The super-resorts that line the Spanish coast have a lot to offer – but you’ll never get the same level of service and attention to detail that a boutique hotel has to offer. Culture Trip rounds up the best places to stay, now travel to Spain is back on the agenda.
As you would expect of Spain’s top tourist destination, the Costa del Sol has a lot of accommodation options. And, frankly, the choice can be overwhelming. So whether you want to play golf by the sea or relax in a pueblo blanco in the Andalusian mountains, we’ve narrowed down 10 of the best for you to choose from.
Overlooking Marbella’s prestigious Rio Real golf course, on a stretch of coast affectionately known as the Costa del Golf, Marbella Heights should be top of your list if you’re a golfer looking for luxury. The exquisite suites all have pan-Asian themes, with names such as Mandara and Khao-Lak, and offer some of the best sea views around. They’re particularly strong on arranging trips and activities here, so if you fancy a visit to a winery, a private yoga lesson or even a Spanish cookery class from the hotel’s in-house chefs, this is the place for you.
Right in the heart of Marbella city centre, Townhouse Marbella brings a slice of old-school luxury to this beach destination. With only 10 rooms, this is boutique accommodation at its best, with personal service, complimentary breakfast, and a residents-only roof terrace providing sweeping views over the coastal town. Plus, the hotel is located just a few hundred feet from the boardwalk that runs between Marbella and Puerto Banus, so you’ll be dipping your toes in the Mediterranean in no time.
If you’re planning a trip with a large group of family or friends, Urban Villa will take some beating. Sitting in the foothills of the Ojen mountains, just a 15-minute drive from Marbella, this plush, five suite villa combines traditional Mediterranean charm with all mod cons, and five-star service. Groups of up to 12 can have this place to themselves, and you won’t be disappointed with the outdoor terraces and pool, or the views of coast and mountains. It all feels blissfully removed from the daily bustle, but it’s close enough to dip into the nightlife if you feel like a change of pace.
This distinctive art-deco building in the centre of Málaga is a cosy bolthole, close to all the excitement of the city. Breakfast is served until noon, giving you plenty of time to fuel up before exploring nearby treats like the Picasso Museum and the Cathedral. The pièce de résistance, however, is the Larios Terrace – order yourself a sundowner from its enormous circular bar, grab a seat and watch the city spires turn to silhouettes under an orange sky.
The 28-room La Fonda is situated in the charming old town of Benalmádena – yet it’s far removed from the city’s nightlife, offering modern luxury in a traditional whitewashed building. The interiors are decorated in bold primary colours, each associated with one of the three cultures that have influenced the region: Andalusian, Greek (Mediterranean) and Moorish. There’s a luxurious spa and outdoor pool, along with thoughtful extras such as complimentary fruit at reception. The enormous terracotta-tiled roof terrace is an all-day hotspot – perfect for a sun-soaked breakfast or atmospheric evening cocktails.
This sprawling estate is right on the beachfront in a small fishing village just outside of Marbella. An enormous pool offers a delightful cool-down for those who like to avoid the sea, while golfing aficionados can practice their swing on the area’s best courses with the hotel’s in-house golf concierge. There are six bars and restaurants, more than enough to keep you busy, well fed and watered, whether it’s grilled ribeye steak from Baltazar Bar & Grill or a mojito on the sand at Spiler Beach Club.
If you’re looking for a golf trip and don’t mind splashing a bit of cash, then the grand, 67-suite Finca Cortesin is for you. It’s widely considered one of the most luxurious hotels on the Costa del Sol, with a superb golf course that online golfing directory Leading Courses called one of the best in Europe. Its plush rooms have high ceilings and elegant decor featuring kooky printed drapes, headboards upholstered in ivory-shaded fabrics and avant-garde chandeliers. If golf isn’t your thing, there are four pools, two tennis and paddle courts, a gym, and a luxury spa to keep you occupied.
Vincci Selección Aleysa in Benalmádena has carved out a reputation for itself as one of the chicest boutique hotels on the Costa del Sol – quite an accolade given the competition. Each of its 35 rooms boasts a sea view, which you can admire over the delicious bottle of cava you’ll find waiting in your room. Pillow menus (yes, you really can have your choice of pillow), and a spa with everything from Turkish baths to a Finnish sauna keep things chill, or if you’re feeling more active there are two bars, a beachfront pool area, and a courtesy bicycle service. In-house Restaurant Alamar is about as waterfront as it gets, and the breathtaking sunset views make for a magical evening.
If you’re after a luxury retreat in the countryside that’s still within easy reach of the beach, head for Hotel Villa Guadalupe. A 20-minute drive from Málaga and the beach, the hotel is perched on top of a hill in the exclusive residential quarter of El Atabal, formerly a Dutch colony. In homage to this cultural heritage, paintings by Dutch artist Irene van Vlijmen adorn the walls of its spacious rooms. Communal spaces include an excellent restaurant helmed by chef Amador Fernández – the seafood menu, with dishes such as contemporary paella and tuna tartare, is so good it’s a favourite among locals.
An ultra-chic place to stay, this foliage-filled hotel feels like a little slice of paradise in the heart of Málaga. In addition to countless plants, you’ll find palm-influenced golden orbs running from floor to ceiling in the lobby, and greenery-patterned bedspreads bringing an outdoor feel into your bedroom. The rooftop swimming pool is open all day, so you can take a morning dip before the heat sets in, or cool off in the evening. Breakfast is a quiet affair – served up in the soothing breakfast room, it’s a dreamy way to start the day and energise yourself for the adventures ahead.