Sheltered by the imposing Tramuntana Mountains, about 45 minutes drive from the island’s capital of Palma, is the impeccably presented Hotel Castell Son Claret, a ‘Leading Hotels of the World’ property. Once a historic fortified home, this 38 room luxury hotel is renowned for its restaurant, Zaranda, the only two star Michelin venue in the Balearics – writes Andrew FORBES
The transfer from Palma’s international airport takes about 40 minutes, passing the capital, continuing west, through pine forests and small hamlets until the long, palm-lined driveway of the estate appears before you.
The welcome drink of homemade lemonade, decorated with fresh lavender from the garden sets the tone of personalised service at this upscale property.
Open since 2013, this historic property, and elements dating back centuries has been restored and in most parts rebuilt by owner Klaus-Michael Kühne. The hotel is very popular with German guests. German and English is widely spoken, yet Spanish less so amongst some of the waiting staff. The hotel is relatively formal with highly attentive service
I arrived after lunch, around 4pm, when the spring light made the manicured gardens sparkle. A valet took my car and luggage whilst I was offered a seat in the bar. The hotel was busy with departures and check-ins. It has 38 rooms – drawing guests for relaxing Mediterranean spa breaks but also for the cuisine at the hotel’s two restaurants. What better way to enjoy world-class gastronomy and wines than in the knowledge that your suite is just steps away.
After a short delay, I was escorted to my room in the main building.
It’s undeniable that ‘Zaranda’ is often the pull for international guests staying at Hotel Castell Son Claret. Yet in my experience that didn’t mean that the rooms were an afterthought. In fact there are five types of luxury suite, three types of guest room, and a unique duplex, water tower suite which is in the estate gardens.
My first night was in room 204 – a deluxe double. This is one of the lower categories of room, and it was certainly compact. Storage space was limited, with no room to pack away one’s suitcases, and the half-width wardrobe was only really large enough for one person, having only a handful of clothes hangers.
Yet the room had genuine appeal. French doors opened onto a charming Juliet balcony overlooking the Restaurant Olivera terrace below and onto the pool, and then the mountains beyond. There was plenty of attention to detail, including stylish and practical lighting, from floor uplighters, recessed spots, to flexible reading lamps.
Design is contemporary, with polished warm red wood furnishings, warm wood flooring, and neutral tones.
Turquoise beach/pool towels were stylishly presented in a woven beach basket together with ‘yours-to-keep’ straw sun hats. All the requisite facilities and amenities were there, together with some pleasant surprises like the upscale REN bathroom products, super-soft dressing gowns and luxurious comfy cotton slippers.
My second night at Hotel Castell Son Claret was in the converted out-buildings; home to a series of terrace deluxe, pool and garden suites, positioned around an Arabic style pool.
I have to admit to preferring this deluxe room – it is more expensive, but in my mind worth it. The space was considerably larger, with double wardrobes and one could put the suitcases away in the dressing area.
In front of the room is a pergola terrace, overlooking the water feature – an ideal spot for a morning coffee from the in-room Nespresso.
All guest rooms and suites are furnished with very comfortable beds, with luxury mattress toppers, and fine linens. All room rates include breakfast and Wi-Fi. The well-stocked mini-bar is extra.
Castell Son Claret really showed its attention to detail with its generous welcome amenity. A homemade ensaimada cake from the Zaranda kitchens, fresh fruit and a bottle of fine cava.
Zaranda Restaurant is where the magic happens – this is the truly distinguishing feature of this small luxury hotel.
Dining here is an exceptional experience; one that starts typically with unique, handmade cocktails and exquisite canapés in the Claret bar. Visiting in spring meant that we were able to enjoy the signature cocktails, ‘Tramontana’ (made from Palo, the traditional Mallorcan liquor) and the ‘Lemon Daiquiri’, created by the hotel’s charismatic Italian mixologist, Roberto Muscaridola, who I had seen earlier in the day picking lavender from the garden (and now I knew why) since each creation is beautifully decorated with blossoms.
Once seated in the Zaranda Restaurant there is a real sense of occasion. The décor is simple, yet theatrical, with heavy velvet gardens, and within the restaurant wall are deep windows that offer framed glimpses of the head chef Fernando Pérez Arellano and his team in the kitchen.
Itziar Rodríguez, director and Food & beverage Manager offers a warm welcome and together with her team, provided excellent, balanced service which was friendly, informative but not over-attentive – at the end of the day one is here to enjoy the food and the company of one’s dining guests.
The extraordinary tasting menu is entitled ‘La ruta de las Especias’, clearly locally inspired and showcasing not only the talent of Fernando Pérez Arellano and his team but also the produce of the Balearics and the history of the islands.
Chilli Crab – with spicy crab broth & croquette; one of the courses starting the meal
Black Egg – with white onion and cuttlefish caviar: one of the striking signature dishes
Before or After, of Mallorcan almond; one of the highly creative puddings
Hotel Castell Son Claret’s Mediterranean restaurant is less formal, offering a comprehensive and upscale breakfast (caviar is available for example). I particularly enjoyed the more rustic choice of the ‘Tramontana Eggs’ – a small cast iron pan of eggs & sausages.
For dinner I found the service in Olivera to be a little over-attentive. We almost didn’t manage five minutes between waiting staff coming to the table – if the service was more discreet I think this more informal restaurant experience would be much better.
Spa, pool & gardens
It’s a pleasure to explore the meandering paths through the grounds – there are pools, fountains, as well as the kitchen’s small vegetable and herb garden. There are tennis courts and a large swimming pool. If you feel like venturing further afield, beyond the more than 130 acres of estate, then why not borrow the hotel’s bicycles?
Bellesa de Claret
Needless to say I visited the spa, Bellesa de Claret. In addition to the small exercise room, the spa offers a beautiful, contemporary pool/hydrotherapy zone and relaxing area. The massage treatment I received from spa manager Natasa Peric was superb, in a well-presented and very comfortable treatment room.
The Bellesa de Claret spa use Clé de Champs organic cosmetic products, which reflect the seasons, so products will change depending on when you visit the spa.
My only feedback would be that the treatment room was not very well sound insulated, so one could hear other guests talking in the spa reception.
A deluxe Double in the main building of Hotel Castell Son Claret is typically €495; whilst a Terrace Deluxe Double in the gardens is €545 – both include breakfast.