Overlooking the seafront on Palma de Mallorca, El Llorenç Parc de la Mar currently tops many of the Best Hotel lists for the island, with a Michelin lauded dining room to match. It’s where ultra-contemporary meets traditional. Neil D.A. Stewart checks in
At first glance El Llorenç Parc de la Mar seems to have been carved into the old city walls, as if it too can count its age in centuries rather than a few short but eventful years. In fact, it opened in 2019 (the owners have also just opened a sibling, El Vicenç de la Mar, at the northern tip of the island). Behind its tall impassive walls is a boutique hotel replete with pleasing design details: lights that are floating orbs or frozen metallic starbursts, carpets patterned with dense patterns of monstera leaves, hints of the city’s Moorish history reflected in the stellate patterns inset in ceilings and informing parquet-style wooden flooring.
I especially coveted a table lamp shaped like a couture gown and woven from strands of copper wire
I really liked the room here, with its mixture of dynamic dayglo art and monochrome photography, its further subtle repetitions of tiling patterns (inset in flat surfaces and the main door), its oceanic colourings – sand-grey and Balearic blue – and its well-chosen furnishings. I especially coveted a table lamp shaped like a couture gown and woven from strands of copper wire. In the shower there’s even more ceramic tiling, a nice mismatch of Italianate and Islamic styles, and, even more pleasingly, Le Labo products. (My one quibble about the bathroom is that while there are slatted wooden blinds that can be lowered and closed to bring some privacy to this big bright glass box of a room, there is no door to the actual toilet within.)
Services included in-room dining and a city guide are accessed via a pre-programmed iPad, although this took several hours to load up when I visited. Happily, this didn’t inconvenience me at all: with only a couple of days in Mallorca, I wasn’t planning to venture out beyond El Llorenç’s fortress walls and all my dining was to be done in the hotel’s rightly fêted restaurants.
On the ground floor, in a low-lit yet airy room whose palette picks up the bedrooms’ warm metallics and marine blues, is main restaurant DINS Santi Taura, awarded a Michelin star in 2021. Head chef Taura is on a culinary mission to educate as well as entice, with his dozen-course Origens menu drawing on traditional Mallorcan ingredients and dishes; with one of the island’s oldest ovens uncovered during construction work on the hotel, this is a restaurant where tradition is (forgive me) baked in. Classic dishes comprised of locally sourced ingredients are given playful contemporary twists; as I’m being told about the DINS ethos, summarised in its mission statement of “We cook history”, I’m distracted by a cracking palette-whetter of a preprandial drink, a house-made vermouth spiked with orange, with a thick head of foam – marmaladey, sharp-sweet, dangerously drinkable.
Menus are withheld until the end of the meal, ensuring each fresh “step” on the twelve-course tasting dinner arrives as a surprise. A traditional pie called a panada – something like its close namesake the empanada, but more substantial and rustic – is filled with eggs, rock fish and greens, while the bread showcased as a freestanding course in its own right uses the flour from two ancient grains, blat mort and xeixa. Seafood features prominently – there’s red snapper, and crab in ajo blanco – but for this never-quite-repentant carnivore, one highlight is the Mallorcan black suckling pig that is the culmination of the savoury courses, and another a perfectly formed scrap of a third course, a fine slice of crisp toast spread with chorizo-like local sobrasada and finished with a line of honey: a morsel that balances flavour (salt, sweet) and texture (squish and crunch). All are served on flatware of Taura’s own design – as well as a chef he’s a potter and an artist, some of whose own canvases line the walls of DINS.
More food the next day: up on the multi-level rooftop, two different bar menus are available. A poolside and rooftop menu offers all-day snacks (croquetas, salads and sandwiches) to accompany a glass of cava as you take in the Mediterranean view from either a rooftop table or the moderately sized infinity pool. El Llorenç is adults-only (age 16+), so the pool is placid, though somewhat unrelaxingly a slow procession of motorhomes was honking its way along the beachside road when I was up there: a protest by aggrieved campervanners demanding the city open dedicated campsites for them. In every paradise a serpent.
On a covered lower roof space, a casual à la carte menu, also by Taura, offers options that are more substantial yet not heavy; at sundown on my second day, and thinking a light bite was all I needed, I scoffed a dish of fried eggs, potatoes and plump prawns and then a version of cannelloni containing pulled suckling pork. While some of DINS’s dishes fall on the “more interesting than delicious” side of the divide, these are unadulteratedly moreish big snacks. For all its numerous thoughtful design touches and its enviable position, El Llorenç speaks loudest in its food offerings – and it’s already calling me back. C
El Llorenç Parc de la Mar, Plaça de Llorenç Villalonga, 4, 07001 Palma, Illes Balears, Spain
Ellorenc.com; +34 971 67 77 70