Miss W’s blog: I heart Pikes
As I type this blog, I really should be packing for my annual Ibiza staycation. Then again, when you stay so close to home it really doesn’t matter if you forget anything does it? All the more reason to write a blog then! And while I’m oh-so-busy planning a week with no plans, I’ve also been reminiscing about my very first Ibiza holiday. It was a holiday that changed my life because, well, fast forward 11 years and I’m still here. A huge factor of that love at first sight experience was thanks to the place I chose to call my home away from home: Pikes.
Of course, back then Pikes wasn’t Pikes as we know it today. Nor was it the Pikes of the Grace Jones and Julio Iglesias glory days. If I’m honest, it was a little shabby around the edges, losing some of its sparkle and starting to fall into disarray, but it didn’t stop me from revelling in its ‘down the rabbit hole’ magic. I remember the first night so clearly. Miss S and I, fresh off an extremely long haul journey jumped into a cab as the midsummer rain was falling outside. I had no idea what to expect of Ibiza (not rain, that was for sure) and as we sped out of the airport, I was dizzy with the sight of all the big-name DJs on billboards. Not an alcohol, fashion or technology brand to be seen.
As we drove up that now familiar bumpy camino to the iconic yellow finca – known to me at the time as the hotel Kylie Minogue had once stayed in, the place Wham! filmed the Club Tropicana film clip and of course, the location for Freddie Mercury’s legendary 41st birthday party – it was pitch black. There was not a sound, not a sight and not even a twinkle of a light anywhere. It felt a little like we were driving into a horror movie and as we trudged up the winding little pathway to the dimly lit reception, I was dubious. I was nervous. I was even a little bit scared.
Then everything changed. As we stepped inside that reception area, I felt a little like Dorothy stepping into Oz. The photos lining the walls of famous owner Tony Pike alongside pretty much anyone who has ever been famous in the last 20 years or so, gave me goosebumps. I knew this was going to be somewhere special. We were whisked in the darkness into one of the coolest hotel rooms I had ever stayed in – it was my first taste of traditional Spanish style. Split level, ancient Sabina beams in the ceiling, elegant archways and as banisters, quirky tiled floors, a little kitchenette and a little private garden complete with a little stray cat taking shelter from the rain – before I’d even unpacked my suitcase I was imagining how I could find a way to take up residence here in the future.
Totally exhausted, we collapsed for a quick disco nap, with a plan to head to We Love Space however the nap accidentally extended to 10am the next morning (it had been a 36-hour journey after all), when housekeeping were pounding on our door in a panic. You see, in all the confusion with the rain and our somewhat spooky arrival in the middle of the night, they’d checked us into the wrong category of room, putting us in a much more expansive (and expensive!) suite than the teensy tiny basic room we’d reserved over the internet! And they needed it back pronto for its original intended occupants. And once we’d moved into our new digs, I somehow found the littler room even more charming. It seemed I was already well and truly under the Pikes spell.
While many of the tales from that fateful holiday can’t be written about – let’s just say it included things like high speed police chases, nights that turned into days with random strangers around the pool, rescuing a newfound friend from drowning in aforementioned pool, receiving a bottle of Cristal as a gift from another stranger who had introduced himself as an international arms dealer and promptly sending it back (sadly my tastes were not as refined back then), missing pretty much every single breakfast and suffering the most painful blisters of my life – they are all fairly tame when you compare them to the life and times of Pikes founder and namesake, Mr Tony Pike.
This leads me to right now, and to the reason I got distracted from packing. You see, earlier this week, Señor Pike (who is not indeed Spanish, but a true blue Aussie) finally launched his autobiography, Mr Pikes, which I imagine is going to be impossible to put down as I do nothing on the beach or by a pool all week long. A gentleman and a cad, a playboy and a grafter, a dreamer and a businessman, a lover and a fighter, someone who has experienced triumph and tragedy, success, failure and success once again. Now in his 83rd year, I imagine he’s forgotten more amazing tales than I’ve ever had in my life – and yet he still has enough memories to fill a whole book (and that’s after it’s been censored too!).
