How We Did Palma: Partying With My Girlfriends
I have never really been on a girls weekend. If truth be known, I have never really been a girls girl - I’m hopeless at keeping in touch with people, I’m terrible at keeping up with what’s going on and I’m not good with the small stuff. I’m not a great one for girls nights out and have been known to go home early on more than one occasion. Hen parties are my idea of hell. When I married Joe, I was pregnant and therefore needed no excuse not to organise any sort of gathering. I’d learned my lesson in this department. I have been twice married (yes, I am a woman with a history) and the first time (back in the nineties), I undertook two hen parties. The first was organised by my work which was, at the time, the Personnel Department of Top Shop Head Office. We decided to go to Harrys Bar in Mayfair - quite cool, understated. I approved. Until they approached my desk at 5.00 pm with a black plastic bag dress adorned with wooden spoons and condoms which they’d spent hours making. I flatly refused to wear it. They were furious with me and as such, I spent most of my hen night sitting silently alone on a bar stool whilst they partied on without me.
Hen party number two (still on marriage number one, keep up) was organised by my local friends and they had booked a nice local Greek restaurant in Hatch End. All was going well, retsina was flowing, plates were smashing, until the owner appeared with a plate on which there was the biggest cucumber I’d ever seen, stood upright and surrounded by squirty cream. Once again, I ignored the calls to ‘put it in your mouth’, steadfastly refusing to take part in this phallic inspired ritual. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a hen party since, tbh.
Anyway, last year, my friend Sarah asked if we would all go to Palma for the weekend for her birthday. I decided it would be a good time to cast aside my previously traumatic ‘girls only’ experiences and spend three days with a group of friends whose company I truly enjoyed. Tickets were booked, accommodation was chosen and we were ready to go, casting aside suggestions of jaunty sailor hats to be worn on boat trips with not a second thought. But did we have a good time? And did we manage to avoid the ‘Girls On Tour’ look? (or as Joe said, ‘Girls Go Saga’. Just RUDE). And more importantly, what did we do and where did we go? In the interests of providing you with a full itinerary for future visits, I’ve rounded it up below. You can thank me later.
Our Hotel: H10 Porta Negra
Decision one - Hotel or villa. After scouring Airbnb and coming up with an array of options, we realised that there was no middle ground when it came to group accommodation. Villa choices were either central porn palaces owned by Russian Oligarch with a price to match, or a new build set in mountains 30 miles from the nearest bar where the only mode of transport to take you to that bar and back would be a goat. The H10 Porta Negra was in Portal Nous, a small marina approximately a seven minute taxi drive from central Palma (approximately £12 fare); close enough for easy commute home after a few Aperol Spritz but far away enough for peace and quiet during the day whilst combating a hangover. There were eight of us, so we booked two triple rooms and a double. The accommodation exceeded our expectations - the rooms had a separate living space with a chaise sofa bed, a large double balcony and plenty of room. The Hotel itself was set in cacti filled gardens and off the scale lovely. It had it’s own tiny cove that you could reach via steps, with amazing views over Portal Nous. Most importantly, the sun beds were huge - as someone who rates Hotels on the quality of their sun beds, I scored the H10 a clear 10/10. At £120 a night including a full breakfast, it was a pretty good deal.
Day One: Roxys Bar
After departing York at 6am in a minibus with individual bottles of cava and pain au chocolate in hand (hold back on the judging - I can promise you it gets worse), we boarded the plane at Leeds Bradford and arrived into Palma at 11.15 am. After waiting with a glass of rose (when in Spain, and all that) for our London contingent to join us, we found a minibus to take us to our Hotel. It’s not essential to book in advance, there are plenty of companies who are happy to take you without a booking. We negotiated to 70 Euro for eight of us for the half hour trip and at the same time, arranged for the driver to collect us for our return journey too. It was clear after checking in that if we sat on a sun bed, we may never get up so we grabbed our swimwear and went straight to our first recommended location - Roxys Bar. Set on a rocky edge opposite Portal Nous Marina, it’s a super cool bar that’s perfect for sipping Aperols whilst admiring the view. If you didn’t know it was there, you’d be hard pressed to find it - it’s accessed down a rocky path which is a little hazardous after a few drinks. You can swim straight from a small rocky beach next to the bar - it’s very laid back and relaxed and the service was great. Foodwise, it’s a little limited with salads being the mainstay of the menu but we shared a few and they were delicious. Due to it’s location, it closed at about 10.00 pm but if you were in the mood, you could easily move on to one of the Marina bars afterwards. A good start to the holiday.
Day Two: Visit To Palma Old Town, 49 Steps, Koa Restaurant
So as anyone who has ever been on a girls holiday will know, not everyone wants to do the same thing. I’d been sent recommendations on Instagram and one of them was the Museu d’Art Modern i Contemporary (that’s the Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art for those not as fluent in Spanish as myself. Ha). We divided - five of us opting to stay by the pool and recover from the previous evenings excesses and the other three of us jumping into a taxi with the intention of visiting the museum. Upon arrival in Palma Old Town, it soon became apparent that it was far too pretty to ignore so we grabbed an Aperol Spritz from the Spritz Takeaway Bar (yes, this is a thing) and did some wandering. Sorry, shopping. A fair bit of it. We visited Rialto Living, a beautiful independent with a bright, light cafe in the centre and homewares to die for, and Estilo Sant Feliu which specialises in distinctive Mallorcan products in colourful Ilengos patterns. Stories of myself trying on boho dresses in the Yvonne Rohe Boutique had Joe sending me screenshots of the bank account. By this point, it was too late to visit the museum so instead, we went to the Es Baluard Restaurant which is attached to the main building where we ate squid and drank cold rose whilst overlooking the sea. Life didn’t get much better than this.
