Historic architectural details are honoured at Son Brull hotel, a former 12th-century monastery in the foothills of the Serra de Tramuntana in Mallorca. Blending sleek and urban with the Mediterranean's slow pace, this is the kind of design-focused luxury retreat where you want to throw on big sunglasses and designer sandals just to wander from through the ancient stone hallways en route to the stylish outdoor pool.
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Smith members receive the classical CD Insula Poetica by Joan Valent upon arrival
Double rooms from $234.54 (€213), excluding tax at 10 per cent.
Rates include breakfast.
At the hotel
Spa with sauna and treatment rooms (book treatments in advance), gym with Technogym equipment, tennis court, B&O audiovisuals, CD and DVD library, gastronomic events in low season, including wine/olive oil tastings. The hotel can arrange boat, yacht and bicycle rental.
Our favourite rooms
A room with a view on the pool side of the house, as high up as possible.
Connected indoor and outdoor pools with massage hydrojets, an indoor relaxation area and outdoor sun terrace. There's also a snack menu and tables by the pool.
The spa has a sauna, steam bath, cold water plunge pool, solarium, yoga studio, changing room and three treatment rooms. It’s open daily from 8am to 8pm, and all treatments use natural products from Mallorca. Book a knot-banishing massage, limber up with a yoga session, make your way around the invigorating thermal circuit, or simply float away the afternoon in the heated outdoor pool.
Extra beds can be added to all rooms except Superior rooms. Guests must be at least 16 years old to use the spa and gym.
Babysitting and baby-listening services, cots and extra beds provided at an extra charge. Villa Suites, each of which has a private garden with a pool, are recommended for families with children under 12 (who are not allowed in the main pool).
365 is the chic, formal-ish fine-dining restaurant, with black banquettes, white-clothed tables and gold-leaf ceiling. It’s modern Mallorquin, nouvelle-ish food: don’t expect large portions. The menu has an emphasis on local ingredients.
Drinks available until midnight in the former oil-pressing room, where old beams and a well make an attractive centrepiece. In summertime, Thursday is jazz night, Saturday is more relaxed.
Son Brull is less than an hour’s drive from Palma de Mallorca (or Son Sant Joan) Airport; fly there with EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) or British Airways (www.ba.com). You can take a taxi or pick up a hire a car.
The nearest train station is in Inca, 25km from the hotel, with good connections to Palma and Sa Pobla. Fast trains leave hourly and take 35 minutes to reach the island’s capital. For a more scenic experience, take a ride on the antique steam train that links Palma to Port de Sóller through the Sierra de Tramuntana mountains.
You’ll need a car to explore the spectacular Mallorcan countryside and coastline. Hire one from the airport, and park in the hotel’s free guest carpark. Son Brull is a short drive from the main Pollensa road (the MA-2200).
Worth getting out of bed for
Son Brull sits at the bottom of a hill called Puig de Maria: a walk to the top gives you stunning views of the countryside from the ruins of an old monastery. Guests at the hotel get between 15 and 20 per cent off at the local golf course. Before a visit to the beautiful bay of Cala Sant Vicent, which is about a 10-minute car drive away, book sun-loungers at reception. There’s a market in Pollença old town on Sundays. Cala Sant Vicenç offers different beaches (sandy and rocky), Puerto Pollença and Puerto Alcudia offer long sandy beaches.
Clivia on Avenida Pollença (+34 971 533 635) in Pollença old town is great for dinner. It is very traditional and brightly lit, serving fresh produce and succulent fish. Lavanda in Hotel Cala Sant Vicent, also owned by Son Brull, is a fine-dining room. Puro Beach in Palma is great for lunch or cocktails. Book early if you’d like a table or lounger during the day. A bit further afield, Ca na Toneta serves up uniquely Mallorcan recipes, and uses seasonal and local produce. This revamped family restaurant is helmed by sisters Maria and Teresa Solivellas; it’s a real taste of traditional Mallorca.
To idle away an afternoon, sit outside one of the many cafés on the central square in Pollença old town and watch the world go by.
Foolishly, our hearts sank as we approached the austere-looking walls of Son Brull – it just seemed so far from our mental picture of design-hotel comfort. Little did we realise: the monks who once inhabited this converted 12th-century monastery/farm would be amazed at the heights of relaxation achieved by the sybarites occupying their old home.
