With its whitewashed walls and sea-blue shutters, child-friendly Paraíso de los Pinos fits right in on the tiny, laid-back island of Formentera. And, it has all the family-holiday essentials: you’ll find a lounger-flanked pool, ultra-relaxed restaurant, stylish self-contained apartments… and a sandy beach steps from your door.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of wine in your apartment on arrival, and free bike hire throughout your stay
Double rooms from £143.72 (€166), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional government tax of €4.40 per person per night on check-in.
Rates include Continental breakfast.
Request your babysitter at least 48 hours in advance to make sure you don't miss out on kid-free time.
The hotel is closed each year from 1 November to 30 April.
At the hotel
Swimming pools, Jacuzzi, tennis court, bikes to borrow, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, air-conditioning, free WiFi, iron and ironing board, hairdryer; kitchenettes have fridge-freezers, hobs, microwaves, blenders, sinks, kettles, coffee machines and toasters.
Our favourite rooms
There’s no bad room in the house, though Premium apartment 4 has a particularly lovely view from the balcony. For extra space, opt for two-bedroom apartment 35; if you’re travelling with older children, interconnecting rooms 33 and 34 might be just right.
Keep an eye on the little ‘uns as they splash about in little wading pool (or swim lengths in the substantial swimming pool) from one of the bright white umbrella-shaded loungers… or your hot seat in the Jacuzzi. (There are no dedicated lifeguards on full-time duty, but several staffers have lifeguard qualifications.)
There’s no spa on-site, but in-room treatments can be arranged.
Don't forget to pack everyone’s goggles: the waters are fantastically clear, so mini swimmers can get a good view of their fishy friends.
Sustainable materials are used everywhere possible, the air-conditioning turns off automatically when you open a window, and recycling bins are provided in every apartment’s kitchen.
Children can stay in cots and extra beds in all apartments.
For a great-value family holiday under the almost-guaranteed Balearic sun, it’s hard to beat Paraíso de los Pinos: you’re essentially on your own for entertainment, sure, but with the pools, the beach, and an entire island at your disposal you’re off to a pretty good head start. Borrow the hotel’s bikes and explore, if you like, or just lounge by the pool sipping cocktails while the little ones splash.… or, why not hit the tennis court? (Book the coach if you fancy your kiddo following in the footsteps of local hero Rafa Nadal, who hails from just an island or two over). And when you’re hungry, the choice is yours: far finer dining than you’d expect from such a family-friendly setting is on offer at hotel restaurant Marlaca, and back in your serenely minimalist apartment you can cook up a Spanish storm in your handy kitchen.
Los Pinos has its own tennis court – reserve it for a family match, or call in the coach. For outdoor quiet time, head to the hotel’s ‘chill garden’, where you’ll find four chic white four-poster beds among the trees. If you’re feeling more active, hit the pools or the beach, or perhaps borrow the hotel’s bikes (free when you book through Smith) and head out exploring the island on two wheels. Come prepared if there’s the chance of a rare rainy day – there’s not much in the way of indoor entertainment laid on, so BYO Peppa Pig.
Available for €15 an hour; book your sitter at least 12 days in advance. Let staff know your preferred language and they’ll do their best to match you with the ideal multi-linguist.
Each table’s as good as every other, so there’s no need to hurry to get there first.
The restaurant’s laid-back looks are deceiving: Es Mal Pas serves up food considerably finer than you might expect in such a casual setting, all inspired by authentic local flavours and Mediterranean culinary traditions (including vegetables grown in the hotel's own garden). Children are welcome anywhere, any time. Highchairs are at hand, and the children's menu has simpler Spanish dishes.
There’s no bar as such, so join your fellow guests in the restaurant to sip your rioja.
The restaurant opens for lunch 1.30pm–3.30pm and dinner 8.00pm–11.30pm.
Order anything you’d like from the restaurant menu during restaurant hours and they’ll bring it up to you room.
You’ll find Paraíso de los Pinos just off the north coast of the island, just over 10 minutes’ drive from the town of San Francesc Xavier.
Touch down at Ibiza Airport, the main point of arrival for the islands. From there, hop on a passenger ferry to Formentera (note: cars aren't permitted except for residents). There are year-round flights from London Heathrow and City airports, Paris-Charles de Gaulle and major Spanish cities, and seasonal services from almost every European destination you can name.
To protect Formentera's peace and encourage sustainability, you're not allowed to hire a car and cross on the ferry unless you're a resident, and restrictions may apply outside these dates, too. Hiring a car once you get onto the island is your best bet, and you'll find free on-site parking at the hotel.
Ferries leave Ibiza from various spots: the main port is in Ibiza Town, and boats leave every half hour in high season.
Worth getting out of bed for
What’s the best thing about an island? It’s surrounded by beaches. You’ll find sandy stretches a few minutes’ walk away, and others just a short hop away by car, along with all Formentera’s historic highlights.
The small village of El Pilar de la Mola is the highest point on Formentera, and as such has spectacular views to make your Instagram followers jealous… and it’s also home to a great artisan market after 4pm each Wednesday and Sunday (some of the sellers might be holdouts from Formentera's hippie heyday in the Sixties). Nearby, family-run restaurant Pequeña Isla is beloved among locals for its hams (a serious business in Spain).
