The perfect low key party week in Ibiza
In a departure from our usual more adventure-based escapes, a friend and I decided that this year we’d hit Ibiza. Rather stupidly, I don’t think we actually booked any of it until February 2020 when it was already clear the world was on the brink of some rather interesting times.
After about 5 reschedules of flights, an entire rebooking of the holiday for 3 weeks later in the year, a final flight reroute and a last minute hotel cancellation, we finally made it to the White Isle on 27 July 2020.
This post will be more of a trip report than a fuller set of recommendations as I’m painfully aware that our visit was in no way representative of a typical Ibiza stay and we didn’t cover nearly enough of the island to give a full run down of the best places to eat, drink, party and sleep. But I can give you an insight to what we did and didn’t enjoy, impart all the research I did but couldn’t get around to putting into practice and give some thoughts on what I’d do differently if I went again.
Why go to Ibiza?
I always wondered this! I have a strange, deep-seated love for slightly grotty British holiday spots (as my many trips to Magaluf over the years will testify), which is rather at odds with the rest of my travel habits. Something about the Brits abroad culture is strangely compelling and it also acts as a licence to just do whatever the hell you like on holiday (chips for breakfast anyone?) without the constant stress of seeing everything, immersing yourself in the culture or ‘making the most’ of your time.
So in many ways Ibiza never appealed as it seemed somewhat halfway between the Brits abroad experience and yachted elite, took its music scene more seriously than I cared to and seemed littered with vaguely terrifying mega clubs that I couldn’t imagine imprisoning myself in on a warm summer evening.
After much research we discovered somewhere with a mix of charming old streets, dramatic and rugged coastlines, beautiful secluded beaches and, of course, places to party. And you cannot really beat the sunsets on the sunset strip in San Antonio.
When to go to Ibiza?
The summer months bring the best weather but also the most tourists. I know Ibiza regulars who have sworn off ever going back in July / August because it’s so hectic. The season generally runs May to September (although for 2020 most places have extended into October and even November) so you can pick your time based on your weather preferences (it was 30 degrees every day and 20 degrees every night we were there in July) and your feelings about other tourists…and I suppose the rapidly changing travel advice.
It’s also worth noting that in normal times there will’ll be acts and events scheduled, so you may wish to plan your trip around those. After everything that had happened I was so relieved to get away that I forgot we had initially scheduled our trip to coincide with Artful Dodger playing at O Beach (still sad about that!)
What’s open in Ibiza in 2020 due to COVID?
There’s definitely enough open in Ibiza to have a good time. Much like the UK, bars, restaurants and outdoor venues (including beach clubs) are, for the most part, open. Indoor clubs (but also the outdoor venue Ushuaia) will remain closed for the 2020 season. We did find some restaurants were closed, especially in the Old Town, and it wasn’t always clear from their websites beforehand whether they were open or closed. If you’re headed to one of the bigger tourists resorts then chances are you’ll find plenty of things open. It’s also worth noting that the Ibiza has season has been extended with closing parties happing into the second week of October.
We were able to get our makeup done both in a salon and with a mobile make up artist coming to our hotel, so that also appears to be on the approved list!
It’s mandatory to wear a mask in public areas in Spain with the ability for authorities to levy on-the-spot fines for non-compliance. This obviously isn’t the most comfortable when it’s hot or when you’ve had makeup done, and it does get a bit exhausting trying to remember when you’re not used to it, but it’s hard to complain under the circumstances and the rules are at least clear. Typically bars and restaurants will require you to arrive and leave in a mask but once they have brought you a drink you can then remove it. This was the same in O Beach and taxis and shops also required masks.
How much does Ibiza it cost?
Terrifyingly, about 2 weeks before my holiday a colleague said to me that friends of hers always told her that ‘you need about 5 grand to have a good week in Ibiza’…I’m not sure what her friends get up to there but it did not cost us anywhere near that much, but the total probably was around the £2000 mark each. That said, you can burn through money pretty quickly so if you’re going to stay somewhere half decent, eat out the whole time and not worry too much about what you’re spending then you can safely assume you’ll spend a similar amount as if you were doing the same things in London for the same duration.
In general the places I’d seen reviewed as being ‘pricey’ were in fact cheaper than London (e.g. cocktails for €15) but part of the issue was the difficulty in establishing the price of anything before you actually go, so it felt like a bit of a lottery.
