Boutique hotel Convent de la Missió in Palma is a mix of stone walls, clean lines and modern art: the one-time nunnery now has a rooftop terrace and pool and the Michelin-starred Marc Fosh restaurant. What would the sisters think?
Get this when you book through us:
A welcome bottle of wine or cava in the room on arrival. GoldSmiths get one cocktail each too
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £272.13 (€300), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €4.40 per person per night on check-out.
Rates usually include buffet breakfast.
There’s an honesty bar by the terrace, right next to the gym.
At the hotel
Gym, sauna, jacuzzi, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: minibars with free bottled water, L'Occitane bath products, Nespresso machines in Double Deluxe, Junior Suites and Suites, and a free minibar in the Luxury Suites.
Our favourite rooms
The spacious Junior Suites look out over Old Town Palma (ask for the suite at the end of the corridor for the widest-angle views) and soakers will love the freestanding bath in each bedroom. If you’d like your own roof terrace, spring for the Luxury Suite, complete with Turkish bath and a lounge-worthy day-bed.
You’ll find an unheated swimming pool surrounded by sun loungers up on the rooftop terrace; soak up the sunshine and views of the cathedral and Castell de Bellver as you sip cocktails. In the indoor wellness area, the heated adults-only pool with water beds is perfect for post-sauna session relaxation.
Bring your most photogenic sun hat and elegant swimwear for rooftop poolside lounging.
The reception area, bar and restaurant are fully wheelchair accessible, as is one guest room.
Little Smiths are welcome, but not catered to; the hotel is best suited to over-13s.
The restaurant is fairly spread out, with three separate dining spaces. If you like a little sunshine with your meal, snag a table in the courtyard by the waterfall.
Keep it casual and breezy at breakfast and lunch in stylish cover-ups, sundresses and shorts. Turn up to dinner in something with a dash of holiday glamour; Mr Smith should opt for trousers over shorts.
Helmed by Marc Fosh and Luigi Acopio, Michelin-starred Marc Fosh is all about internationally-inspired and elaborate Mediterranean dishes. The menu changes weekly, so try to sample as many mouth-watering morsels as is humanly possible before they’re gone.
Decorated by local artists, aptly named Art Bar shakes up signature cocktails along with all the classics. The neutral-toned and high-ceilinged space has splashes of colour: there’s a multi-coloured glass piece above the bar, Katrin Kirk jellyfish sculptures and a driftwood wall installation. Claim one of the cushy sofas and order a gin-based Capritx de Menorca to wind down after a sun-filled day.
Enjoy leisurely breakfasts from 8am to 11am, lounging lunches from 1pm to 3.15pm and candle-lit dinners from 7pm to 10pm. The bar pours all manner of beverages from noon to midnight.
Order from March Fosh straight to your room, or root through the minibar for drinks, chocolates and salty snacks.
You’ll find the hotel on a side street in the Casco Antiguo; its neighbours include a church, private homes and boutiques.
Palma Airport is eight kilometres away; arrange hotel transfers for up to four people for €44 per car each way.
If you’ve hired wheels to explore the island, onsite valet parking is available for €20 a day.
Worth getting out of bed for
Convent de la Missió’s Old Town setting means that it’s only a short stroll to the flower-stall-filled avenue of Las Ramblas, which leads to Plaza Mayor and all of its restaurants and cafés. Santa Eulalia church and the town hall square are close by, as are popular shopping streets including Calle San Miguel, Jaime II, Colon and Calle Sindicato. Visit sister hotel Can Simoneta, which is near some of Mallorca’s most peaceful beaches, for private access to the sea. For serious pampering sessions in a soulful spa, visit sister stays Font Santa Hotel and Hotel Pleta de Mar.
For pinxtos and tapas, try trendy Buscando el Norte (77 Calle San Miguel) or Gaudeix (2 Calle Can Sales); sit outside at the latter. Mosaic-floored Ombu (7 Paseo de Born) serves their tapas on the modern side, with a touch of quirky presentation. Claxon (9 Calle 31 de Diciembre) has a diminutive menu that rotates weekly. Past items have included hummus starters, gnochhi first plates and Asian-inspired mains; everything is exceptionally well done. At Duke Restaurant (36 Calle Soler) you’ll find fresh and healthy fare with Asian, Mediterranean and South American influences; don’t skip the ceviche.
At bohemian Cafe Antiquari (5 Carrer Arabi), you’ll find quirky mismatched tables and chairs, scattered objects d'art, live music and a classic tapas menu. Both biblio- and oenophiles can get their fix at book-lined La Biblioteca de Babel (3 Carrer Arabí).
At on-trend Ginbo (14A Passeig de Mallorca) cocktail and gin bar, apron-clad barmen specialise in shaking up juniper-laced beverages. For panoramic Palma views, classic cocktails, and beats to snap your fingers to, head to Blue Jazz Club Saratoga (6 Paseo Mallorca).
