One of the newest luxury hotels in vacation hotspot Ibiza is the Robert De Niro-owned Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay, a spinoff from the swanky New York Japanese fusion restaurant Nobu.
I recently stayed at the hotel on a trip to Ibiza to see what it was like. I found that the hotel, bathed in whites, blues, and golds, was a calming, luxurious, expensive place to stay.
The standout of the hotel is its four restaurants, each with a different cuisine and style. The hotel’s edition of Nobu stood out for top-notch cocktails, sushi, and seafood. But the beach in front of the hotel left a lot to be desired.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to vacation like the rich and famous, the Robert De Niro-owned Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay isn’t a bad place to start.
Opened last year and officially inaugurated by De Niro in May, Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay is one of eight hotels opened by the high-end chain since it was formed by De Niro, Hollywood producer Meir Teper, and Japanese celebrity chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa in 2013. The hotels are a spin-off from their swanky Japanese fusion restaurant chain Nobu, which has long been known as a haunt for Wall Street bigshots and celebs alike.
While the majority of Nobu’s hotels are located in the US, the company has recently made an international push, opening the Ibiza Bay and Marbella hotels in Spain and announcing eight new hotels in places ranging from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Sao Paulo, Brazil.
While I can’t vouch for every Nobu hotel, the Ibiza edition, located on Talamanca Bay on the Balearic island of Ibiza – long a vacation and partying hotspot for the wealthy – is stunning, chic, and secluded. But, at the end of the day, it’s the hotel’s dining options of immaculate sushi and new spins on classics like paella that make it a place to pretend you’re a Kardashian.
I recently visited Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay on a recent trip to Spain. Keep reading to see what it’s like:
I arrived at Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay relatively early one Monday, after being picked up in a Range Rover by the hotel’s transfer service from Ibiza Town. The driver, a young Moroccan-Spaniard who spoke five languages, was incredibly personable. After reading some spotty reviews about staff and service, I was delighted.
When you enter the hotel, the initial impression is one of openness. The lobby opens directly onto the pool deck and the sea, which draws a refreshing breeze.
While most Nobu restaurants and hotels seem to try to emulate the original’s sleek, black-and-gold downtown New York-aesthetic, Ibiza Bay is brighter and beachy. The minimalism is still present, but it is transmuted into shades of white, teak, marble, and stone. It’s calming to the eyes.
The chill aesthetic is embodied in the furniture, like the variety of chairs that hang like hammocks from the ceiling.
After having a look around, I went to check in. At 12:30 p.m., it was a bit early to get into my room, but they took my bags and settled the details in the meantime.
As I waited, a staffer rushed over to offer me lemon or orange water. On the hot, humid early September day, it was a welcome touch as I waited.
After dropping my bags, I stopped at Celicioso, one of the hotel’s four restaurants, for an espresso. A hit at its locations in Madrid and elsewhere in Spain, Celicioso is the spot for the gluten-free among us, offering a wide range of gluten-free sandwiches, pastas, and salads for $US13 to $US20.
I headed out to the main pool to relax. At 152 rooms, the hotel is relatively small, which gives it the vibe of a secluded escape. I was told the hotel was fully booked, but the majority of the sun beds were unoccupied on the day I was there.
I grabbed a bed and set up shop. The hotel provides fluffy towels, umbrellas, pillows, and a few luxury magazines to thumb through. The white and blue aesthetic was making me feel like an Instagram influencer.
The pool makes a great place to relax. For those not staying at the hotel, sun beds are available to rent for the day.
The hotel itself is not an architectural marvel on the outside by any means, but the benefit of the design is that the vast majority of the rooms have a view of the sea.
The view looking out towards the main pool is eye-catching, so long as you don’t mind the megayachts and schooners moored in the water.
The beach in front of the hotel leaves a lot to be desired. On the day I was there, the beach — which is public, so not Nobu’s fault — was covered in seaweed. The hotel has laid out its own immaculate beach area behind the boardwalk. The benefit of being on Talamanca Bay is that its a short ride to Ibiza Town, but far enough away that it’s quiet and secluded. The downside: the beach.
But, the truth is, the hotel’s star is its pool scene. The second pool, which caters to families, was busy on the day I stayed. The pool deck menu is extensive and includes sushi and other Japanese food selections from the hotel’s edition of Nobu. Rock shrimp tempura for $US37, anyone?
Despite the fact that the hotel bills itself as the “ultimate playground for grown-ups,” Nobu has a special spot for kids, called the Kids’ Club, for those aged 4 to 12. Drop the kids off to dedicated child-minders and carry on with your vacation.
Don’t worry, there’s plenty for them to do. The Kid’s Club arranges cooking classes, deejaying workshops, and arts and crafts to keep the little ones busy. It looked like a blast — so much so that I was asking if I could participate.
With my room not ready for another hour or so, I headed over to Chambao, Nobu’s spin on a chiringuito, or beach restaurant. Featuring locally sourced ingredients in a chilled-out setting, it feels like the kind of place you can drop into still in your bathing suit.
The menu at Chambao tends towards fresh Mediterranean seafood, Valencian paella, and typical tourist beach snacks like burgers and pizza. To start, the waiter brought over three types of bread, cuttings of fresh veggies, and two dips: eggplant mousse hummus and an anchovy, nut, and olive tapenade. The dips were good enough to waste your appetite on.
I ordered a round of midday drinks because vacation, YOLO, etc. The cocktails, which can also be ordered from the pool deck, included spins on classics like margaritas, Moscow Mules, and and mojitos. I got a passionfruit “Hikaru” margarita ($US20) that unfortunately leaned too heavily on Grand Marnier for flavour, rather than the fruit.