Exploring Formentera’s main town, Sant Francesc? Stop for smoothies and simple snacks at Big Store on Calle Isidor Macabich. In San Ferran, for relaxed meals of simple local dishes, try Pivi. The service is speedy and friendly, the crowd is peppered with locals, and families won’t feel out of place. Also, there's plenty of fresh seafood on offer at Capri near Es Pujols.
For dinner with a view, visit Es Molí de Sal, right on the sand and overlooking Illetes and Cavall d’En Borràs beaches from it’s spectacular terrace. The menu’s packed with classic Mediterranean dishes elegantly served, and it’s possibly the best place on the island for a cocktail. Well-behaved children are welcome and could in theory play right on the sand below your table if you’re visiting for lunch… but you’re much better off booking a babysitter and going for date night. If you’re after the jet set, they’ll be at Juan y Andrea, strolling ashore from their yachts. It's an institution of a lunch spot that draws the glittering and glamorous from Ibiza just for the meal, so book your table (and your babysitter) in advance.
One of the island’s loveliest beaches is just a 10-minute walk from Los Pinos. The local supermarket’s on the way, perfect for picking up snacks and supplies for your beach day.
Hit the waters at La Savina with the Vellmarí diving school team; if you don’t need lessons, you can just rent gear. The dive centre is open from early February to late November and junior courses and equipment are available.
‘Is there any test of your masculinity that instantly doesn’t overwhelm you?’ asks Mrs Smith dryly as we drive along the narrow road, the children hollering in the back, the noise of our rear right wheel grinding agonisingly against the tarmac. Ten minutes behind the wheel of our hire car (A Fiat Panda in which I am encased like a giraffe folded into a matchbox), and I have just reversed over an actually-not-all-that-hard-to-see rock and burst the tyre. I add reversing in a foreign country to laying decking, putting up shelves and opening jars of olives to my list of things that I need to outsource to someone else.
We pull up outside Paraiso De Los Pinos with all the grace and calm of Toad from Wind in the Willows and I let my head rest on the steering wheel. ‘Oh well, darling,’ says Mrs Smith. ‘Things can only get better from here.’
And how. The hotel’s utterly delightful team instantly take charge of the situation by calling the hire company and arranging for their mechanic to come out. They then spirit us over to the hotel’s charming Bedouin-ish bar area where we sip crushed watermelon cocktails before being escorted to our room. Little Miss Smith, who is three-years-old and no more house-trained than a similarly aged wolf, throws herself happily on the pillow-scattered daybed as we look adoringly at the door that will separate our bedroom from the main space where she will be sleeping with her little brother. All white-wash and bleached wood, the room is light, airy and elegant, with a lovely terrace that overlooks the hotel’s gardens.
Scratchy from the journey we scramble into our swimmies and head straight for the pool with its separate shallow area for the arm-banded generation and a standalone Jacuzzi for their mothers. A children’s portion of delicious chicken and chips is eaten poolside before the wee ones crash after the long day travelling.
A small but well-stocked supermarket is a hop, skip and a jump through the pines allowing us to take advantage of the room’s cute little kitchen and we spend a lovely evening on the terrace eating a hearty salad with good bread and cheese a bottle of very serviceable Albarino.
Breakfasts at Paraiso are a languorous, gluttonous affair with a spread that pretty much demands that you put aside at least an hour to graze at the riot of fresh cut fruit; the bottomless basket of pastries still hot from the oven; the cold cuts, scrambled eggs and artisan breads; and the frankly indecent selection of cakes, (which better parents than us probably don’t secrete about their persons to use later as bribes). We arrive early and gorge before waddling down to the local beach, a cute rough-hewn little bit of plata Migjorn, the long beach that dominates the island’s south coast.
One of the things that makes Formentera so family-friendly is its size. From Paraiso’s pretty central location you’re just five minutes from San Fransec with its host of great restaurants like Can Carlos and Ca Na Joana. And all the best beaches are only 15 minutes away allowing you to easily chop and change between Cala Saona’s cove, Migjorn’s buzz and beach bars, or the calm of Llevant.
Or best of all, to do as we do, and head to Iletes, (our tyre replaced, of course), hands down the best beach in Europe. A strip of powder puff white sand on the west side of the northward spit of land that constitutes the Ses Salines natural park, Iletes is as close to the Caribbean as you’re likely to find in the Med. Unsurprisingly, its popularity and prices reflect this with the legendary but eye-wateringly expensive Juan Y Andrea restaurant (think micro-bikinis and jeroboams of Whispering Angel) best capturing the beach’s razzly-glam. It gets much less busy later after 4pm which is perfect for those with sun-sensitive little ones.
What with it being my birthday and all, we decide, later that evening, to spoil ourselves with the tasting menu at Marlaca, Paraiso’s super-adventurous patio restaurant. Using a combination of a little textbook French-style parenting and a lot of Anglo-American iPad-parenting, we lure little Miss Smith to the table where we manage two courses, including a lovely tuna tartare with yucca chips before taking on the nightly bedtime challenge. The staff kindly let us have the remaining courses on our terrace and once the kids are asleep we ooh and aah over a mascarpone mousse to the sound of cicadas and the wind in the trees.
For our farewell lunch we make tracks to 10 Punto 7, the insider-y, off-the-beaten-track beach restaurant on a near-deserted stretch of Migjorn where we sit in director’s chairs, and eat a wonderful 24-piece platter of super-fresh nigiri and sashimi. Mrs Smith leans back in her chair and says ‘holidays.’ She sips her glass of rose. ‘A test of your masculinity that doesn’t overwhelm you: you’re good at organizing holidays…’