Son Mas is a 17th-century finca turned boutique hotel just inland from Mallorca’s east coast, set among acres of fruit groves and farmland. Palma’s pulse-racing nightlife is a 40-minute drive away, but this rustic honey-and-cream-hued stay feels cloistered from the outside world – the ideal setting for a relaxing country break. There’s little to do here but drift along in the infinity pool, float out of the spa floral-scented and devour home-cooked Mallorcan cuisine, but that's all the excitement you'll need.
Sixteen suites, including two in a cottage set away from the main building.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 1pm.
Double rooms from £304.50 (€345), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates include bike hire and a breakfast buffet with meats, cheeses, fruit, pastries and eggs cooked to your taste. Guests are also given a free fruit basket on arrival and free access to the spa pool, fitness room and sauna.
At the hotel
Spa, sauna, gardens, lounges, library, terrace, parking, bikes to borrow and free WiFi. In rooms: TV, minibar, free bottled water, bathrobes and slippers, air-conditioning and Sutton & Foster bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Room 5 may be huge, but it has an intimate feel with light and airy decor, sandblasted tile floors and stone walls. Sunbathe à deux on the balcony’s day-beds, then retire to the hand made, gauzily curtained four-poster bed for a siesta and more… Room 7 is the hotel’s most unusual suite; spread over three floors, it has a sea-view balcony and an igloo-shaped stone bathroom with a Jacuzzi bath tub.
The outdoor infinity pool overlooks a fig-tree orchard with a mountain backdrop. A pergola runs along one side for some post-swim shade; or flop onto one of the parasol-flanked day-beds perched on the crazy-paved terrace. The indoor pool has a Jacuzzi, and you can swim laps under the hotel’s original vaulted ceilings and oak beams.
The hotel’s spa offers a smorgasbord of unique massage treatments, including Ayurvedic massages using lengths of cloth or dripping oil, and hot-stone or Tibetan bowl treatments. Manicures and pedicures, osteopathic treatments and yoga classes are offered too, or you can de-stress in the sauna.
Relax into the stand-still pace of life by bringing a few good tomes to read by the pool; or perhaps a pack of cards for late-nights on your terrace.
Ask manager Inma if you’d like to indulge in some holistic spa magic in-suite. Rooms on the first floor are best suited to mobility-impaired guests, but there are no special facilities.
Under-2s stay free in their parents’ room; there’s a €20 supplement for over-2s, and extra beds are €81 a night. Babysitting is €12 an hour and must be booked at least five days in advance of your stay.
At nightfall, twinkling lights are strung up in the tree branches above the tables at the terrace edge, somehow improving on an already impressive natural setting.
Pack a casual country wardrobe of linen shorts and floaty cotton dresses.
Vaulted ceilings and a baby grand in one corner give the classically styled restaurant a certain gravitas; however, if the sun’s out you’ll be drawn towards the terrace tables for uninterrupted olive-grove views. Meals use locally sourced ingredients – many from the farm itself – and cooking is typically Mallorcan in style, with home-made ravioli and slabs of steak in red-wine sauce. In spring and summer breakfast is served on the porch or the terrace. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays; some excellent restaurants lie a short drive away.
There’s no official bar area, but the enthusiastic staff will happily serve you drinks on the terrace or in the lounge if you ask. A rich and flavourful cup of local coffee, or wine, beer and champagne are on offer.
Breakfast is served 8am to 11am, lunch from 1pm to 3.30pm and dinner is from 7.30pm to 10pm.
Any hour of the day or night you can summon platters of Iberican ham, salads or sandwiches to your door and some champagne to wash it down with (or soft drinks if you prefer).
Ctra. Porto Cristo - Porto Colom (Camí de Son Mas)
Apdo de Correos 346
Son Mas hotel is in a quiet rural area on Mallorca’s east coast. Surrounded by almond and fig trees, it’s close to beaches and petite resort towns Porto Cristo and Porto Colom, and subterranean grottos at the Caves of Drach are a 10-minute drive away.
