Ibiza is known as a party island, popular with fresh-faced 18-year-olds and reality TV stars – although the way that they party is very different – one’s popping expensive bottles of champagne while the other is drinking the cheapest vodka they can find. I was once a naive baby-faced student, partying until the early hours of the morning at all of Ibiza’s most popular spots. However, in three years of visiting the Island, not once did I break out of the San Antonio bubble and visit the culture-rich old town and explore Ibiza’s secret gems. Luckily, my trip to Ibiza Gran Hotel changed this, showing me just how special the Island is. I was no longer the youth on a budget drinking cheap beer, I was the sophisticated adult, drinking champagne with breakfast and eating oysters at lunch – or trying to be, anyway.
Ibiza Gran Hotel is a 5-star hotel, which fuses art, gastronomy and first-class treatment. It’s an opulent hotel, spacious and full of character, with sculptures and an array of provocative art installations. There’s everything you could want at a hotel, including an Open Spa, gym, two pools, plenty of lounge areas and attentive staff. The real showstopper is the Michelin star restaurant, La Gaia, where head chef Oscar Molina has created an exceptional menu, which takes you on a journey of Mediterranean flavours. We dined off the 15-course taster menu one evening and it was a truly unforgettable experience.
Just five miles from the airport and a 10-minute walk from Ibiza Old Town (the iconic buildings can be seen from the highest – and most grand – suites) it’s in an ideal location to explore the Island – near the designer shops on the Marina, historic buildings in the town, ocean, and of course the clubs for those who which to visit.
Set over five floors, the hotel has 185 suites, ranging from Premium and Luxe Rooms to Junior, Superior, Deluxe and Gran Suites. Some even have a private pool, a fully-stocked bar, and private service – there’s a secret passage on the terrace. It’s the epitome of class and luxury. Although I took a tour around these jaw-dropping rooms, I was in the Junior Suite, which was grand enough for me: a large, spacious bedroom with a king-size bed, balcony with a cushioned lounge area, a minibar and espresso, oh, and a whirlpool bathtub right next to the bed. Ibiza Gran hotel is very much into wellness, and many of the features in the hotel have been specifically chosen to bring balance and wellness, from the interiors to the artwork… and the bath.
It’s safe to say I slept like a baby in the enormous bed, after a long soak in a tub full of Diptyque bubbles. Blackout curtains and a temperature-controlled room meant nothing was interrupting my sleep – I didn’t even wake for the late-night partiers.
If there’s one reason to visit Ibiza Gran Hotel it’s to dine at La Gaia – the first hotel restaurant in Ibiza to be awarded a Michelin star. Head chef Óscar Molina, who has been at La Gaia since 2008, has created an out-of-this-world dining experience, with a menu full of creativity, showcasing local produce at its best with his own unique flair. There are two menus to choose from, an 11-course and a 15-course – we had the latter. I was captivated from the start, as Óscar Molina himself prepared a series of small appetisers in front of us, using innovative techniques and flavours. We then moved to the main dining room, where the wonderful sommelier, Vasili Abodzich, gave us a glass of champagne and talked us through how the wine pairings would work throughout the evening – one with each course.
Our first course was a small cup of ramen broth to get our taste buds tingling, followed by an oyster, served with an iced chalaca – a sort of tomato salsa. Super fresh; possibly the best oyster I have ever eaten. The next course was up there with my favourites: roasted pumpkin with carob, extra virgin olive oil and goat’s cheese. It may sound simple but the execution and theatre in the delivery of the dish made it all the more enjoyable.
Another standout dish was the tuna, cured in a bright pink hibiscus sea salt and served with mustard and cauliflower. It was incredibly tender and had a wonderful, delicate flavour from the hibiscus. The final fish course was grilled Mediterranean lobster with seagrapes and fennel. It was thick and meaty, with a lovely charred smokey flavour, and the grapes popped in your mouth with a sweet acidity that cut through the richness. I didn’t want it to end.
A further three dishes using Balearic black pork, local pork and Ibiza lamb concluded the mains, each one as innovative and brilliant as the other. To cleanse the palette we were given creamy avocado with jalapeno snow and kaffir lime. The flavours were almost Thai-like – incredibly refreshing. This was followed by blossom foam, with edible flowers and spheres of orange jel, and a white chocolate ganache with raspberry and yuzu. Flavours danced around the palette – specifically the blossom foam which was unlike anything I’d ever had before.
