusually large for a house in the centre of Palma. There’s a whirlpool off to the the side and sunloungers arranged along a sun deck, some of them shaded by low-hanging branches from the garden’s many trees. The pool water is treated with salt electrolysis, a bit of chemical wizardry that means no extra chlorine needs to be added to the water.
The hotel’s subterranean spa has two treatment cabins, a steam bath, a plunge pool with whirlpool jets and a horizontal shower, in which you lie on a smooth stone surface as water showers down from multiple jets. A range of massages and cosmetic treatments are on offer, the latter using products by luxury skincare brand Swiss Perfection. Fancy a massage in the fresh air? There's also an alfresco treatment area by the pool, framed by billowing curtains that'll (mostly) protect your modesty.
Bring a romantic, fairytale-esque novel to read in the gardens.
All of the public areas – including the rooftop terrace – are wheelchair accessible, and all of the ground floor rooms have specially-adapted bathrooms.
Dogs up to 30kg can stay for €150 a night, which bags them a stay that’s almost as luxurious as yours. The rate includes a daily walk, a deluxe bed, food, a hairdressing appointment, goodnight treat and a contribution to an animal charity. See more pet-friendly hotels in Palma.
All ages are welcome, but the ambience makes it best suited to adults. Babysitting can be arranged from €30 an hour; a day’s notice is needed when booking.
Very – the hotel has a no-plastic policy, is powered by renewable energy, uses eco-friendly cleaning products and even had eco-friendly tissues made. All the hotel’s green credentials can be found on your in-room tablet.
You can’t beat a table on the terrace, which is in a separate area of the gardens.
Let your imagination run as wild as the greenery snaking across the ceiling.
Restaurant Botànic is inspired by the hotel’s verdant garden, which chef Andres Benitez pays tribute to with his preference for organic produce, much of it sourced from local farms. You can sample his creative take on Mallorcan cuisine in three locations – on a terrace in the garden, in the cosy, book-lined library or in the jumanji room, where the ceiling is overrun with creepers and ferns.
The bar is part of Botànic, and serves herbal cocktails, fine Spanish wines and a range of bite-size snacks adapted from the restaurant menu.
The restaurant opens for breakfast at 8am and stays open until 11pm. The bar is open from 8am to midnight.
Can Bordoy is tucked down a quiet backstreet in the heart of Palma’s old quarter.
Palma de Mallorca Airport is a 15-minute drive away. The hotel can organise transfers in a Mercedes S-Class or Range Rover for €65 each way (€110 return).
You’re unlikely to need your own car if you plan on staying in town, but having one would make trips to other coastal towns a breeze.
Worth getting out of bed for
The hotel’s shaded gardens are uncommonly large for a Palma townhouse and are as much of a triumph as any of the rooms. With trees screening the surrounding buildings from view, the pool area feels like a wild sanctuary from the outside world. You couldn’t ask for a better place to sip cocktails or sample organic tapas from Botànic restaurant, itself inspired by the fragrant greenery. In the evening, climb to the roof terrace for panoramic views of the city at sundown, then descend to the spa next morning for a restorative massage or Swiss-inspired facial. Housed in a 14th-century fort overlooking the bay, Es Baluard is home to the city’s largest modern and contemporary art collection, including many works by Balearic artists. The exhibitions include paintings, sculptures and ceramics dating from the late 19th century to present day, and works by Picasso, Giacometti and Gauguin. If you find the walk between the rooms works up an appetite, try the Mercat de l'Olivar, a sprawling indoor market with stalls selling everything from Iberian cold cuts to vegan cereal bars. If you're more hungry for history, go for a wander around the Arab Quarter, where you’ll come face to face with Moorish relics like the Almudaina Palace and the Arab baths. If you’ve got time to go further afield, consider chartering a boat at the harbour and sailing to one of the island’s remoter coasts, or hop on the wood-panelled train to Sóller, which takes a spectacular route through the Sierra de Alfabia mountains. First timers shouldn’t miss the Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma (also known as Le Seu), one of the highest Gothic cathedrals in Europe. Begun in the 13th century and modified by Antoni Gaudí in the 20th, this honey-coloured edifice has long been an emblem of the city, visible to anyone who arrived by sea.
