Nakar Hotel’s name means ‘mother of pearl’; while this family-run boutique stay on Mallorca’s shop-lined Avenida Jaume III is subtle and modern in style rather than rainbow shimmery, it’s certainly eye-catching. Its rooftop pool has captivating city views and a DJ-spun soundtrack, its subterranean spa is seductively low-lit and guests are treated to the rooms of tomorrow, which are kitted-out with clever-clogs TVs – engineered to make friends with your iGizmos – super-speedy WiFi and ambient lighting. Some have private hot tubs too for a secret, bubbly soak high above Palma’s buzzy boulevards.
Double rooms from £171.33 (€190), 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 a Continental breakfast buffet with pastries, fresh fruit, yoghurts, cereals, juices, eggs served any way and a range of hot dishes.
Get a taste of the hotel’s DJs tunes before you check-in - check out his chilled playlists on the hotel’s website. Those who mourn for the bygone days of mints on hotel pillows will be thrilled to find a fortune cookie instead – crack it open and hope that it predicts a return trip.
At the hotel
Spa, roof terrace, free super-speedy WiFi throughout. In rooms: 40–55” Smart TV with on-demand movies, a concierge service and the ability to interact with your iPhone or iPad; USB hubs; Nespresso coffee-maker; light-up laptop safe with a built-in battery charger; mood lighting; minibar; free bottled water; air-conditioning; Molton Brown bath products. Five Deluxe rooms have a little terrace with a private Jacuzzi.
Our favourite rooms
There’s something deliciously cheeky about bubbling away in an utterly private Jacuzzi while listening to Palma’s hubbub carry on below; book a Deluxe Room with a Patio and Jacuzzi for a satisfying soak. The Suite with Bath Tub is spacious and serene, even though it faces Palma’s busiest street. There’s a balcony for watching the boulevard and a romantic freestanding tub just steps from the bed.
The unheated, 12-metre rooftop pool is a rectangle of cool, blue-sky-reflecting water beckoning you to dive in – from the infinity edge you can gaze at Palma’s red rooftops, the Cathedral, Bellver Castle, and the port and bay beyond. From late afternoon to even later in the evening, a resident DJ spins chilled-out tunes for prone sunbathers on the wooden deck; iced cocktails can be summoned from the top-floor bar close by. Guests have exclusive access to a secret elevator down to the spa, where the second pool resides: a slightly larger, spotlit affair in a navy-hued room.
Nakar Spa is a subterranean sanctuary with two whisper-quiet treatment rooms, a hammam, sauna and relaxation pool. Natural floral and fruity infusions ensure you leave your massage smelling like mandarin and geranium, or ylang ylang and jasmine; the Yuzu Rose Ritual practically uses a whole fruit bowl’s worth of scintillating scent. Body wraps and facials are boosted with algae and natural acids, and special men’s treatments and mani-pedis are available too.
Bring your bikinis and Speedos (especially those looking for off-season sun, when Palma’s shops only stock wintry wears). Bring all your gadgets so you can ooh and aah while playing with them on the enormous TV and stick a back-up credit card in your wallet for ‘oh, what the hell’ shopping sprees.
With two roomy lifts, the hotel is entirely wheelchair-accessible. Upper category rooms are more spacious, but none are specially adapted.
Plonk yourselves down by the restaurant’s wall of windows. For drinks, park yourselves by the pool.
Chef Miquel Calent honed his culinary skills in the countryside; Cuit Bar & Restaurant’s menu has a slightly misty-eyed rustic bent, alongside city-chic presentation. ‘Poor man’ potatoes with egg and truffle, moray steeped in sobrassada-infused creamy rice and traditional Balearic desserts (cinnamon-y greixonera flan and sweet-potato cake) are satisfyingly authentic. The restaurant’s slate-and-sunshine colour scheme is handsome, but the eighth-floor views of the Cathedral, Bellver Castle and the bay will draw your eye.
The bar is part of the hotel restaurant. However, sundowners are usually taken by the pool as DJs (such as Tony Jiménez and Ángel García) set the mood. Refreshing G&Ts and sweet wines are a speciality.
Lunch is served from 1pm to 4pm, dinner from 7pm to 11pm. Cuit is closed on Sunday.
Outside restaurant hours, guests can ask for the snack menu’s ‘salty’ and ‘sweet’ treats (home-made croquettes, hamburgers and sandwiches, cakes and ice-creams) to be delivered to their door.
The hotel sits on Mallorca’s main shopping strip, Avenida Jaume III, a smart thoroughfare lined with luxury boutiques, glamorous bars and independent restaurants.
Palma Airport (www.palma-airport.info) is 12 kilometres from the hotel (a 10-minute drive). Easyjet and Ryanair run frequent flights from major cities in Europe. The hotel can arrange transfers if you book 24 hours in advance (€60 for a one-way trip).
Palma’s boulevards are lovely to stroll along; for a fleet city break you won’t need a car. However, if you’re staying on the island for longer, or you want to maximise your minibreak, hire some wheels to see Mallorca’s greener (plus russet-, amber- and coral-hued) pastures. There are car-hire booths at Palma Airport.
Palma’s port is five kilometres from the hotel. Baleària (www.balearia.com) and Transmediterranea ferries (www.trasmediterranea.es) sail here frequently from Barcelona, Valencia and Ibiza.
