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OKU Ibiza: a boho-chic hotel for the White Isle’s wellness set

OKU Ibiza  (Georg Roske)
OKU Ibiza (Georg Roske)

If you’re wondering where the name OKU came from, it’s a reference to a Japanese concept meaning ‘inner space’ or ‘inwardness’ — which explains not only the food and architecture of this five-star paradise on Ibiza’s north central coast, but the wellness feel.

The hotel — or the Ibizan edition, anyway (there’s a sister hotel on the Greek island of Kos) — certainly promises a step away from the stereotypes of long associated with the White Isle.

Yoga, sustainable design and nourishing, locally-sourced food are the orders of the day here. No wonder OKU is quickly earning itself a name as one of the hottest in a growing set of wellness-centred hotels taking over the famously party-focused town of San Antonio. Think complimentary morning vinyasa classes, CBD facials and guided hikes and PT sessions set against earthy, boho-chic interiors that feels closer to what Soho House would look like if it had an Ibizan outpost than anything associated with the San Antonio holidays of old.

From Japanese-inspired fine dining to the adults-only pool — one of the largest on the island — here’s what to expect.

Where?

Perched on the cliffs among the pines and palms in a picturesque spot just a 15-minute walk from San Antonio’s famous party strip and right on the fringes of Cala Gracio bay — one of the most beautiful beach spots on the island. It’s nestled among the foothills on the outskirts of the famous party town so you can guarantee a peaceful stay, with the option of live music sessions from some of Ibiza’s hottest DJs at the main pool if you want them.

 (Georg Roske)
(Georg Roske)

If it’s sea swimming you’re after, OKU is perfectly placed. We snuck down to the beach for a pre-flight swim on our final morning and had a charmingly picture-perfect cove entirely to ourselves.

Style

Nature-inspired furniture made from locally-sourced materials. Minimalist interiors and earthy tones. Plump grey sunloungers and tiki umbrellas set against an aquamarine pool.

 (Georg Roske)
(Georg Roske)

OKU describes its style as bohemian minimalism and this can be seen throughout the entire hotel, from the reception area, filled with a fresh signature scent (Le Labo’s Santal 33, if you’re looking to replicate it at home) to the bedrooms, each stylishly designed in chic blacks, whites, greys and browns with signature folding shutters on the windows.

The whole place is a design-lover’s paradise, down to the staff immacutely dressed in navy shorts and white tees. Look out for OKU’s bespoke-made wicker chairs woven from natural fibres in Papua New Guinea.

 (Georg Roske)
(Georg Roske)

Which room?

Each of OKU’s 184 rooms and suites comes with floor-to-ceiling glass doors onto its own balcony so you can enjoy every second of the Ibiza sun. There’s an earthy, bohemian vibe throughout, with chic linens, Marshall sound systems and deconstructed bathrooms featuring Le Labo bath products and a spacious rain shower behind a glass door.

Choose from rooftop rooms with private terrace views out over the hills or swim-up pool rooms with direct access to a secluded shared pool down on the ground floor. Junior suites are perfect for a couple with a little one and deluxe rooms come with a more spacious lounge area alongside the bedroom. For true seclusion, book the hotel’s four-bedroom private villa with its own pool and space for eight people.

 (Georg Roske)
(Georg Roske)

Food & drink

Nourishing breakfast bowls accompanied by a live musician. Fresh salads served next to the pool. Japanese small plates in a low-lit restaurant as the sun goes down.

Food at OKU is sustainably sourced (the hotel works closely with the Ibiza Preservation Fund, which supports conservation and heritage of the island) and there’s a Japanese and/or Asian twist throughout.

 (OKU)
(OKU)

There are two restaurants: Kima, which offers relaxed Mediterranean fare from breakfast through to an all-day lunch menu; and The OKU Restaurant, offering Japanese-inspired fine dining exclusively at dinner-time — a must-try during any OKU stay. Order the tuna tartare with fried egg and caviar from the raw bar menu and make sure you try the pork belly small plate, served with crispy garlic and unagi. If you don’t believe me, believe the credentials: executive chef Mark Vaessen, who created Amsterdam’s iconic Sushisamba restaurant, is behind the menu here.

