Hip hospitality group Nobis brought in the big guns for Concepció by Nobis, its first boutique hotel outside Scandinavia. Flying in the aesthetically leading luminaries from Stockholm’s eminent Gert Wingårdhs studio and adding flair from equally lauded Spanish firms, they’ve cleaned up a 16th-century building, once used as a soap factory – restoring its columns and vaulted arches, and dressing it with furnishings emblematic of the best Scandi design. There’s much to evoke Mallorca too, with a palette of hues inspired by the Mediterranean Sea and Tramuntana mountains and tiled floors throughout with clinkers from local heritage brand Huguet. And, a lounge that hives with activity, on-the-DL pool and shareable pintxos add plenty of dish to this fashion plate.
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A welcome drink with some local tapas at Restaurant Xalest or by the pool
12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £137.95 (€162), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €4.00 per person per night on check-out.
Rates usually include the buffet and à la carte breakfast options (including freshly made juices, breads and pastries; Serrano ham and local cheeses; and a choice of hot and cold dishes).
Work may be a million miles from your mind, but if there is that niggling email to deal with, you can plug in and connect under the stone cross-vaults of the lounge at one of the communal tables. And Wingårdhs has crafted the sort of meeting rooms you’d expect from one of Sweden’s top architects. If you’re looking for some Unesco-approved tables for your own home, the ones in your room are from Bosnian woodworkers Zanat.
At the hotel
Lounge, pool terrace, high-speed WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, built-in Bluetooth speakers, minibar, bathrobes and slippers and air-conditioning. Rooms and suites from the Superior up have a coffee machine too.
Our favourite rooms
Each of the rooms bear the hallmark of a Sweden-Mallorca meet-cute, with beautifully executed furnishings (say the Carl Hansen Cuba chairs, woven headboards from Sweden’s oldest furniture maker Gemla Fabrikers, lighting by Denmark’s Le Klint and other name drops), dark-wood beams and sage-and-white ceramic Huguet tiles. However, La Terrazza is the only room in the hotel with a terrace – a shaded one at that, overlooking the pool – which stole our sundowner-loving hearts.
You’re not here to try out for the Olympics, so the heated pool’s lack of space for laps shouldn't concern you; rather, its Roman steps beckon you to wade in and wallow happily for a while (well, from 9am till 7pm). It’s in a sheltered, hidden-away courtyard, surrounded by various candy-striped loungers and overlooked by a sofa-dotted pergola with lush potted plants, which will draw plenty of swim- and shade-seekers. And you can order drinks and nibbly bits to enjoy in the sun.
The petite gym has free weights and spinning machines. And, of course, there’s a sauna – Swedes gotta schwitz.
It’s probably a good thing Palma has few Swedish-furniture stores, because the excess-baggage fees might bankrupt us. But, if you feel the need for something Nordic, you can pick up sweets, beauty products and more from the motherland at the Swedish Shop (9a Carrer del Baró de Santa Maria del Sepulcre).
There are adapted rooms in the Standard and Superior categories for guests with mobility issues and – unusually for a heritage building – a lift too..
Get to know the creative sorts who float in and out of the hotel over tapas plates at a communal table in the restaurant.
Fine and Scandi.
Magnanimity reigns in Restaurant Xalest, where you pile your table with Chef Xema Álvarez’s pintxos, appetisers and entreés, all designed to share. Although, you may get a little territorial when you read the menu: red-prawn croquettes, beef cheek with truffled potato purée, and scrambled eggs with foie gras and Iberian ham are the sort of dishes worth fighting forks off for (but generous paella-style sizzlers will keep the peace). All ingredients are sourced from the island, naturally, and the restaurant’s as stylishly outfitted as the rest of the hotel, with sage and white Huguet floor tiles that look like a crazed chessboard, a vaulted stone roof and large Crittall-style windows.
Through an arched doorway in Xalest, you’ll find the bar and lounge – either stop for a swift apéritif while perched on a stool by the counter, or sink into one of the svelte leather seats or green-velvet Hay sofas in the lounge and swim in the selection of wines from Mallorca and mainland Spain. Or get stuck into something more spirited – we like the elderflower margarita or the mai tai with added mango – as smooth beats play. And, if the situation calls for nine litres of champagne, dip into the ‘on request’ list, which has a Laurent Perrier salmanazar among other rare and novelty-sized wines.
Breakfast is from 8am to 11am, lunch from 1pm to 3.30pm and dinner from 7pm to 11pm. Drinks run at the bar from 12 noon to 11.30pm.
Dine in-room round-the-clock on a refined edit of Restaurant Xalest’s dishes.
Carrer de la Concepció 34
07012 Palma, Illes Ballears, Spain
The hotel sits where the Old Town meets Santa Catalina on namesake street Carrer de la Concepció, just alongside the Torrent of Sa Riera and a short walk from the flower-stall-lined La Rambla.
Palma de Mallorca Airport is just a 20-minute drive away, and flights arrive here direct from all over Europe and beyond. The hotel can arrange transfers on request for 55 one-way.
There’s no parking onsite, but you can leave your wheels at Passeig Mallorca 300 metres away for €23.55 a day.
Take the long, leisurely route over the sea from Barcelona to Palma (around seven hours).
