Last week, I spent three days in the Capital City of Mallorca, Palma. I was kindly invited out by Palma 365, the tourist board, to show myself and three fellow writers what Palma is really like. My brother actually lived there for a few months not long ago, and has spoken so highly of what a great place it is. Perfect for a short getaway, it really did tick a lot of boxes for me. I didn’t have many expectations beforehand, but was truly surprised by the beauty of the architecture, the weather during winter, the incredible cuisine and the history that is still very much alive to this day. Here’s everything we did, ate, where we stayed and everything you need to know before visiting the city.
We flew London Gatwick to Palma via Easyjet on the way out (BA on return). It takes just over two hours, with a +1 hour time difference. We got a taxi to the hotel which took just over 15 minutes, a really easy and pretty drive down past the Cathedral. I can also fly from Bournemouth really easily, so I’ll keeping an eye out for flights from door to door!
Accomodation: Brondo Architect Hotel
What a fantastic hotel! Situated right in the city centre, this was absolutely perfect for us. Located in a 17th century Mallorcan building, the Brondo Architect Hotel is a sophisticated boutique hotel offering individually-designed rooms and stylish interiors featuring exposed brick, wooden beams and a beautiful 1st floor dining area. On arrival, we discovered that this quirky boutique hotel has many different options for rooms, decorated differently and named after famous architects. They offer everything from a basic room, right up to a suite with a private terrace.
I was allocated a premium room, which included a double bed and little courtyard. Priced around £150 per night, this really is great value for money and somewhere I’d genuinely book again. The open brick, big shower, robes, mini fridge, safe, large wardrobe (with plenty of normal hangers!), free wifi and huge mirror were fabulous. We also had a welcome drink included too. Couldn’t fault my room at all.
Our first meal was lunch in the hotel restaurant. I was so surprised with the space here, it was beautifully decorated with high ceilings, modern features, huge windows letting in light, and a small outside courtyard area for socialising or working. It was very much my kind of aesthetic. My meal was absolutely incredible too, one of my favourites from the trip. Salmon and prawn salad with raspberry and mango vinaigrette. So fresh and tangy, I ate it all. I also had a glass of rosé which was beautiful. Highly recommend.
With some free time before dinner, we took a stroll down to Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma (more commonly referred as Palma Cathedral). It was a quick ten minute walk and we caught golden hour with the sun setting. I was so surprised with how clean the streets and surrounding areas are, it felt so refreshing to be in a city which has a balance between new and old. The Cathedral sits beautifully by some open water, with a view of the harbour across the road. It was truly so beautiful. I would have loved to have spent longer here and seen the inside properly.
Mercat 1930 is a restaurant with a twist. It features several booths inside for a tapas style dinner. The tables are open plan, making it a really sociable and lively place. I imagined myself and a group of friends spending hours here! In all honesty, I wasn’t really sure what I fancied after my huge seafood salad at lunch, and was pretty spoilt for choice. They had a great selection of many different cultures and options, but I went for Black Truffle Pasta cooked fresh in front of me, bread and olives, sweet chilli chicken which was also cooked fresh, along with trying some chicken wings and other nibbles with our group. I enjoyed it all and the experience as a whole. Finished with some Gelato for dessert, can’t go wrong. My meal was a total of €25 including two soft drinks.
To fuel up for the day, we had breakfast in the hotel which I have to be honest, felt was pricey for €16pp. It’s a good buffet selection with everything including pastries and meats however, I don’t eat a huge breakfast so this wouldn’t be something I’d pay for in future. I was very pleased to see they had almond/soya milk though, something I struggle to find in hotels when I travel for a bowl of cereal. The coffee was absolutely gorgeous too, reminded me of the good quality coffee you can find in Italy or Croatia.
Get ready for a big focus on emblematic shops! Visiting Palma’s long-established businesses means discovering an important part of the city’s history and its authentic activities, showcasing traditional Mallorcan trades such as ceramics, glass-making and shoe-making. We had a tour guide show us the best of city!
