Hotel San Francesc, Palma, Mallorca

Palma is one of the loveliest cities in the world. It is small – small enough to walk or cycle around in one day, but it’s also beautiful, and big enough to get lost in. There are lots of small streets to meander through as your try to find your way around; from the elegance of El Born and Ramblas (it’s like a mini Barcelona), to the slightly more relaxed and uber fashionable Santa Catalina, which is where all the cool cats hang out!

Hidden away through a maze of tiny streets in the very centre of the city is a lovely, peaceful square. On that square there is a beautiful church and it appears not much else, until you spot the subtly branded Sant Francesc Hotel Singular. In August Palma is hot! We were there in early August when most people who are visiting the island are in the coastal beach resorts or relaxing by their swimming pool at their country finca. We just had one night in the city after a lovely stay in Pollensa and it was the perfect end to our holiday. The hotel is beautiful – housed in a former palace with interiors that could have been lifted from the pages of an interior magazine. And it’s cool. Physically and metaphorically. We arrived from the sweltering heat of the car and immediately felt refreshed. The reception area is super stylish and comfortable and the rest of the hotel reflects that.

After we settled in and unpacked a few things, we headed up to the pool area on the roof for a light lunch and a glass of something pink. The food was delicious (a mixture of sushi and salad) and the view across the rooftops is magical. It’s also a great place for a spot of people watching.

Once the sun started to go down, we decided to brave the heat and went for a potter around the City across to the Cathedral. It’s such an amazing building, a must see if you do visit Palma. We then headed back to the hotel (via a couple of cute wine bars that we stumbled across) to have supper at the hotel’s awards winning restaurant, Quadrat, located in the former stables of the palace. We opted for the tasting menu with accompanying wine flight and we weren’t disappointed. The food was delicious and the setting magical – we went to bed to very full and happy and had a great night’s sleep in the soft, comfy beds.

It really is a wonderful place to stay in an almost perfect city. I can’t recommend it enough.

LBM

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Hotel San Francesc, Palma, Mallorca

Hotel San Francesc, Palma, Mallorca

Hotel San Francesc, Palma, Mallorca

Hotel San Francesc, Palma, Mallorca

Hotel San Francesc, Palma, Mallorca

Hotel San Francesc, Palma, Mallorca

Hotel San Francesc, Palma, Mallorca

Bedroom at Hotel San Francesc

Bedroom at Hotel San Francesc, Palma

Hotel San Francesc, Palma

Hotel San Francesc, Palma

Hotel San Francesc, Palma

Swimming costume by ASOS (similar here), sunglasses by Tom Ford, earrings from Dinny Hall (similar here).

Palma Rooftops

Palma Rooftops

Rooftop swimming pool, Palma

Palma rooftops

Palma Rooftops

Palma, Mallorca

Palma, Mallorca

Hotel San Francesc, Palma, Mallorca

Palma Cathedral

Palma Cathedral

(Images by Patrick Butler-Madden)

Laura Butler-Madden's Trip to New England

We had the most glorious weekend with friends in New England in October – it’s taken me a while to get round to sorting all the photos of our trip, but finally I’m there! For P’s 40th birthday present we headed out to the US for a two week trip around New England. It was such a treat and we started the holiday in style by using our air miles to upgrade to First Class!

We arrived in Boston to spend the weekend with some great friends who live there – they have a gorgeous house in the Cambridge area of the City as well as a weekend house in the beautiful, leafy (which was perfect for that time of year!), sleepy seaside town of Annisquam.

As you can see from the photos, it really is a stunning place. The beaches and the clapboard houses are to die for. We pottered around the gorgeous town of Rockport (the town in the George Clooney movie, A Perfect Storm), bought some fresh lobster and headed back home after a delicious seafood lunch and walk on the beach.

That evening we wanted to catch the sunset in the bay next to their house – we were back a little late, so had to run to get there in time, but it was so worth it as you can see below! When we got home shattered from all the exertion(!), we relaxed in ourPJs, drinking champagne and eating lobster – such an indulgence and the perfect end to the perfect weekend!

The next part of the trip I’ll be sharing is our drive into Vermont to stay at the famous Pitcher Inn.

LBM

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Laura Butler-Madden's Trip to New England

Laura Butler-Madden's Trip to New England

Laura Butler-Madden's Trip to New England

Laura Butler-Madden's Trip to New England

Laura Butler-Madden's Trip to New England

Laura Butler-Madden's Trip to New England

Laura Butler-Madden's Trip to New England

Laura Butler-Madden's Trip to New England

Apologies that this post is a little late, but moving house has been a little distracting over the last few weeks! As regular readers will know, I spend quite a lot of time in Pollensa on the north of Mallorca.

A few years ago P and I lived there together and we still visit regularly as my parents have a house  there. Over the years I have shared various posts about the beautiful town, but I haven’t yet blogged though about our favourite day there; Sunday. It’s when the town really comes to life, whatever the time of year – there is a wonderful food market in the main square and everyone goes – catching up with friends for a coffee and a croissant is one of the highlights of the morning!

This year we decided to add another element to our perfect Sunday…we rose just before dawn to drive out to the lighthouse at Formentor to watch the sun rise. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world and the drive there is as magical as the destination itself. When we arrived at the Lighthouse we found that we weren’t the only early birds – some keen cyclists as well as a little family of goats were waiting there to greet us!

