This chic island resort has two 17th century stone manor houses are its heart, blending effortlessly into its rural location, overlooking the delightful village of Deià, sheltered by the Tramuntana mountains. Part of the global Belmond group, this luxury boutique property has a strong sense of place; celebrating its Mallorcan heritage and provenance – writes Andrew Forbes.
Belmond La Residencia lived up to its reputation as a luxury hideaway, thanks to elegant, boutique style accommodation; award-winning cuisine by Executive Chef Guillermo; and assured privacy and tranquility on Spain’s largest island, the Balearic gem of Mallorca.
The transfer from Palma’s busy international airport is about 70 – 90 minutes by car, taking one through the mountain roads north, through the picturesque town of Valldemossa, on one towards the island’s west coast and the chic village of Deià. The hotel is above the summer throng of visitors to this charming village. The views from the terraces and rooms take in the village and the Tramuntana mountains beyond – in short, it’s a wonderfully tranquil, rural environment.
Arrival and Check-in
The gated estate is reached from the village; its sweeping driveway brings one up to the main entrance which is flanked by Mediterranean terracotta pots and twisted ancient olive trees.
Check-in is in offered in a traditional style, in the reception area, an understated rustic space with fireplace and sofa. There wasn’t a signature welcome drink, although later I discovered the hotel offers plenty of treats for guests. The reception area offers little indication of the sophistication of the guest suites and the rest of the hotel.
Luggage is delivered to one’s room – a welcome service since the property is spread out over a number of stone buildings on the hillside; a labyrinth of hidden courtyards, sunny terraces and garden pathways. My escorted journey to my suite took me through the gardens and past one of two outdoor swimming pools.
Thanks to the property’s unique architecture, each guest is promised a room that is individual – the various buildings afford authentic spaces with a genuine feeling of Mallorcan provenance. Of course, the view out over the garden terraces to the village and onto the UNESCO World Heritage Tramuntana mountain is a priceless part of the La Residencia experience and one that constantly reminds guests that this is a unique location.
I was staying in a Superior Junior Suite, boasting a large living space, filled with light. Five, classic wooden Mediterranean double windows opened out over a swimming pool, and the different garden levels. Double doors gave access to a small private roof terrace with loungers.
The room was elegantly furnished with north African style mosaic tables, blond wooden furniture, a piece of contemporary art and an antique chest. Pool towels were offered in a traditional woven basket. The room was comfortable and generously furnished, but it didn’t feel like an interior designer space.
The bedroom area was well designed, accessed through an archway with sliding doors, allowing for privacy and a feeling of cosy intimacy.
Smart details included a TV at the foot of the bed which remotely emerged from its discreet housing, and Bluetooth speaker. The minibar was generously stocked, and equipped with kettle and coffee capsule machine.
I was staying towards the end of the season when the warmth of autumn moves to the freshness of winter, and the room was still furnished as for summer – I would have liked the warmth of a rug on the polished terracotta tiles (which I believe is usual in most suites); although cosy bathrobes and cotton slippers are of course provided. Another detail that was missing was a personal explanation of the room. I was escorted to my suite with a fellow guest staying next door, that meant that I wasn’t shown the details of my own room – so I didn’t manage to find the security box for example.
Welcome Amenity & Turndown
The thoughtful welcome included cut flowers; Catalan cava on ice, local gourmet olive flavoured salt, (typical artisan produce of the island), and a bottle of the hotel’s olive oil (locally pressed in Soller). Throughout my stay La Residencia repeatedly celebrated Mallorca, through thoughtful gifts, details and experiences. Then again, at turndown the evening gift was a small ceramic star, handmade by Joanna, a ceramicist in the village of Deià; together with a gift of ‘Bread and Oil’, a fascinating book (by Thomas Graves, son of Robert Graves, the English novelist, poet and former resident of the village) that explores the island’s history and culture as captured by the island’s most famous rustic dish.
The marble bathroom was luxurious and shiny – quite a contrast to the rustic elegance of the room. Amenities were by Penhaligans, Bvlgari and Molton Brown.
A stay at La Residencia is so much more than lying by the pool or chilling on one’s private terrace; it’s the opportunity to indulge in some real ‘slow food’ – remarkable local produce, from Mediterranean fish and seafood, local game, to seasonal vegetables and foraged delicacies. The wine list might be a pleasant surprise too, as now with over 70 boutique producers across the island, there are some delicious local wines to be enjoyed.
Start the evening in style with cocktails in Café Miró. During the day, this bar restaurant is the place for informal meals, afternoon tea, and drinks on the quintessential Mediterranean terrace.
In the evening, it’s a chic bar.
The bar’s name is more than just a nod to Mallorca’s famous painter and sculptor Joan Miró – it is also home to some 33 original works by the acclaimed artist.
El Olivo Restaurant
This is the place for the hotel’s signature dining experience, created by Executive Chef Guillermo Méndez. The setting reflects the history of La Residencia – it was the estate’s former olive oil mill, retaining many of the striking original features including the presses. The space captures the essence of this magical property, full of local charm, history and culture. The style is elegant and sophisticated, yet dishes echo the traditions of the island.Try the local Soller prawns; perfectly cooked upon a bed of local salt. The texture and flavour is sublime. I tried the Balearic Monkfish too, sautéed with citrus fruits, a reference to the famous oranges of nearby Soller. My autumnal lamb dish, with olive crust and rosemary sauce was superb; a glorious taste of a Mediterranean island.
Although the antithesis to formal dining, La Residencia’s signature picnic is no less worthy in terms of fine produce. Hike the hotel’s private estate, walking amongst the ancient olive groves to a shepherd’s refuge, accompanied by Pancho, Luna or Alba, one of the hotel’s much-loved donkeys. A private chef will prepare a picnic of local produce, including robust butifarron sausage, spicy and pungent sobrasada, hearty empanadas and of course the classic rustic Mallorca dish ‘pa amb oli’ (bread with olive oil).
The first meal of the day at La Residencia most definitely deserves a mention too. The menu is broad to say the least, embracing British. American and Mediterranean favourites as well as Mallorca specialities such as local cheeses, cured hams and sausages. Don’t miss it; that’s my advice.
Deià is of course well-known for its artistic heritage, and throughout the hotel and its gardens one finds paintings and sculptures. Yet La Residencia goes one step further, beyond the expertly curated art collection, to having its own gallery space, where local artists can exhibit. Guests can also tune into their own creativity with a sculpture or painting class with resident artist, Juan Wealder…
…or take a village art tour, visiting local studios, with Cecilie Sheridan, curator of the La Residencia’s evolving collection.
Well, I can’t sign off without mentioning the spa at La Residencia – the location, up on the hillside, with postcard-perfect views is exceptional. The traditional style building defies its contemporary credentials with indoor pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, gym and six treatment rooms, half of which have private open air terraces for summer treatments.
La Residencia wants guests to feel immersed in the magic of Mallorca; the thing is, it’s so compelling you might not want to explore, choosing instead to stay put and just eat, drink and feel the La Residencia experience.
Address: Belmond La Residencia, Son Canals s/n, 07179 Deià, Mallorca, Spain
Tel: + 34 971 636 046