Ibiza returns to its roots with low-key beach bars, farm to fork restaurants, and sophisticated clubs
It may have become better known in recent decades for its hedonistic nightlife, but the Balaeric island also offers incredible food and gorgeous, laid-back hotels
Five star service, dazzling scenery and outstanding food are maybe not the first things that spring to mind when you think about holidaying in Ibiza. But the white isle has experienced a vibe shift, partly thanks to the pandemic - Covid restrictions created a hiatus that allowed Ibiza to re-evaluate its offering and return to its roots.
It was always a hippie mecca, a destination for wandering souls chasing the sun, and it's that eclectic spirit and authenticity that it is now striving to recapture and recreate.
After decades of being known primarily for nightlife, the new-gen Ibiza is showcasing that it has more to offer than just raving and revelry. Low-key beach bars and a burgeoning restaurant scene that focuses on farm to table offerings are establishing the island as a destination for a chilled-out or culinary-focused holiday.
For those searching for the mellow side of Ibiza, it's best to avoid the bustling areas of Playa den Bossa and San Antonio. To the east of the island is the relaxed town of Santa Eulalia, where the hotel, restaurant and shop options are so plentiful that you could easily spend your holiday just exploring what this beach-side town offers.
A short walk along a palm-lined promenade takes you to Hotel Riomar, a freshly refurbished, family-friendly and comfortable hotel with both the beach and a pool at your disposal, and a decent dining option in the Ocean brassiere.
Playing Baleric beats poolside is the bright and buzzy W Ibiza, where residents and non-residents alike can eat in La Llama, a wood fire-focused restaurant, the buzzy beach club Chiringuito Blue, or the casual and health-focused Ve Cafe.
Another spot for hearty fare in Santa Eulalia is Passion cafe, which serves an extensive menu emphasising organic, plant-based food and juices. Wrapping around the town is the harbour, and for a fantastic view of the sweeping bay, head to CBbC Marina to drink in the scenery, sip on excellent cocktails and savour fresh seafood.
In the centre of the island is Santa Gertrudis, dubbed the Notting Hill of Ibiza for its understated luxury and sophisticated inhabitants. Its restaurant scene is lively, with the classic fare of local meats and cheeses at Bar Costa, contemporary plant-based food at Wild Beets, or innovative plates at Overall, where there is no drinks menu - instead, the bar staff take note of the flavours and tastes you like, then create your custom cocktail.
The Asian-influenced food offering includes dishes like burrata torched in lardo, and raw, dry-aged Galician beef with soya and chicken caviar. If you’d prefer a light bite, select a couple of courses to share while you sample your liquid creations at the bar.
If you visit the village in the early evening, take a stroll around the many boutiques. Highlights include The Rose, a gallery-meets-fashion-shop where silk dresses in a rainbow of colours line the walls, and La Maison No 74, a café, workshop and fashion and interiors store.
The easiest way of getting to these little villages and around the island is by car. Taxis, which are plentiful and take credit cards, will take you from one side of Ibiza to the other for between €40 and €50. Worth the trip, especially to witness the iconic Ibiza sunset, is Hostal La Torre at Cap Negret, just north of San Antonio on the island's west side.
Pack flat shoes for the short but steep descent to tables nestled just above the cliff, then sit back and take in that sunset as waiters serve you cocktails and dishes like miso aubergine, garlic prawns and grilled octopus.
Other picture-perfect dining experiences on offer on Ibiza include eating under orange trees at La Paloma or in the gardens of a restored farmhouse at A Mi Manera, with both restaurants serving produce grown on-site.
At La Paloma in San Lorenzo, a giant blackboard listing the regularly-changing menu is passed from table to table. Highlights of our visit included burrata with roasted tomatoes, paccheri with tomato sauce, fresh anchovies, and a smoked aubergine and chervil pesto.
At A Mi Manera, the farm-to-table ethos is also celebrated, with the organic vegetables grown in the gardens featuring in dishes like stuffed courgette flowers and beetroot carpaccio, an outdoor charcoal grill firing up wagyu steaks and Iberico pork.
The secluded gardens are magical, but you can also choose to eat in the imaginatively designed farmhouse. Linger after dinner in the cocktail bar while you await the private car transfer which the restaurant offers for its diners.
If this all sounds a little too laid-back, fear not: hedonistic pursuits and partying aren't off the table, and clubbing will always be an integral part of Ibiza. The world-famous clubs like Pacha are still part of the island’s fabric, but they have moved with the times too, offering VIP services, pre-club dining and exquisite cocktail lists alongside top DJ talent.
Instead of dinner and a show, think dinner and entry to a club. In Pacha’s restaurant, with its white-washed walls, sunken seating and low lighting, you can eat lobster tempura and tomato tartar to the background of House or seventies tunes, depending on what night you visit. Mondays at Pacha are all about flower power, with a track list featuring everything from The Beatles to Dusty Springfield.
That soundtrack is carried into the club. After you eat you get whisked straight in, skipping the queues, and spend the night swaying to the sounds of The Doors, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder with a crowd ranging in age from twenty-something to seventy-something.
From Pacha to Pikes, another celebrity hangout that has hosted everyone from Guns N' Roses to Kylie Minogue, and Jean Claude Van Damme to Freddie Mercury. Wham! shot their Club Tropicana video in this Balearic Chateau Marmont in 1983, and while it’s certainly not for the conservative-minded among you, Pikes is a special place that deserves its A-list status.
For a quirky take on dinner with dancing, book in for the Sunday Roast dinner in Pamela's restaurant in Pikes, which is as legendary as the stars who have descended on the hotel. Traditional English-style roasts with all the trimmings are served in the candy-floss pink-walled courtyard with glittering disco balls twinkling above.
It’s an entertaining but surreal experience, tucking into chicken and stuffing as the temperatures hit close to the thirties. Cooling down by the pool, people-watching and cocktail in hand, is a must post-dinner, but there's no time for food-induced snoozes, with DJs lined up to ease the crowd into the Sunday evening/morning.
At other times of the week, chef Tim Payne’s menu includes octopus pintxos with an Ecuadorian chilli sauce, braised pork cheeks with monkfish, and pizza with crispy duck and watercress.