A secluded country house amid olive groves offers boutique hotel services as well as outstanding views, says Mick Webb.
Concealed at the end of a long narrow track, which zigzags downwards through an olive grove in mountainous, northern Mallorca, is the restored country house of Ca'n Poma. Secluded and peaceful, but just 40 minutes' drive from Palma airport, it bolsters the bed and breakfast offering with boutique hotel services.
The terraced grounds, whose different levels are connected by stone steps, are an Escher-like sequence of surprises: a Moorish-style water feature which runs down towards the swimming pool, little patios and lawns, all shaded by imposing exotic trees alongside the local species of olive, lemon and orange.
If you add the views, the walks and the charms of the local towns and coast, this is a relaxing - and affordable - base for a break.
The six doubles and two suites have been carefully arranged to create a sense of privacy and take full advantage of the views across or down a wooded valley. Five are in a stone building which was once the barn, and the others are in the main house which also contains the breakfast room.
The rooms are furnished simply but attractively, with terracotta floors, wooden beds and tiled en-suite bathrooms; apart from one, they have French doors to terraces with chairs and tables. Television is absent, but with views like the ones on offer, who needs to look at a screen? However, wi-fi is available in the rooms and the garden.
Tables are arranged, quite intimately, at one end of the light and airy dining room-cum-lounge, whose oak beams contrast with whitewashed walls.
Your fellow guests are most likely to be German, and there's plenty of time to chat over the copious breakfasts: muesli, fruit salad, cold meats, cheese, good bread and cooked eggs. On summer days, this is served on the terrace, to the accompaniment of birdsong. Evening meals are also available on request.
Theo, one of the owners, is an accomplished chef and has a good cellar of local wines. A three-course dinner is €28.90 (NZ$45.80). You can get drinks at any time from the honesty bar.
Uta Delissen is German and her husband Theo is Dutch. When they bought a rather run-down Ca'n Poma in 2006 they set about restoring the original beauty of the 300-year-old house.
Uta says: "We wanted to create a place where one can enjoy the silence and beauty of nature.''
A qualified instructor, she offers yoga sessions (from €12 and massages, while Theo gives cooking classes and provides trips in their fishing boat. They share a passion for Mallorca and will help with information, supply walking maps and give advice on where to go; they always seem to have time for a chat.
The location is remote, and a hire car is advisable if you want to see more than Ca'n Poma. A five-minute drive away is Sóller , one of Mallorca's finest towns, with an array of Art Nouveau buildings.
Make time to visit Can Prunera, a museum housed in a striking Modernist building with works by Miru, Picasso, Cézanne and more.
A few kilometres to the west is Dei, "the village of the artists'', whose picturesque houses cascade down the hillside towards a secluded cove. Here, you can visit the former home of the poet Robert Graves, now a museum, and Café Sa Fonda for a cold beer, to listen to live music or look out for holidaying celebrities.
Ideally, though, you should forget the car, pull on your walking boots, ask Theo for one of his maps and set off on foot. The well-signed GR221, a long-distance footpath through the Tramuntana mountains, will take you to the beach at Puerto de Sóller in a couple of hours - the sea is warm enough for a swim well into October.
THE PIT STOP
The area has dozens of good restaurants and tapas bars, but a notable option for value and quality is Ca'n BoQueta in Sóller. Its owner, young Mallorcan chef Kiko Martorell, has created a €25.90 tasting menu, which changes weekly and comprises five small (but not too small) courses; cod with honey alioli and confit potatoes is one dish to savour.
Ca'n Poma, carretera de Dei 48, Sóller, Mallorca, Spain. Doubles start at €130, B&B.
- INDEPENDENTBy Mick Webb