08 December, 2017
From rugged red coastlines to bleached white-sand beaches, Menorca's unspoilt landscape is as diverse as it is beautiful. Better still, this demure Balearic island has earned a reputation for looking after itself, recognised as a UNESCO biosphere reserve for nearly 25 years. There's something understated yet confident about the Menorcan way of life, which defies the boisterousness of neighbouring Ibiza and Majorca. Just a few days spent drinking in the salty sea air and peaceful vistas is guaranteed to leave you feeling refreshed and revitalised.
Torralbenc, a renovated 19th-century farm house in the south east of the island, is an embodiment of this laid-back, wholesome lifestyle. Sitting proudly among newly planted vineyards in an ancient landscape, the white-washed farm buildings have been restored to the highest standard while respecting their architectural heritage.
Torralbenc's 27 rooms and cottages offer a boutique hotel experience without any pretension. Rustically chic rooms are done up neutral colours and come equipped with walk-in wet rooms, power showers and comfortable beds. A smell of rosemary lingers in the air, as sumptuous toiletries are infused with the indigenous herb. Sea-view rooms are a treat, but if you want to really push the boat out the pool cottage comes with it's own plunge pool.
What's for lunch and dinner?
An innovative menu combines Menorcan cuisine with contemporary Mexican fare; fresh seafood, locally sourced meats and seasonal produce are at the heart of the menu. Crispy "cigars" filled with sobrassada (a spicy, soft, cured sausage), octopus ceviche, oliaigo (chilled tomato and pepper soup) and Mahón cheese with honey.
Is there a bar?
The best way to start an evening is no doubt with a pomada, the local favourite. This heady mix of botanical-rich gin and cloudy lemonade is best enjoyed ice-cold, while watching the sun sink into the ocean from your terrace. The hotel also has a stellar wine collection and the option to dine in the well-stocked cellar, sampling some of their best bottles.
A compact 24-hour gym and outside space for alfresco yoga. However, it's their spa that really raises Torralbenc's wellbeing credentials; choose from an extensive menu of prestigious Natura Bissé and SeaSkin treatments. For those who enjoy a dip, a freshwater pool looks out over rolling fields towards the sea.
Things to do
Saddle up and explore the ancient Camí de Cavalls (path of horses) that encircles the island. With some historians dating it back to the 14th century, this 116-mile bridle path connects the Mars-like terrain of the north to the white sands and wild cliffs of the south. Originally built as a defensive circuit, you'll pass medieval forts and watchtowers from the Spanish Civil War, with plenty of opportunities to stop in secluded coves for a picnic lunch - often in places that aren't accessible by foot or car. Hiking and cycling tours are also available. Torralbenc is also starting to produce wine and - on request - you can also visit their in-house vintner and sample his produce.
When you're not navigating the Camí de Cavalls, the rest of this 30-mile island is best explored by car. Mahón (or Maó) is the island's much-loved capital; buzzy, colourful and the epitome of shabby chic, its streets are lined with British-Georgian architecture that harks back to its occupation during the 18th century. Narrow, cobbled alleys are dotted with wine bars, antique shops and bakeries, while the bustling harbour is where you'll find the nightlife. If you fancy lunch overlooking the port, head to El Rais for thoughtfully prepared food, but if you're in the market for a caldereta de langosta (lobster stew), make a trip to the small town of Sant Climent and visit Es Moli De Foc.