Palma Airport is the nearest, a 40-minute drive away from the hotel. There are direct flights from major cities in Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany and the UK via EasyJet. Flights across the Pacific arrive via Paris Charles de Gaulle and Barcelona El Prat airports, or Dubai and Barcelona El Prat.
The hotel’s rural surrounds make hiring a car pretty much essential; there’s an Avis car-hire booth at the airport and free, tree-shaded parking at the hotel. Driving through Palma can be tricky (watch out for Via Cintura where three motorways merge), but once you leave the city you’ll pass sun-baked ochre and sage landscapes.
Worth getting out of bed for
It’s missing the point to actually do things at Son Mas – the hotel’s elegant landscaped grounds, low-lit lounge and soothing colour scheme inspire hand-in-hand country strolls and day-bed slouching interspersed with the odd glass ofwine or a languid swim. However, there's acres of unspoilt countryside to explore if you have the inclination to do so. Start slow with a concierge-arranged game of tennis on Cala Anguila beach or Cala Mandia resort – both five minutes drive from the hotel – and a round of golf at one of five golf courses nearby (Canyamel, Costa dels Pins, Vall D’Or, Pula and Roca Viva), all within 20–30 minutes’ drive. Then crank up the speed a notch: bomb through rough country turf on a hired bike, rent a yacht and seek out hidden coves, fly in a hot-air balloon or helicopter and dive in a submarine, all of which the hotel are happy to arrange.
Porto Cristo, a petite fishing village turned resort is worth a visit for its peaceful beaches, natural harbour and some retail therapy: it’s renowned for jewellery embellished with hand-dived pearls and simple yet stylish wooden furnishings. Porto Colom, a 15-minute drive away also has a beach with neat rows of sunloungers. Explore a stalactite and stalagmite-encrusted subterranean world and be serenaded by an orchestra on a boat at the Caves of Drach (+34 971 820 753, www.cuevasdeldrach.com), or take a 20-minute drive to Ses Païsses, Mallorca’s only Bronze Age ruins: a scattering of holm oak-entwined megaliths, which look their best at dusk.
Dine on fat, locally caught prawns in aioli, venison in a sticky-sweet blackberry sauce or pork tenderloin doused in Calvados at Es Molí D'En Sopa (+34 971 550 193, www.molidensopa.com); a traditional-style restaurant with lemon-hued walls and large windows overlooking the countryside, a 10-minute drive from Son Mas. Es Pati (+34 971 838 014, www.es-pati.com), also 10 minutes’ drive away, offers a Russian roulette dining experience by serving a mystery five-course tasting menu. Reassuringly, all ingredients are market-bought that day and the sample menus have a healthy number of mouthwatering dishes: watermelon gazpacho with wasabi peanuts; quail breast with mango, tomato and barbecue sauce; and pineapple ragout with caramel mousse and popping candy.
The kitschy pictures of cream-smothered gateaux and near-toppling ice-cream cones on Bar Lumumba's frontage hint at the delights found in this unassuming Porto Cristo café (+34 971 822 291). Waffles, sundaes and cakes come with lashings of various toppings for a very reasonable price.
The sign for Son Mas came as a welcome surprise to both of us. I had expected to get lost, having copied out only half of the instructions sent by the hotel before getting distracted.
It had been a while since I’d driven on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, so the 40-minute drive from Palma airport was slightly fraught with nervous commentary from Mr Smith, mostly a repetitive loop of ‘you’re too close to the barriers!’ This was followed by a desperate (and useless) leaning away from said barriers. My insistence on having the Spanish radio full blare and the windows down as we bombed along the motorway apparently didn’t help. To me, there’s nothing like a blast of hot air to mark the official start of the holiday.
