Amid the dark, gloomy days of January, an email popped into my inbox inviting me to celebrate U’s 30th birthday in Ibiza. The holiday was prepped for September, the general consensus was that we’d book a villa with a pool with rocking vistas and there would be a mixed group of us. I couldn’t resist. “Yes, yes, yes!” screamed my positive response, dangling a bright glow to the January blues.
With a reputation as a wild hedonistic island, Ibiza attracts those seeking to replicate their Saturday night out in their hometown but extend this into a week-long session of further debauchery. But beyond the stereotypes, Ibiza also manages to appeal to the well heeled (James Blunt) and the boho variety (Jade Jagger) – and us, a mixed group of festival friends seeking a slice of partying but also a calm, picturesque oasis to shake off the London stress.
Damn, take us back to that delightful villa where the only sounds we could hear were that of grasshoppers or cats meandering in, or actually us squealing as we jumped in the pool (hand in hand, backwards, running – it’s funny how many ways you can enter the water when you’re blessed with your own pool to fool around in. At 2am. And intoxicated). The villa served up spell-binding sunsets, giving way to countless Instagram opportunities as we sought to soak up such soul-stirring vistas. It was here we’d often stay up until almost sunrise, whizz up a BBQ, tuck into communal breakfasts laden with breads, eggs and bacon, and spend hours listening to mellow tunes, or like me, soak up a book.
Yes, there was a whole load of activity awaiting outside the impressive gates of the villa. Ibiza old town is worth an afternoon soaking up the 2,500 years of history. Here you’ll stumble along cobbled streets, whitewashed buildings and many charming restaurants (thumbs up to El Olivo and La Olivia for serving tantalising Mediterranean fare), markets and galleries. It was also here that, following the one glass of vino tinto, I fell down two stairs and twisted my ankle. One the second night. Oh, the glamour.
During our week-long adventure we hired a boat and explored a nearby island – a highlight here was when six of us jumped off our boat and swam to a nearby beach in a bid to find ice-creams (with C stuffing the notes in a plastic wallet) and S swimming back with lollies intact for the other two. [NB: The first version of this post suggested we all swam back with two lollies between us. In fact, it was S who powered ahead with said lollies. DTT apologies for any upset this may have caused].
VIP in Ocean Beach Club, a comp provided to us through a contact, proved to be an eye-opener – kind of like landing in an Essex nightclub but where the layers of make-up and fake tans aren’t concealed by dim lights. Phones are glued to hands as the vainest compete to take selfie after selfie. Like visiting a zoo, we were hooked.
To shake off the excess we found a secluded cove in the north-east of Ibiza where we drank red wine, met a wonderful guy who made us mojitos – and later joined us for a party back at the villa – and watched the sunset. It was soul-stirring, as was a trip to nearby Formentera – a picturesque island worth the expensive return boat trip.
And lastly, the partying. While boys with pecs bursting out of tank tops and dancing to the same tune for five hours in the one spot wasn’t my scene, happily many of my group loved the Carl Cox night at Space. It was at Ushuaia, an open air club with tunes spun out by Armin van Buuren, that I truly kicked into the spirit of the Ibiza nightlife. Five hours of dancing and we didn’t want to retreat to the villa. And being in Ibiza, we didn’t.