How We Did Ibiza: Partying Past 40
Joe, my husband, has long held a passionate yearning to visit a Super Club in Ibiza. As a 90's University student, he's always been a house music obsessive. Pete Tong is his equivalent to my Emily Henderson; the Ministry Of Sound is his match to my House Of Fraser. This year, his urge to rave all night like an ageing Paul Oakenfold was too tempting to resist and in November, he announced his intention to live his dream on the Isla Bonita and if I didn't want to go, he would go without me. I decided that in order to make sure that he didn't actually party to oblivion, I would have to join him, despite the fact that I would rather chop off my own head with a rusty saw than listen to the relentless pounding of drum and bass.
I quickly realised that if Joe and I visited the island alone, our days would not pan out the way that I wanted them too. Joe would party all night, sleep all day and I'd be left sunning myself on a lone sunbed with a cocktail watching the sun go down. Hmm. It was tempting. Despite the fact that this sounded like a pretty good idea, I realised the experience would be improved with company so I recruited our friends, James, Pandora, Charlotte and Richard to join us. As it was 'Joe's Trip', he announced that he was going to take charge of the travel arrangements and book our flights. At this point, I must mention that in the entire 19 years I have been with Joe, I have booked and organised every single holiday we have ever taken. His only job previously has been to hold the boarding passes on the day.
We all looked at the diary and advised him that 11-14 July was the only time that suited us all. Job done. Or so we naively thought. Three months later, I asked Joe to look at the flight times so that I could arrange childcare and noticed that he had, in fact, booked 11-14 June in error. Not only was this during term time, it was also smack bang in the middle of Ella's GCSE's. The upshot of this was that he had to personally pay to change everyones flights to the sum of £360 and will never again be allowed to partake in travel arrangements.
There's a definite stigma to being in your forties and visiting Ibiza for the first time. I'm not going to lie, when I told people I was leaving the kids behind and jetting off for three days of hedonistic fun, I felt slightly wanky. I've said before that I'm not a clubber; I'm more inclined to relax with a glass of rose than I am to go raving. But I was reassured that there were plenty of things that I would love about the island - I adore Spain, love tapas and am very good at drinking wine. So I had high hopes that it would come up with the goods. And come up with the goods it did. And I'm not talking about the sort of goods that you buy behind your sunbed on the beach. Here's what we did.
Our Hotel: Hostal Talamanca
So the responsibility of booking our Hotel was given to James and unlike my husband, he totally nailed it. We stayed in Hostal Talamanca, situated on Talamanca Beach on the south of the island. Less than half an hour from the airport, it was a perfect distance for a short break (there's nothing worse than having to travel for hours when you're only staying for five minutes). A traditional long white rendered building, it was directly on the beach - in fact, you could literally leave your breakfast table and jump straight in. There was a bar and restaurant stretching the whole length of the frontage that was really popular in the evenings. There was live music and an extensive menu, including every type of tapas you could imagine. Breakfast was buffet style and served until 11.00 am which was perfect for a child free holiday. The rooms were basic. Very basic. Twin beds crammed next to a tiny 1980's bathroom, but it was super clean with daily maid service and a small balcony with a view to die for. Our sea view rooms overlooked the bay and also the restaurant, which stayed busy until the early hours, but because we were sans kids it didn't really impact on our stay.
Our room rate was around £200 a night per room with breakfast included, which was very reasonable compared to other Hotels. The Nobu was across the bay but tbh, we were only in our rooms to sleep so it would have felt totally wasteful to spend so much money on a luxury Hotel room when we could have been spending it on wine and tapas. Priorities.
Day One: Experimental Beach & Murphys Bar
After leaving the house at 2.30 am with a box of toasted bagels and a bottle of bubbly for the car journey, we arrived at Newcastle for our 6.30 am flight. What is it about being on holiday without children? Pandora and I were immediately transformed into Patsy and Edina and ordered toast and Prosecco for breakfast. Pandora's sister is a long term resident of Ibiza and had given us the low down on places that we'd enjoy so after landing, we went straight to the Hotel, checked in and ordered a taxi to take us to our first location, Experimental Beach for our 1.00 pm booking. It's really out of the way - you cross the salt marshes to reach it - but when you get there, it's worth the journey.
There's three rows of sun loungers (you need to book in advance) that look out over the small sandy beach and jetty from which you can swim. Immediately behind is lounge seating, the restaurant and the bar. When I say it was heaven, I speak the truth. We were immediately approached by a good looking Spanish man who brought us copious amounts of rose wine whilst we listened to chill out music. There were certainly worse things to be doing on a Wednesday. We decided that for sustenance, we would eat little and often and tapas was the way to go. We bravely stuck it out until 7.00 pm, before ordering taxis to take us to watch the England semi final match.
We'd been recommended to go to Murphys Bar in Playa d'en Bossa, simply for the atmosphere. When we got there, we quickly realised there really was no other reason that you would visit Playa d'en Bossa or, indeed, Murphys Bar, unless you were 17 and your names were Will, Simon, Jay or Neil. However, the bar was packed, totally rammed but with brilliant service and really attentive staff who managed to table serve despite being surrounded by a barricade of England shirts and sweaty armpits. We left at the bitter end and returned to the Hotel, fairly dismal that England had lost but feeling smugly proud that we'd managed to stick it out until 11.00 pm after drinking since 2.30 am, despite being over forties parents. Already winning.
