If the exacting symmetry of a Piero Lissoni sofa or the measured restraint of an abstract artwork make your heart race, Sant Francesc Hotel Singular will thrill you with its big-deal statement pieces. And the Soldevila Ferrer family (a distinguished lineage of hoteliers) have found the perfect display case for these objets: the 19th-century mansion of the wealthy Alomar-Femenia family, delicately restored to its former glory, with a few modern additions: a rooftop pool and solarium, wellbeing space and a must-try Mallorcan fine-diner in what used to be the stables. It’s cosmopolitan to the core, but a team of top-form staff and comfortably cool rooms – one with a roof deck, some with balconies and frescoes – make it effortlessly fun whether you’re sipping sangria poolside or musing over the fine fittings.
Double rooms from £253.68 (€293), 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 include the hotel’s buffet breakfast (€25 an adult, €12.50 a child) and à la carte choices. Guests must also pay city tax (€1.10 a person each night; €4.40 from 1 May to 31 October).
The hotel goes big on small details: in your room you’ll find the Sant Francesc Times, a handy periodical filled with the owner’s favourite haunts, and a handy waterproof bag to stash your swimwear in post-pool. If it’s extra hot out, the doorman will hand you a bottle of chilled water as you leave for the day, too.
At the hotel
Wellbeing space and fitness room, roof terrace, garden, courtyard, lobby bar, concierge, bikes for hire and free WiFi. In rooms: HDTV with streaming services, Bluetooth speaker, minibar, international charger, gourmet minibar, Nespresso coffee machine and Heeley bath products. The Sant Francesc Suite and La Torre Studio each have their own perfume bar, and the latter has its own deck with a whirlpool bath tub.
Our favourite rooms
Snag La Torre Studio, housed in what was once the watchtower and dovecote, for its suntrap terrace and to bubble away the night in the alfresco jetted tub while looking out over the city. The stay’s most honeymoon-ready hideaway is the Sant Francesc Suite, whose flower-strewn ceiling mural and French balconies overlooking the square make it a real sweetheart’s stay.
The large rooftop is a tempting lure with its unheated lap-sized pool (a rarity for Palma hotels), rows of sunloungers, bar and chill-out solarium, all with views of the city’s jumble of terracotta roofs and the mighty heft of the cathedral. In summer, the pool opens from 9.30am to 7.30pm and in winter it closes at 7pm; towels are provided too.
Treatments in the hotel’s wellbeing space, which has two cabins with courtyard views, run from the expected (deep-tissue massages, manicures, reflexology) to those that are a little ‘out there’ (Californian massage with Tibetan singing bowls, Cryo Time Freeze Anne Semonin facials, Lomi Lomi Nui Hawaiian massage). It’s an excellent excuse to find comfort outside of your comfort zone, but our choice is the Lemon Infusion Ritual, a pair of citrus-scented massages either side of a soothing facial. The 24-hour fitness room is housed in what was once the mansion’s water cistern, now kitted out with Technogym equipment, free weights and TRX kit; headphones, water and towels are available on request.
Aesthetics are kind of a big deal here, so you’ll want to dress the part – pack anything tailored to within an inch of you or something monochrome and geometric; go big with accessories too. The gallery’s worth of modern art might spark inspiration, so bring a pad to sketch in.
Almost every room in the hotel is easily accessible; however the higher-tier suites have the most elbow room. For guests with mobility issues, there's one room where the bathroom can be adapted with grab bars on request.
Welcome but there’s little to entertain them on site. Babysitting is available for €15 an hour. And in the restaurant, high chairs can be borrowed, restaurant dishes can be adapted for smalls and staff will heat milk or baby food.
The hotel’s courtyard is ideal for night openers and closers, with a smattering of two-seaters and young olive trees poking through the flagstones. For dinner, park yourself at table 42 in the garden – a table graced by one Michelle Obama, no less.
Dress like you’ve skipped along Avenida Jaume III, picking up designer pieces along your way.
