Can Isabel

Soller & Mountains, Spain Book from

Reviewed by Emma Taylor
Tired of minimalism? Romantic little guesthouse with lots of character in the centre of charming Soller
Discreetly tucked away in a pretty Soller side street, Can Isabel is a romantic throwback to the days of Robert Graves' Mallorca. Warmly created by Belgian Sebastien (a film producer) and his wife Collette, this 19th-century townhouse took 3 years to restore to its current splendour, and has a fascinating history: many years ago the owner of the next-door train station installed his mistress here, and there's still a secret spiral staircase used for their liaisions. Inside it is choc-a-block with antique furniture collected by Collette over years, plus quirky memorabilia and collectives. When you enter, pause by the fireplace in reception, listen to the soft strains of classical music and admire a vast collection of antique teapots, interesting old books and hand-stitched wall hangings. Climb up the narrow, originally-tiled staircase to find 6 light-filled, cosy rooms, one with a claw-foot bath at the end of the bed, another 2 with private roof terraces. At the back there's a jasmine-scented town garden for breakfasting and watching the world pass by.

Its location is excellent - slap bang in the middle of Soller, opposite the little station where you can catch a scenic wooden train ride to Palma, and the old tram for a seafood lunch down at Puerto Soller. The leafy main square with its cafe culture and jovial atmosphere is just around the corner.

Highs

  • Great central location in laidback, sociable Soller - one of Mallorca's prettiest historical towns - and surrounded by the Tramuntana mountains for stunning hikes
  • Value for money: very comfortable rooms with lots of nice touches such as bathrobes and slippers
  • Homely atmosphere and friendly hosts; Sebastien and Collette are charming, as is ever-smiling manager Alicia
  • Breakfast is served on 3-tier silver cake stands and antique porcelain; jams are homemade and orange juice is freshly squeezed from Sebastien's garden
  • Perfect for couples; there's a restful, intimate vibe

Lows

  • Not really suitable for children
  • This is a small retreat with a pretty garden - a good base for exploring rather than somewhere to spend the whole day; there's no pool
  • Some traffic noise can be heard in the rooms at the front of the hotel
  • When we revisited in 2012, breakfast wasn't up to its usual standards, which was a shame
  • Sebastien and Collette are only here 1 week out of 4, and staff understand but don't speak English. Genuinely though, you can get by by miming, or they will call Sebastien if needs be!

Best time to go

Mallorca's Mediterranean climate makes it a pleasant destination at any time of year. Most people visit between April and September. Spring and autumn are ideal for walking or golf. July and August are the hottest and driest months. Rain is most likely between October and March, when everything becomes greener and the scent of orange blossom fills the valley.

Our top tips

Head to Es Cuber for a beautiful walk. Climb the mountain path to the reservoir, then sit and enjoy the magnificent views.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 6
  • Breakfast only (restaurants nearby)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Board games
Room: Blue Room

Rooms

The staircase leading to the rooms is dark and narrow, but thankfully all 6 rooms are light and airy. Each has some interesting original features: old-fashioned light switches, exposed wooden beams and gorgeous floor tiles. Beds are comfortable doubles or twins with plump cushions and pretty French bedspreads.

The Blue Room and Ivory Room are the smallest, which is reflected in the cost, but we thought them lovely rooms and would happily return to either - we had a slight preference for Blue, with its little dressing table and garden view. Ivory can be made up as a twin. The Red Room, the Romantic Room and the Terrace Rooms are all very spacious. The Romantic Room is especially popular as it has an antique claw-foot bathtub in the middle of the room (as well as a shower in its bathroom).

The Terrace Room has double doors leading onto a great, Moroccan-style roof terrace overlooking the garden, mountains beyond and local church. We stayed in this room when we revisited in 2012, and loved the little touches such as cushioned loungers, fluffy bathrobes and citrus-scented toiletries, and we slept incredibly well. The White Terrace Room also has a terrace with similar views, and a calming ambiance. The Red and Romantic Rooms are at the front of the house and some traffic noise can be heard if you have your windows open (however, there is double glazing and AC).

Bathrooms are internal, with French doors separating them from the bedroom, but they come with lots of quirky features such as ornate glass holders, carved wooden beading around the walls, and kitsch soap dishes. Organic toiletries are made with orange essences, bathrobes are fluffy and a couple of the rooms have baths.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • DVD player (on request)
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

There's nothing so common as a buffet at Can Isabel; breakfast is served to you on antique plates, dainty cups with saucers and 3-tiered silver cake stands. Previous guests have raved about the tasty timbales of scrambled eggs with tomatoes, tea (using homemade tea bags) in ornate pots, and fresh baguettes accompanied by divine homemade lemon and orange marmalades served in tiny glass jars decorated with gold leaf. Sadly, when we revisited in 2012, the breakfast wasn't very good - croissants were packaged, cheese was processed slices, and our eggs and bacon (no choice menu) were a little burnt. However, we did love the dining experience itself. During the summer months, breakfasting alfresco in the sunny garden is a must.

For other meals, there are many small restaurants in Soller; in the nearby main square you can eat outside at several casual cafes until late into the night. We had great pasta at Cafe Soller. If you don't mind driving, Sa Teulera in Arta is fantastic; try the meat slow roasted on almond shells. Down at the port (5-10 minutes by car or tram), we recommend Restaurant Agapanto (modern cooking) and Es Faro (local seafood). The Lighthouse has great views and fancy food, but we feel it is a little overpriced.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity: Puerto Soller

Activities

  • Explore Soller's narrow cobbled streets lined with honey-coloured stone and green-shuttered houses, old-fashioned baker shops and chi-chi boutiques

  • Take a trip to picturesque Puerto Soller - the 10-minute tram ride is a great way to get there, or you can rent a bicycle in the town. You can have lunch in one of the many seafront restaurants, walk along the beach front or if you're feeling energetic, walk up to the lighthouse for the fabulous view of the harbour

  • The area around Soller is great for hiking, with well-marked walking trails. The pretty villages of Fornalutx and Biniaraix are a 2-hour round walk from Soller; lovely Deia is 2 hours each way

  • If you want to go the beach, Puerto Soller has a long narrow beach but it's rather characterless and often covered in driftwood. Prettier, small shingle coves can be found 25 minutes away at Cala Deia and Cala Tuent. For one of the island's best sandy beaches go for the day to Formentor in the far north (golden sand, calm shallow waters, pine woods and dramatic mountains)

  • Take the scenic wooden train ride to Palma - where you'll find a wealth of historical and cultural sites including the huge Cathedral and a number of modern art galleries

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming

Kids

Not really a place for kids - fragile antiques and the winding staircases and size of the rooms could be a little difficult to negotiate. Cots, however, are free and extra beds are available for a supplement.

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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