We returned to the Hotel and after an afternoon by the pool, prepared to depart to Palma to the 49 Steps. A super cool bar with a long wooden balcony overlooking Palma Marina, it’s named because it has forty nine steps leading to the top, easy at the beginning of the evening but not quite so simple at the end. The drug baron worthy boats moored alongside were off the scale luxe with cream leather sofas, full bars on deck and candlelit tables laid for dinner. Seeing as Joe was sitting at home watching Police Interceptors, I made him Google the one directly in front of us and he discovered it was currently up for sale for £6.8m. We drank cold rose wine (yep, there’s a theme going on here) and people watched before heading off to our restaurant reservation at Koa, a busy restaurant a ten minute walk from the bar.
Described as a fusion restaurant and grill, the menu was varied and what was there was good - we ordered a selection of tapas dishes between eight of us including octopus, langoustines, lamb skewers and avocado salad. The shining star of our meal was the burrata with aubergine and turmeric which was AMAZING. The restaurant was next door to another recommendation, the Abaco Bar. After finishing our meal, we decided we’d give it a go - the entrance was impressive with fruit piled up in droves for no apparent reason. After being told off for posing with the pineapples and being unable to find a table, we left and decided to head back to the 49 Steps for final drinks. They were closing as we arrived and it was at this point that one of us looked at the time and realised it was 2.30 am. Time flies in Spain when you’re having fun. We convinced them to serve us one more bottle of rose (obvs) and returned to the Hotel.
Day Three: Windpoint Sailing Boat Trip, Flanigan Restaurant
Sarah had booked a sailing boat for the afternoon which went from Santa Ponsa, a ten minute trip from our Hotel. The boat was manned by Alex who had recently bought the boat and started a new business doing day trips called Windpoint Sailing with his girlfriend Ruth. The boat was huge, there were eight of us but it could easily have accommodated more, with three bedrooms (perfect for seasickness/hangover situations), two toilets and a living space with kitchen. We sunbathed on the deck, anchored and swam in the sea at Puerto Andratx whilst looking longingly at Claudia Schiffers Mallorcan finca and wishing it were ours. The package included - true story - Aperol Spritz and a tapas lunch and we brought additional crisps, water and Cava with us. Oh, and gin. Obvs. Alex also had a paddleboard which was available to use but it was quite choppy so we gave that a miss (boarding x wind x Aperol were probably not the best combo, tbh). There’s nothing better than viewing a beautiful island from the sea - we hung our feet over the edge of the boat and watched the sun go down. The perfect day.
After docking in Santa Ponsa, we had pretty much reached our limit. But it was the last day, so we shared the make up bag of the only one of us who had been forward thinking enough to bring one and headed to Portal Nous Marina in search of paella. And find it we did, in Flanigans, a traditional style restaurant that was packed to the hilt. We managed to grab a table and ordered two huge paella pans, one seafood, one their own special recipe. Teamed with buratta, garlic prawns and fried hake on the side, it was the perfect meal to end our trip. We finished the meal with two expresso martinis (we were pretty knackered after a day at sea) and were instantly revived. Revived enough, in fact, to continue, despite the fact it was now almost 2.00 am. We headed to BOP, a rooftop terrace bar with a huge disco ball and a full compliment of hen parties. Feeling distinctly underdressed in Adidas sliders and denim shorts, we had a quick and expensive bottle of rose (yep) and watched the girl group from Liverpool sitting opposite us (all of whom were completely clad in white from head to toe) receive a bar bill for a mere 900 Euros. A quick dance and we went next door to Ritzi’s where, were it not for the fact a round for five was 98 Euro, you could feasibly have thought you were back in 1999. Quite frankly, if you haven’t been to a bar called Ritzi’s, have you even been on a girls weekend? I think not. Come 5.00 am, we were done (yes, you read that correctly despite the fact that I generally go to bed after Bake Off). Hardcore.
So that was our trip. Although I’d been to Mallorca a few times before, I’d never been to Palma and it truly was beautiful. It’s super stylish yet retains all it’s historical charm and works on all levels, whether you want to shop until you drop, get cultural in a gallery, drink cocktails with a view or lie on the beach with a book. Prices for both food and drink were reasonable in all the restaurants we ate in, although if you’re hitting the bars after hours you’ll find they shoot up fairly quickly. Palma Old Town was gorgeous and we wished that we’d had more time peruse the many boho style clothes shops and interior havens. And best of all, it was quick to get there - we left York at 6.00 am and were overlooking the sea with a cocktail in hand in our bikinis by 1.00 pm. There’s something really relaxing and therapeutic about being away with friends and spending time with them without the minutiae and silly stresses of everyday life - thanks so much to my lovely group for such a brilliant time. It’s the perfect location for a weekend away and we will certainly be going there again. Bring on the next one. With maybe slightly less Aperol.