Quadrat Restaurant & Garden, formerly the hotel’s stables, has a chic coastal feel with its white-wood-panelled walls and light-washed dining room – tables are set under the original vaults too. But, sun-seekers can sit in the leafy garden or spill out onto the Plaza Sant Francesc. Mallorca’s famed for its excellent produce – fat flavourful tomatoes, spicy sobrasada, just-plucked-from-the-sea fish – and chef Àlvar Albaladejo takes full advantage of these market gleanings. But, aside from a generous paella and simply cooked catch of the day, his wildly imaginative menu plays fast and loose with traditional dishes: Basque beef tartare comes with anchovy mayonnaise and smoked butter, prawn-stuffed hake is splashed with vermouth and served with seaweed, and burrata in pistachio cream is matched with confit leeks and sea fennel. To experience his culinary wizardry for less, try the €24.50 three-course Sunday lunch, which has rice three ways (with mushrooms, orange and blue cheese; with lamb, local black pudding and wild asparagus; and with fish, beetroot and cockles). Breakfast shows off the best of Palma too, a spread of just-baked breads, sobrasada, ensaimadas from famed bakery C’an Joan de S’aigo, meats and cheeses, cereal, fresh fruit, avo on toast and eggs in various guises.
Golden hour – and most other hours, if we’re honest – is quite the spectacle from the rooftop bar, especially from a poolside perch with a chilled Pomada in hand. From here you can see far and wide across the city, but your eye will most likely be drawn to the cathedral, which is floodlit at night. Explore the range of classic cocktails – mojitos, tequila sunsets, espresso martinis – while relaxing in the buzzy solarium. A menu with the likes of club sandwiches, paella and fish of the day will sate you while you sip, and later in the day sushi is served. A little less scenic but with a lovely view of the hotel courtyard and some bold signature cocktails (the Sant Francesc Sunset with tequila, grapefruit juice, lime and Tabasco; or the Grasshopper with vodka, minte cream and Monin white-chocolate sauce), the lobby bar is an intimate space for small gatherings.
Breakfast is from 7.30 am to a leisurely 11am, dinner is from 7pm to 10.30pm from Thursday to Sunday only. And on Sundays lunch is served from 1pm to 3.30pm. In summer the pool bar opens from 11am to 11pm, in winter it closes at 6pm.
Food can be summoned to your door round the clock. Continental and American breakfasts are served from 7.30am to noon, and the lunch and dinner menu (noon to 11.30pm) has cheese and meat platters, tomato bread, salads, sandwiches, pastas and seafood.
Sant Francesc Hotel Singular sits among the winding streets and antique buildings of Palma’s Old Town just across from its namesake basilica.
The hotel is a mere 15-minute drive from Palma de Mallorca Airport; flights arrive direct here from all over Europe. On request, the hotel can provide transfers, from €65 each way.
A car will come in handy if you wish to maximise your city break – you can get from one end of Mallorca to the other in around 90 minutes, so the island’s easily explored and a beauty to boot. With a car you can reach hidden coves, wind along mountain passes and cruise pass ancient fincas and windmills. Palma is easily walkable, so you can park up while there; there’s valet parking at the hotel for €30 a night – it's best to book this in advance.
Ferry companies Trasmediterranea and Balearia both run multiple services from Barcelona to Mallorca and back throughout the week – but it’s a more languid method of travelling, the journey takes six to eight hours.
Worth getting out of bed for
We could spend hours poring over the hotel’s collection of modern artwork and cache of designer furnishings we would very much like in our own homes. Take yourself on a little tour of the hotel’s corridors to see Miguel Ángel Campano’s engaging abstracts, Emil Alzamora’s eerie figures and Bárbara Vidal’s striking photographs of the property in its pre-restoration state. Then bathe in the warm glow of a Davide Groppi lamp, wantonly trace the fine lines of a Lissoni cabinet and give your behind a thrill with a tour of Jaime Hayón and Antonio Citterio chairs. After all that excitement, calm yourself with a massage scented like the Med in the petite wellbeing space, or paddle in the rooftop pool – from up there you can use the city like a map and plot your route. On your doorstep is Sant Francesc Basilica, worth visiting for its cavernous, floodlit interiors and meditative cloisters overlooking a palm-dotted garden. One of just a few remains of Mallorca’s Moorish occupation, the Arab baths, lie close by – there’s little left of the 10th-century hammams, but the garden grown around them with cacti, lush palms and fruit-bearing trees is a calming spot for a quick drink. The crenellated turrets of the Almudaina Palace rise proudly up above the city on their rocky perch beside the cathedral; it’s still the summer residence of the king of Spain, but you can tour some of the exceedingly grand state rooms and pose with Joan Miró's Egg sculpture. Then stop by the theatrically buttressed Cathedral (you can’t miss it), to see the glorious stained-glass windows, the plans for Antoni Gaudí’s installation and Miquel Barceló’s ethereal sea-themed chapel. Plaça Major was once the seat of the Inquisition, but these days it’s better known for its open-air markets and as a buzzy hangout spot – bustling streets lined with shops lead off from its arches. And, to indulge in serious cash-splashing, hit the designer boutiques along Avenida Jaume III. A cheaper way to pass the time, but rich in cultural clout is a visit to Es Baluard Museu d'Art Contemporani de Palma to see the island’s future art stars. The best of Mallorca’s beaches are to be found outside the city, but Platja de Can Pere Antoni is a sandy strip where you can jump off for a swim, the scenic waterfront is excellent to bike along too. Gastronomes should pay homage to Mallorca’s fine farming fettle at the Mercat de l’Olivar, where you can try samples of pa amb tomàquet (tomato rubbed into bread with garlic), locally made sausages from mild to spicy, jamons, cheeses and the stickiest of sweets. Visit early in the day to see the fish market at its most visceral. And, when you’re not eating them (or thinking about it), see around 8,000 marine critters at their liveliest at Palma Aquarium. Then push down your pride and hop on a Segway for one of the zippiest tours of the city (and probably the easiest way to navigate cobblestones).