The cooking of every element in each course of the outstanding menu was exceptional and the wine pairings only heightened the flavours and experience. I have an overflowing amount of respect and gratitude for Óscar Molina and his entire team.
Another place to dine in the evenings is at Cipriani’s, an Italian restaurant within the main hotel complex. The decor is 1960s with a modern twist; plush white tables, royal blue chairs and a rustic wooden floor. Soft jazz music plays in the background as guests sip on their Bellinis and browse the menu. It’s relaxed sophistication and timeless elegance. Even the waiters are dressed in smart, vintage suits. We enjoyed a wonderful, classic Italian meal, with starters of focaccia with golden olive oil, tuna tartare, burrata with fresh tomatoes, and beef carpaccio, followed by a creamy baked pasta, veal, and grilled white fish. We finished traditionally with gelato, tiramisu and the largest lemon meringue pie I’ve ever seen – it was delicious and the service was faultless.
For something a little more laid back, the poolside restaurant is open throughout the day, serving traditional Spanish dishes such as Paella, croquettes, salads and grilled meat and fish. One afternoon we enjoyed a bottle of Albariño with a few small plates and were surprised by the high quality of the food and tentative service. This is not your average ‘poolside restaurant’.
Breakfast takes place on the main terrace and is served until 11:30pm. It’s a real feast: buffet-style. Although omelettes and eggs are cooked to order. I’d usually start at the fruit counter, where I’d pile my bowl high and grab a fresh smoothie, then make my way to the hot food station and order an omelette or poached eggs. Before leaving, I’d do a final lap and grab some fresh bread or a croissant. There’s also yoghurt, cheese and cured meats, and salads. Champagne? This is Ibiza darling, of course, there are bubbles with breakfast.
Out and About
If you think Ibiza is an Island that only offers a party lifestyle, then think again. We found an array of quiet beaches with crystal blue waters and there are plenty of trails to follow if you like hiking. Still not sold? There’s also a vineyard on the Island, just a 25-minute drive from the hotel, called Bodegas Can Rich. An intimate vineyard, which produces a wonderful selection of organic wines, from sparkling to rose. Pop by for a tasting and don’t forget to sample the olive oil too.
If you’d like a tour of the old town or to find out where the best shops are, you can book a private shopping tour with the wonderful Anita Moreno. We were taken on a whistle-stop tour of the best designers in Ibiza, from local to global brands. If big names aren’t your style, head off on your own and wander the cobbled streets, grab a Café con Leche (traditional Spanish coffee) in the courtyard and soak up the culture.
Before dinner, I highly recommend visiting the Open Spa. The relaxing space is full of stimulating and revitalising treatments, with ice pools, a Turkish bath, Finnish sauna, aroma and contrast showers, saline inhalation baths, hydro-massage pools, and hotbeds. The low-level music and bright natural light create a relaxing ambience so you can really unwind. The spa also offers a variety of treatments too, as well as a nail and hair salon.
Post-dinner entertainment comes in the form of Casino de Ibiza. An integral part of the complex, Casino de Ibiza offers a combination of gaming, luxury, art and spontaneity right at the heart of Ibiza’s golden mile. Or if you fancy visiting one of the iconic clubs, Pacha is only a short drive away – just grab a ride in the hotel’s Bentley Bentayga…
The hotel is mostly for couples and groups – usually late twenties and above – although I did notice a few babies and families with their Nannies. You may also see the odd celebrity or high-profile businessman – this is one of the most sought-after hotels in Ibiza after all. The hotel is welcoming to everyone, no matter what room you choose or who you are. It was this feeling of inclusivity and acceptance that truly resonated with me during my stay.
The Worst thing
The only point to note is that the Open Spa isn’t included in the room price of the Junior Suites and therefore it’s an extra 50€ each time you want to visit. If you just want to go for a quick cold plunge before breakfast, this is a bit steep.
The Best Thing
Although the hotel is rather large, the staff are like family, which really shines through in the way they work together and how they treat the guests. By breakfast on the second morning, I was known by name, which shows just how attentive the service is.
Low season rates (April) start from 340€ but in peak season this can reach up to 1200€. Breakfast is included for guests in all room categories, however, the minibar is charged as extra, except for Gran Suites, which have a premium mini bar.
Passeig Joan Carles I, 17
T +34 971 806 806