Worth getting out of bed for
Mallorca’s main shopping area lures luxury-seekers with its windows displaying sharp tailoring, bedazzled dresses, brogues fresh from the last and 'buy to take off’ unmentionables. Bring cards with a credit limit that allows for sprees in Cartier, Massimo Dutti, Mont Blanc and the El Corte Inglés department store – all just steps from the hotel’s door. Then hit the huge H&M on Plaça del Rei Joan Carles, and Louis Vuitton and Hugo Boss on Passeig del Born. Marvel at the heft of Gothic Palma Cathedral, a 12-minute walk away, and its gilded and Gaudi-drafted delights within. The Es Baluard art museum (a five-minute walk from the hotel) offers a contemporary counterpoint, with work by the likes of Ana Mendieta, Marina Abramović and Robert Mapplethorpe in its permanent collection. The best beaches are found outside the city, but there's a golden stretch of sand at Ca'n Pere Antoni.
The eateries in Mallorca’s capital are well-served by the fertile farms inland and the fishermen’s hauls from the Med. Dine on king crab and sea urchin slathered in Béarnaise sauce or tuna tataki in tonkatsu sauce at moodily lit Forn de Saint Joan on Calle Saint Joan. Ombu, on Passeig del Born, serves globally influenced tapas, with tiger-milk-spiked Peruvian oysters, an oxtail-stuffed croissant with sherry-infused mayonnaise and miso-marinated black-cod tips. El Camino's marble counter is always bustling; hop on a stool and watch as the chefs cook up croquettes and courgette flowers, risottos, fish grills and a tempting range of tortillas. Set a course to Palma's foodie heart, Santa Catalina, for flavourful Indian-Peruvian street-food-style eats at Naan, sushi a-go-go at Nuru, French cuisine with flair at La Fabrique and cheap eats at the 'hood's indoor market. For wild and wacky kitchen innovations, try Fosh at Smith stablemate Convent de la Missió.
We like Café L'Antiquari, a cosy spot on Carrer Arabi, which is lined with vintage posters and filled with higgledy-piggledy chairs. Its wine list is impressive and the menu has delights such as chicken stuffed with bacon and dates or duck confit with beetroot and fennel.
In true Spanish style, Mallorcans start their nights out fashionably late – the Jazz Voyeur Club (on Carrer d'Apuntadors) and Sky Bar (on Carrer de Sant Magi) both have on-high views and a svelte crowd. Stop in Abaco on Calle San Juan for a glass of cava or heady cocktail amid bouquets and statuettes.
Until now, my only Mallorcan experience is one I’d rather forget. Mercifully, the memories of that previous trip are somewhat hazy, due to the excess that accompanied it. So, the opportunity to visit the island as an older-and-wiser version of myself, was welcome. Not to mention the fact that, this time, we were destined for an altogether more cultured destination. Yet, little did Mr Smith and I know quite how much we’d fall for the glorious capital Palma.
Touching down, we were met by a wave of midday heat – a pleasant contrast to the sliding temperatures back home. A short bus ride transported us to Nakar Hotel – our sleek base for the next few nights, conveniently located on the bustling Avinguda de Jaume III, close to a string of chic designer stores and the foodie district of Santa Catalina.
Stepping inside Nakar’s entrance, it’s easy to forget the hotel’s city-centre location: cool white walls and designer furniture set a serene tone; friendly reception staff greeted us; and a fresh citrusy scent wafted through the air.
The roof terrace is one of the highlights, so we headed straight up for lunch. As the lift doors parted on the ninth floor, we were met by a small space with a very big view: Palma’s jumbled rooftops, crowned by the city’s Gothic-Roman cathedral La Seu, with the Mediterranean lingering out in front. No wasted space here, as like-minded guests reclined on sunloungers. The infinity pool beckoned, but not before we’d refuelled. So after a delicious lunch and a glass (or two) of wine, we pounced on the next available beds and rested our travel-weary limbs.
After the initial oohs and ahhs on seeing our beautifully designed suite, it wasn’t long before Mr Smith was out on our decked patio, pressing every button on the Jacuzzi. The hydromassage in full swing, we both dipped in, bubbling away in our element.
With food being one of Palma’s prime pleasures, we were keen to sample the culinary offerings of the city and the staff were all too happy to assist, providing a selection of recommendations. A quick call and a table promptly booked, we made the short walk to our restaurant and were greeted by a friendly host. At the mention of Nakar, we were swiftly shown to the best table in the house. We sat, perfectly placed for people-watching (my favourite pastime) and debated over which, from the abundant tapas dishes, we should choose. By the time we’d scraped the last tasty morsel from our sharing plates, we could feel the pull of our king-size bed.
Our sleep was deep and peaceful, and upon waking, Mr Smith and I couldn’t wait to ascend to the eighth-floor restaurant for the much-anticipated breakfast – complete with yet more far-reaching views, and a feast of eggs and bacon.
Next up on our busy agenda: a trip to the spa – a dark-yet-tranquil space with a pool, steam room and sauna, where we whiled away the rest of the day.
Our final visit to the ninth floor revealed a transformed environment. Not a sunlounger in sight, the roof terrace reimagined as an ambient bar – the amber glow of a sunset offering the ideal backdrop for pre-dinner cocktails, while watching nocturnal Palma come to life. A few drinks later, this older-and-wiser Mr and Mrs Smith were ready to hit the town once again. But this time, it would be a night to remember.