Assaona Beach is a well-heeled shoreside hangout with an interest-piquing menu of sushi, ceviche, jamon and inventive mains: langoustines marinated in feta, smoked cod with yellow pepper and bone marrow, yellow curry with crispy duck magret. Naan Street Food deftly juggles influences and flavours from around the world, be they zingy fish tiradito, sticky yakitori skewers, prawn-stuffed pastel de camarào pastries or exotic salads. And, at El Camino, a restaurant from the brains behind Barrafina, Sam and Eddie Hart, you sit at a long marble-topped counter and watch as the chefs cook tortillas in small copper pans, chop ham and fish into thin slices, sizzle chorizo and squid and prep other tapas plates.
Santa Catalina has gained a reputation for being Palma’s artiest ‘hood, and its market is one of the city’s most notable. It’s a great place to stop for small bites at around €1–€3 apiece (think mini sandwiches, bread topped with meats, cheeses and fish or arancini), or for sushi and oysters with champagne. But first, fuel up at chic coffee stop La Molienda. And Mise en Place in the corner of Plaça Major has snappable brunch bowls, trays of pastries, fruit-laden waffles and other day-starting treats.
Beatnik Bar in Puro hotel is a hip hangout that locals are drawn to – largely for the dance-till-late DJ nights and four-poster day-beds on the roof terrace from which you can see 360-degree views of the city. Book the highest one and have Asian-inspired eats and fruity cocktails brought up to you.
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 time-straddling stay in Palma and unpacked their sugar-dusted ensaïmadas and pairs of Hernanz espadrilles, a full account of their aesthetically pleasing break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Sant Francesc Hotel Singular in Mallorca…
Taste may be an intangible concept, but at boutique Mallorcan stay Sant Francesc Hotel Singular, housed in the former late-18th-century grand mansion of the wealthy Alomar Femenia family, it’s brilliantly incarnate. One in a distinguished line of hoteliers (who have been running the Hotel Majestic in Barcelona since 1918 and own Santanyí stay Can Ferrereta), owner Andrés Soldevila Ferrer – with the help of his interior designer mother Nuria Ferrer Klein – sought to revivify this exquisitely wrought house with a light touch. Frescoes were delicately retouched, Crittall windows filled in decorative arches, and judiciously chosen designer furnishings (by the likes of Antonio Citterio, Piero Lissoni, Davide Groppi and Jaime Hayón) were placed just-so throughout. The stables became Quadrat Restaurant & Gardens, where rustic Mallorcan cuisine is given a fine-dining gloss, the water cistern a 24-hour gym and the watchtower and dovecote a superlative suite with a sprawling roof deck. They cannily added a rooftop pool and solarium for social sushi feasts and pitchers of sangria, and sought out Spanish abstract artists to hang on the walls – to great effect: on arrival a machinery-inspired piece by Riera i Aragó hangs behind the reception desk; to its left is a striking gold swoop by Guillem Nadal, and further works by sculptor Emil Alzamora, animal portraitist Miguel Macaya and more enhance the building’s already charming corners. And, the rooms and suites practice just-right minimalism, with the odd ceiling fresco or balcony to amp up the romance. Throughout this is a stay that executes taste with a deft touch.