Costa del Sol literally means “Coast of the Sun”, a name which feels quite fitting after spending any time in Málaga, Marbella and Torremolinos, the most popular destinations in this sun-soaked paradise that might best be described as Spain’s answer to Côte d’Azur.
Noted for its temperate climate year-round, Andalusian charms and glamorous inhabitants, the Costa del Sol has become infamous as a playground for the rich and famous but let there be no doubt that it is in fact, first and foremost, a playground and one of the most vibrant and diverse destinations in Spain. From the beaches to the cuisine to the nightlife, Costa del Sol celebrates Spain at its luxuriously laidback best.
Hotel Vincci Selección Posada del Patio
Pasillo Santa Isabel, 7- 29005
T: +34 951 001 020
Modern sophistication and history collide in the heart of Malaga at the chic Hotel Vincci Selección Posada del Patio. Built atop the Old City Walls, the hotel is not only one of the few proper hotels in the historical center of Málaga, it is the only hotel to offer direct access to the aforementioned ancient ruins as an added bonus to a stay at this elegant space. Expect contemporary décor, attentive service, a stunning rooftop pool and proximity to the thriving center of Malaga where the Picasso Museum and the Centre Pompidou are among the cultural highlights, while the city’s bustling tapas restaurants and scintillating nightlife options are but steps away. Finally, do be sure to dine at the hotel’s decidedly upscale Le Diner restaurant where classic Andalusian dishes are prepared with a showman’s sense of innovation and flair.
Marbella Club Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa
Bulevar Príncipe Alfonso de Hohenlohe 29600
T: +34 952 82 22 11
The Marbella Club hotel may, save for the stunning weather and natural accoutrements of its splendid location, be the single most important reason that the Costa del Sol grew from its former existence as a string of sleepy coastal towns into a playground for European royals and their über rich and fabulously famous friends. A clubby property with a noticeably “members only” vibe, this beachfront boutique resort on the Mediterranean boasts 37 guestrooms and 78 elegant suites all swathed in privacy and set in the jasmine-scented subtropical gardens that bear the signature of the hotel’s founder Prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe-Langenburg. Tip: Brunch at the Marbella Club is a spectacular affair not to be missed.
Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa Marbella
Bulevar Principe Alfonso von Hohenlohe, s/n, 29602
Marbella, Málaga, Spain
T: +34 952 82 09 00
Plunked down in the heart of Marbella’s Miracle Mile, the oceanfront Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa Marbella deserves raves for both the caliber of its luxurious accommodations, which take inspiration from classic Andalusian villages, as well as its stunning beachfront Six Senses Spa complete with a wet area featuring a hydrotherapy pool, a cold plunge pool, heat and ice experience showers with different types of water flow and mood lighting, herbal steam room, sauna and hammam. Also of note are the property’s award-winning botanical gardens and Tennis Club, which has played host to the Nations Seniors Tennis Cup since 2004 in addition to doing double duty as a concert space that has hosted a veritable pantheon of music icons.
Villa Padierna Palace Hotel
Urbanización Los Flamingos Golf, Carretera de Cádiz, Km 166, 29679
Marbella, Málaga, Spain
T: +34 952 88 91 50
When First Lady Michelle Obama visited Marbella in 2010 amid much fanfare, she chose a stunning villa with 3 floors, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a private pool at the Villa Padierna Palace Hotel as her respite from the White House (See Villa “Obama”). And when Antonio Banderas and Eva Longoria teamed up to help showcase the celebrity of Marbella and the Costa del Sol via the annual Starlight Gala, the Villa Padierna Palace Hotel was the venue of choice for the first two editions of the event. In keeping with its name, the Villa Padierna is a grand and palatial property reminiscent of a Tuscan palace. There’s even a Roman amphitheater to compliment the golf courses which are among the hotel’s many selling points.
Plaza Antonio Banderas s/n
29660 Puerto Banús, Malaga, Spain
T: +34 952 81 85 70
This popular enclave of exclusive shops and upscale eateries dotted around a port embellished with a staggering collection of luxury seafaring vessels is also the nightlife capitol of Marbella. Spend the afternoon lunching and shopping at Puerto Banús and then return after dinner to show off your newly purchased wares and twirl the night away in one of the many local nightspots.
A more relaxed and decidedly gayer atmosphere awaits in Torremolinos, which is home to a maze of bars and restaurants that have for decades been like mecca to partygoers from all across Europe. In particular, La Nogalera, located in the center of Torremonlinos, is where you’ll find a concentration of gay-friendly establishments like Eden where locals and tourists alike keep the party going well into the early morning hours.
For a sample of what Eden and Torremolinos nightlife has to offer, see below:
Calle de Adúar, 12
29801 Marbella, Málaga
T. +34 952 76 52 77
A tiny restaurant entrenched in the alleys of Old Town Marbella where Chef Jaume Puigdengolas is noted for infusing traditional Andalusian cuisine with a sense of the avant-garde.
Restaurante El Gran Gatsby
Edificio del Mar, Muelle de Honor, s/n, 29660
Marbella, Málaga, Spain
T: +34 951 77 87 97
Located in the iconic Tower at the tip of Puerto Banús, Restaurante El Gran Gatsby boasts extraordinary views of the Mediterranean Sea along with extraordinary outdoor spaces unlike any other in the neighborhood. Meanwhile the menu offers everything from Foie Gras and Lobster Salad to Wagyu Beef and an array of seafood offers, all of which are of course served in the most elegantly subdued environs.
Calle Skal, 6
29620 Torremolinos, Spain
T: +34 659 576 529
Relatively new, this wonderful little tapas restaurant is currently the talk of Torremolinos and rightfully so. Stop in, grab a seat on the patio and enjoy a selection of authentic Andalusian tapas along with many glasses of wine as a preamble to a night out in La Nogalera which is just a short walk away.
Centre Pompidou Málaga
Puerto de Málaga, Pasaje Doctor Carrillo Casaux, s/n, Muelle 1
29016 Málaga, Spain
T: +34 951 92 62 00
The only offshoot of the Paris’ famed Centre Pompidou to be opened outside of the City of Lights, the Centre Pompidou Málaga is a celebration of contemporary art wrapped in an eye-popping jeweled box designed by Alain Sebban. It is the perfect complement to Malaga’s already esteemed catalogue of museums.
Picasso Museum Málaga
Palacio de Buenavista, Calle San Agustín, 8
29015 Málaga, Spain
T: +34 952 12 76 00
It is only fitting that the birthplace of Pablo Picasso should also be the home of one of the most notable collections of his works. Considered one of the most important collections of Picasso’s work, this villa-like museum is, without exception, a must-see on any visit to Málaga.
Marbella Old Town
Plaza De Los Naranjos, Marbella
29601, Málaga, Spain
Before Marbella was a magnet for glamour and titled Europeans, it was essentially a simple fishing village. In the charming, winding corridors of Marbella’s Old Town the historical roots of the Costa del Sol come to life as old meets new. New boutiques and eateries pop up next to centuries old dwellings and religious iconography. The Plaza de Los Naranjos located in the center of town offers one of the best vantage points from which to people watch and enjoy Old Town so allotting time for a coffee or a cool beverage on the often packed terrace is a thing for which one would be highly advised to budget ample time.
Calle Nueva, 9
29601 Marbella, Málaga, Spain
T: +34 952 76 67 44
Sample some of Spain’s finest and most rare olive oils in this veritable temple of olive oil tucked just a few feet away from the Plaza de Los Naranjos in the heart of Marbella’s Old Town.