The narrow road leading to the hotel quickly led us into rural Narnia. There were no more barriers, no other cars on the road – the island was suddenly quiet. I even agreed to switch the radio off and let Balearic birdsong take over. By the time we pulled up to the hotel 10 minutes later we’d stopped bickering and begun the obligatory ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’. Deep into what we deemed ‘proper’ countryside, surrounded by fruit groves and rusty red farmland, it was time to relax.
The Son Mas hotel is actually an old family finca, but from the outside, with its watchtower and thick stone walls it looks more like a friendly mini castle. Inside, it’s all creams, whites, cappuccinos and dark woods; classy and confidently understated. I silently patted myself on my back for bringing an appropriate holiday wardrobe (endless kaftans, big hats).
We found lovely Inma in reception, hidden away in the watchtower, who gave us a quick tour of the grounds, (I now want my future house to have an olive press in the garden), then showed us to our room, one of only 16. Room nine is a long, airy length of clean, cream-walled luxury that I would happily swap our flat for. There's a sloping beamed ceiling that puts a lovely rustic lid on the soft and simple interiors including a four-poster bed, living area with big squishy sofa for languid lounging (of which I do lots) and a big bathroom, complete with enormous sunken tub and separate shower. A private terrace (partially covered for shady siestas) looks over gorgeous gardens and offers yet another lounging zone. I stepped outside. Somewhere in the distance I heard someone diving into the swimming pool. Beyond that, it was utterly silent.
Bags unpacked (there are pleasingly large wardrobes), new kaftan on, there was clearly no better time to start drinking. We headed down to the hotel’s restaurant, choosing to sit outside in the pretty courtyard complete with softly bubbling fountain. The size of the wine glasses smilingly delivered by our waitress suggested we weren’t going to achieve much for the rest of the day. And nor did we want to. You quickly realise that this is not a hotel for doers; it’s one for the lazy loungers, the burnt-out or the newly in love.
All three categories can be found by the vivid blue pool, the hotel’s pièce de résistance – a long, infinite slice of temptation located down a few sets of stone-cut steps among fig trees and overlooking mountains. Not bad. A shaded pergola runs along one side with more loungers in the sun for tan fans. I did 30 long lengths, dodging thirsty wasps at each edge, then slept off the wine next to Mr Smith under dappled sunlight. Heaven.
With no WiFi poolside, we couldn’t check the Wimbledon score, but we were now so relaxed that even the idea of heading back to the room (they all have WiFi) seemed obscenely taxing. This pool is not the sort you feel compelled to leave unless there’s a serious emergency. There’s even an honesty bar for rehydrating (or dehydrating). Oh, and if you’re here in winter, there’s an indoor pool, too. The hotel has got swimming covered, basically. A whole afternoon of reading lay ahead, uninterrupted by my usual shuffles between Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Over dinner, back in the restaurant – now lit with little lanterns suspended from the trees (evoking the wedding scene in Mamma Mia), we devoured stuffed peppers followed by steamed fish with vegetable tempura. The menu is small and very local, with lots of the ingredients sourced on site, but still, making a decision between two options was the most taxing part of our day, which tells you a lot about the hotel. I still wonder how the rabbit tasted.
Fellow guests told us that another night we must try a restaurant in Porto Cristo, the nearest town five minutes away on the eastern coast, but we never found the time or the inclination to leave Son Mas. Next time (and there will be one) I’ll drag myself away and explore the east coast’s many beaches too – Cala Anguila is apparently one of the best and is just a short drive away.
More red Rioja was swallowed, then Hierbas (that dangerous 52 per cent proof Balearic liqueur), so hangovers were definitely on the cards the next day, but miraculously they never arrived. With our clever blackout shutters all closed for us by the time we stumbled to bed, we both slept longer and better than ever before – waking up just in time for brekkie (try the ensaïmada pastries if you’re looking for instant weight gain) and without even a hint of headache.
We were winning at mini-breaking, basically. I felt so well rested that I even popped into the tiny gym and considered jumping on an exercise bike for a short minute. Most out of character. A massage seemed more bearable – and there is a little spa – but that delicious pool was waiting, and we didn’t like to be late.
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