Montesol Experimental already secured its place in the history books as the first of its kind in Ibiza – and the pages of its storied life keep flipping, as the Experimental group of cocktail connoisseurs (turned empire of stays, restaurants and bars) take over to transform it. With a covetable seat by a main leafy square in Dalt Vila and a phenomenal reputation for Med elegance secured, they’ve brought their madcap cocktail concoctions to the roof terrace (with its best-in-island views), roped a chef with a passion for decadent Israeli cuisine into Café Montesol’s kitchen and modernised the art deco rooms. At heart, it’s still the stay where Orson Welles and Princess Caroline of Monaco checked in for some genteel respite, but with the hyped-up pulse of an Ibiza club kid when the beat drops.
Double rooms from £157.50 (€179), 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 don’t usually include the hotel’s Continental buffet breakfast (€25 a person).
The property is a bonafide Unesco Property of Cultural Interest, due to its unique heritage. As such, its cheery sunshine-hued façade is protected.
At the hotel
Roof terrace, laundry, free WiFi. In rooms: 55-inch HD TV with streaming services, Bluetooth radio, minibar with Experimental cocktails and cocktail-making kit, espresso machine, free drink on arrival, workspace, newspapers on request, bathrobes, slippers, air-conditioning and Hierbas de Ibiza bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Turns out, rooms look good at all angles when they’ve embraced art deco style. The hotel’s – whisper it – had a little work done, but it’s by top Spanish designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán, who’s built on excellent bones with seamless touch-ups. He’s leaned into deco’s luxe feel with rich wood finishes (we especially like the dark parquet flooring), brass accents and high-thread-count linens, with frosted-glass portholes into the bathrooms adding a vintage cruise-liner feel. You needn’t be on the top floor to enjoy sublime views over the old town and leafy Paseo de Vara de Rey: the Premiere Rooms on the first floor benefit from both space, large arched windows and a serene panorama. Experimental minibars are more exciting than your usual, but if you really want to show off your bottle-slinging skills, book the Suite, which has a full mirrored bar.
There’s no spa on-site, but the hotel has partnered with a spa in town.
Bring a mix of vintage and bang-on-trend threads to fit in with the hotel’s time-hopping style.
Public areas and rooms are both accessible, plus there are specially adapted rooms and lifts to all floors.
Children can stay and the twin rooms are ideal for tweens and teens; however, the spirited goings-on in the evenings and the Experimental group’s rep for chic carousing make it better suited for those of drinking age.
The farm-to-table restaurant offers vegan and vegetarian options, and the hotel selects its suppliers based on their commitments to sustainability (local hires are also prioritised). Eco-labelled cleaning products are used, water and energy consumption are regularly monitored and a waste management programme is in place.
We’re taken with the little private-dining ‘cave’, which has miniature moons carved into the entrance and an under-the-sea feel, with shell sconces and walls encrusted with colourful shells, starfish and such.
Uniquely Ibizan, the Adlib style advocates freeing bohemian clothing – embrace it as you would your loved one.
Café Montesol was a legendary figure on Ibiza’s gastronomic scene, where diners would surreptitiously celeb-spot from behind their menus and a jazz soundtrack would accompany gossipy catch-ups. But, Experimental have bowed to changing tastes with Sabbaba, a Med-Israeli restaurant headed up by chef Tomer Amedi, intended as a companion to the group’s Parisian-by-way-of-the-Levant eatery Balagan in Paris. The name translates to ‘no worries’, ‘it’s all good’ and ‘awesome’, which sums up the general easy-going ambience. Deco detailing remains in the intricate floor tiles, but mermaid-style, pearlescent-blue tiles on pillars, a Seventies-style long bar with rattan seating and a private ‘undersea’ cave to dine in make this a space with its own distinctive personality. It serves up delicious mezze plates, theatrical cooking from the open kitchen and fresh grills from the robata – plus punny names. Try the 'duck me twice on a Sunday' with duck, kohlrabi cream, harissa and Moroccan five-spice; or perhaps the lobster with preserved orange and almond butter, or the lamb-chop lollipop with mango-amba honey. The breakfast à la carte has some flavourful picks too, with green shakshuka, sweet croissants with quince paste and avo on toast with dukkah, tahini and a poached egg.
Head to the hotel’s roof terrace to admire the neck-craning panorama of the mediaeval old town, marina and Paseo de Vara de Rey – it’s especially romantic after dark. The Experimental group started out shaking up exciting drinks in its Paris bar and it has gained a reputation for sourcing local and niche spirits, using the freshest fixings and concocting its own bitters, tinctures and such. So, expect the unexpected. Plus, there’s a lengthy list of Mediterranean wines.
Breakfast is from 7.30am, lunch from 12.30pm and dinner from 7pm, but things wrap up at a late, late 3am. Take drinks on the terrace from 7pm onwards.
Step off the Port d’Eivissa and – ta-dah! – there’s Montesol Experimental. It’s on the north-east corner of grand green square and picturesque meeting point Paseo de Vara de Rey, within the walls of Dalt Vila.
Ibiza Airport is just 15 minutes away by car, and flights arrive here direct from major cities in Europe. The hotel can arrange transfers on request.
