Palma, situated on the south coast of Mallorca in Spain’s Balearic Islands, is a coveted tourist destination. The balmy Mediterranean climate; the pale, sandy beaches; the beautiful architecture steeped in antiquity; the plethora of Michelin-starred restaurants; the bustling port, which is known to welcome luxury superyachts from around the world. All of these make the Spanish city a sought-after hub, perfect for a lavish excursion by air or sea.
For one architecture firm, the recent task of designing a 24-room hotel in Palma took plenty of inspiration from the city’s history and culture. But the firm also found inspiration in the traditions of a distant island country: Japan. And in particular, its time-honoured technique known as Kintsugi.
The Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden is located in the historic centre of Palma. This 5-star hotel was designed by OHLAB, a firm that previously captured our attention for its work on a Miami concept store. For the Can Bordoy, it was faced with no ordinary renovation project; the building which would become the luxury hotel was a 2,500 m2 abandoned building that was over 500 years old.
The firm chose to configure the space not to evoke the experience of visiting a hotel, but rather a home, forgoing a reception area altogether. Guests are greeted in the entrance hall as though being welcomed to the upscale residence of a friend. Further solidifying this experiential element, the Can Bordoy houses a residential dining room in lieu of a restaurant, and its rooms feel more like the luxurious spaces one would find in an old mansion.
When it came to renovating and reimagining the existing structure, the firm was careful to preserve the romantic qualities of the interiors while not adhering to any one time period, opting to feature elements from different epochs. OHLAB was careful not to exaggerate the grandeur of the building’s origins. “It is a respectful intervention with the existing centenary architectural crossbreeding,” it explains via recent press release, “maintaining the traces of the past and avoiding a false recovery of a glorious past that the house has never had.”
The desire to honour that history with accuracy is what led OHLAB to source a little inspiration from Japan. Kintsugi is the art of repairing broken things with precious materials — for instance, mending a chip in old porcelain with gold dust — that highlights the damage rather than hiding it. This reverent form of restoration has the potential to increase the value of the item in question. The Can Bordoy does not hide evidence of its eclectic past, but instead celebrates that layered history via a continued unorthodox approach to aesthetics. Key to this was the choice of furniture. Echoing the diversity of architectural forms throughout the building, the furniture represents a plethora of eras and origins, with antique pieces juxtaposing contemporary elements. OHLAB created bespoke beds and bars for the hotel.
Key to the overall project was showcasing the garden. If you ever read The Secret Garden as a child and longed for your own lush, mysterious playground, this is the sort of green space that will no doubt satisfy your childhood desires. The hotel houses the largest private garden in Palma’s Old Quarter, though it was largely unknown to the public (yes—a true secret garden!) before the renovation. OHLAB strategically made this space visible from the entrance courtyard and street, offering visitors and locals a welcome view of its ancient vegetation.
The garden is not just a focus of the exterior; a vegetation motif is continued throughout the interiors of the ground floor as well. The dining room is connected to the garden and courtyard by a long green corridor, with plenty of greenery hugging the walls. This green palette is further continued in the plush furniture of the bar, where a mirrored ceiling creates the illusion that there is more greenery to be found hanging above.
In the suites, large velvet curtains create a sense of drama while easing the delineation between the new bathroom fixtures and the classical lines of the bedroom furniture.
Perhaps one of the grandest elements of the hotel is its staircase. These steps are exactly what one might imagine when asked to picture an elegant Spanish home. The skylight above filters light through a small pool of water on the roof, creating a dazzling lighting effect of caustic reflections on the staircase below.
Images via v2com
Photo credit: José Hevia