Day Two: Ibiza Old Town, The Jockey Club, Salinas Beach & Amnesia
The day started with some of us going for a run and the rest of us (well, one of us) relaxing on the bar beds. You don't need a high Mensa score to work out which I was doing, but if you're a runner, then Talamanca beach is fit for purpose. We'd some time to kill before our 2.00 pm booking at The Jockey Club so we took a five minute taxi ride into Old Ibiza Town which is extremely Insta worthy, with plenty of bars, restaurants and shops selling floaty apparel. There's a lot of floaty apparel in Ibiza, it's like a uniform. If you're not wearing a floaty skirt, bikini top, straw hat and some sort of see through kaftan situation then you're not down with the cool kids. Sun bleached waves, Marlboro Lights and a tan like Madge from Benidorm are essential. Unfortunately, the only box I ticked was the waves although mine were more Crystal Tipps than Christie Turlington. Forever frizzy.
We jumped in a taxi to The Jockey Club, located on Salinas Beach, which ticked every single box that I'd laid out in my head. Wooden tables, terracotta tableware, sandy floors overlooking the sea. Super relaxed, we ate gambas prawns with lots of bread, patatas bravas, chorizo, alioli. Living the tapas dream. We watched girls in orange swimming hats walk the beach promoting David Guetta, drank more rose wine and talked about how we needed to do this more often. After securing a huge white triple sunbed for 50 euros (yes, 50 euros - we nearly collapsed with shock) we made the most of it by lying on the beach until 9.00 pm. The sea was really shallow and warm, it was literally the perfect day. It was too good to last.
That evening, Joe had booked tickets for Amnesia. My suspicions were first aroused that it might not be the most suitable location for a group over the age of 40 when my daughter showed me photographs of sixth formers from her school partying the night away. After yet more tapas in the Old Town, we hit the club (a rather elaborate word for entering a virtually empty room filled with smoke). Stoically, we launched ourselves at the bar, surprised to see there was no one there and then realised exactly the reason why when we paid 150 euros for six Vodka Redbulls. I lasted approximately an hour before I admitted defeat and taxi'd home, leaving the rest of my party there until the early hours. To be fair, they had a great time. I do think that in this life, you are either a clubber or you are not. I'm more of a wine and crisps sort of girl. The next time my husband announces he's off to a Super Club, he's going alone. Or with Pandora.
Day Three: Boat Trip, Formentera & Tiburon Beach Club
For our final day, Charlotte had booked us a boat to take us to Formentera through Essential Ibiza. Now, booking a boat in Ibiza is not cheap. Not one bit. We soon realised that we'd barely get a pedalo for the sum we'd budgeted so decided to push the boat out (literally) and go for gold at 880 euros for the day between six of us. We walked the jetty, passing the Sundowners and super yachts until we came to ours, a small cruiser with a man called Raul at the helm, stocked with wine, beer, soft drinks and crisps. It soon became apparent that Raul liked to drive his boat fast, not good news for Joe who previously had cried actual tears on a choppy speedboat in Koh Samui. We docked in the bay in Formentera after booking Tiburon Beach Club, recommended by my friend, Bianca. It was literally the dream - a pretty much deserted beach, a no shoes sand floor and an umbrella covered dining area complete with sky high cactus and a petrified tree hundreds of years old. We ate Tempura Tuna, drank more rose, watched beautiful people and wished we owned more kaftans.
After lunch, we docked a few more times to swim and relax and then headed home, Miami Vice style with Raul obviously convinced he was Spain's answer to Don Johnson. He launched us laughingly through the choppy waves, Charlotte leaning over the side of the boat after too much rose and Pandora, forever the party girl, standing at the front waving her arms in the air to chill out music until a rogue wave threw her into the footwell. We managed to see the sunset as we drove into the harbour, jumped into a taxi and went back to the Hotel to recover and eat more tapas. By midnight, we were broken.
So did I enjoy it? Yes, I did. Ibiza is a beautiful place. It's also very busy and far more expensive than we thought it would be, but we visited good restaurants and beach clubs and it was worth the extra investment. You need to prebook - you can't just rock up and expect a table - and it was good for us to have a few main venues that we knew we were visiting in advance as our time was so limited.
It was super casual everywhere and I only wore a tenth of my wardrobe - we lived in bikinis and shorts and spent a lot of time lounging in white walled, cushioned nooks and feeling chilled. Our Hotel was perfectly placed for what we wanted to do and the beaches were fabulous. I immediately wanted to buy a villa in the hills and spend the rest of my days drinking local wine and eating prawns (until I looked in the Estate Agent window and realised a three bedroom apartment was 1.2 million euro).
Which leads me to the final question - did I feel too old? Nope. Not one bit. It's a place to relax, a place to chill and it's a place for all ages. You can take from it what you like, whether it be lazy luxury or hedonistic hardcore. I LOVED it and we'll definitely be going back. Although I'll be giving the Super Club a miss next time and heading straight to The Jockey Club without passing Go.