Rafael Nadal has created something truly special with his first hotel

As someone who grew up going on annual holidays to the countryside in Mallorca, I never really saw Palma as anything special. It was a destination, a necessary conduit. As I got older, it became a place for hen and stag parties. But now it is becoming something else entirely.

Like Ibiza’s successful stylish rebranding, Mallorca is getting its own chic face. This is an example when Rafael Nadal opened the doors to his family home on the Playa de Palmanova.

Okay – that’s not entirely true. The two-time Wimbledon champion’s first hotel, Zel Mallorca, is based entirely on his home. Nadal is from Mallorca himself, so it makes sense that the 22-time Grand Slam champion’s hotel pivot would begin here.

But Mallorca also has a growing upside that makes it the perfect first destination for Nadal’s Zel Mediterranean lifestyle brand, in association with hotel chain Meliá, which has opened a second location in Costa Brava this month, and has external posts in Madrid and Punta. Cana on the way.

In addition, its party scene is thriving. Also new to the island is Lío Mallorca, Ibiza’s acclaimed nightclub and cabaret restaurant, run by the founders of super club Pacha. Could Mallorca be the new Ibiza? It’s starting to look good.


    (Zel Hotel)

(Zel Hotel)

Zel Hotel Mallorca is located near the capital Palma, sitting directly on the Playa de Palmanova, a sandy beach on the south coast of Mallorca (there’s nothing like reading the words “0 km from Beach” on a hotel website, is it ?).

A 2.5-hour flight from Stansted, Zel is a 24-minute drive from Palma de Mallorca airport and a 20-minute drive from the city center, making it easily navigable but also away from the hustle and bustle of a vibrant heart and historic Palma.

It’s also close to the party town of Magaluf, so if you choose to indulge in your obligatory Balearic night out. And if uplifting and escaping is what you’re looking for, a 50-minute trip to the picturesque, immersive cityscape of Deià, where The Night Manager was filmed, is a very aesthetically pleasing loan.


    (Zel Hotel)    (Zel Hotel)

(Zel Hotel)

When you come to Zel, you would be forgiven for not realizing its inner potential from the clean, white exterior of its 165 rooms and 21 suites. Inside, it is homely and sunkissed, bathed in the light that emanates from its open plan reception-turned-shop-turned-restaurant-turned-beach club on the first floor. Nadal consulted on the design to make the hotel as close to his Mediterranean home as possible, which is evident in the details: a beer fridge in the lobby for open consumption, a record player in the room with Elvis and BB King vinyl, books left. to pass on to other guests.

Zel draws inspiration from outdoor culture and the spontaneous Mediterranean lifestyle, which can be felt as you walk around the reception area. That familiar feeling of being watched by the hotel staff – all with good intentions – is not present at Zel. This is a big sleepover at your famous friend’s house.

The interior will make you desperate to visit Nadal’s actual home as well. The man has good taste. Everything is washed wood and striped linen, with freestanding bathtubs that look out onto the sparkling sea. Rattan and wicker are used liberally, and everything feels as appropriate on the beach as it is in a bedroom.


    (Zel Hotel)    (Zel Hotel)

(Zel Hotel)

The hotel has two pools – one that overlooks the sea and beach club, at the back of the hotel, and one hidden in its wellness area (aka Spa). The wellness area offers a range of facials, massages and treatments, including a “No Filter” facial that aims to make you look like your best Instagram post. As skeptical as I was, I have to say they succeeded — I was thrilled.

The open plan downstairs also offers a “concept store” of some of Zel’s stylish interiors and toiletries, as well as live music in its restaurant – which people dance to. It’s a hoot! And if you’re mad enough to work out on holiday, there’s a 24-hour gym, as well as bike hire.

extra curricular

    (Biel Grimalt)    (Biel Grimalt)

(Biel Grimalt)

The hottest extracurricular in Mallorca landed in the form of luxury cabaret club and restaurant Lío last year. Recently reopened for its 2024 season, Lío is like nothing you’ve ever experienced – unless you’ve been to its sister venue in Ibiza, or the iconic Ibizan superclub (and owner of Lío) Pacha.

The £250 minimum spend at the restaurant-cum-cabaret is fast becoming a celebrity spot, with the likes of Anne Hathaway and Kylie Minogue appearing in its depths. With menus curated by Michelin-starred Mallorcan chef Andrew Genestra, along with Lio’s head chef Felipe Moren, it’s a truly delicious experience, before it becomes completely idle. Expect writhing dancers, sipping fine wines and plenty of laughter.

Then, to cleanse yourself of your sins, you can take a much more wholesome day trip to Palma’s Romanesque gothic cathedral, Santa Maria de Palma, commonly known as “La Seu”. The abundance of stained glass is amazing, as is the climb to the amazing terraces (215 steep, spiral steps). It’s worth it for the view, though.

Food & Drink

    (Zel Hotel)    (Zel Hotel)

(Zel Hotel)

The great thing about being in Mallorca is that it is socially acceptable to have ham for breakfast, as it is an acorn-fed Iberian ham. the king of the hams. The best ham you will ever eat. You’ll find it on all of Zel Hotel’s menus, whether it’s the breakfast buffet (much better than your average, I must say), the Beso Beach Club lunch menu or the amazing dinner offer.

Apart from the ham (which I really can’t recommend enough), other Basque-Mediterranean specialties include the extensive lobster paella, the coca bread, Josper’s cooked squid with sobrasada and a handful of big fat grilled seafood, such as the Bulgans (traditional Southern Spanish method) . Also available are wagyu carpaccio and bluefin tuna tartare, which are must-haves.

Outside Zel, De Tokio a Lima is a Palma restaurant worth a visit, with its leafy terrace setting and bespoke cocktail menu. Have the gazpacho here, you will remember it forever.

Which room?

    (Zel Hotel)    (Zel Hotel)

(Zel Hotel)

Guests can choose between garden view, street view and sea view or rooms (all rooms have sea view). The rooms are palatial, with a private terrace, a Bali bed and a Whirlpool bathtub.

That said, with two pools and a beach just steps away, a junior suite is also a strong option, and the balcony allows for sunset viewing and towel drying. In addition, there is a panoramic shower and a freestanding bath, so you can pick up an Elvis LP on the room’s record player and look out to sea while you soak well.

He prefers…

    (Zel Hotel)    (Zel Hotel)

(Zel Hotel)

Make it a party in style. Zel is not a party hotel – it’s fun, sure, but relaxed, chic and well-mannered in the evenings. However, with Palma a fresh option for anyone looking for an Ibiza-like luxury break at a lower cost, this property allows you to go out and have fun, then return to a serene Mediterranean home when you are done. There really is no better place to nurse a hangover.


Rooms at ZEL start at £229 per night. melia.com

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