Carminia Shoemaker | Artisan Shoes Since 1866
Carminia are a four generation shoemaker based in Mallorca. Their shoes combine the classic models such as oxford shoes, loafer shoes and contemporary styles such as chelsea boots. They are specialists in genuine shell cordovan shoes and boots. They have stores all over the world now, but it was so incredible to learn the history of the generations who have continued the shoemaking trade.
Forn Fondo | Family bakery celebrating over 100 Years
Our next stop was Pastisseria Forn Fondo, one of the oldest bakeries in Palma. It’s run by the 4th generation of the same family since 1911. We were shown several different traditional pastries, biscuits and cakes, but the star of the show is by far the Ensaimada, a flagship product for the island. They have more than 20 different kinds of Ensaimada, but the typical and classic one is without any filling which of course I had to buy to taste! They adapt fresh seasonal products to their Ensaimadas including apricots, figs, cherries, peppers, marzipan, cream, dark chocolate with orange, sobrasada, white chocolate with nuts and lots more! It was so light and fluffy, a perfect breakfast or snack. 100% a must-try when visiting Mallorca.
Forn Des Teatre | Famous bakery housed in a 19th century building
Our tour guide Louisa took us from one bakery to another, but Forn Des Teatre was pretty special. The outside is so gorgeous, featuring a wooden shop sign and panels which frame the entrance, with floral motifs popular in the early 20th century. This is now an officially protected feature of the building. We met the owner, Tomeu Arbona, a master baker who has a reputation in Palma for producing both sweet and savoury pastries, pies, and bread in traditional Mallorcan style using locally sourced and ecologically produced products. He gave us the opportunity to peak behind the scenes downstairs and round the corners of the fully working shop, as they were making fresh pies known as Panades. We had a little tasting platter of different varieties, I went in for seconds they were THAT good. Filled with meat and peas, they reminded me a little of home. We learnt that they’re very much a traditional pie around Easter time in Mallorca, so it was lovely to see them preparing for the holiday ahead. A beautiful shop producing high quality food, along with the opportunity to pick up Mallorcan honey, jams and sauces too.
Gordiola Glass | Traditional Glass-blowing shop since 1955
Mimbrería Vidal | 60 years of wicker products
One of my favourites from our emblematic shop tour, Mimbrería Vidal is a renowned company created in 1955, which for three generations has been creating wicker products. They specialise in a wide range of tradition items created by hand including baskets, hats, carpets and curtains. I absolutely loved exploring here, I certainly would have purchased one if my hand luggage allowed it! I’m not sure if they’re aware how very much on trend their products are, but you could see the passion and love as their store was packed from floor to ceiling of gorgeous bags and baskets.
Time for lunch! We were in for a real treat today as we experienced a private cooking class and opportunity to taste the very best of Mallorcan cuisine! Chefsin, the brand that represents the high quality cuisine of the Balearic Islands, welcomed us for lunch and to try our hand at producing some of their favourite dishes. This experience is focused more for groups, private hire and businesses, but I wanted to highlight the food here.
I’m quite confident I could write a whole blog post on the food we had here but I’m going to keep it short and sweet. We experienced a few different dishes, all traditional to Mallorca, including:
– Coca with Trampo: similar to a pizza but Mallocan’s love it because you can add whatever you like! They make the base really thin but the product is without cheese. Tastes amazing. Nice and light.
– Lemon fish (Mallorcan Style): this was so tasty. Beautifully presented and light, loved it.
– Lomo Con Col: These were little parcels I had the opportunity to make including pork wrapped in cabbage, with apricot, stewed cabbage and a type of local sausage called sobrasada.
– Burballes: This is an ancient recipe of soup with a special type of pasta. The spices were too strong for me as I don’t like nutmeg, but it would be lovely around winter time.
They also gave us a little plate with a passion fruit dessert shaped like a pair of lips. You literally had to put you lips to the plate to eat it (watch my vlog at the end to see that!).
After so much food, it was time to continue the walking tour and visit a few shops. We split up and I spent some time with Kirsty exploring a few individual boutique places, before taking myself to the huge Zara and purchasing a few new pieces. Don’t forget to look up at these building, as every corner and every bit of architecture is so unique and so beautiful.
