Hospes Maricel & Spa is a converted 16th-century mansion set right on the water’s edge with a bar overlooking the Med, an enticing restaurant and a spa area set in the caves by the waves. Within the hotel’s sandy-toned stones, you won’t hear a peep from Palma, though it’s just five minutes away.
Get this when you book through us:
Pastries and a cocktail each. Summer stays (of five nights) in suites get three hours of spa access and a cava cocktail (in winter a free dessert)
Double rooms from £290.86 (€335), 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.
This hotel is made up of two buildings: the original mansion and a beautifully designed new building with additional rooms and a spa just across the road from Hospes Maricel & Spa, accessed by an underground walkway which takes you from sea-views to mountains.
Please note: Maricel restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays from November until March.
At the hotel
As well as the Bodyna Spa & Wellness centre, there are unique treatment rooms in the caves by the Med. There's a gym, free WiFi throughout (except in pool areas), DVD and CD library. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, minibar, free bottled water.
Our favourite rooms
Traditionalists will like the Deluxe Double Rooms, which each have a private terrace and plunge pool, enticing king-size bed and sea view. Decor is inspired by the distinctive honey-hued stone terraces from the north of the island. If you’re feeling extravagant, book the palatial Terrace Suite and wake up to views of the mountains and the Med.
If you prefer your water unsalted, stick to the hotel’s two adults-only pools: the indoor-to-outdoor heated pool at the Spa Bodyna Maricel, or the outdoor unheated pool by the main building.
Rough stone walls, relaxation beds facing out to sea from a vaulted corridor, and sleek wood and glass accents: Bodyna Spa is a delightfully unique pampering space. A fleet of white-clad therapists pummel, anoint and scrub guests – in relaxing fashion – in five treatment rooms, including a couples room and a suite. There's also an indoor-outdoor pool, hammam, Jacuzzi and sauna, and a garden to take a post-treatment snooze in. There's a fitness room for gym bunnies, and a hairdresser so you'll leave perfectly coiffed.
Glamorous swimwear and giant sunhat for see-and-be-seen Med-view pool lounging; snorkelling kit for admiring Mallorca's spectacular marine scene.
Don't expect much from the touristy surroundings: this is a hotel to hole up in for the weekend, or to use a base for escaping into Palma.
Welcome in low season, but children aged 2–12 aren't allowed from 1 May until 31 October. Cots are provided free, extra beds cost €100 including tax, and there's a babysitting service (book two days ahead). Under-16s are not allowed in the spa.
In summer, the seats on the edge of the terrace are snapped up like hot tortillas. In winter, everyone wants the romantic tables by the window, which have magnificent panoramas over the Med.
Suitably sharp to match the designer furniture: don't be afraid to break out your Balenciaga or Blahnik numbers for a bit of posing. Tight waistbands not advisable.
Maricel Restaurant is a sleek, pared-down space, which lets its dazzling seascapes and award-winning innovative contemporary cuisine do all the talking. The muted beige and cream decor, awash with white linen, comes with accents of blue-white sky and green-blue waves. Dedicate a few hours to breakfast here – the tasting menu spans eight courses and changes frequently. Expect a rainbow-range of sweet pastries, juices and milkshakes or chocolate with spices, sweet and salty butters, aromatic breads, yogurts with compotes, chocolates and creams (never too early), fruit and vegetables and a shot glass of onion and tomato with quail’s egg. No wonder it was named ‘Best Breakfast in the World’ at the culinary conference, Madrid Fusion. Just in case you were worried Hospes Maricel & Spa was a one-meal pony, dinner includes treats such as boneless glazed suckling pig with crispy skin and vanilla oil and a dessert of frothed Baileys with chocolate.
Maricel Lounge & Cocktail Bar is an extension of the lobby and shares its cool, calm and modern design. A soundtrack of chilled house provides an unobtrusive background, although if you head here on a Thursday, you’ll find jazz cats mixing things up with live sets. Don’t leave without trying the Moon Light, a naughty muddle of raspberry vodka, dark and white chocolate, Baileys and cream. There’s also the Maricel Pool Bar to help quench your thirst between dips.
During the summer, the restaurant serves breakfast 8am–11am, lunch at 1pm–4pm, dinner at 8pm–11pm, with the bar open from noon to midnight during the week and until 2am at weekends. In winter, lunch and dinner end half an hour earlier.
The full restaurant menu is available during opening hours, or opt for salads, snacks and sandwiches round the clock.
Fly with British Airways (www.ba.com), EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) or Monarch Airlines (www.monarch.co.uk) to Palma de Mallorca Airport (also known as Son Sant Joan) which is a 20-minute drive from the hotel.
The hotel is a six-minute drive from Central station, but road travel seems to be the most usual option in this area; buses run regularly to the nearest town, Palma de Mallorca, and cost about €1 for a single ticket.
Parking is available at the hotel for €12.50 a day. Hire a car at Palma Airport, or else make use of the hotel’s car rental desk. The hotel is a short drive from the MA-1, which takes you east to the airport.
There’s a landing pad for your helicopter, if you have one, and on a less aerial scale, the hotel offers its guests the use of an eco-friendly Segway (www.segway.com), as well as eco-cars.
Worth getting out of bed for
Put aside some pampering time to be pummelled, steamed and stroked in the spectacular Bodyna spa. With nearby Palma just five minutes’ drive away, you’ve no excuse for dawdling beneath the duvet. Gaze up at the Gothic majesty of the cathedral, wander the shop-lined labyrinth of alleyways, and head to the coast to spy super yachts and chill out by the shore.