During that first holiday, we had the pleasure of Tony’s company by the iconic pool and over the years since I have been regaled by many more of his tales over a Bloody Mary by the pool, champagne at a swish dinner or cocktails at a party. And of course, I’m not the only one – Tony Pike has been a source of entertainment and inspiration (and probably some frustration!) to many over the years. Everyone who’s ever been to Pikes has a Tony story (or three) to tell at dinner parties when they’re back on home soil and now those stories have been captured for the entire world to read. It’ll probably be a Netflix series before we know it.
So, while Mr Pike is indeed the man who launched the legend (he literally built the hotel with his own bare hands), these days there is a lot more to the Pikes puzzle to keep visitors – be they hotel guests or partygoers – under that same magical spell I first fell under. I mentioned earlier that it had started to fall into disarray (if you want details as to why – read the book!) and it was not long after this that Dawn Hindle and Andy McKay of Ibiza Rocks took the hotel on a long-term basis, giving it a new lease of life and transforming it into Ibiza Rocks House at Pikes Hotel (that mouthful of a name has since been ditched and it’s gone back to its single syllable moniker to the delight of travel journalists everywhere).
It couldn’t have been a more perfect partnership. Fusing the hard-partying heart that was at the core of the hotel’s reputation with the rock and roll lifestyle of the island’s premier live music venue, Pikes rose up like a phoenix from the ashes. In addition to bringing the Ibiza Rocks magic touch, the duo also completely respected the hotel’s heritage when it came to decorating and rather than strip it back and revamp it from scratch, they chose to enhance all of the kitsch and quirky elements that gave Pikes its personality, with some extra stylish embellishments added for good measure – think rock memorabilia, taxidermy and a tennis court that was painted bright pink rather than green for a start.
In the years that ensued I have had some of the best days and nights of my life at Pikes – again, many that may not be fit for publishing but probably don’t hold a candle to Mr Pikes, or indeed Dawn and Andy’s, escapades. To me, Pikes is all about freedom: to do what you want, with who you want, wherever you want and whenever you want (well, within reason of course). I think it’s always been that way and it’s really quite a feat that with all of the recent gentrification of Ibiza’s hotel scene, it’s managed to maintain its original ethos. And as much as it’s about the venue itself, a huge part of Pikes is the people: those behind the scenes and those on the scene. For some, you could say Pikes is a way of life…
2017 has seen Pikes take its reputation as the island’s go-to party place for authentic island vibes to the next level. Absolutely every night is a must-visit night; a place where you can still experience authentic Ibiza hedonism and bohemian island vibes. The hotel was recently featured in The Times Magazine as a haven for middle-aged ravers (in a positive way) but what they neglected to mention was that no one at Pikes stops to think for a minute about their age. They just get about being themselves and having a good time. Though it’s worth noting it also attracts a younger crowd, with the island born-and-bred kids (born to the aforementioned ravers) usually making an appearance for some of the epic weekly parties such as DJ Harvey’s Mercury Rising for a musical education of sorts.
Every time you visit feels like falling down the rabbit hole all over again… no two visits are ever alike. Pikes does charity events, all night dancing, jazz nights, high-end photography exhibitions, film screenings, restaurant pop-ups, pool parties, after parties, weddings, birthday parties, amazing music, Halloween (just a few weeks to go until the hotel gets haunted again!), book launches, record releases, the island’s best Sunday roast, retreats, cosmic consciousness raves, Flamenco, fashion pop-ups and it gets transformed into Candyland for a day. It even has its own line of jewellery and homewares. And it famously does fancy dress and bathtub karaoke. Is there anything Pikes cannot do?
One thing I still feel after all these years when I step over the threshold at Pikes is that feeling of coming home. Taking up residence is still not out of the question. I dream about spending my golden years swanning about the finca in full-length floating kaftans accessorised by an elegant gold scripted ‘Fuck Off’ True Rocks necklace, pausing to chat with the stuffed ducklings, birds of prey and deer in reception before taking my place in a peacock chair to hand-feed the cats, cocktail in hand of course. On the odd day when I have nothing better to do, perhaps I shall try my hand at writing a book.
In the meantime… I better finish packing so I can start reading and take some inspiration from the man who started it all. If anyone needs me while I’m on staycation, I’ll give you one guess as to where you can find me…