From beats to buggies: how to do a family holiday in Ibiza

·4-min read
The famous pool at Pikes ( Jordi Cervera)
The famous pool at Pikes ( Jordi Cervera)

A family holiday in Ibiza sounds like an oxymoron. The last time I was on the White Isle I was partying until sunrise, now I’m more likely to be getting up at that time with my two-year-old daughter, Blake. But I’ve heard that the Balearic clubbing mecca has some pretty impressive family credentials these days, with plenty to offer those more into buggies than beats.

And yet wrangling a toddler on to a plane full of stag and hen dos, I start to seriously question our choice of destination. Thankfully, when we arrive at our villa, which is split over three floors with comfy daybeds and a giant pool, it suddenly all seems worthwhile. I’m also very grateful to pre-holiday me, who arranged an in-villa massage with White Island Wellness. After an hour’s expert pummelling from Matt, I’ve (almost) erased the trauma of toddler travel from my body and mind. It’s certainly the quickest way I’ve found to slip directly into holiday mode.

 (Casa Panorama)
(Casa Panorama)

Our villa is in the sleepy village of San Rafael, a quaint slice of old Ibiza with a whitewashed church and little stalls selling ceramics. Thankfully it still feels part of the action, being just a short drive from San Antonio and Ibiza Old Town and within stumbling distance of the superclub Privilege (which we’re slightly relieved to discover has yet to open for the season).

Although many of Ibiza’s big hotels now cater expertly to mini guests - shoutout to Nobu Hotel which offers kids DJ-ing lessons and sushi-rolling classes - I reckon a villa is the way forward when travelling with a toddler who randomly demands cheesy pasta at 7am. We spend most of our days lounging in the shade by the pool, having BBQs and spotting geckos.

Hotel Riomar (November Studio)
Hotel Riomar (November Studio)

When we feel like some luxury, we head to Hotel Riomar. This family-friendly boutique hotel in Santa Eulalia has an amazing pool deck and a prime spot on the sand, with swing seats and cabanas, as well as a ‘secret garden’ to explore. We grab some stripey loungers on the quiet beach and spend all day here, treating ourselves to dinner at the hotel’s Ocean Brasserie, where Blake tries calamari and grilled hake, and we slurp oysters.

After sampling the treasures of the sea, the next morning we sail on it. A boat trip with a toddler might not be the obvious choice (Confined space? Seasickness? Are you mad?) but Fancy Boats cater to families, providing mini life-jackets, colouring books and a cabin for Blake to nap in. Our captain Paul takes us on a four-hour cruise on a luxury Sunseeker yacht, and we anchor down just off the nearby island of Formentera, where the sea is aquarium blue and Blake watches fish dance off the prow.

On our last day in Ibiza we leave Blake napping in the villa with a babysitter and head to the adults-only playground of Pikes. Nestled deep in the hills overlooking San Antonio, this Ibiza institution is where Freddie Mercury had his 41st birthday and Wham! filmed their ‘Club Tropicana’ video. If pools could talk…

We grab a burger in the quirky restaurant and then keep the pool party going by ordering brightly-coloured cocktails (sadly not free, as the song led me to believe). Lounging on palm-printed towels on bead-trimmed daybeds feels like a holiday in itself. The music is laid back, the clientele all look like they work in the upper echelons of the club industry and there’s a giant tiger to pose for photos on. This is where the grown-up party kids and semi-retired ravers hang out.

Pikes hotel (Jordi Cervera photography)
Pikes hotel (Jordi Cervera photography)

With the sun going down on the flamingo-pink tennis court at Pikes, we grab a taxi back to the villa and collect Blake for an early supper. One of the hottest spots on the island is Bottega Il Buco, a sister restaurant to the famous New York joint Il Buco. Its rustic mis-matched tables gather just off the main square in Santa Gertrudis, one of the oldest (and prettiest) villages in Ibiza.

Bottega il Buco (Luana Failla)
Bottega il Buco (Luana Failla)

The fare here is unassuming but outstanding - tinned fish, house-made ricotta and freshly-baked focaccia topped with pistachio and figs. We may not have made it to a superclub on this trip, but sipping an ice-cold glass of rosé, sharing a huge lamb ragu pasta, the three of us have a little closing party of our own.

Bottega il Buco (Luana Failla)
Bottega il Buco (Luana Failla)

Kate stayed in a villa provided by Vrbo, which specialises in vacation rentals for families.