For espressos in the shade, stop off at Ca'n Joan de S'Aigo on Carrer de Can Sanç (+34 971 710 759) – reportedly Palma's oldest cafe, dating from 1700. For a meal with added romance, dine at the Smith-approved Ca’s Xorc (+34 971 638280) under the candlelit olive trees. Fancy a bit of beachside dining? Make your way to Es Moli de’n Bou (+34 971 569663) in Sa Coma.
We pull up to the magnificent converted palacio that houses this chic layer-cake hotel and breathe a sigh. Once through the doors into the minimalist lobby, we can barely remember being a little bemused on our trip here from the airport. The view alone from Hospes Maricel & Spa is enough to go to your head. Cunningly designed to guide you seamlessly through to a series of pool-studded terraces overlooking the sea, this designer retreat makes this Mediterranean destination as alluring as the Balearic gets.
If given truth serum, I'd have to confess that the drive from Palma airport had not inspired confidence. The area surrounding the hotel is far from Magaluf, but it’s not exactly plush Portals Nous. Located in the hinterland of Calvia, west of Palma proper, Hospes is flanked by lacklustre apartment blocks, bars and restaurants. What a contrast: Maricel’s own eatery and spa couldn’t be more inspired. And the sea beyond is a shade of turquoise blue that I thought only Photoshop chicanery known only to a secret inner circle of holiday brochure designers and postcard vendors could achieve.
As we watch our bags disappear from the sleek reception area-cum-cocktail lounge, we stroll through to the alfresco bar. Peripheral vision gives us the chance to take in our surroundings – a combination of beautiful historic architecture and swish leather and wooden contemporary furniture. It’s a striking contrast to the stately 16th-century exterior. ‘Oh…’ is all Mrs Smith can manage as she drags her jaw along the marble-tiled floors. Or perhaps it was ‘Oooh’. I can’t quite be sure as I’m too busy admiring that view again.
Wild parties are said to have taken place here in the Sixties, when it was either a private house, or a disco, depending on who you listen to. It seems it was a bit of both. It’s certainly the sort of place you can imagine befitting high society hijinx. Bianca Jagger riding in on a white horse would fit in perfectly. Or the Spanish equivalent of John Profumo cavorting in the pool with a Continental Christine Keeler.
Did I mention the view? As a waiter brings us glasses of something suitably sparkling, its tempting to just run down the steps to the infinity pool, throw clothes off in our wake before dive-bombing, Peter Kay style, into the briny. But Hospes Maricel & Spa nowadays is a civilised affair. We politely sip our cava, soak up yet more of that vista, before tearing ourselves away to our room.
We are staying not in the main historical building, but in the slick recently added newbuild extension across the road. Make that under the road, since the new wing is accessed via a tunnel cunningly created to shield guests from the main drag above. The walls look strangely familiar. Not so much because they are constructed using an age-old drywall technique seen across the countryside of the Balearic islands since the 13th century. But, according to Mrs Smith, because they are just like the walls on the terrace at Space in Ibiza – such is her in-depth knowledge of the ancient Moorish architectural vernacular.
The ground floor of the wing housing our room is pin-drop quiet. One man’s Zen-like calm is another’s zero-atmosphere, but since this is also the entrance that leads you to the spa above, it seems suitably soothing. We are later told this part of the hotel has been earmarked for a Japanese restaurant. And those drystone walls are doing a cracking job of soundproofing – no bad thing since the road above is soundtracked by the moped-whine that is every bit as evocative of the Med as chirruping cicadas or Café del Mar compilations.
The trademark clay-coloured walls continue as a design feature in the bedrooms. Ours has an open-plan layout with an enormous glass-screen-shielded egg-shaped bath on one side, a sumptuous white bed on the other. Beyond that, sliding doors lead to a terrace with a black-tiled plunge pool, shaded from the sun by slatted screens. And – guess what – more of those stunning Med views. ‘Mmm,’ Mrs Smith sighs expressively.
A quick cocktail on the terrace, followed by some tapas down the road complies with a book we find by the bed, called ‘Sleeping, Dreaming and Resting’. The Spanish take their sleep seriously – this was the culture that invented the siesta after all. And Hospes take it more seriously than most. ‘The Sueños Project’ – sueños meaning, poetically, both sleeping and dreaming in Spanish – was put together in cahoots with a leading Spanish medical institute to offer guidance on getting the perfect night’s rest. It advises against heavy food before bedtime. We are saving our appetites anyway, as we’ve heard that breakfast at Hospes is emphatically the most important meal of the day.
It’s nine courses. Yes, you read that right. This gourmet tasting breakfast menu could take up most of your day. We don’t take notes – we’re back on the terrace, still gawping at the view – but we will forever recall a seemingless endless parade of dishes. Shot glasses carrying espumas of this, and spoons of escabeches of that. There are quenelles and quails’ eggs, biscuits and brioche, juices and jamon. Mrs Smith counts five different types of butter. The Madrid Fusion Gastronomic Summit called it the ‘best breakfast in the world’. Who are we to argue? This is certainly fine dining, just earlier in the day than usual.
Mrs Smith has an appointment booked in the Bodyna Spa so we head back to the room. Before the construction of the new spa wing, a series of caves built into the cliffs beneath the main house offered treatments. You can still have massages there. There’s nothing like pampering your inner troglodyte to the sound of crashing waves.
Left to my devices, while she heads to the spa's swimming pool, sauna, steam baths and solarium, I turn on the TV for the first time in days, and tune into Sky Sports. Manchester United has sold Ronaldo to Real Madrid for £80m. I consider sending his agent an email. Well, if he is looking for somewhere glamorous to preen around a pool and polish off his mahogany tan for the rest of the summer, I think I know a place that might just fit the bill.