The weekend: If you’ve been craving the chance to get back to nature (let’s face it, a quick sandwich in St James’ Park just doesn’t cut it), and a healthy dose of peace and quiet, head to this craggy peninsula on the north-eastern tip of Mallorca, pronto. An hour from Palma airport is the swish seaside resort of Port de Pollenca, yachts bobbing gently in its azure harbour. If you really want to get away from it all, drive up an alarmingly steep, winding road – which offers breathtaking views across dramatic limestone stacks and jagged cliffs – then over the pine-tree-carpeted headland to the rugged beauty of Cap Formentor, home to a long stretch of beach, and one of the island’s oldest hotels, Royal Hideaway Formentor.
The stay: This three-storey, hacienda-like building started life in 1929 as a private house. Owned by an Argentinian poet, Adam Diehl, he invited writers and artists to stay, then developed it into a hotel. Former guests include Grace Kelly (who honeymooned here), John Wayne, and even Winston Churchill. It’s since changed hands, and the building has expanded – it currently has 122 simply-decorated rooms and two villas – but it’s still set within several hundred acres of the most exquisite gardens, lush with palm trees, exotic plants and colourful flowers, so it feels kinda like being in paradise, actually. Service is old-school and elegant, and it’s the kind of place you’ll still find a cigarette machine in the bar, next to the green baize pool table. There’s an expansive pool if you don’t want to get sand in your Vilebrequins, and any number of shady terraces and patios to sit with an Aperol Spritz and watch the sun sink over the Med.
Who goes?Spanish families, young European couples and a handful of well-heeled Brits.
The food: There are two main restaurants onsite; El Pi, by the pool, offers casual dishes at lunchtime – think Greek salads or burgers – and fine dining at night; and El Colomar is breakfast-buffet-heaven, piled with cheeses, Iberian hams, omelette stations and fresh fruit, while it pulls out the big guns for dinner, serving classics like beef Wellington and lobster risotto, as well as fresh seafood and salads. The hotel runs two restaurants just outside its grounds, on the public beach; Platja Mar, specialising in grilled fish and meat,;and El Veranda, which serves pizzas almost as big as the tables.
Ask about: The hotel can organize boat trips, so you can see that dazzling coastline from sea-level. You’ll sail around Pollenca bay, Formentor Island – which has a cave you can dive in, if you’re into that – and past the impressive La Forteleza estate. If that name doesn’t ring any bells, hark back to sexy BBC drama The Night Manager; it doubled as the home of the series’ arch-villain, Richard Roper, played by Hugh Laurie (its real owner is British banker, Lord James Lupton, who forked out around £30m for it in 2011).
And after that? If you want the ultimate view, the Cap de Formentor lighthouse perches on the very northern tip of Mallorca, just seven miles away. Or, if you can brave that roller-coaster of a road again, head down to Port de Pollenca for its nightlife – it’s home to several bars and a couple of clubs (Chivas Disco is a local institution).
Mystery Fact: The Formentor peninsula is one of the locations in the 1982 Agatha Christie film, Evil Under the Sun.
Need to know: British Airways flies to Palma di Mallorca from £110 return; ba.com. Rooms at Royal Hideaway Formentor start from around £200 per night, including breakfast. To book, visit barcelo.com.