There are also a lot of activities that get markedly cheaper as a group. Everything we did was split between 2 people so it made minimum spends quite high, but a lot of those activities would have taken 6-8 people and sometimes more, so could be better value than you might think. It feels a bit crass, but I’ve included the price of everything below for illustrative purposes as I did struggle establishing the price of things ahead of my trip.
High level 5 day Ibiza itinerary
- Breakfast at Rita’s Cantina
- Half day boat hire
- Lunch at Es Nautic
- Pool time
- Dinner at Sa Capella
- Morning yoga at Amante beach club
- Tour of the Old Town (Dalt Villa, Cathedral, Ramparts)
- Cova de Can Marca
- Beach tour
- Dinner at The View, 7 Pines
- O Beach
- Trip to Formentera
- Dinner at STK
- Morning on the beach
- O Beach (again)
Where to stay in Ibiza?
I don’t know enough about the various hotels to comment on specifics but location wise you can pretty much assume you’ll cross the island in a taxi a few times during your stay, so in many ways it makes little difference where you’re based.
I would recommend mapping out what you want to do first and then either staying in the area closest to the bulk of your activities or just accepting that you’ll do a lot of taxi-ing and pick a nice hotel independent of the rest of your plans.
We decided early on that this was going to be a full on Instagram holiday so there were only a few choices that made sense for us. We ultimately ended up staying at possibly the island’s most Instagrammable hotel, Wiki-Woo Hotel, a kind of pink and mint green mecca on the outskirts of San Antonio.
Our initial pick had been Cubanito Suites which seemed like a more grown up (and better reviewed) version of Wiki-Woo (and without the ‘open bathroom’ concept, which I detest). Unfortunately, two weeks short of our arrival, they decided they were in fact closed, cancelled our booking and told us there was availability in their sister hotel the Art Hotel Paradiso if we liked.
It turned out to be more than a helpful suggestion and they thought they would be able to not refund our booking having cancelled our stay – this was all sorted after a few stern emails back and forth via Booking.com but it did kind of sour me on attempting to return there on subsequent visits! The Art Hotel Paradiso actually looks beautiful and I’d have happily stayed there if I hadn’t already booked a number of things that were walking distance from Cubanito and which just would have involved even more taxis had we been at Art Paradiso on the opposite side of San Antonio.
And so we ended up in Wiki-Woo having initially agonised over whether to stay there. To be fair to them it was actually decent and they have some nice touches. The service was reasonably solid (especially front desk staff) although rather more patchy in the restaurant area.
We did have to move from our initial room after finding it complete with mid-floor puddle, the last guest’s makeup brush behind the sink (bit grim in a pandemic) and a huge chunk of glass which flew out as we opened the fridge! But this was dealt with sincerely and swiftly so I left it go – shit happens.
In the interests of brevity (never my strong point) the pros and cons of Wiki-Woo are as follows,
- Actually the cutest hotel ever
- Grim coffin of a lift turned into a disco party lift which I enjoyed EVERY time I got in it (and no one ever tells you there’s a disco lift!)
- Friendly staff
- Beautiful pool area
- Really comfy beds
- Excellent Z list celeb spotting
- Good food
- Small beach opposite with a small shower and some sun loungers
- Great selection of small and full length mirrors in the room
- Decent shower
- Cloud Nine hairdryer and straighteners in the room
- Kitchenette area with fridge (mini bar but with room for your own stuff)
- Dressing table area
- Cowshed products (I’m actually not a fan but aware most people see that as a bonus!)
- The open bathroom concept. I hate hate hate this. It’s become so prevalent in hotels, especially newer ones, over the last few years and sometimes with no obvious explanation. There is plenty of space in the deluxe rooms like ours to have an actual bathroom with a wall and a door rather than a shower behind a sliding glass door (or nothing in the case of our first room) and a toilet behind the same style of sliding glass door which doesn’t even reach floor to ceiling…who wants to stay with a friend (or anyone for that matter) with that kind of bathroom arrangement? I mean you work out a system but is it necessary in the first place?!
