It’s difficult to imagine a more perfect setting for a hotel – on one side, the towering peaks of the Sierra de Tramuntana mountain range; and to the other side, just over a few terraced hills and farmland, the shimmering blue waters of the Mediterranean.
Situated between this dramatic meeting of summit and sea is Deià, a small village on the northwest coast of Mallorca. In addition to the international community of artists, writers and poets who have lived here for decades, Deià is also home to La Residencia, a luxury resort owned by Orient Express since 2002. Arriving on the island by air and then by bus to Deià, I couldn’t wait to explore it.
The first thing to greet me as I walked up the gently sloped entrance was a grove of citrus trees and fragrant lavender and thyme. Not long after was the hotel’s public relations manager, Louise Davis, who spent the afternoon guiding me around the 80-acre property. With a gentle sea breeze behind us and the sun warm overhead, we followed winding, pebble paths that connected the four main buildings of the hotel.
Louise explained that two date as far back as the late 1500s, when they were manor houses and stored stone olive presses, and the oldest – a watchtower that is now home to the Tower Suite – is even a protected medieval building, thought to have been built by the Knights Templar. Although La Residencia wasn’t officially opened until the 1980s, its sense of connection to history is still strong.
The hotel’s 67 rooms are a mix of rooms and suites, including eight spacious Tramuntana suites named after the range’s eight highest peaks. My own was called Teix and in addition to its private terrace and plunge pool, it featured a fresh design that fit perfectly with the island atmosphere: Wooden beamed ceilings, terracotta tiled floors and crisp white walls – just the right backdrop for several paintings done by local artists.
But it was the attention to detail that impressed me the most: Separate UK and US plugs behind the desk, meaning I never needed an adapter; sliding doors enclosing the complimentary mini-bar and kitchenette, where the light switched on automatically when I opened the doors; and a large flat-screen TV cleverly hidden in a cabinet at the foot of the bed. At all times, it felt contemporary yet comfortable.
La Residencia has not one but four restaurants scattered throughout its property: Safareix pool bar, open only in the summer; Son Moragues terrace and bar; El Olivo, offering gourmet dinners under Executive Chef Guillermo Méndez; and Son Fony, where breakfast is served. While seating is available inside, I opted for a table on the terrace every morning, which overlooked the pool and beyond it, the village of Deià.
My server Marga welcomed me each day with a choice of either orange or grapefruit juice, both freshly squeezed from the hotel’s own orchards. She then explained that much of the buffet has been sourced not far from La Residencia’s doorstep, including thick slices of grimalt cheese, chorizo, and tangy orange marmalade, homemade by the chef. But my favourite were the ensaimaidas, a traditional Mallorcan pastry twisted into a spiral and dusted with powdered sugar.
While La Residencia is a part of the luxury collection, Leading Hotels of the World, its on-site spa is also one of the Leading Spas of the World, with a gym, indoor pool, sauna, steam room and six treatment rooms. In addition to traditional massages and facials and more alternative options such as the Thermal-Hydro-Colour Experience, it also offers two signature treatments: the Citrus Siesta and the Olive Activator.
As tempting as the first sounded, I chose the latter, which would be “more to revive than relax,” as massage therapist Hannah advised. It began with an invigorating scrub-down with a body brush, followed by thick brushstrokes of warmed olive oil – made from the hotel’s own olives – and a full body massage. A beautiful dish of lemon sorbet, topped with a dash of olive oil and hibiscus salt, was the perfect end.
Where I felt La Residencia truly set itself apart was in the activities available, with a Leisure Concierge there to arrange everything from ballooning to helicopter rides. Every Thursday guests have the chance to ride the hotel’s three donkeys – Alba, Lluna and Pancho – up the mountain for a guided walk and picnic.
Resident tennis coach, Shayne Webb, is also on hand to private lessons on one of two courts, as are artist and sculptor-in-residence, Alan Hydes and Jaun Waelder, for those feeling inspired by the hotel’s private art collection.
Ever since writer and poet Robert Graves first moved to Deià in 1929, the village has been a favourite spot for literary and creative expats. Even today, artists open their doors and welcome visitors into their studios and homes. Coming to Deià myself, it wasn’t hard to see why they’d felt drawn to this little corner of the island.
Beyond the stunning natural inspiration it offers, the village itself is a tumble of cobbled streets, cafés, and restaurants – ranging from cozy tapas bars to the Michelin-starred Es Raco d’es Teix. Best of all, the heart of Deià is merely steps away from La Residencia, which means exploring the village is just as easy as escaping into the hotel.
With thanks to Orient Express for their hospitality at La Residencia on Mallorca. For more information visit