Destinations / Travel

Explore a quiet side to the Balearic Islands with these 5 stays on Formentera

hotels in formentera

The thing about Europe is, throughout all our peaceful island holiday planning in lockdown, we forgot to factor in the summer crowds. With a ban on travel for two years, everyone is headed there at the same time. So what to do? No doubt you've already typed in some version of "undiscovered European islands" on Google. However, we're here to cut out the middleman and let you in on an open secret: Formentera is the destination you're yearning for.

While its Balearic sisters – Majorca, Menorca and who could forget Ibiza – may glean the spotlight, Formentera retains much of the sleepy bohemian spirit it had when Bob Dylan was living on the island in a windmill (or lighthouse – no one seems to reconcile this detail) throughout the 60s; or when Joni Mitchell stayed to write her seminal 1971 album Blue. Much like Hydra, Formentera is frequented by a mix of artists and fashion insiders; think Kate Moss and Sienna Miller, and yet somehow, possibly due to the once limited access to the island, its managed to keep a low profile.

Think village life by the sea, with quaint towns dotted inland and fishing huts lining the coast. Every Wednesday and Saturday make your way to San Francesc, the busiest hub on the island, for La Mola Craft Market, a place brimming with ceramics, jewelry and live music. There's enough beaches to ensure your fingers stay shrivelled for your entire stay, and a bout of activities geared towards relaxation for you to unwind with. But first! Where will you stay?

That's a trick question because we know exactly where you should set up camp on Formentera. We've done all the research. So book your flights and line up your leave, below we're bringing you five of the best hotels in Formentera. Send us a postcard.

1. Casa Pacha


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Some hotels can err on the side of being too-resorty, a gaudy eyesore jutting out of what should be paradise. Thankfully, Casa Pacha is not one of them. Although it's only a recent addition to the island, it looks as if it could have grown there. Perched on the dusty-white sands of Migjorn beach, its isolated in the best way possible. Spend your nights resting in cavernous rooms with rendered walls and nooks, and your days plunging into the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. There's a restaurant onsite, with yoga and massages on offer if you don't fancy leaving. If you do, it'll be ready to welcome you back after you've finished exploring the island.


2. Can Tres

Can Tres is for those who seek out calm and quiet, above all. A short walk from Migjorn beach, it's a sanctuary of sunbleached apartments with a neighbouring patch of orange and lemon trees, and kitesurfing as well as yoga to enjoy. Select from either Can Mar, Can Terra and Can Aire, all three apartments arriving with their own philosophy and design approach, the first includes a sunken bathtub in the bedroom. What ties these options together is their feeling of openness, while still retaining a sense of privacy.


3. Etosoto


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Thoughtfully immersed in the natural environment, Etosoto is for the green traveller. Taking an eco-friendly approach, it resides in a converted old farmhouse which is powered solely from geothermal energy, hydropower and solar energy. Rooftops have been utilized as vegetable gardens and the whitewashed interiors have been kept minimal to let the surrounding environment shine. Activities available are similarly paired back, with farming workshops, yoga and eye-opening sessions for children, and all meals provided are dreamt up by Alix Lacloche, who is a firm believer in slow food, having worked at Chez Panisse herself.


4. Gecko Beach Club

For something a touch more sleek, Gecko Beach Club is the place. The tempo is dialed up, and while it's not the high octane energy of Ibiza, it'll shake you from your sun-induced stupor. Enjoy DJ sessions at its beach club while drinking cocktails by the pool, and take part in yoga if only to make way for the activities that are a little less aligned in the evenings. Massages are up for grabs, while your air-conditioned rooms are a place to catch your breath and shelter from the vibe outside.


5. Casa Manuel


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Then there are those of us who are seeking out an island, to quite literally isolate ourselves from fellow travellers and reminders of life back home. To you, I say make the journey to Casa Manuel. Hidden in the countryside, a short walk from Cala Saona beach and five minutes from Sant Francesc, it's a one-level farmhouse coated in bougainvillea, replete with cornflower blue Majorcan shutters and a wrap-around porch. You can organise for all meals to be made, along with laundry and dry-cleaning to be tended to, otherwise you can fully immerse yourself in the island life and do it yourself.

Looking for more travel guides to Europe? Here are the Greek Islands on our list, and the Croatian Islands we've set our sights on. Take this round up of the best luxury hotels in Puglia, too.

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Images: One, Two