Worth getting out of bed for
Tucked away and for hotel guests (and their guests) only, the pool is serene and secluded, but its deck and pergola promise summertime partying. Follow the Swede’s lead and hit the sauna, or sweat it out in the gym, or forgo the exertion altogether and select one of the covetable designer chairs in the lounge to flop into and quaff down Mallorcan wines. The hotel is in one of the less ‘obvious’ locations in Palma, on a residential street at the cusps of the Old Town and Santa Catalina, where there was once a bustling olive-oil market. It may be gone, but you can pick up Mallorcan delicacies at deli El Paladar down the road. To hit a rich shopping vein, head east to La Rambla – one of the main thoroughfares in Palma, which is often lined with flower stalls – follow it down and you’ll come to Avenida de Jaume III and Passeig del Born, both of which are lined with boutiques both designer and high-street. Pick up pieces from the likes of Michael Kors, Desigual and Carolina Herrera or get a little of everything at El Corte Inglés department store. After, stroll north to Plaça Major and on to Mercat de l’Olivar to pick up more charcuterie, cheeses and snacks. For a more cultured stroll around the city, follow the Torrent of Sa Riera down to the shore, stopping off at ABA Art Lab and Es Baluard Contemporary Art Museum to see the island’s modern-art stars. Walk along the shore, admiring the ritzy yachts in the harbour, and up towards the Old Town, to see the cavernous, ornate interior of the Catedral-Basílica de Santa María de Mallorca and the Royal Palace of La Almudaina, which is still the residence of the royal family. Then stop by the Arab Baths to see the tropical plants and unique ruins. Santa Catalina, to the west of the hotel, is Palma’s hottest ’hood, whose colourful casas and buzzy bars make it pleasant for lazy strolling. Stop into the city’s oldest market, Mercat de Santa Catalina, for small bites, glasses of sake and cartons of fresh handmade pasta. Then explore its vintage boutiques and pause at one of the many wine and cocktail bars. Palma’s more for culture vultures than beach bunnies (nearest stretch of sand Platja de Ca’n Pere Antoni tends to get crowded), but those desperately seeking sunbathing can hop in a taxi to Portitxol, a former fishing village that happens to have some peaceful golden sands, too.
Of the many Michelin-starred eateries in Palma, Adrian Quetglas stands out for his five- and seven-course tasting menus, that veer into the fantastical with dishes such as orzo with plankton and candied cococha (a Basque fish stew), veal with beet caviar and praline, and chocolate garam masala with black sesame and cassis. Fera knocks down flavour borders to bring together tastes from Asia and the Med in delicious ways. Try cherry gazpacho, lobster and caviar royale with ponzu and mango, and Thai carrot gnocchi with lemongrass and coconut. Or indulge in the spoils of the sea at Ca n'Eduardo, which has sweeping views across the harbour to the Cathedral (3 Carrer Contramuelle Mollet).
Bar Bosch is a long-reigning icon of Palma’s café culture – it opened in 1936 and still pulls in the punters, largely for its huge, generously filled langosta sandwiches.
Chapeau 1987 is a sultry sort, with its dark-wood booths, ornate ceiling and low lighting. It trades in fine cocktails and worldly whiskies, and the menu is designed to educate and involve you in the drink-building process. Purobeach Palma is a little out of town, but worth the trek for its coastal panorama and chill-out terrace and rooftop bar.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this hotel of high design and historic significance in between Palma’s Old Town and lively Santa Catalina neighbourhood, and unpacked their pair of hand-cobbled Carmina brogues and prandial goodies from the Mercat de l’Olivar, a full account of their Spain by way of Stockholm break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Concepció by Nobis in Mallorca…
When even the bedside tables in your room have a Unesco designation for the carving technique their Bosnian woodworkers used, you know you’re in the presence of immense design pedigree. Indeed, you are: not only has Concepció by Nobis been brought to you by the Scandi hospitality group with a great eye (see Blique by Nobis and Nobis Hotel Copenhagen), but it’s been styled by the studio of one of Sweden’s legendary architectural aestheticians, Gert Wingårdh, and equally lauded Spanish firms Jordi Herrero Arquitectos and Eduardo Garcia Acuña Arquitectos. But design greatness doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and their vessel for exquisitely curated furnishings by Artek, B&B Italia, Hay, Örsjö, Flos, OX Denmarq – plus headboards from Gemla Fabrikers, Sweden’s oldest furniture makers) – is a handsome 16th-century building that was once a soap factory, on a street that once ran with liquid gold (olive oil, at the local market, that is). And, it’s scrubbed up very nicely indeed, with its original columns and stone cross-vaults lovingly restored, ceiling beams painted dramatically in black to match the new steel-framed windows and the curlicue balusters of its staircase made grand once again. There’s a striking sensitivity to the setting here, with the respectful restoration and colours that evoke the Mediterranean Sea and Tramuntana mountains, most notably in the handmade ceramic tiles (a collaboration between Wingårdhs and Mallorcan heritage firm Huguet) in white and the green of mountain scrub and Palma’s signature shutters. And even if you don’t know your Artek from your elbow, there’s plenty to get excited about: a hidden-away pool with a come-and-hang feel, a lounge that attracts the most interesting of individuals and on-point pintxos to share in Restaurant Xalest.