For brunch, try hip coffee shop La Molienda, where the most of the food is made with produce that’s organic and locally sourced. The coffee’s just as good – the beans come from small roasters within Spain, who buy direct from some of the best coffee regions in the world. Buscando el Norte is perfect for a laid-back lunch of tapas and raciones (slightly larger small plates like cod fritters, tuna tartare or a portion of Ibérico ham). The wine list is full of enticing Spanish bottles, most of them under €30. For dinner, try La Rosa Vermutería & Colmado, a stylish eatery with a retro-industrial aesthetic. You can’t book and there’s often a queue to get in, but the quality of the dishes and lively atmosphere make any waiting worthwhile. Cap your meal with a round of vermouth cocktails – the restaurant’s speciality. For a final-night blowout, book a table at Marc Fosh, the Michelin-starred chef’s Palma flagship in fellow Smith stay Convent de la Missió. The dining room is modern and minimalist, but is actually fashioned out of the remains of a 17th-century convent. Go for the signature ‘menu Marc’, a tasting menu that’s market led and Mediterranean in lean. Booking is essential.
After a four-hour flight, an hour-long queue at the airport’s car-rental booth and a less than smooth journey through the unfamiliar streets of Palma, we breathe a sigh of relief as we arrive at what would be our home for the next few days: charming boutique hotel Can Bordoy.
Tucked away on a quiet, narrow street in the heart of Palma’s Old Quarter, you’ll find the hotel hidden within a tranquil plant-filled courtyard that feels like another world. The botanical splendour of the courtyard’s botanical continues throughout the property: lush plants abound and vines draped across the walls and ceilings create an enchanted space. Right away, you feel at home; as if you’re visiting the house of some eccentric relative whose place is filled with quirky ornate objects, along with mismatched chairs and furnishings from antique shops around the world. Adorned with wooden beams, Gothic relics, marble tiling and Baroque mirrors, the hotel is full of character.
Can Bordoy was once a grand 16th-century mansion and, while it has been restored, much of the building’s history is still present. The hotel’s design was inspired by the Japanese art of Kintsugi, the method for mending broken ceramics with gold, silver, or platinum; here, original features are re-introduced and accentuated. That’s what makes Can Bordoy special, its glorious building has been brought back to life with every element that made it unique, such as its wooden doors, blown-glass windows and parquet flooring, all of which have been restored.
We stayed in the Deluxe Suite: a light and airy room adorned with elegant Art Deco-inspired furnishings and dramatic, ceiling-height velvet curtains, in a soothing earth-toned colour palette, to divide the space. I loved the considered details, such as the large round soaking tub, fresh flowers delivered to your room, the TV artfully screened behind the mirror, the luxurious duvet and the extra-large king-sized bed with firmness control – which we could easily have stayed in all day. And then there’s the grand French windows with dark-wood shutters that open up to your own private balcony, which looks out onto the streets of the Old Town. In the evenings, you can hear performers playing music at the square just around the corner. I especially appreciated all the little eco-friendly touches, too, such as the handmade ceramic jars in the bathroom (no pesky plastic shampoo bottles) and the reusable glass decanters on the nightstand.
And now for the pièce de résistance: the hotel’s beautiful private garden with a pool – a rarity in Palma – a peaceful urban sanctuary. Secluded and serene, the garden features over 70 plant species and includes a Lledoner tree, which holds special significance on the island as it’s a symbol of welcome in Mallorcan houses. We’ve found the perfect place to unwind, with plenty of shade, too. Breakfast is served in the garden from the hotel’s restaurant Botànic, whose chef Andrés Benítez focuses on locally sourced organic ingredients. Much of the menu is organic, gluten-free and seasonally inspired. You won’t find your typical bacon, egg and cheese sandwich; think vegan oat and banana pancakes, tortilla abierta (an open omelette with spinach, Iberian ham and tomato), and huevos al plato (shirred eggs with Menorcan cheese, rocket and mushrooms).
Nearly completing Can Bordoy’s impressive offering is the glass-bottomed plunge pool on the sunny roof terrace, with panoramic views over the rooftops of the city’s most historic quarter, including the magnificent Palma Cathedral. And then there’s the spa, with its special relaxation room, which has a steam room, plunge pool with water jets and horizontal shower – yes, a horizontal shower; an absurd contraption which permits showering while lying down; just don’t fall asleep… You can reserve the relaxation room in advance, so you can fully enjoy it on your own without other guests disturbing – many hours were spent here during our stay.
While we had a great time exploring the enchanting island of Mallorca, lazing on the golden beaches, discovering hidden coves and charming villages (Fornalutx, recently voted Spain’s most beautiful village, is a must see), we loved having Can Bordoy as our base – a little haven for us to retreat to after a long day. Not only was the hotel perfectly located for exploring all parts of the island, as most towns are connected by highway to Palma directly, but we loved being able to walk into town for dinner. While there are a few culinary gems spread out on the island, those are few and far between. Palma has a thriving food scene: some of our stay’s most memorable dishes being the prawn Spanish omelette and paella at El Camino, and the grilled octopus at La Rosa Vermutería. So many great little tapas restaurants in this charming little city. And one stand-out hotel.