A Pocket Guide To Marbella
A Pocket Guide To Marbella

A Pocket Guide To Marbella

It might have had a bit of a reputation in the past, but those in the know will tell you Marbella is actually home to a number of chic beach clubs, excellent restaurants and plentiful beachside hotels – making it a great choice for a glamorous long weekend. Among them all, here are our favourite places to stay, eat at and visit.
By Sherri Andrew
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Image: EL FUERTE/MANOLO YLLERA
Marbella Club Hotel
Marbella Club Hotel

STAY

Marbella has accommodation for all types of travellers. Families can head to villas overlooking the beach, while those on a girls trip will want to be within walking distance of the beach clubs and old town. Two years ago, family owned Fuerte renovated a hotel in one of the best seafront spots near Marbella’s old town. El Fuerte attracts an eclectic range of guests to its cool boutique-style property, which is home to three outdoor pools overlooking the beach, and a spacious outdoor area with striped parasols. The hotel has everything you need for a long weekend, including three restaurants: one attached to the beach club, one for relaxed all-day dining, and one headed up by one of Spain’s most celebrated chefs, Paco Pérez (he’s got five Michelin stars for his restaurants around the world). Rooms are chic, with en-suite bathrooms and sea views, while the rooftop gym has beautiful views of the bay. There’s also an impressive spa where you can enjoy treatments and relax in the pool.

Marbella Club Hotel
Marbella Club Hotel

A ten-minute drive down the promenade will get you to the legendary Marbella Club Hotel, which occupies a prime beachfront spot on Marbella’s Golden Mile between the old town and glitzy Puerto Banús. The historic five-star hotel, loved by A-listers, is a great option for a luxury family holiday thanks to its babysitting service and kids club – in a converted farmhouse, activities include vegetable growing, cookery classes, dance classes, pottery, yoga and treasure hunts. For older children, the hotel can arrange tennis, water sports, horse riding and golf lessons. The property has 115 rooms and suites, and 17 individually designed two to six-bedroom villas. The six-bedroom Villa del Mar sleeps up to 12 and, for larger celebrations, can connect to its neighbour to add five more bedrooms.

Marbella Club Hotel
Marbella Club Hotel

Puente Romano Beach Resort is another top choice. The five-star resort, inspired by Andalusian architecture, is home to elegantly designed rooms, suites and villas, surrounded by lush tropical gardens. Guests can try various world cuisines at one of the hotel’s – wait for it – 20 restaurants, including a Nobu outpost, BIBO by Dani Garcia, and the Chiringuito beach club. New for this summer is the takeover of La Plaza by Fendi, with yellow-hued décor inspired by the fashion brand’s signature designs. Guests can try dishes like the ‘Fendi Lobster Club’ sandwich, and the ‘Fendi Cheeseburger’. You can also book various experiences at the hotel, from olive tasting to tennis lessons, and spend time in the spa.

El Fuerte
El Fuerte

MANOLO YLLERA

EAT & DRINK

The old town is full of small traditional Spanish restaurants where you can enjoy seafood dishes and cocktails – just keep in mind that dinner for most Spaniards doesn’t start until 9pm. If you visit just one of these old-school spots, make it Nolita Bistro, which serves tapas and Mediterranean dishes in its small dining room and out on the terrace. Specials change weekly, with an emphasis on locally caught seafood. For other fish dishes, try Lobito de Mar for its relaxed atmosphere and nautical interiors. It’s part of Dani García’s restaurant group, with menu highlights including baby squid croquettes, seafood platters and grilled tuna.

Meanwhile, Chiringuito at Puente Romano offers fresh catches and Spanish flavours at its beachside restaurant. Located directly on the sands of Marbella’s Golden Mile, it’s worth hitting up for seafood, grilled meats and traditional tapas. With a relaxed, bohemian atmosphere, it’s a great spot for leisurely lunches and romantic dinners, with live music most evenings. At nearby Lena (also by Garcia), nearly all the food is cooked over wood-fired grills, from locally sourced meat to seafood and seasonal veg. An extensive wine list is chosen to complement the rich, smoky flavours of the dishes.

There are countless beach clubs to choose from. One of our favourites is Dune Beach Marbella, a newish spot from the team behind Ocean Club. Guests can relax on loungers before heading to the outdoor dining area to try ceviche, grilled seafood dishes, steaks and sharing salads filled with local tomatoes and topped with zingy dressings. There’s also a great cocktails list featuring smoky mezcal mixes, palomas and more, though we like sharing one of the sangria pitchers. If you're up for a short drive, La Plage Casanis is worth the trip. With a farm-to-table ethos, this hidden gem uses only the freshest, local ingredients. Expect Mediterranean and French-inspired dishes served with local wines, sangria, and tequila or gin-based cocktails.

ANDREA GRAZIANO GERVASONI/UNSPLASH

La Plage Casanis
La Plage Casanis

VISIT

Start your trip by spending a couple of hours in the old town (Casco Antiguo), where you’ll find narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings and bright bougainvillea. Don’t miss Plaza de los Naranjos, the heart of the old town, lined with orange trees and bustling cafés. For a taste of Marbella’s glitzy side, head to Puerto Banús, the famous marina filled with yachts, designer boutiques and lively nightlife. It's a prime spot for people-watching and dining in one of its party restaurants.

PEXELS/DANIELNOURI

Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Avenida del Mar, an open-air sculpture museum featuring works by Salvador Dalí. There’s also the Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo, showcasing contemporary Spanish engravings and art. The city is also surrounded by interesting landscape, with beaches and mountains at both ends. Nature lovers should explore the Sierra Blanca mountains for hiking trails with panoramic views of the coast. If you’re after a challenge, La Concha makes for a difficult hike that rewards you with breath-taking views of Marbella and the Med. 

Alternatively, a stroll along the Paseo Marítimo, Marbella’s seafront promenade, is a more relaxed way to enjoy the scenery. You can also find pristine sands and crystal-clear waters at beaches like Playa de la Fontanilla and Cabopino – perfect for sunbathing and water sports.

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