- Literally nowhere to put any clothes, including a hanging rail long enough for a cocktail dress at best – we had to drape maxi dresses across the front of the safe. I had intended to unpack for this holiday and it drove me totally mad every day at the lack of places to put anything
- Breakfast is not included and doesn’t start until 9am, which is inconvenient if you’re day tripping or heading out to morning activities
- Having a minimum spend to secure beds around the pool in your own hotel (seems fairly standard in Ibiza and it’s low here at €50 but it still pissed me off out of principle)
- On a dirt track on the outskirts so you’ll always have a bit of a walk (on loose rubble) to head out
- Patchy service in restaurant and as demonstrated by the need to move rooms
- Seemed to be pot luck what utensils etc. you got in the kitchenette which rendered it useless in some cases – I bought milk the first day so I could make tea but there were no mugs. Granted I never asked for one but it seemed stupid to take up the only storage the room had with huge cupboards to store a single fork and glass
Cost for 2 people of 6 nights in Wiki-Woo in a Deluxe Sea View room €1,800
Breakfast was c. €15 each per day, obviously depending on what you had.
Wiki-Woo can also arrange transfers for you and one night we used their transport to take us to STK which was €40 each way – a bit more than a taxi but a nice large Mercedes min-van that would have been excellent value for a larger group.
We definitely tried to pack in too much stuff. I can see the appeal of having one type of holiday or another but 5 days, 6 nights of nonstop activity was definitely overkill and we paid for it when we got home! Nevertheless, here is the itinerary we followed and I’d largely stick to it if I did it all over again – I’ve noted in the below where I think things could be adjusted.
Day 0 – Flight and arrival
After about 5 flight cancellations and rebookings, a complete reschedule of the holiday for later in the year and a last minute hotel cancellation, we felt extremely lucky to be able to go to Ibiza at all. We flew with British Airways from Heathrow Terminal 5. This flight was re-routed from Gatwick as part of British Airways’ consolidation of its short haul routes to Heathrow during COVID, which was a bit inconvenient but did give us access to a better lounge. Airports and flights now require masks at all times, with guidance to change masks at least every 4 hours.
We kicked off the holiday in British Airways’ First Wing, which had been COVID-proofed. They still offer meals and drinks, but you need to choose a table, scan the QR code for the web portal and then order your food and drinks that way. Everything was delivered quickly and accurately and everything we ate was of a decent standard.
COVID aside, I’m not sure why airport lounges wouldn’t keep this system going forward – it’s more efficient than waiting for staff to come to the table and makes it easier to do everything in your own time. Generally speaking the self-serve food they put out in lounges isn’t great (particularly in British Airways’ case) so I didn’t miss that at all and if you wanted something to go there was sparkling and still water bottles to grab or they could make up a little snack bag for you (which we didn’t investigate).
The flight itself was still fairly busy – by no means full but not unusually empty either. As part of its COVID measures, British Airways hands out a pack containing an antibacterial wipe, a sachet of hand sanitiser and a sealable bag for the safe disposal of face masks as you board. They also supply a little snack bag for the flight in place of the usual in-flight service, containing an extremely tiny bottle of water, a bag of Tyrell’s crisps and an oat cookie.
Much to my surprise, especially as I was travelling in Economy, I was greeted by one member of staff as a Oneworld Emerald and asked whether I would like anything ‘from the front’, so I also got myself a beer and a drink for my friend! She even checked whether I wanted anything else later in the flight. I’ve never actually seen this happen on British Airways, only ever on long haul Business Class flights with other Oneworld airlines, so it was a pleasant surprise, although not repeated on my return flight!
I used D-Cars Ibiza to book my airport transfer, opting for a Range Rover to collect us for the 30 minute drive to the hotel. They were very good, offering in car phone charging, the ability to play our own music through the car and were very accommodating when I arrived and realised I hadn’t updated our hotel details after the last minute cancellation and happily took us to our new destination (luckily only a couple of minutes away). The Range Rover transfer was €120 one way.
Day 1 – Boat hire, Es Nautic and Sa Capella
I could not recommend hiring a boat enough! Let’s face it, it’s pretty much the coolest thing you can do but you also get ocean but no sand (huge bonus for me!) and you get some space away from crowded beaches.
We used Ibiza Boat Hire and hired their Cranchi 31 speedboat which comes with an hour’s fuel (all we needed – €85 surcharge per extra hour), soft drinks, cava and beer as well as snorkel equipment, a paddle board, inflatables and an MP3 player. There’s also a mini bathroom on board.