Cuit Restaurant, Nakar Hotel
We ate dinner on the 8th floor of Nakar Hotel at their restaurant Cuit. Here you can enjoy a unique view of the city, where you can see the historic centre, the Cathedral, Bellver Castle and the beautiful bay of Palma. This would be incredible in the summer, they open up the area and you can eat outside. They also have a rooftop bar with a pool and DJ, my kind of place during the warmer weather!
This was a very special meal. Perfect for a date night or celebration, the quality was excellent. Couldn’t fault it. The menu is based on artisan and seasonal cuisine, inspired by the Mallorcan gastronomic tradition, very Mediterranean and reformulated with new trends looking for the best seasonal products that the island can offer. Organic, sustainable cuisine that recovers and gives life to old traditional recipes of the island.
We shared two starters between us; ploughman’s potatoes with egg yolk and black truffle, and seasonal vegetables Majorcan frit with artichokes done in batter. Both excellent, but I preferred the latter. For my main, I opted for poached cod loin with emulsion of lemon and tap de quartí. This was a beautiful dish, cooked to perfection. Finally, the winner for me was my dessert. Pistachio cake, lemon cream and Majorcan spiced ice cream…heaven. Best dessert I’ve had in ages.
Starters were €13, my main was €20 and dessert was €8. Very good for the high quality. Would definitely eat here again.
Our final day started at Mercat De L’Olivar, a gastronomic market which features a wide choice of local produce and food stalls for a short visit, followed by lunch at the only restaurant in the market.
I took so many photos here, it featured absolutely everything you can think of! Every type of food was available, including sushi, fresh bread and cheese…there was even a stall dedicated to pets…and another for sweets! I could have spent hours browsing the stalls, so much life and colour and wonderful smiles from the stall owners. We met Mauricio, a lovely restaurant owner who took us around with a basket on his arm purchasing all the fresh meat and fish he was going to cook for us for lunch.
It’s safe to say that I was absolutely stuffed after this. I felt like we ate a bit of everything! My favourite little snack was Sobrassada, a sausage meat served on a small cracker. We had spanish omelette, cheeses, nuts, a whole platter of different fresh fish (including Maui Maui which I love!), pork cooked for 20 hours with pepper and aubergine, different breads, more sausage and some lamb to name a few. We even cooked our own pieces of steak on a hot plate. We were here three hours with Mauricio, he told us that it’s tradition to spend a long time enjoying your food and eating slowly over conversation with family and friends. We tried different red wines, and finished with an Ensaimada (this time with cream!). Delicious.
La Industrial | Traditional Toy Shop since 1989
En route back to our hotel, Lucy (our lovely PR representative and tour guide!) took us one of the oldest toy shops in Palma called La Industrial. It had a neon green light and plenty of dollies displayed in the window. We met the owner who shared the many memories she has from generations of her family owning the store, and said they’ve been here since 1989! She showed us old photographs and I couldn’t believe how little the shop front had changed. It was so lovely to see the history and passion for a toy shop very much alive. Loved it.
Castell De Bellver
With a few hours left before heading to the airport, Kirsty and I took a taxi to Bellver Castle, a Gothic-style castle on a hill 3 km to the west of the center of Palma. It was built in the 14th century for King James II of Majorca, and is one of the few circular castles in Europe. It costs €4 per person to enter, and you don’t need more than an hour to explore and soak in the views.
Just before we left, I had my final gelato (they have amazing flavours like banoffee and Creme Brulee everywhere!) and stopped by the Palma sign near the harbour…for the ‘gram. We didn’t get a chance to walk around the Marina (where my brother worked!), but I’d love to in future.
Before I wrap up this post, I wanted to say a huge thank you to Palma 365 for organising such a fantastic trip, along with We Are Lotus and in particular, Lucy Keenan for looking after us! Thank you to all the restaurants, hosts, our hotel and our tour guide Louisa, it was truly wonderful to experience Palma is all it’s glory.
Palma is a perfect little getaway, especially if you enjoy a good mix of food, culture and shopping like me. There are tons of boutique hotels, plenty of museums and art to explore, so much fresh food and traditional dishes to try and finally, the weather! It was so lovely and warm during the day (even in February) and jeans and a light jacket for morning and night.