Behind the glorious cathedral of Palma de Mallorca you will find a maze of tiny streets that make up the historic quarter. On first glance, these meandering alleys seem rather plain and uninteresting.
However, many of these buildings are in fact ancient palaces. Some are still sadly decaying, but others have been restored to their former glory and transformed into beautiful boutique hotels. You would never guess that pretty interior courtyards and rooftop terraces lie behind their seemingly plain facades.
A classic example of what can be achieved by preserving the historical elements of these ancient buildings, and adding modern components can be found at the Santa Clara Hotel. Hotelier Tomeu Escalas bought the former aristocratic home in 2008 and sympathetically converted it into one of the first boutique hotels to be opened in Palma. This 4-star hotel is situated behind the Parc de la Mar in a quiet part of the old town and has twenty rooms & suites. Shops, sights and restaurants are a few minutes walk away. And perhaps best of all for a city hotel, you are only a five minute walk from the nearest beach.
The extremely thick, 18th century walls are the commanding feature in the hotel. Big chunks of rough sandstone create that step-back-in-time feeling, but the modern lighting and striking contemporary artworks (all by Mallorcan artists) bring it straight back into the 21st century. There are cut outs in the rock that let the light dance into the stairways, and a cavernous spa (hot tub, sauna, steam room, massages & beauty treatments) in the basement. The bedrooms have enormous wooden beams in the ceiling, and most have views out on to the Santa Clara convent and gardens. Big modern white furniture make a stark impact against the stone walls, and fine white net curtains provide some softness in an otherwise bold room.
For views of the sea, all you have to do is head to the stylishly designed rooftop terrace, with it's solarium. From here, you look out over the Santa Clara convent and Palma cathedral, on to the marina and sea beyond. You can order drinks to be served up here, it's really very magical.
It is possible to drive to the hotel along the narrow streets but once you have unloaded your luggage, you may as well leave the car in the underground car park under the cathedral for the rest of your stay. And if you ask the hotel in advance, they have two parking spaces available for guests. The lack of cars in the old town makes a for a wonderfully tranquil stay despite being minutes from the centre of Palma. Everything you need is within walking distance of the hotel. There is no restaurant (breakfast is available and is served in a designated area off reception), so make it an adventure to explore the local area at night time to see what wine and tapas bars you stumble upon (it won't take you long...). The staff are super-friendly (and multilingual) and can advise you on all aspects of your visit to Palma.
A double room at the Santa Clara starts from 160€ and the hotel is open throughout the year. Remember that if you book your room directly through the hotel website, you will be entitled to up to a 15% discount of the price of your room. It is not just us that loves this hotel, it has consistently been rated as a top five hotels in Palma on Trip Advisor since it opened.
Find out more about the Santa Clara Urban Hotel.