You could ditch the wheels if you’re spending most of your time in the cosmopolitan, hard-clubbing capital. But, for exploring pockets of peaceful calas, stretches of salt flats and historic towns and villages beyond the city limits, it’s worth hitting the road. Pick up a set of wheels at the airport or port.
You can catch a ferry from Barcelona, Valencia or Denia on the mainland and Palma in Mallorca to Ibiza. Baleària offers the widest selection of routes.
Worth getting out of bed for
Set between the Port d’Eivissa and the capital’s liveliest plaza, the hotel is the ideal jumping-off point for Balearic adventures. First roam the old town Dalt Vila – a fortified citadel spread over a mountain, threaded through with narrow and cobbled lanes. It was first founded by the Phoenicians, but has notable landmarks from various eras, say the Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Snows or Castell d'Eivissa, which sits at the tippy-top of the town and has spectacular views from its ramparts.
For a more dramatic ascent, start at the hefty entryway Portal de Ses Taules, which is flanked by Roman statues. The town’s charms may be largely historic, but it’s modern minded too, with the Museu d'Art Contemporani d'Eivissa, dramatic alfresco screenings (with bean-bag chairs and the walls as a backdrop) at Cinema Paradiso, and just outside, the Museu Casa Broner, an iconic Modernist house built by German artist Erwin Broner. Plus there are plenty of plazas for lazy coffees, gossipy cocktail catch-ups and just a spot of people-watching. Leave a day aside for a trip to petite isle Formentera, an extremely upmarket beachy retreat where development is restricted, sands are golden and the bars are filled with model-beautiful sorts. Add some sparkle to your trip with an Ibiza Delivers private transfer, where you’ll have a Perrier-Jouët bar onboard.
Beach-seekers will need to venture to another corner of the island to catch some rays, but – as luck would have it – the Experimental Group has a sublime beach club on the south coast (about a 20-minute drive away). You’ll pass the Ses Salines salt flats along the way, and once you’re there, you can chill out on the sun deck with something potent: perhaps the Penicilina (tequila and mezcal with agave syrup, ginger cordial and lime) that’s as healing as its name suggests.
The Experimental group puts as much thought and innovation into food as it does its drinks, so a stop in the hotel restaurant is very much advised. But should you wish to explore the town’s culinary hits, then there’s plenty to tuck into nearby. For dress-up dinners, try La Gaia by Óscar Molina. Billed as Mediterranean kaiseki, and served in a dining room with octopi and such painted on the walls, it’s not a meal to be restrained to three courses. Indeed, the chef’s ebullience courses through two tasting menus with the likes of oysters with Peruvian chilli and tobiko roe, lobster with vanilla and Ibizan flowers with lemon verbena and apple for dessert. And, for a night of feeding each other and lingering gazes, head to La Torreta, which is set in a vaulted stone dining room in the old town and serves scallops with ginger panna cotta, cod with tomato marmalade and wasabi aioli, and other flavourful dishes.
Flump into a bean bag on a picturesque staircase in the old town at S'Escalinata Eivissa (10 Carrer Portal Nou), where you can fill up on generously filled bocatas before downing a few mezcal mules. Or, sip a Spanish take on the porn star and mai tais in the sun at Tirapallá.
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 pioneering hotel in Dalt Vila and unpacked their floaty daywear and glow-under-a-blacklight nightwear, a full account of their mostly sophisticated getaway will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Montesol Experimental? by the capital’s marina…
It’s hard to believe there was a time when beloved holiday hotspot Ibiza didn’t have a place for hedonistic revellers to snooze in after danced-away nights, but this was the case until 1933, when the island’s first hideaway Montesol Experimental opened its doors. With art deco styling, an expansive roof terrace with all-around views of the old town, marina and leafy promenading spot Paseo de Vara de Rey – plus elegant Café Montesol – it started at the top of its game and stayed there when the competition rolled in. It spent a few brief forays as a military barracks during the Spanish Civil War and World War II (lucky soldiers), but largely it was a magnet for celebs, royals (Orson Welles, Princess Caroline of Monaco and Pink Floyd are among the most notable) and guests with similar aspirations to spend genteel breaks, exploring the capital’s café culture, wine bars and historical intrigues with sojourns into the undeveloped countryside.
And now, this Unesco Property of Cultural Interest has been taken over by the super-cool French Experimental group – the empire of chic hideaways, beach clubs, restaurants and bars that sprang from the Parisian cocktail club. So, you may see a few more sleepyhead club kids at breakfast. The balcony-studded, lemon-hued, neo-colonial façade and chatter from tables spilling out onto the terrace remains much the same, but now the rooftop will ring with live music as you work your way through a sure-to-be-iconic cocktail list, and the downstairs restaurant – remade over by group designer Dorothée Meilichzon – will serve Med-Israeli cuisine from the noted chef behind London’s Palomar and Paris’s Balagan. You can still step back in time in the rooms and suites, where Spanish designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán has restored rooms to their deco decadence in dark woods and luxe finishes, but with further updates planned, this is a stay that keeps innovating while remaining an important Ibizan landmark.