The White Island is renowned for having some of the best nightclubs in the world. In summer the cream of the world’s DJs (David Guetta, Sven Väth, Armin van Buuren and many more) descend on the island, making it the ultimate destination for clubbers. But there is also a unique side to the island which cannot be described in words, but must be experienced: the feeling of love and light that surrounds you the moment you set foot on this little Spanish isle. It’s the very reason why Ibiza is a favourite hideaway where expats from all over the world choose to start a new life.
Even during the dark days of the Spanish Civil War Ibiza was a haven for pioneering travelers, a place where in the 1930s, 1940s & 1950s freethinkers, writers, painters and other artists gathered to work and enjoy life on the ‘White Island’. There are many theories about the ‘White Island’ nickname. Some people believe it comes from all the white houses, other theories say it’s because many decades ago, salt became the powerhouse of the Ibizan economy. Nowadays, this nickname has come to represent the Ibiza lifestyle, and you can find white everywhere: in architecture, fashion, interior and the world-famous white parties.
In the 1960s it was the ‘flower power’ revolution which brought hippies from across Europe to the Balearic island, attracted by its laid back attitude, unspoilt natural beauty and gentle climate. But it was in the 70s that the real tourist boom began. Ibiza was a haven of peace, the destination that many in those years wanted to reach. Many stars of the decade made it home for a time: Bob Marley, Thin Lizzy and Eric Clapton organised concerts in Ibiza’s bullring and the legend of Ibiza as an island of music began. Pachá, Es Paradis and Glory‘s nightclubs were appearing on the nightclub map, creating the real tourism peak in that decade. These clubs added an extra element to the natural charms of the island while retaining that special community atmosphere essential to its charm.
Today you can still feel that charm in so many places: from the bohemian boutiques that sell hand made arts and crafts and the traditional white cotton and linen clothes to the all organic restaurants and stylish countryside fincas now turned into luxurious hotels. Here is a guide to the hidden gems of the island where you can still experience the relaxed side of Ibiza.
Where to stay
One of Ibiza’s most popular hang-out places lies in the north east of the island, near San Lorenzo and Santa Eulalia. Atzaro is more than simply a hotel, this super-luxe agriturismo hotel is more like a chic cultural community, with interesting events and a restaurant that attracts people from all over Ibiza. The family-run hotel has evolved from a 300-year-old farmhouse to become the very epitome of rustic chic. Vibrant bougainvillea grows everywhere and palms, grapevines and olive trees provide shade while the scents of herbs and flowers mingle in the air. Open all year, there is a livelier atmosphere than you might expect, as the restaurant and spa are popular with non-guests and there is always something going on. Come here to unwind in style and indulge in the top-notch spa which combines picturesque tranquility with indulgent, detoxifying and relaxing treatments, from massages to hammams. Or stay the night and enjoy the beautifully appointed, Ibiza-Asia inspired rooms with terraces; some even have their own fountains. The rooms are divided between the farmhouse and grounds, with the main pool located in the beautiful garden and surrounded by cosy daybeds. There is usually a DJ to provide a laid back vibe too. Different indoor and outdoor areas are used for dining and drinking depending on the season, but you can also sit in the Veranda restaurant where you choose between super healthy home grown organic veg dishes and not-so-healthy-but-you’re-on-holiday meals. We recommend you stay long enough to try both, since everything else would mean missing out on food heaven!
Home away from home – this is how you feel the moment you walk through the doors of Ibizazen Hotel in Santa Eulalia del Rio. The name of the island is combined with ‘Zazen’, which is a state of mind and means ‘just sitting’. Originally Ibizazen was a small farmhouse owned by the Bufi family, built on a spacious terraced garden of 8000m2 in the middle of its orange and lemon trees. The hotel is the creation of soulmates and entrepreneurs Jerry and Sophie Jean-Marius, and has an airy, homey feel thanks to lush landscaped gardens, authentic Ibiza stone terraces, palm-tree shaded areas, bamboo gazebos, stylish teak sun beds and a secluded Zen Garden. Inside, recycled art decorates the elegant lobby in a style that is minimalistic with splashes of play – east meets west with warm colourful touches. The Zazen Boutique is stocked full of goodies hand-picked and designed by the owners on their worldly travels throughout winter – with everything you need to encapsulate true Ibiza style. Peaceful mornings by the pool are aided by efficiently pre-ordered a la carte breakfasts including healthy fruit and veg smoothies and luxe deli items like ‘Dutch old-cheese’, marinated salmon, carpaccio and countless other mouth watering goodness. By night the restaurant offers a romantic, candlelit degustation menu. A heavenly haven on the island’s east coast.