We booked a half day morning (10am – 1:30pm) which was perfect to see a few different beaches, repeatedly jump off a boat (!) and take literally hundreds of amazing photos and videos of Ibiza’s beautiful coastline.
Ibiza Boat Hire was offering 10% off bookings due to the pandemic so we got our half day hire for €535.50. The boat takes 7 people so would have been excellent value for a small group of friends, especially when you factor in the added drinks. You can also take your own food and drinks (or use their catering) but keep in mind that there’s limited cool box space.
We couldn’t get an early enough breakfast at our hotel, so we headed to Rita’s Cantina (the meeting point for the boat hire) and grabbed a very good value breakfast first which kept us full until lunch. It has a nice position right in front of the port and the service and food were good.
I’d booked a 2pm lunch at Es Nautic for when we arrived back and despite some slightly chaotic service, had a really delicious paella lunch for €24 a head while looking out over the sea. As you’d expect, there was an extensive seafood menu and the restaurant was fairly busy for 2pm mid-week during a pandemic so it’s definitely a solid choice for a meal in San Antonio. Check their website for opening times as their hours are currently slightly reduced.
For dinner we headed to Sa Capella, which is a beautiful restaurant housed in an old church. They have both outdoor and indoor seating in equally beautiful settings but we opted to sit indoors so we could enjoy this beautiful and unusual restaurant environment.
I started with a delicious plate of Iberico ham, which I can only assume by its size was meant to be shared (I didn’t share it) – it’s sliced right off the leg on a table in the restaurant. I followed it with the suckling pig, which was extremely tasty but also huge (big enough that I couldn’t finish it, and I finish everything) and my friend had fish baked in salt which they bring right to the table to crack the salt crust in front of you.
The service and food were excellent and I highly recommend it wherever you’re staying on the island. Note that it’s roughly a 20 minute walk out of the north end of San Antonio (doable from our hotel), so if you’re staying more centrally in San Antonio you might want a taxi, especially as the last part is up quite a steep hill!
Day 2 – Island tour and The View
We really wanted to explore the island a bit, more in the style of our usual road trip holidays, so we hired a car for the day and headed across the island to explore the Old Town and some of the coast. Car hire in Ibiza is more expensive than I expected, although friends who were regulars seemed surprised, so this could just be a result of COVID.
All in it cost about €90 for the day with a pretty standard Opel Corsa plus the cost of a bit of petrol for our trip (around €20). The freedom of having a car is nice, especially to be able to leave things in the boot when you’re sightseeing, but I don’t think it saved us much money compared to taxis.
We had heard taxis were hard to get on Ibiza, which wasn’t at all our experience (again, possibly related to the current situation) so we hired the car to save time. Unfortunately it cost us 2 hours of our day when it broke down, so it proved to be a false economy! I think if I did this again, I’d just throw money at it and hire a driver for the day to take all the stress out. D-cars Ibiza, who we used for our transfer, offer flat rate pricing for set time periods; 8 hours chauffeuring in a Range Rover (seats 4) is €600.
First we stopped at the beautifully located Amante Beach Club for a morning yoga session and breakfast. I highly recommend this (if you can get up for a 9am start!). Amante offers yoga on a cliff above the beach every Wednesday and Friday morning or, if you’re only in Ibiza for a long weekend their sister restaurant, Aiyanna in San Antonio, runs Saturday morning classes.
Booking is essential and the cost for the yoga session and breakfast afterwards is €30 per person. If early mornings aren’t your thing, Amante also offers al fresco cinema on Tuesday nights for €30 which can be booked here. Amante is a beach club and restaurant so you can book for lunch or dinner or a bed for the day for €25 which includes a towel, umbrella and water. Although bizarrely there are no changing rooms and the only shower is outside next to the beds, so it’s worth noting that if you do visit.
After yoga we drove to the Old Town to walk around the cute, narrow streets of Dalt Villa. It was extremely quiet with museums and a number of restaurants closed, which was sad to see but did give us a chance to explore in relative quiet and get some lovely photos of the whitewashed houses.
Parking right at the top of the Dalt Villa was free and we were lucky to get a space (I doubt that’s possible during the day during a normal peak season). There are also some toilets at the top.
