As the UK finds itself in the midst of a bitter pre-Christmas cold snap, it’s no wonder many of us have been feeling the itch of wanderlust. Ahead of the looming festive madness, I caved and went for a long weekend stay at Calatrava hotel in Palma, Mallorca. Set on the edge of the city’s historic quarter, just a stone’s throw from La Seu Cathedral, Calatrava is a 19th-century sea-facing property. Inside, its cocooning, terracotta-hued walls and pale beechwood floors are offset by chambray sofas and black-and-white photographs shot by Mallorca-born artists Jose Taltavull and Xim Izquierdo.
Like many design lovers, I’m partial to these characterful, boutique interiors that sincerely reflect the destination – contrary to the homogenous, corporate look so often found in hospitality chains across the globe.
Calatrava is part of It Mallorca, a collection of five family-owned hotels on the island. Founder Miguel Conde tells me: “All the buildings that house our hotels have had prior lives and are made up of thousands of stories. In fact, the idea of adding new bricks to Mallorca seems totally absurd to me. Especially on an island which abounds in gorgeous, obsolete buildings begging to be resurrected to their former glory. Each hotel has been a labour of love – Cristina Marti, my talented architect wife, and I have worked tirelessly to capture the true heart of the properties.”
The thread that runs through all the hotels is the couple’s firm belief that sympathetic renovation and thoughtful interior design – carried out in partnership with local carpenters and craftspeople – are integral to creating an authentic Mallorcan stay.
While Calatrava’s decor takes a warm yet minimalist approach, its sister property, Can Cera, favours grand flourishes. Hidden away among the Old Town’s meandering streets, the 17th-century palace boasts lofty stone arches and a sweeping marble staircase. Its elegantly furnished salons feature crystal chandeliers, antique oak seating, and gilt mirrors alongside contemporary art.
Emphasising the region’s long-established craft ethos, Conde explains: “We strive to give a voice to Mallorcan makers with soul because we believe in the power of their hands. Through their preferred medium, each artist on display highlights the authentic Mallorca they know so well, emphasising its natural beauty – away from masses and stereotypes. On marble shelves or hanging from our walls, you will find the striking raffia works of Adriana Meunie, the warm and half-finished lines of Estefania Pomar, and the stunning sculpture of Jordi Alcaraz.” The result is a collection of havens where creatives have come together, united by a deep appreciation for the place they call home.
For many, the Spanish island is synonymous with beach tourism, boasting a party reputation and conjuring up memories of sun, sea and sangria. But within the walls of It Mallorca properties, Conde and Marti have conceived a fresh narrative around the holiday hotspot by employing design that offers visitors an authentic taste of the region’s cultural richness.