Famous as the land of the rich and famous, expect glamour, celebrities, royalty, and the obscenely wealthy. And there’s a reason the mega yachts flock to Marbella.
White washed houses with terracotta roofs nestling against the Med, a day sunbathing on perfect beaches, followed by some of Europe’s best clubs and restaurants. Why aren’t you already on the phone to a travel agent?
Marbella, literally meaning Beautiful Sea in Spanish, has more in common with Dubai than you might at first think. What was once a sleepy fisherman’s village is now one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan and exciting cities.
And this month is a particularly good time to visit with the Marbella International Film Festival running from Oct 14 – 16. Set in the stunning Andalucía Plaza Hotel, swat-up on this year’s prize-winning films or relax and people watch at the hotel bar.
As well as the people, nightlife and culture, Marbella also has an almost perfect climate. It’s protected by the surrounding Sierra Blanca mountains, basks in 326 days of sunshine every year and enjoys a median year-round temperature of 22ºC.
While you’re there...
Go shopping - From malls packed full of brands to boutique shops nestled in the tiny streets of the Old Town, Marbella has enough choice to satisfy the most fervent shopaholics. It even has the flagship El Corte Ingles department store in the Puerto Banus region, with shops such as Chloe, Versace, Roberto Cavalli and La Perla overlooking the stunning marina.
Visit the Old Town - Many tourists don’t make the Old Town, or ‘casco antiguo’, which still has much of its original charm. A maze of narrow cobbled streets lead to the typically Andalucian Orange Square, the Old Town’s main square that is lined with orange trees and other tropical plants.
Be a culture vulture - Head to the Avenida del Mar, not far from the Old Town, to find an impressive collection of Salvador Dali sculptures. The whole of this pedestrianised street is flanked by fountains, with one end hitting the sea.
Where to stay
Don Carlos Leisure Resort & Spa
(+ 34 952 76 88 00, www.hoteldoncarlos.com)
With various swimming pools, loads of water sports and direct access to Nikki Beach it’s hard to imagine someone could be unhappy in one of Don Carlos’s luxury villas. They all face the sea and come with the trimmings you’d expect from a 5 star hotel.
Aparthotel Puerto Azul Marbella
(+34 646 609087, www.puertoazul.net)
Just half a kilometre from the city centre, with a decent swimming pool and great balconies to sunbathe and people watch, the beach is close enough to enjoy the sand and sea but know that your own room reassuringly close.
SISU Boutique Hotel
(+34 952 90 61 05, www.sisuboutique.com)
You could be forgiven for mistaking SISU for a nightclub from a distance. And you wouldn’t be far wrong. Daytime music, dancing on beds around the pool and 24-hour party people make Sisu an exciting place to stay.
Spotted: Tara Reid topping up her tan and relaxing pool-side in a tiny bikini.