The vast wooden olive-oil presses on which the monks once toiled line the walls of a candlelit bar scattered with low-lying Scandinavian chairs. Beyond the courtyard where horses were once kept, an infinity pool gently overflows. Further inside, down stone-cut steps, nestles the quiet haven of the spa and the greenish waters of a connected indoor and outdoor pool. A religious experience, perhaps, but not the kind that the brotherhood had in mind. After the hour-long trip from Palma airport on the twisty roads of Mallorca, Son Brull proved itself to be exactly the oasis we’d dreamed of.
The beaming receptionist, whose black outfit matched the carpeted stairs, took us to our room. A vision of discerning good taste, with little wooden shutters on the tiny windows, and views over the gardens, the room had tons of space for unpacking and general lounging on the Scandinavian oak chairs, as well as a Bang & Olufsen TV. A vast bed with silky cotton sheets, linen throws and white sofas kept the room feeling cool (teamed with top-notch air-conditioning). And in the bathroom with brushed-concrete floor, double sinks, shower room and ‘therapy’ bath with water jets, there were enough bottles of potions for us to have our own in-room spa experience (although there are massages and facials on offer in the sauna rooms here, too).
Just as folk back home would be contemplating crumpets and tea, we were assured that we’d arrived in time for lunch, which is served until 18h30 (don’t you love the Spanish timetable?). Some Spanish guests obviously needed all the time over lunch they could get, we thought, as we watched them neck-deep in glasses of Armagnac with their coffee. Beneath a reed screen that blocked out the overhead sun, we ate pa amb oli (local bread with Serrano ham and Mahón cheese) washed down with cold beers, enjoying the breeze and views of ancient olive trees. Shady areas beckoned for a siesta, scattered with sculptures and scented flower beds planted with giant blue agapanthus, roses and jasmine; it was time to let out a deep breath and ponder if there was any need to leave the hotel at all over the weekend.
There are several secluded spaces at Son Brull that allow you to get away from people, so you never feel crowded, and the walls of the rooms are of a solid mediaeval thickness that leaves you wondering if there’s anyone else staying in the hotel at all. With an all-important breeze and view of the landscape, the cerulean-blue mosaic tiled indoor/outdoor pool is the centre point of the hotel, right next door to the restaurant. In order that you never feel too scrutinised by other guests, there is a raised area with enough double beds covered in vast towels for everyone. White curtains can be drawn around your bed, to blow in the breeze in a tantalising Far Pavilions style, though they are, of course, intended in more of a Balearic, chill-out way. At night, candles are lit around the pool, and more cushions scattered around the decking.
Clearly, some of the guests summon the energy to make the trip to clubs like Abraxas, Virtual Club or Tito’s, and emerge the following afternoon for a bed by the pool. But the majority of residents are plugged into their iPods or novels, sipping cordials in a daze. We had a toddler (a bit of a challenge, with the infinity pool acting like a magnet), although, amazingly, no one batted an eyelid when she shouted at birds and laughed loudly into the quiet. The hotel is really an ideal place for romantic couples – of which there were many – and we grabbed the chance to join their ranks by hiring a babysitter for an entire afternoon.
Apart from seeing and being seen on one of Palma’s hippest of dancefloors, the other temptation to lure you away from the hotel are the beaches. Cala de Sant Vicenç is a short drive from the hotel and is one of the best beaches on the island. We swam in the bay and dozed on the sunloungers, but in such midsummer heat we only lasted a few hours before deciding that the hotel’s cool showers and on-tap waiters were much more appealing than feeling sticky, hot and in need of somewhere to eat.
The hotel’s restaurant is outdoors in good weather (which is most of the time), otherwise meals are served indoors among the huge old olive presses. The evening menu is modern, with plenty of fashionable froth flourishes and adventurous combinations, all very well presented. It is one of the most sought-after restaurants in Mallorca and attracts lots of Spaniards, guaranteeing, in turn, an effervescent atmosphere.
As I tucked into excellent marinated mackerel, chilled almond soup and cottage cheese mousse from the menu degustación, I had to raise a toast to all those abstemious monks who once toiled within these walls. Son Brull is a beautifully converted building, with every comfort refined far beyond the point of necessity: this was a discipline we could happily prescribe ourselves.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Son Brull’s Guestbook below.
The relaxed luxury, the peace, the eco spa and the cycling.