From the car park there are beautiful views over the port and coastline across the ramparts of the town. From there you can explore inside Ibiza’s medieval fortifications, which are signposted with some helpful information. The cathedral is near the top of the old town and from there you can wander down the narrow streets to find somewhere to eat lunch.
We had hoped to stop at some beaches on our island tour but were short of time so made our last stop Cova de Can Marçà to see Ibiza’s caves (open 10:30am – 7:30pm with guided tours every 45 minutes).
It was a bit of a nerdy edition to the trip but I’m so glad we went because the caves were beautiful and the views across the coast as you follow the path to the cave entrance were stunning and more than made up for our missed beach expeditions.
I’d definitely love to do a day exploring Ibiza’s beaches by car as there are plenty of beautiful, secluded beaches as well as stunning rock formations. I did a lot of research into the most secluded and beautiful beaches which I ran out of time to visit; they’re all plotted on the map below.
I tried to book El Carmen restaurant overlooking Es Vedra for dinner but it seemed to be closed due to the pandemic so instead we went to The View at 7 Pines Kempinski, serving Asian fusion.
We had a great meal there, the 5 course tasting menu, with beautiful views over the ocean at sunset and it was an extremely reasonable €95pp, which included €40 corkage for the champagne we took with us.
Day 3 – O Beach
If big club nights out aren’t your thing (they’re not mine) then a day club might be more up your alley. There are lots of beach clubs in Ibiza but most are places to chill out during the day – if you like a day time party then O Beach is the only place to go (and it’s currently open).
When we booked for July there were only bed bookings available but general admission opened for August so you can now get in for about €15 – 25 depending on the day. I wouldn’t advise that at this time given there’s no dancing allowed, even at your bed (sad face), so there’s not a lot to do without a bed.
We booked a poolside garden bed which I believe was €550 comprising a €100 cover charge and €450 minimum spend and can be booked for up to 6 people. Between two of us it was a punchy spend (but easily doable when Veuve is €155 a bottle) but you can see that it’s pretty good value for 6 people and you’d likely end up spending a lot more than the minimum.
Given O Beach is open 1pm – 10pm currently (although it wound down rapidly after 9pm both days we were there) then you can assume you’re eating lunch and dinner there plus drinking all day, so even for 2 people the minimum spend wasn’t bad value. The food and drinks prices are currently on their website, and I’ve attached them below, so you can work out how much you’re likely to spend.
They even gave us a 20% discount on our minimum spend on the day because they weren’t able to offer the party everyone was hoping for in the current environment – it was a nice gesture given they would have been hit hard by COVID.
Not surprisingly bottles are expensive but in general the food and drink is toppy but not more than being in a club or tourist area in London (and in fact are cheaper than that) and the quality and service was good. Get the sharing cocktail in the pineapple and the white wine elderflower sangria – they were both delicious. Food wise we loved the lobster mac n cheese and the sushi was really quite good too.
What I would say is that if you’re going all day with a bigger group and want to be able to relax a bit, then the standard beds are pretty small for 6 people – you’d struggle to all sit on one and would be better breaking up your party so there’s no more than 4 on the smaller beds, although they much more comfortably fit 2 or 3 (especially if you want to lie down).
We had our makeup done twice in Ibiza but I would hands down recommend the MUA who did our makeup for STK and would book her for O Beach next time, her name is Naomi and she is the friendliest person ever and her makeup was amazing. You can find her on Instagram @naturallyyouibiza and @naomi.cormack
Day 4 – Formentera and STK
So many people recommended we visit Formentera while in Ibiza so, with a free day earmarked for recovery, we decided to make the trip there. From San Antonio it’s a bit of a trek as it’s a 20 – 30 minute taxi ride to the port, followed by a 30 minute ferry and then you need to get a taxi or bus to the beach.
There are several companies operating ferries at different times amounting to more than 20 crossings per day so you’re never waiting long. Just be mindful that you buy a ticket with a specific ferry company so make sure you check the return times when you arrive to make sure you’re back at the port in Formentera for your ferry as there can sometimes be waits of up to 90 minutes between crossings at quieter times of day. The ferry is about €45 pp return (I was shocked too) and I think the tourist bus was about €7 each (but I think that was to use all day hop on, hop off).
Once in Formentera there are taxis and also tourist buses which take you around the main sights – it’s best to check the bus routes and timetables at the Tourist Information when you arrive as finding accurate information on the internet can be tricky.