For starters, I opted to try the “fisherman style” clams ($US28) and, at the waiter’s suggestion, the tender artichoke hearts ($US29). Before you spit out your drink at the prices there, the artichoke hearts, dressed in truffle oil and blanketed in a snowfall of manchego cheese, delivered a sour-umami punch that I’m still salivating over.
For the main, I tried the “blind” paella ($US30 per person for two), which featured mussels, clams, shrimp, and scallops. There were more adventurous versions available, including a lobster paella and a squid-ink rice, but I figured it best to try the classic first. To this untrained palette, the paella was robust with little crunchy bits of rice along the sides. I’ve had better paella, but not in a long time.
I wasn’t going to have dessert, but then they told me about the key lime pie. I never turn down key lime pie.
After lunch, it was finally time to head to my room. The hotel hasn’t totally abandoned the gold touches. But in contrast to a place like, say, Trump Tower, it is added sparingly and tastefully.
Rooms at the hotel start at around $US350 a night and can go up to a few thousand a night and fluctuate based on season and availability. I had a Deluxe Junior Suite with Sea View, which runs for a little over a $US1,000 a night. The room is pretty spacious with a seating area, a desk, and an entry way.
It has a king bed with plush bedding that feels like a cloud. But, I’ll be honest, I didn’t sleep more than an hour in this bed as I was out at the clubs until 6 a.m. I wish I did …
The room includes a tablet to control everything in the room as well as order room service, contact staff, and read about services at the hotel.
There are a few thoughtful amenities like this Nespresso machine that comes with pods so you can get your caffeine fix at any time.
And the minibar comes stocked with a few more unusual items like this “recovery” kit, which includes, I think, items to help you get over a hangover. There was also an “intimate” kit that included a feather tickler.
The TV had a nice range of English and Spanish channels, including international stalwarts like CNN. For me, the key feature was the ability to stream your computer to the TV so I could keep binge-watching Netflix.
There was also a portable Bluetooth speaker, perfect for jamming out on the terrace, which had two sunbeds and a second seating area. I was told that the pool beds are never full because so many hotel guests simply hang out on their terraces. I could see why.
The bathroom was clean and spacious with the requisite rain shower and a bathtub. The toiletries were from Natura Bissé, a suitably swanky Spanish beauty brand.
While my room was plenty luxe for me, if you really wanted to feel like a celeb, you could book one of the two “presidential suites,” which each have their own private terraces and rooftop lounges. It will cost you a cool $US4,000 a night — or more.
But I’m willing to bet that when Robert De Niro stays, he gets the keys to the “royal suite,” which is designed to be its own personal seafront villa.
It has an upper and lower terrace, gardens, and plenty of room for the entire entourage.
After getting situated in my room, I headed to Nobu’s on-site boutique, which features clothing, art, products, and accessories from local Ibizan and Spanish designers.
I usually stick to $US15 haircuts at a barbershop, but I imagine the more pampered among us will be delighted that Nobu has an on-site John Frieda hair salon and nail bar.
The one restaurant at the hotel I didn’t get to try was Peyote, which serves up Mexican-Mediterranean fusion cuisine. But I did enjoy the vertical garden wall outside. There are others like it dotted on the property. I’m a big fan of the recent trend of greening walls. It’s very aesthetically pleasing.
Around 8 p.m., I was starving and it was time for the centrepiece of the hotel, its edition of Nobu. I snagged a table set up outside on the deck. It’s hard to emphasise how nice it is to come down from your room to a world-class dining spot without having to get a cab.
I started off the meal with cocktails. I had a Japanese spin on a Manhattan that included yuzu, Japanese whiskey, and sherry, while my date had a citrusy drink called a “White Cloud.” My drink put the whiskey front and center. Each ingredient seemed to emphasise the unique character of Japanese whiskey, exactly what I look for in a cocktail featuring a premium spirit.
I started off with charred Padron peppers ($US14), a reinterpretation of the classic charred Shishito peppers using Spanish ingredients. The Padron peppers, paired with lightly sweet sauce, were not as spicy as Shishito and a bit meatier.
While the majority of the menu features Nobu classics you can find at any branch, about 30% of the dishes are created by the local chef. But, being at a Nobu, I couldn’t pass up a few sushi dishes, like this toro scallion ($US32) and soft shell crab rolls ($US28). The toro was suitably fatty. I was kicking myself for not just ordering it as sashimi.
One of the local dishes was this Gambas al Ajillo “Nobu Style,” a classic Spanish dish ($US50) which used shrimp from nearby Formentera. It was a simple, garlicky dish that shined with the local, fresh seafood.
The main was lobster with wasabi pepper sauce ($US60). Despite how it may look on the plate, there was a meaty piece of lobster tail hiding under that thick, citrusy, spicy cream sauce. The wasabi came through in the aftertaste. Its heat didn’t hit right away, but was a kick in the throat.
Against my better judgment, I went for dessert, a creative “bento box” featuring a chocolate soufflé, matcha ice cream, and a variety of fruit perfectly matched to the chocolate: strawberries, raspberries, etc. It was sinful.
The next morning I grabbed a quick bite of breakfast from the hotel buffet at Chambao and jetted off to catch a plane. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and it made think I’ve underrated the value of having top-notch dining in-house. My one complaint is the state of the public beach in front. I can’t help but envision Robert De Niro taking one look at it and saying “Fughetaboutit!”