‘It’s Liam Neeson!’ yells my fellow Smith in a shriek a few decibels higher than a church whisper. The name of the Love Actually actor bounces sacrilegiously through the vaults and skywards into the echo chamber of Palma Cathedral’s stained-glass-painted ceiling – then onwards to the heavens, where God scowls.
‘NEESON, NEESON, Neeson, Neeson’ the walls chant back as tourists stare. But, well – this Jesus statue does bear an uncanny resemblance to Qui-Gon Jinn. Earlier we’d compared a curious reliquary to a sex toy, so by now the Cathedral’s staff watch us as keenly as Liam Neeson in The Grey. Yes, we’re on the Gran Via to Hell, but luckily, we’ve found sanctuary in boutique hotel Convent de la Missió, a former training school for missionaries built in the 17th century – just the place to set us holidaying hoodlums straight.
However, while the hotel is heavenly – it’s whiter than an angel’s laundry throughout, and the beds are indeed cloud-like – the Convent’s no longer as saintly as it once was. The crypt now houses a bijou spa, and the vaults ring not with matins, but the clinking of prosecco flutes in Michelin-recognised chef Marc Fosh’s excellent eatery. This is where you stay when you finally admit you’ve grown out of Balearic bangers; when you want perfectly-pinked beef rabid with fruity foam and desserts assembled like a Josef Albers print; a glass that lets your red breathe, rather than a nuclear reactor-resembling pitcher.
We’re dropped at the Convent’s door by a mullet-rocking taxi driver, for whom the Nineties didn’t really happen, and immediately I’m concerned about blowing our cover. We’ve arrived in winter, shops no longer stock bikinis (we later discover when I realise I do need one after all), and mating season is over for the ‘living it large’ Magaluf-ers. I reach for a reason as to why two Smiths would arrive on a random weekend in nippy December (if not to conduct a sleuth-review), when the manager hands me a form to fill in – it’s in German, as is my welcome letter, and the language setting on our room’s flatscreen. So, I guess I’m Teutonic then. ‘Danke,’ I say, ever the pro. Our room is a beamed, bright-white space with a huge, open-plan bathroom – I don’t know the German for ‘excellent’, so I just smile and nod.
All of the hotel’s staff are cosseting – smiley, ready to scrawl on a foldable map at any given moment – but half-Scot, half-Palmesano Daniel has the patience of one of the Convent’s former residents. He becomes our carer and confidante. He lends us a laptop so we can watch Netflix, he changes the language on our TV to English when we can’t get Netflix to work, and then he gamely paps us when we give up on TV altogether, hit a local cocktail bar and return much later, now holding unicorn balloons, and demand a photoshoot. Dear Daniel, the heroic Mr Smith to two Miss Smiths.
So, what do two young, hip – apparently German – Smiths get up to in dead-of-winter Palma? The city’s surprisingly eventful in low season; we thrill at the unfamiliar sensation of warmth by the seafront, marvel at Gaudi’s ethereal designs on the Cathedral, and hang out in the bougainvillea-scented Moorish gardens – one of the city’s oldest quarters. Before sundown, we climb to the roof on Puro Hotel where a day-bed and cocktails await – it’s the best celibate honeymoon ever. We also eat, a great deal: charcuterie, crêpes and waffles slathered in ice-cream, tubs stuffed with ice-cream, hip eatery Ombu’s oysters with ponzu sauce, wasabi-spiked fatty tuna served in mini ice-cream cones, ice-cream for dessert… Later, we chase our cocktails with cups of sinfully thick, rich hot-chocolate. On a sugar high, we waddle home singing, at some point acquiring balloons. Yet another failed attempt at saintliness.
Back at Convent, we’re told the basement spa can be booked exclusively, which we arrange immediately for the next day. Having failed to pack or buy bikinis, and with the reassurance that other guests won’t burst through the door to find us in our altogether, we hit the sauna, pool and sloshy waterbeds in our pants – it’s what the nuns would have wanted. It’s bliss, and feels very luxurious to have the place all to ourselves, so much so that we book a second session before check-out and come prepared with face-masks and various potions.
Before we leave we seek out souvenirs; Palma’s high-end boutiques have a glossy, ‘you can’t afford this’ air about them, so we stick with trusty Zara, H&M and C&A – which is still a thing here. My friend has a magpie’s lust for anything that glints gold in the shop windows along Avenida de Jaume III, which all look Midas-fondled – well, the harbour is filled with superyachts, some with helicopters perched on top. But, perhaps the Convent has had a redemptive effect: all we return with is a pair of slippers each, which aren’t even gold… So humble.
As we leave the hotel, a cab pulls up with another delightfully be-mulleted driver. We wave a sad goodbye to the off-season sun, my German heritage and our faithful servant Daniel. But, our pious digs have renewed our belief in the power of prayer: oh Liam Neeson, who art in Taken, hallowed be thy name, and please, let us come back to Mallorca again sometime soon. Amen