Menorca Experimental, Sant Llorenç, Menorca
15 November, 2019
Often considered the sleepy counterpart to bougie Mallorca and badly behaved Ibiza, Menorca Experimental brings a touch of flirty sophistication to the sleepy Balearic isle.
This article appears in Volume 29: The Taste Issue
Of the Balearic triplets - bougie Mallorca, badly behaved Ibiza and bohemian Menorca - the latter has always been the somewhat sleepier sister, pottering along at a tractor's pace while her siblings supercharge into a glitzy future. However, the opening of Experimental Group's most ambitious project to date in the middle of the rugged Menorcan countryside signals a new chapter for the island, albeit one being written at its own, sun-drowsed speed.
Experimental has imported its insouciant Parisian signature to a revamped 19th-century finca amid pine-scented wilderness, combining nine villas and a grand main house in which curtains flutter like flirtatious eyelashes from the balconies. Inside, the emphasis is on local textures and traditions, Dorothée Meilichzon's interiors combining terracotta tiles and natural wood with pops of pink-lacquered wardrobes, sage-green shutters and Majorelle-blue vases by Marrakech-based designer LRNCE, whose tongue-in-cheek ceramics and embroidered throws are scattered throughout.
Conceived as an "artist's retreat", the hotel offers yoga, pottery and painting classes alongside ample space for contemplation and creation. Days are equally well spent drifting off by the pool to a soundtrack of cocktail shakers or following the well-worn camino past bushes shivering with lizards to a bleached pebble beach. Further afield, boat or bike hire can be arranged to explore the coastline and crags of this Unesco Biosphere Reserve.
Long al-fresco lunches of octopus with sweet tomatoes, tabbouleh with Menorcan chickpeas and skewers of soft calamari with tzatziki are elongated with glasses of sangria or rosé, while the evening menu uses produce from the on-site fruit and vegetable patch for simple dishes such as feta fattoush salad, tuna carpaccio with slivers of dried apricot, and aubergine in a smoky tahini sauce. Wash the lot down with a craft cocktail befitting of the brand's boozy heritage, such as the punchy eucalyptus negroni with Mahon gin.