At the end of a villa holiday in Mallorca a year or so ago, my best friend told me to pack my suitcase a day early, saying she had booked us into a hotel as a treat before coming home. Slightly sceptical, and reluctant to leave the villa we had settled into so happily, I did, however, as I was told. It was one of those occasions when low expectations were followed by real delight. The hotel she had ‘forced’ on us turned out to be the highlight of our holiday, and we ended up wishing we had known about it earlier.
When Mr & Mrs Smith came calling, with Ca’s Xorc next to my name on the list of reviewers, I agreed even before I had checked if I was free. Whatever was in my diary was just going to have to be moved.
Ca’s Xorc – the well-kept secret discovered by my friend, and now the Smith team – is perched precariously on a hillside, with spectacular views over a mountain range, a valley and out to sea. But I’m jumping ahead of myself a bit. Driving from Palma to Soller, you have the option of taking, when you come off the motorway, either the mountain pass over the ridge and down into the valley (45 minutes), or the tunnel (barely three minutes). If you can take a few hairpin bends in your stride, the first option rewards you with gorgeous views; in our case, we just can’t wait to get to Ca’s Xorc, to see if it was as lovely as I remembered.
The driveway is fun: a series of tortuous, narrow bends that Mr Smith decides it’s wise to negotiate without having to resort to the three-point-turn. Boys will be boys… Several sharp intakes of breath later, I can relax at last. We’re wide-eyed and smiling as we get out of the car – my memories of the hotel haven’t prepared me for how beautiful the setting is.
The finca dates back to the 18th century, when it housed an olive press, the remains of which can be seen in the sunken indoors restaurant. There is also a 25-foot farmhouse table for breakfast and dinner, which reminds me of the Irish tradition of everyone round one table. (In the event, we don’t breakfast communally, but take to the garden, the scent of burning rosemary keeping the wasps out of our jam.)
We don’t pause for breath in our room but grab our swimmers and head to the pool. The hotel’s outdoor environment is very much the star of the show; the path around the house leads you through the dining area – buzzing at lunchtime, candlelit for dinner. When the terrace ends, you follow the 100-year-old olive trees down to the swimming pool: not just any swimming pool, but an infinity pool that gives the illusion that you’re swimming off the cliff edge and into the valley below. (The edge is not for those who are scared of heights.) With our swim, the heat and dust of the journey is put paid to; then we drag ourselves into the Jacuzzi – positioned on a higher terrace overlooking the pool and under the lemon trees. We walk back through the citrus-scented grove as the sun sets over the sea, and finally collapse in our room, contented, slightly sunkissed and feeling very lucky to be here.
The rooms at Ca’s Xorc are classic Mediterranean in style; in ours, a wrought-iron and crystal chandelier adds character to the whitewashed typical-finca impression. The bedlinen is white, crisp and cool – perfect for hot Spanish nights. We looked out over the terrace to the mountains and the sea beyond – a view I don’t think I would ever tire of. The bathroom only has a shower, and the bath products are old-fashioned country-style, but these minor things in no way bother us (half the rooms at Ca’s Xorc do have spacious bathrooms with bathtubs).
Dinner was romantic, panoramic and perfect. We sink a delicious bottle of local red wine, wolf down some tasty fresh fish and sleep like babies. The next day, though it is hard to think of a good reason to leave such a haven, we drive off to explore Deia, a small town further south along the winding mountain road. We got up late, so by end of the 15-minute journey, we are starving, and stop at a tapas place on the main road. (What is it about Spain that makes a few slices of cold meat taste so good?) We walk up to Deia church at the top of the hill, and down to the bottom to Deia cove. Both strolls are delightful, and would be even more so does Mr Smith – a young man in his thirties – not complain so about not being able to take the car right to the church door and the sea’s edge.
Driving back to Ca’s Xorc we stop off at Bens D’Avall, which is signposted from the road, to book our table for the evening. So nothing remains to be done apart from rushing back to the hotel for more frolicking at the cliff’s edge; Jacuzzi-soaking, honesty-bar drinks; and a massage that I booked in advance. Mr Smith is chucked out into the gardens, where he happily drifts off on a sunlounger while I get beautifully blissed out.
The restaurant we have chosen for dinner is renowned in the area not only for its cuisine, but also its setting. Again, it is on the edge of a sheer cliff, reaching down to the sea below. The plum views are from the edge of the terrace, which is where we find ourselves. So pleased with ourselves are we that we order lobster and champagne to celebrate, and the evening is over far too quickly for my liking.
Our two-night stay at Ca’s Xorc is over, and we depart into the sunshine with heavy hearts. In the car on the way back I turn to Mr Smith and begin ‘What if…?’. He agrees without a moment’s hesitation, and we ring reception as we drive out of the tunnel, to book Ca’s Xorc as the venue for our wedding next year.