After a quick walk around the lighthouse, we took lots of photos of the views and then jumped back in the car to head back to Pollensa in time for the market. It really is a feast of the eyes as well as your tummy – the size and colour of the of the produce is amazing – particularly the lettuce and tomatoes – so much tastier than a lot of what we have in the UK, so we stocked up for the week.

After buying all our food and stopping for a coffee at Club Pollensa, our usual Sunday routine would be to head to our favourite restaurant in town, Trencadora, for Sunday lunch. This year it was just too hot to sit in the middle of the day and eat a full lunch (35+ degrees!), so we missed this out, though we did make up for it with some extra evenings there during the week! The food is Italian and delicious, very reasonably priced and the restaurant is set in a lovely walled garden – you really shouldn’t miss a visit there if you find yourself in Pollensa and hungry.

Instead of our Trencadora home we just headed home to relax by the pool with some magazines and a chilled glass of Rosé – utter bliss.

If only we were still there!

LBM
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{Photography by Patrick Butler-Madden}

For our last day in Iceland we drove from Ion Hotel across to the famous and quirky Hotel Ranga, where each suite has a different theme, inspired by different parts of the world. 

On the way we stopped at the amazing Skogafoss waterfall, which was truly breathtaking. Again the wind was super strong, it was lucky our jeep had chains on the doors as otherwise I’m pretty sure they would have blown off! We ran to take a few pictures before jumping back into the warmth of the car – my kindle and I became very good pals on this trip as I stayed snuggled in the warmth while P headed off intrepidly to take very windy pictures!

We also stopped at a beautiful black beach – tricky to get to over sand dunes – the high winds meant visibilty was very limited and at times it felt as if we were in an apocalyptic movie! 

If you’ve not visited Iceland before, it really is somewhere to add to your bucket list. There is nowhere else like it, the scenery really is breathtakingly beautiful.As the day was drawing to a close (it’s hard to know the time as it didn’t get dark until past 11pm, but when we felt exhausted and ready for a glass of wine!) we headed to our final hotel stop, Hotel Ranga.

As I mentioned, it’s a well known and quirky place – very homely with whacky room designs and amazing food! We checked in and were showed to our suite which was huge and African themed. So many well thought out details and a huge, dark bathroom with one of the largest baths I had seen in a while.I jumped straight in for a good soak to thaw out from the cold before heading down to the bar for a drink. On the way I met a very large polar bear in reception!

Throughout our trip in Iceland we ate very well. I was a little surprised about quite how delicious and gourmet the food was as the local ingredients are somewhat limited, but the local specialities, mainly lamb and arctic char were always cooked to perfection, creatively combining local herbs and berries.

The food at Ranga was exceptional – they take it very seriously and the hotel owner was keen for us to try as much of the menu as we could possibly manage! It was all fantastic, but there is one thing that was so out of this world that I still find myself day dreaming about it from time to time…

It was a wild mushroom soup made from a secret recipe that the chef had passed down by his grandmother. In the short season that mushrooms can grow in Iceland, she would pick and collect as many as she could and keep them until Christmas, when she would make a soup for all the family to share. I have no idea how the soup was made and what else was in it, but it was amazing – I had to use a lot of willpower to stop myself from licking the bowl!

It was the perfect end to a lovely few days in this special and magnificant country. 

Today we are off to somewhere rather warmer, lovely Pollensa in the north of Mallorca. One of my favourite places in the world, I can’t wait to spend 10 days relaxing there with friends and family.

I will be in touch soon!

LBM
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{Photography by Patrick Butler-Madden}

For the second instalment of our Iceland trip, I want to take you to the stunning Ion Hotel in Thingvellir National Park. As I mentioned last week, the weather while we were there was beautiful and sunny…if you were sitting in the warm cosy indoors looking out, as the wind was up to 40 mph some days!

And there isn’t a more perfect place to sit and stare and the amazing landscape than at the Ion Hotel.

The glass-walled Northern Lights bar was the perfect place to sip cocktails at the end of our exhausting day exploring. It would also (as the name suggests) have been the perfect place to watch the Northern Lights, but we weren’t to be that lucky on this occasion.

The hotel is perched on the stilts at the foot of Mount Hengill and even though it’s only an hour away from Reykjavik, it feels worlds away. The start design of the hotel exterior is perfectly reflected inside with super stylish, minimal interiors. The polished concrete floors are complemented by soft sheepskin chairs, warm fireplaces, soft fluffy duvets and stunning artwork; supersize images of Icelandic ponies decorate the bedroom walls.

Whilst on the topic of Icelandic ponies, I need to say that I LOVE them and am in awe – they are so adorable, hairy and brave – beautiful little creatures bred survive the extreme weather conditions there. Amazing! Every time we drove past any I made Patrick stop and take lots of pictures, some of which are below. Just gorgeous and so tiny compared to the vast landscape that surrounds them.

Back at the hotel, the restaurant served delicious and elegant Icelandic food – dishes we tasted included arctic char and lamb carpaccio. We were exhausted so ate quite early then had a quick night cap in the bar {to take in that amazing scenery one last time} before crawling into our very cosy bed.

It was a stunning hotel and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Iceland. As with the rest of this trip, we booked our accommodation through i-escape.

Next week the final part of our trip and a stay at Hotel Ranga, where the rooms are quirky and the food was out of this world!

LBM
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{Images by Patrick Butler-Madden}