We visited Playa de Ses Illetes, which is reached by bus or taxi from the port (taking about 10 minutes). It’s a beautiful beach with a definite pink tint to the sand (but nowhere near as pink as the photos of it you’ll see online!) with absolutely crystal clear waters. There are some restaurants near the beach but otherwise basically no facilities so I think if I did the trip again I’d consider using my boat charter day to visit Formentera and making a full day out of the boat charter so that you have the facilities with you and get to experience the beautiful beaches of Formentera without jostling for space on the beach.
For dinner we had booked a VIP table at STK in Eivissa and it really was one of the best experiences of our whole trip. If I went back to Ibiza I’d make sure I booked at least two trips here.
For some reason I’ve always been so against cabaret type places but oh em gee did I enjoy this. We had acrobatics, a live saxophonist, amazing food and, well, a guy in a pink monkey suit playing a guitar that shoots fire. What else do you need for a good night out?
We had the amazing brioche style bread to start with a tasty garlicky dip. Then we (inadvertently) shared a lobster roll – it’s a small dish, make sure to get your own, then shared the 600g Chateaubriand with sides of truffled parmesan chips, creamed spinach (not good) and broccoli. My friend had some kind of dessert but I don’t remember what it was!
STK operates a €150 pp minimum spend for the VIP tables, which we easily met. Check all the booking conditions when you book as there are a lot of rather complex Ts&Cs regarding deposits and grace periods and they will absolutely kick you off your table once you’ve had your two hours (unless you convert it to a ‘party’ table by spending another €150 pp, I believe).
For an indication of costs, starters are around €20 and mains €40 – 50; our sharing Chateaubriand was a slightly ridiculous €150 and a bottle of actually fairly good Rioja was an extremely reasonable €65. We had hoped to order one of their giant pornstar martinis but it turned out to be something crazy like €300…I think it was several litres of cocktail in its defence. We also spent €80 on our return transfer to the hotel, using the Wiki-woo mini van.
Day 5 – O Beach (again)
As a last day bonus we managed to fit in an early morning beach trip to the small beach opposite the hotel (which is tiny but still has a few beds to hire and a shower and lifeguard on duty).
We literally couldn’t resist coming back to O Beach (or did we book an extra day while drunk there on Thursday…we’ll never know). In COVID times it’s actually quite a nice place to relax, eat, drink and swim with some good music and surrounded by people. O Beach serves really good food, is clean with good service and is an excellent sunset spot so it was a fitting end to the holiday.
What would I do differently next time?
Shorten the holiday – I would gladly go back to Ibiza for a long weekend. We had initially planned 3 or 4 days but the holiday grew the more we researched everything there was to see and do, so after various cancellations and the prospect of it being the only summer holiday we got, we decided ended up with a 6 night stay. It was amazing, but exhausting and unless you’re going down the quiet week in a villa route then I’d say 4 nights is the most time you need in Ibiza.
Stay in the Old Town – as I said at the start, Ibiza felt location agnostic as a lot of things (including the clubs when they’re open) are spread across the island. If I go back I’d start by choosing a nice hotel somewhere (but probably not anywhere too small / remote) and accept that I’d need taxis. I would probably opt for the Old Town as it’s easy for Formentera, STK, beaches, clubs and restaurants.
Take more people – I had an amazing time with my friend, but Ibiza is crying out for a group holiday. Most things felt centred around groups and were made much, much better value by having at least 6 people, so I would definitely take more friends to party with.
Go to STK again – I cannot overstate how much I enjoyed this night out, I would definitely go back (maybe every night?)
Try more restaurants – food was actually really good on Ibiza, I don’t think we had a bad meal. I researched loads of bars and restaurants we didn’t have time to visit so I’d love to try more of them. All the places I found are on the map below.
Get a full day boat hire and take it to Formentera – as I said above, Formentera would be amazing with your own boat so I would definitely do a full day boat hire and head there.
See more of the beaches – either with a chauffeur or a more expensive hire car that won’t break down up a hill on a hairpin bend! There are some really secluded places to hike to (Ses Balandres, Es Portitxol) and beaches with amazing rock formations (Cala d’Albarca, Sa Pedrera ‘Atlantis’, Punta Galera) that I’d love to see if I went back.