The alluring charm of La Residencia and Deia
By LAURA TOOGOOD | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & TRAVEL EDITOR |
Tucked away in the hills of Majorca is an enchanting village that is completely unspoilt. It is so beautiful that I almost don’t want to reveal this hidden gem to others. Although Deia is one of Southern Europe’s best kept secrets, it is certainly not an unknown hideaway to those in the upper echelons of society. Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones have a large villa nearby and Richard Branson’s former property, La Residencia, regularly welcomes International celebrities from around the world and previously hosted Princess Diana.
This part of Spain is far removed from the stereotypical holiday resorts and clubbing culture that is commonly associated with the likes of Majorca and Ibiza. The stunning rural surroundings, peaceful atmosphere and fresh seafood reminds you of the most charming parts of the South of France. However, the relaxed Spanish culture, dramatic hillside and delicious local produce (this includes the smoothest olive oil you can buy and freshly picked lemons), gives Deia its own special identity.
When I hopped into my taxi at the airport and asked to be driven to La Residencia, which is just over half an hour away, the driver’s expression became a beaming grin! He apologised for his broken English but was able to inform me that this was the best hotel on the whole island – his smile said it all. As we set off to wend our way into rural Majorca, he seemed almost as excited to drop me off as I was about the visit.
Although the drive is short there are some hairpin bends to negotiate as you make your way towards the other side of the island. While you pass the occasional palatial villa, the first real sense of civilisation is when you drive through Valldemossa. This picturesque village is an indication of the beauty to come. The remaining twists and turns of the drive enable you to enjoy far-stretching sea views that are in contrast to an almost mountainous backdrop.
The excitement of discovering Deia was building and after the final significant bend, I was presented with a view of the village. Built on the top of a hill, the sun was bathing its collection of villas in beautiful sunshine. While the village has some striking properties, I could see why the taxi driver was excited to show me La Residencia… and also why he considered it a highlight of the entire island.
La Residencia is part of the Belmond Group, which was recently rebranded from its previous identity (Orient Express). Belmond presents luxury travellers with some of the most spectacular properties in the world. My last visit to one such property was for the wedding of Natasha Eddery, who concluded her Bride-to-be series for The Sloaney with a ceremony at the incredible Villa San Michele. I was blown away by my visit to that property and was slightly sceptical as to whether it could ever be topped. However, La Residencia certainly gives it a run for its money.
The beautiful boutique hotel is tucked in the foothills of the Serra Tramuntana, on Mallorca’s breathtaking north-west coast. La Residencia offers unparalleled luxury but also maintains a very unpretentious feel. The staff (many are from the local area) are incredibly welcoming and genuinely interested in your stay. One of the most endearing aspects of La Residencia is that although you are able to hide away in complete and utter luxury, you are not by any means isolated. Delightful Deia is on your doorstep and you can explore the quiet streets with Cala de Deia beach also only a short walk away. Here you will find a bar and restaurant that offers fabulous views of the sea.
Back at La Residencia there are many luxurious facilities to enjoy. There are two outdoor swimming pools and they offer plenty of space for those looking to soak up the rays. In addition, there is even a hot tub that is located in a secluded corner of the grounds for those looking for extra privacy. The spa has an indoor pool, steam room and sauna; however, the glorious weather is likely to entice you outdoors. With this in mind, La Residencia offers guests a number of exciting activities. These include summer sports such as tennis, but the highlight is undoubtedly the donkey trail which involves a walk up the hillside for a picnic, accompanied by La Residencia’s resident donkeys.
The hotel has been designed to make the most of the idyllic setting. Several of the suites have private pools and I stayed in the Tower Suite which boasted a spacious terrace and 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside. There are so many places to unwind in privacy that even on a busy occasion the hotel will maintain a calm aura.
Although there are plenty of restaurants in Deia where you can enjoy tapas and other local treats, El Olivo has a noteworthy reputation. The restaurant has won awards and is an excellent example of fine dining with an inviting atmosphere. Flickering candlelight helps to create a romantic ambience and casts shadows across the dramatic interior of the traditional building that houses the restaurant.
The menu presents some of the best Mediterranean cuisine, boasts an impressive wine list and also focuses on local specialities. Highlights from Executive Chef Guillermo Méndez and his team include dishes such as Fresh fish or seafood from the market;Wild sea bass of the bay; Rack of Mallorcan lamb in olive crust and Roast suckling-pig from the island with sauce of sage and local sausage “sobrasada”.
During the summer months it is possible to dine outside on the restaurant’s terrace that has splendid views. While it may feel a little cool during the spring and autumn for alfresco meals in the evening, it is worth enjoying lunch at Café Miró, which is next to El Olivo. Café Miró celebrates Deià’s artistic heritage and the tapas is particularly popular.
Art is actually a prominent theme in La Residencia and the hotel often hosts exhibitions with new and prominent artists showcasing their work around the property and in the gallery. During my trip some impressive outdoor sculptures were positioned around the grounds.
It is the unique touches like the resident artist, friendly (and often vocal) donkeys and knowledgeable staff that really set La Residencia apart from others in the luxury market. It is easy to see why this discreetly lavish hotel and its captivating surroundings attract ultra sophisticated travellers, along with many of the world’s most high profile guests.
While the secret may have been out for some time, it is certainly safe. This venue has maintained its unpretentious flair and attracts only guests who want to preserve this very precious hideaway.
You can watch my film about La Residencia on Sloaney TV:
La Residencia is located in Deia, Mallorca. More information can be found via the website: www.hotel-laresidencia.com Bookings can be made by telephoning 0845 0772 222.
There are regular flights from London and The Sloaney team travelled from Victoria to London Gatwick on the Gatwick Express: www.gatwickexpress.com