You could easily eat all your meals at OKU, but some of San Antonio’s top restaurants are just a short walk away if you fancy an evening out. Villa Mercedes, right on the harbourside in San Antonio, is just a 20-minute wander from the hotel and serves up some of the best croquettes in Spain. Order the garlic prawns for main and flan for dessert. INNsiDE Ibiza Beach is a little further from OKU (best to jump in a taxi for 15 minutes, it’s just under an hour’s walk) but well worth a visit as its rooftop, Rooftop Nine, is one of the best sunset spots on the island. Book a few hours on one of the Bali beds and take a dip in the plunge pool with an Inn Cosmo cocktail before dinner. You can see the whole town laid out in front of you like a map.

 (Georg Roske)
(Georg Roske)

Back at OKU, breakfast is a buffet affair, with a vast array of mostly health-focused options from yoghurts with nuts and seeds to peaches as big as your head. You can order dishes like eggs benedict from a separate menu on top, and there are plenty of naughtier options too, like waffles with honey straight from a honeycomb wall to breakfast macarons. Fizz is available at the help-yourself drinks counter if you’re after something harder than an iced latte. If Soho House did breakfast buffets, this probably wouldn’t be far off.

Facilities

There are two main pools: a ‘family’ edition for those with kids, and a larger adults-only pool just for the grown-ups that’s one of the biggest pools on the White Isle. The family pool sits up by reception and is smaller but with plenty of sun-loungers and bean bags set under chic tiki umbrellas for those looking to dive into a book in a quieter setting than the main pool (ironically, it’s the more peaceful of the two pool areas and don’t worry — OKU’s under-18 guests all seem to be immacutely dressed and exclusively well-behaved).

 (Georg Roske)
(Georg Roske)

But the real draw of OKU is its adults-only 50m pool just across the road, with an impressively well-stocked waterside bar and even more impressive DJ stage at the far end. DJ sets kick off from 2pm most days and there are live pool sessions every Wednesday, popular with non-hotel guests who can book available sunbeds as long as they meet a minimum spend. There’s a separate poolside Juice Bar for those in need of a more wholesome break from all the cocktails. Check in with a member of staff when you arrive and he or she will help you find a lounger or day bed with the perfect view and proximity to the bar.

The whole place feels (and smells) like a spa, but the spa itself is particularly enticing, with everything from deep-tissue massages to ‘diamond energy’ facials and even an under-15s youngster’s spa experience (just a child-friendly facial and foot massage, don’t panic) all set in a softly-scented space that looks like something from a yoga catalogue.

 (Georg Roske)
(Georg Roske)

Even the gym is like an Instagram advert, with chic wooden equipment from skillmils to exercise bikes, and sweat towels and hand weights elegantly laid out on bookshelves like they’re ready for a photo shoot. There are complimentary yoga classes available each morning and PTs on-hand if you’re after something more personalised.

Other offerings include sound healing sessions, private boat charters, guided hikes and champagne beach picnics, but the best facility of all was the most unexpected: a room set aside exclusively for guests who arrive prior to check-in. There’s no bed: just a shower, towels, mirrors and everything you need for changing post-flight if your room isn’t ready yet. Hotels elsewhere, take note.

 (Georg Roske)
(Georg Roske)

What to Instagram

The view from your balcony as you gaze down at the tops of those tropical little tiki umbrellas next to the pool. Heaven.

Best for?

Zen, stylish young couples looking for a wellness-focused Ibiza experience, children optional.

 (Georg Roske)
(Georg Roske)

How to get there

Fights to Ibiza are two-and-a-half hours from London Gatwick. It’s just a 30-minute taxi at the other end.

When should I go?

Anytime during the summer season, though September is a popular time for couples looking for a more peaceful end-of-season break outside of the school holidays while the weather is still balmy and warm (temperatures should average 27C, if you’re lucky). Make sure you’re there for a Wednesday, if you’re keen to experience a poolside live music session.

Rooms from £385 basd on two sharing a Superior room on a B&B basis, Camí del Portixol, 2, 07820 Sant Antoni de Portmany, Illes Balears, Spain, okuhotels.com