Finca es Castell

Near Caimari, Soller & Mountains, Spain Book from Eur165

An ancient farmhouse at the foot of the Tramuntana mountains, with great food, excellent hiking and bags of rustic charm
This finca seems to have grown organically over its 900 years. At its heart is an ancient almazara (olive press) where the fruits of this 750-acre estate were pressed into oil; now it’s a rustic barn where homegrown dinners are laid out on trestle tables. Around it lies a warren of 14 cosy rooms, whose bones (500-year-old ceiling beams, metre-thick stone walls) are visible beneath white plaster and modern bathrooms. Outside, cobbled patios are festooned with ancient vines, a stone bench sits in the shade of a carob tree, and among the terraced olive groves you’ll find a pool catching the morning sun.

It sits at the foot of the craggy Tramuntana mountains, above the tiny hamlet of Binibona – an idyllic spot, and the result of a long search by Paola and James. It took all his negotiation skills (he's a former media consultant) and her considerable energies (she’s from a dynamic Italian-English family in Kenya) to secure a 10-year lease. But they did, and immediately started transforming it into the kind of stylish rustic retreat, which their friends would flock to. The rest is history - 9 centuries of it, no less.

Highs

  • Stunning setting at the foot of the rugged Serra de Tramuntana in northwestern Mallorca
  • Great hikes on your doorstep, with free guidance from James and a pool to plunge into afterwards
  • Superb home cooking and a choice of 3-4 excellent eateries in tiny Binibona, if you want a change of scene
  • The warm welcome of Paola and James, who create a laid-back house-party atmosphere, ideal for families and couples alike

Lows

  • It’s in the middle of nowhere: 45 mins from Palma airport, 20 mins from beaches (Pollensa, Alcudia etc) but is well signposted
  • The room decor is a little old-fashioned and there are no TVs or phones
  • Prices are quite high for what is essentially a rustic guesthouse
  • Meals are served communally

Best time to go

Spring (March-April) and autumn (Sept-Oct) are ideal for walking. Summer (June-Sept) is good for swimming at Pollensa and Alcudia, though it can get very busy in August. Pollensa has a music and cultural festival in July-August. The hotel closes for a few weeks before Christmas and for about a month after the New Year.

Our top tips

Pack a good book and a good friend. Walkers should bring sturdy footwear, sunhat, big water bottle and, for offbeat exploration, tough trousers against the tall, sharp-edged pampas grass.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 14
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
  • Yoga/Pilates studio
Room: Superior

Rooms

The 14 bedrooms are hidden among the labyrinthine stone-and-tile buildings of the farm. Some overlook the verdant plain of Caimari, others peek up at the limestone mountains above. Each room takes its name from an aspect of the building's history - ours was 'El Senor' after the farm's old master who could sneak upstairs via the separate stairway without being noticed.

All are full of rustic charm: sloping beamed ceilings, bumpy whitewashed walls, old wooden furniture. There’s nothing pretentious or styled about it, just homely comforts and bright simplicity: a gold-framed oil of a Mallorcan landscape, a vase of flowers, a ceiling fan (or air con if you prefer), a couple of straw runners on the quarry-tiled floor. You’ll find a red sofabed in some rooms, a decorative dual washbasin stand in others (rendered obsolete by smart ensuite shower rooms).

There are no bedroom TVs, but you'll find a flatscreen in the sitting room with 300 films for a rainy day, and no telephones, but mobile reception is good.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Toiletries
  • Wifi internet
  • Wifi internet

Eating

'Everything is fresh, most of it is local, nothing is frozen’, explains Paola, and you can certainly taste the difference. They make their own bread, lamb roasts, fish soups and fresh pasta. Veg and fish come from the local markets, and the style of cooking is ‘a bit of Italian, a bit of Mallorquin, but always Mediterranean’.

Most of the dishes are homemade tortelloni filled with pumpkin and sage, spicy bouillabaisse, swordfish in coriander pesto, and lamb slow-roasted in the clay oven outside. We dug into the deliciously indulgent cheesecake for dessert and topped it off with a shot of local shnapps. Wines are all from Mallorca and all excellent, so don’t ask for a Rioja: try a Binissalem, and you’ll wonder why it’s not available outside the island.

The 4-course set dinner is sensibly priced - on a level with a good midrange restaurant - and is available every day except Sunday. Otherwise there are no fewer than 4 restaurants in the tiny hamlet of Binibona (2 of them attached to hotels), just 1 km down the lane. The buffet breakfast is a hearty spread of cereal, fruit, cold meats and cheeses as well as cooked options and is included in the room price. Finca Es Castell also offers snack lunches, picnics, salads & baguettes every day except Sundays.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Communal dining
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Food and wine
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Packed lunches on request
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
  • Walk to restaurants
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Hiking on marked trails into the pine-shaded valleys and limestone foothills behind the farm. One leads up to the cool springs and fir forests of Binifaldo; another winds up to Lluc monastery, where the blue-robed choristers of Es Blauets sing mass every morning. James can drive you to or from the trailhead for a small charge, and will often guide you for free, if he's not busy. A 20-min drive from the finca brings you to Alaro, whose mountaintop castle can be scaled via a beautifully engineered mulepath winding up the cliffsides

  • Swimming: aside from the decent-sized pool, there are long sandy beaches in the bays of Pollensa and Alcudia (20 mins’ drive), and smaller coves at San Vicent (30 mins) and Formentor (40 mins). All of these can get crowded in midsummer

  • Sports: there are mountain bikes at the finca, a riding school nearby, a tennis court (with free access for Castell guests) less than 1km away, and several golf courses within a short drive. Paola has a friend with a boat in Alcudia for fishing trips

  • Touring: there are some lovely market towns nearby, including local Caimari (the best olives and oil on the island), pretty Campanet (which also has caves and a Vauclusian spring), vibrant Pollensa (art & textile shops, cafés & restaurants, and a summer music festival), and industrial Inca (the centre of Mallorca’s leather industry)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Food and wine
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Tennis

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome at this lovely relaxed and simple hotel in the hills. Don't be put off by the fact that it's a bit away from everything - that's part of its charm. There's plenty to do, whether your family likes the great outdoors or prefers lounging by the pool. Baby cots are free of charge and extra beds are available for 2-12 year olds, at half the adult price for an extra bed.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Standard rooms have space for a baby cot or rollaway bed; Superior rooms have space for a rollaway bed and a baby cot. Junior Suites have 2 single sofabeds. If you are a larger family, ask for a Family Suite - basically 2 connecting rooms, with 2 bathrooms and space for up 2 adults, 3 children and a baby. Rooms 8 and 9 can interconnect

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

There's no particular children's menu here but food should suit most kids and is fresh and tasty. Despite being in the middle of nowhere, there are 4 restaurants within walking distance.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Children's DVD library
  • Swimming pool
  • Shady gardens to play hide and seek in

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Beaches (20 minutes' drive)
  • Guided walks
  • Mountain bikes to hire, trails to follow
  • Horse riding
  • Tennis courts
  • Fishing trips from Alcudia

Families Should Know:

The pool is unfenced and there are steps in the gardens so toddlers, as always, need a close eye

Distances:

  • Airport: 45 minutes
  • Hospital: 15 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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