Ibiza is our usual home. Escaping the high-season gay abandon and hedonistic headache of thumping dance music, crowded beaches and a three-month, three-child summer holiday, not to mention rock bands and pop stars, a romantic getaway to our neighbouring island was greatly appreciated. Ibiza to Mallorca may only be a 25-minute, straight up, then straight down, type of plane journey, but it’s a million miles apart…
Palma is a real living, breathing city, where half of the population of this the biggest of the Balearic islands, actually live. It has a functioning port, giant marina and a historical city centre with a magnificent Gothic Cathedral towering above its skyline. And tucked away in the maze of narrow, cobbled streets that make up the throbbing heart of old Palma is Hotel Can Cera. It is surrounded by bars, restaurants, more tiny local bars, majestic churches, plazas, art galleries as well as a thriving local community, all intermingled with the hoards of summering tourists. It’s a heady mix – that’s all before the welcome glass of cava that we were handed on check-in.
Immersed in such character and conviviality, settled in this inner sanctum, it is hard to imagine you are in the midst of the Old Quarter. An oasis of tranquillity and refined beauty, Hotel Can Cera is in fact an old palace. Its pedestrianised cobbled street location does little to give this away. It’s the sort of home from home you imagine having if the Spanish royal family had invited you for the weekend and then left you the key to their holiday house. There’s got to be a con right? Well, we didn’t really find one. Did I mention that it really has the most ridiculously convenient location to explore this fine city? Trust us, it’s also the perfect rendezvous to take a lover: somewhere you want to spend the entire weekend in bed, until you wake up and remember there is a whole of Palma to explore...
Hotel Can Cera is owned by a local Mallorcan family who completely renovated the building when it was derelict; you’ll often spot them in the restaurant, a destination in its own right, at the front of the hotel. As for the Mediterranean cuisine, it is typically Spanish with fresh, local ingredients and great wines. I can still taste the exceptional lemon meringue pie that polished off our first evening’s dinner. Breakfast was a spread of great quality bread, cheeses, tomatoes, coffee and fresh orange juice that I won’t forget in a hurry either.
The hotel seamlessly mixes old with new, with period features such as original tiled floors and high wooden-beamed ceilings. Restrained yet majestic, beautiful communal spaces are filled with antiques, lounge furniture and art books. As for our giant spacious bedroom, I think it was the most comfortable bed we have ever slept in; I actually sneaked back in there on the last day for a cheeky siesta just to check, and I can definitely confirm this. Big well-fitted bathrooms with top-drawer toiletries exist too, sure, but mainly Can Cera is a great resting ground to recharge your batteries in between exploring the culture, food, shopping and monuments of Palma. And of course it would be criminal not to check out all those riojas and ribera del dueros.
There is a tiny suntrap of a terrace on the rooftop which you need to climb a rather steep staircase to get to, but it seems crazy to even venture up there with all that lies before you at your doorstep. Try the Abaco bar on Sant Joan for a cocktail, if nothing else just to step through the giant wooden doors and be met with a feast of cascading fruits and flowers the closest thing to Roman orgy minus the nakedness you may ever set eyes on. (And that’s us former hosts of Manumission talking.)
The mixing of past and futuristic and a no-fuss approach gives this boutique hideaway a timeless quality. Highlights for these Ibiza Rocks escapees included afternoon coffee in the courtyard and a massage at the end of a long city day. There is a genteel air – it was a little like getting a private view with a beautiful old house turned luxury hotel. Explore, experience and discover Palma, be seduced and inspired to get away more often – that’s how our sojourn had us feeling. I think I truly grasped the charm of this hotel when I paused to look at the books in Salon Dorado just before we left. I was looking at one of the giant editions in the hotel’s library and Alberto García-Alix’s words jumped out from a huge photography tome: lo mas cerca que estuve del paradise, meaning ‘the closest that I have been to paradise.’ It was originally written about an English man in Ibiza, and as these Ibiza Smiths headed back to their reality, we realised that such relaxation and simple luxury had indeed been a welcome dose of paradise before we returned to the full throttle of Ibiza’s party season.