Ronda, in the Málaga province of Spain, is packed with excellent hotels, many of which are boutique with views of El Tajo Gorge and the dramatic Puente Nuevo bridge, the Plaza de Toros de Ronda — the oldest bullring in Spain — and the old Moorish quarter. Including a converted townhouse built in 1736 for the heirs to the conqueror of Peru, these are the best places to stay in this wonderful Andalusian town.
From the elegant Modernista facade to the shimmering design and decor within, few places in town can match the glitz of Hotel Catalonia Ronda. It has a raft of amenities too, from a spa with a heated pool and sauna to a rooftop infinity pool with views over Ronda’s famed El Tajo Gorge and the Plaza de Toros de Ronda, the oldest bullring in Spain. These vistas are shared with the hotel’s Panorámico Restaurant, as well as many of the pricier rooms.
Part of an estate that has remained in the Clavero family for more than 500 years, the Molino del Arco was a 17th-century finca (ranch-style estate) before being converted into a boutique hotel. Landscaped gardens blend with olive groves and vineyards, and there’s a swimming pool surrounded by lawn that provides views over the valley towards Ronda a few kilometres away. Inviting lounges and honesty bars give it a homely vibe, which extends to the unfussy guest rooms.
On a hillside with picturesque vistas over the valley, this rustic hotel provides bucolic serenity just a short drive from Ronda. The centuries-old property was originally an olive mill and has been updated, while retaining respect for its past. Brimming with plant life, the peaceful garden contains a generous swimming pool with loungers. Dining is a highlight here too, with Michelin-star talent in the kitchen.
Hotel Ronda Nuevo has just three rooms, each with its own theme – you can choose from cinema, flamenco or literature – but all share simple, modern decor plus up-to-date amenities that include app-controlled lighting, temperature and music. Two of the rooms also feature jacuzzi tubs. The modernised centuries-old building is located on the south side of the city gorge, just steps from the two dramatic bridges that span it.
Those with a fear of heights might want to think twice about a stay at Casa Palacio VillaZambra. The cliff-edge setting on the older side of town makes for some of the most dramatic and vertiginous views over El Tajo Gorge, the bridge and surrounding landscape. The hotel is housed in a whitewashed villa with palatial interiors that include antiques and a range of ornate architectural flourishes.
Enfrente Arte is a friendly boutique hotel on one of the prettiest streets in Ronda. Each of its 12 bedrooms is themed around a particular artist or subject — especially lovely is the light-filled Picasso Twin, which opens out onto a spacious first-floor balcony overlooking the street below. Spaces to relax include a roof terrace with great views, a tropical garden and a self-service bar stocked with local wines. Also included in the room rate is the best breakfast in Ronda, featuring custom-made crepes.
Pension Baraka is in a beautiful 18th-century townhouse in the old Moorish quarter of Ronda and has two rooms, each with its own name. Warda (Arabic for rose) has a double bed, paintings by the hotel owner Anahid and steps leading into a courtyard, while Safra (yellow) is a twin room with mountain views. You’ll love the personal service from the proprietor, who is happy to give you recommendations about what to see and do in Ronda.
Hotel San Gabriel is run by Ana and José Perez, siblings who grew up in this gorgeous 18th-century building before their parents turned it into a hotel. The townhouse dates from 1736 when it was built for the Pizarros, heirs of the conqueror of Peru, and was acquired by the Perez family in the early ’90s after almost being destroyed in a fire. The 23 rooms are rendered in a traditional style, and facilities include a wine cellar and a cinema room with velvet seats that came from the main theatre in Ronda.
For a luxury room with a view, head to Hotel Montelirio right on the edge of El Tajo Gorge overlooking the Puente Nuevo. The rooms are decorated with their own themes and in the Superior Doubles, you can relax in hydro-massage tubs while gazing upon the mighty bridge. Guests here rave about the Michelin-recommended restaurant, where you can enjoy imaginative, pan-European cuisine on a terrace overlooking the rugged scenery of the Serranía de Ronda.
Just opposite the 18th-century bullring, Hotel Polo has light-filled, stylish rooms ranging from singles to quadruples, with the double premiums being the most spacious option for couples. There’s a communal living room with a microwave, kettle and fridge, and an honesty bar on the rooftop terrace, where you’ll also enjoy amazing views over the rooftops and beyond.
Just down the winding little road that leads to Ronda’s understated 17th-century Old Bridge, one of the two that Puente Nuevo was built to improve upon, Aire Hotel has three individually decorated rooms in a stately old townhouse. The owner is charming and helpful, and the beds exceptionally comfortable. An excellent breakfast is included in the room price.