Close the island’s most secluded beaches, coves and cliffs, the north of Ibiza is home to a seaside scene-stealer called Los Enamorados (the lovers in Spanish). Perched on the rocks, the tiny Hotel is a dream project by Pierre Traversier, an ex-basketball player and his Dutch wife Rozemarijn de Witte. Together they transformed a tired hostel into a creative boutique hotel in an unbeatable location. The sunset is stunning, plus the sea is translucent here making it a favourite place for snorkelers and scuba divers, and on a clear day you can see all the way to Mallorca. Since 2016 this little gem has offered attractive accommodation, a bar and restaurant that won’t disappoint and a boho boutique bazaar for treasure seekers. The hotel is filled with beautiful rugs, lamps, chairs brought back from the owners’ travels and quirky designer pieces such as the fish net sculptures made by Thai artist Karakot or a vase of famous US-potter Jonathan Adler. And, if you fall in love with something – you can buy it! Stylish all the way and bursting with good taste, Los Enamorados’ very ‘instagrammable’ interior is a daring hodgepodge of bold colours, unique textures from bamboo to velvet, quirky and eclectic furniture and artfully considered touches. Upstairs all nine rooms are slightly different, but each is styled with a personal stamp and global influences. Don’t expect minibars or TV’s, it’s all about simple luxury here. But, the Italian bedsheets are ultra-soft and the three double Coco-mat mattresses are heavenly. This is truly an idyllic place to live, laugh, love and soak up the true vibe of the island.
Where to eat
Welcome to Vegan Paradise! Everything on the menu is vegan but all dishes are also gluten-free, plant-based and organic: from the Vietnamese pho, an infused vegetable broth with young coconut ribbons, zucchini noodles, topped with crushed cashews and coriander to the Chilli with tempeh and polenta to the Walnut Banana Pancakes layered with fresh fruit, drizzled with maple syrup and cashew yogurt. Grab a good book or your laptop and enjoy a healthy meal or a cold pressed detox juice by the fire place or sit on the little veranda overlooking the streets of Santa Gertrudis Village.
The little mountain village San Lorenzo in the heart of Ibiza is home to one of the most romantic restaurants of the island – La Paloma. Founded in 2004 by an Italian expat family who renovated an old run-down finca, today the charming all blue and white building is one of the most popular places to eat and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere. In summer you can sit outside in the fairytale garden surrounded by olive, lemon and orange trees while the beautifully decorated indoor dining room lit by the fire place has the perfect cosy countryside vibe for colder days. The menu is mainly Italian with fresh often organic ingredients from the garden and influences from the middle east. You’ll find tasty snacks and appetisers like hummus and pita bread, Tuscan antipasti with charcuterie and cheeses flown in specially from a small farm in Italy. Chef Daniela Prasuna Coppini changes the menu every week and serves a range of main courses from home made pasta to creamy risottos and a yummy choice of meat and fish dishes. Places like La Paloma are what makes Ibiza: the combination of laid back vibe, with real quality, style and great people.
Located on the restaurant road from the capital to San Juan, Nagai is an outdoor foodie temple serving contemporary sushi and Japanese fusion cuisine. The multi-cultural team of four has run the restaurant since 2011, and created an unpretentious gypsy-style hideaway with the intimate atmosphere of your own courtyard. However the set up doesn’t lack island style: the rustic farmhouse boasts a cool boutique and Art Space and often DJs and life musicians meet up to play some super smooth shaman house tunes together. With all the cool and pretty people hanging out to chill to good sounds enjoying a perfectly balanced Spiced Pear Cocktail it might be hard to focus on the plates. But the first bite of the salmon avocado tartare or the Nagai prawns with coconut salad and chilli will take over your mind in an instant. Hold tight though as the treat has only just began! Think Japanese curry, hosomaki, sushi, sashimi for main courses and ginger terracotta with orange juice for a proper happy ending…
Located in the middle of Ses Salinas, Experimental Beach features one of the rare beach clubs that has managed to stay kind of a secret hotspot over the years. In 2013 the renowned ECC group (Experimental Cocktail Club spanning Paris, London and New York) opened this relaxed barefoot restaurant on the rocks of Cap des Falco, a peninsula in the south of the island. Expect white luxurious sun beds from which you can watch the legendary sunset while sipping on a rum-infused Pineapple Èxpress. The clean beach house chic designed by Dorothée Meilichzon in combination with chilled Ibiza beats and a view that stretches across the Mediterranean to the very tip of Es Vedra have proved a winning combination here. All this and we have not even talked about the food… Fresh seafood stars include raw langoustine carpaccio with lemon or seabass in salt crust and octopus a la plancha. Vegetarian food lovers will be more than pleased with the quinoa avocado salad with goji seeds and greek yogurt. Come in the late afternoon to get a day bed and watch how this calm beach side spot slowly turns into a breezy after-hours stomping ground throughout the night.
The wide wooden doors of Samahra are painted in the turquoise shades of the Mediterranean sea and lead into a little bohemian shopping heaven. Hand-painted colourful door signs with peaceful messages like Namaste, Viva La Vida and Welcome greet the visitors right at the door step together with a mint coloured Buddha Statue that guards the entrance. Samahra offers a wide range of creative and innovative home accessories and gifts. If you’re looking for the perfect souvenir go for the wooden photo box from Seaflower Ibiza which contains a range of stunning pictures from around the island, each one endowed with a quote and the story behind the picture. How about getting one of the comfy sweaters made of recycled cotton and “Made in Ibiza not in China” embroidery?! In this charming fair trade boutique everything has been selected with love and care from the scented candles to the organic tea selection and precious minerals. You surely won’t leave without having bought a souvenir from the island of love and light…