Two and a half hours on a plane with families, pensioners and, perhaps as you might expect for Mallorca, a hen party who were already a glass or two in (and that’s on a 6 a.m. flight) ... safe to say, we were glad to arrive. Immediately, we all went our separate ways. Mallorca is the largest of the five Balearic Islands, so it was big enough for us all to choose a path as different as we all were. The Mediterranean landscape varies greatly, from sandy beaches made up of small bays to the inland's gentle hills, which are largely used for agriculture. Not forgetting, of course, the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range to the north. We made our way over the hilltops along one of the many winding roads to find lots of hidden gems, nestled around the picturesque bays and often steep, sloping hills. Luckily, our destination was in one of the most beautiful bays around: Port de Sóller, a stunning little outpost of Sóller Town, overlooking the port. It’s set in a valley amongst the hills, four kilometres from the town.
With high cliffs around it and a very narrow outlet into the sea, Port de Sóller is well protected from the wind and the waves, which means it oozes calm and tranquillity. This vibe also characterizes the Bikini Island & Mountain Hotel, our home for three nights. It boasts an idyllic location in a small valley, with views of the town, the bay and the port, with a mountain range as its backdrop. This hotel is certainly worthy of its membership of the Design Hotels Family – I loved everything about it. It has a coherent overarching concept: a luxurious, yet contemporary hippie look. Certain corners could almost seem a bit OTT given their colourful and opulent decoration, if it wasn't for the fact that they're in such a perfect oasis of calm – and that's what this hotel is all about.
Take, for example, NENI, a stylish restaurant full of beautiful, luxurious plants. With its open kitchen and huge terrace, it really is stunning – not to mention its incredible view over the bay of Port de Sóller, which will simply blow you away. It’s a beautiful place to enjoy breakfast in the morning or to lounge in the afternoon under the shade of the canopy, made of plaited palm leaves. In the evening, as the setting sun illuminates the bay in red, this is one of the most picturesque locations to have dinner, with a choice from its concise yet varied and very well curated menu.
NENI was founded by Haya Molcho and her sons Nuriel, Elior, Nadiy and Ilan – and the name of the restaurant empire is made up of her sons' first initials. Haya has released five cook books, and she sets the culinary tone, before each location's restaurant brings it to life in its own way using local ingredients and influences. In addition to the Mallorca venue at Bikini Island & Mountain Hotel, there are nine other sister restaurants bringing NENI's Israeli-influenced food to Berlin, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Paris, Zurich, Cologne, Vienna and other places. They're united not only in name, but also in their delicious Israeli food and sharing plate ethos.
The best way to describe NENI is simply the enjoyment of good food in a relaxed atmosphere. That's the exact experience we enjoyed on two evenings during our stay. The starters are served mezze-style – and every dish was top notch. Everything we tried was delicious and complemented each other perfectly. We began with their Popcorn Falafel, drizzled in Labneh, a tasty, creamy yoghurt-like dip with olives and olive oil. We also tried Zakuski (roasted tomatoes, peppers and aubergine with rocket, feta and walnuts) as well as Moroccan Feta Cigars (filo pastry rolls filled with spinach and feta or spicy minced beef and pine nuts). After that tasty start, we continued with the Catch of the Day (a whole grilled fish with grilled fennel and a dressing) and the Jerusalem Plate, which was hot and spicy grilled chicken and peppers, served on hummus with fresh pitta bread on the side. Seeing as we'd chosen NENI's surprise menu, known as BEST OF NENI, we were also treated to not one, but two desserts: a fruit salad and a piece of the frankly legendary and unbelievably tasty New York Cheesecake, for which NENI is famous. All that really was something, and a delicious something at that!
Alongside good food and excellent service, the Bikini Island & Mountain Hotel has so much more to offer, such as its huge outdoor pool area and cocktail bar set in a stunning courtyard that opens out onto the port and the sea. It also boasts the first and to-date only Santa Verde Spa, a sauna and many other amazing features.
One great example is the fact that you can hire a bicycle at no extra cost. The range of bikes on offer – from electric mountain bikes to City Flitzers – enables you to explore any part of the surroundings with comfort and ease. We decided to borrow an electric mountain bike to go for a short afternoon ride, and without too much exertion, we were able to head off the tarmac roads and cover a fair bit of the stunning surroundings. We went through lemon and orange groves, with their magnificently intense aromas and idyllic Spanish ranches, which were spread along the valley sides. We then cycled uphill towards Sóller for an afternoon glass of freshly pressed orange juice and a tasty ice cream in some beautiful, bustling church grounds. I'd really recommend a cycle ride up to Sóller specifically, and, generally, it's great to get out and about on two wheels to explore any part of the wonderful local area.
For those who want to see more of the island, but don't fancy the several-day cycling or hiking tours, hiring out a test vehicle is the perfect option. In a few hours, you'll be out enjoying your chosen destination or just driving around and exploring the island. Bikini Island & Mountain Hotel has partnered with Mercedes to offer this service. So, we grabbed this opportunity by the steering wheel and set off in a comfortable luxury AMG Cabriolet, first to a picturesque little bay on the south of the island and then, on the way back, taking in the sunset over the cliffs. What more can I say? No matter how you choose to get around, you'll definitely find that there are hundreds of incredibly beautiful spots to discover in every single corner of this magnificent island.
If you want a relaxing holiday in picturesque surroundings with amazing food – along with plenty of areas to explore and a varied set of leisure activities – this hotel may well be the perfect one for you.