Island-hopping around the Balearics is the perfect way to spend a three-day weekend. The Mediterranean islands may be notorious party hotspots, but the charm of the Balearics is easy to find in the quieter parts of the islands. You know, the parts that don’t attract groups of lads who expect two-for-one Jagerbombs poured directly into their open mouths.
Menorca is a quiet, tranquil spot, with rolling fields of lavender and rosemary that make the whole place smell like a bath tub, and Mallorca is its spicier older cousin that enjoys sophisticated drinking, sunsets and tiny umbrellas in cocktails.
Menorca’s Torralbenc is a beautiful place right in the middle of an expanse of vineyards and lavender fields, built into an old farm and redecorated with an emphasis on relaxation. Mallorca’s Cap Rocat is built inside a military fortress right next to the beach, and where Torralbenc speaks of rest and recuperation, Cap Rocat is a more thrilling adventure of a hotel, a slightly more exciting proposition if tranquility isn’t your bag.
The Balearic Islands are pre-occupied with seafood, obviously enough, and they cook it well. Expect tomatoes, onions, squid, paella and similarly Spanish-influenced food, paired with flavourful local wines and cheeses if you want to try something new. A local speciality, well worth trying, is sobrassada – a paprika-heavy cured sausage. Or you could just try some mayonnaise, first invented in Menorca, but you’ve probably tried that before. Mallorca’s award-winning Cap Rocat restaurant has some of the most enticing food you’ll find on the island, although visitors not staying at the hotel can dine at The Sea Club, a seafood-based restaurant overlooking the bay. Try its calamari and its lobster and squid-ink paella.
Menorca’s largest city, Ciutadella, is a place filled with the kind of orange-bricked architecture straight out of a BBC period drama about the torrid love affairs of the Spanish monarchy. It’s also well worth making a trip to Cova d’en Xoroi, a bar and nightclub set into the cliffs, which sounds like a terrible idea and probably is, but makes for some beautiful mojito-fuelled sunset viewing.
If you’re a fan of shoes – and why wouldn’t you be? – you should visit the Mascaro factory in Menorca, where they make and sell luxury ballet pumps and other footwear for Mayfair’s Pretty Ballerinas shoe store. Shoes are a big thing in Menorca, and you can buy tiny shoe keyrings from most tourist shops in the cities, if you’re keen to show off to your friends back home about how you saw some shoes on your holidays.
NEED TO KNOW:
Stays at Torralbenc are from €242 per night based on two sharing a Sea View Room on a B&B basis. Visit torralbenc.com to book. Stays at Cap Rocat are from €450 per night based on two sharing on a B&B basis. Visit caprocat.com to book. Monarch flies year-round to Mallorca from London Gatwick and London Luton with fares, including taxes, starting from £39 one way (£70 return).