'But why?' That was the general reaction when I told friends and colleagues that I was off to Malaga for 48 hours. Located on Spain’s Costa del Sol and with a bit of a reputation of ugly high rise holiday apartment blocks and plenty of lads on tour, I admit it wasn’t high up on my holiday wish list. But with the city been given somewhat of a makeover recently - the old town’s streets have been pedestrianized and capitalizing on the towns history, the promise of year round sunshine, it was a balmy 23 degrees when I visited in early November, I was keen to check out if it could work for a 48 hour break from London.
Where to stay… Located right by the beach in the swish Caleta area of Malaga, is only a 15 minute taxi from the airport and 15 minute walk from the main shopping area of Calle Larios, making it an ideal base to maximise your time in Malaga. With its grand entrance, surrounded by lush vegetation and palm trees you instantly feel miles away from the clusters of crowded holiday complexes you’ll pass on the way from the airport. Dating back almost a century, this hotel has a rich history. Originally opened as a hotel in the 1920s it has hosted many a glamourous name included Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor, During the Spanish civil war it operated as a field hospital and most recently housed Malaga’s law courts. Now its been restored as a hotel and has cleverly retained many of its original features including its beautiful 1920's art deco ceilings and plenty of ornate mosaic tiling which references Malaga's Moorish and Neo-Arab heritage.
The rooms… options vary from a standard room all the way up to a Royal suite featuring a dedicated butler and sea view balconies. I stayed in a Grand suite, whose bathroom with a rainfall shower, giant tub, 2 sinks, not to mention a huge dressing area was bigger than my London flat. Mediterranean references make for a very calming vibe with a colour palette of whites and blues alongside coral patterns on the bedspreads. Said bathroom is stocked with plenty of Hermes products and fluffy white robes. Add to that a pillow menu and afternoon siestas are way too appealing.
Come evening time... head to rooftop which overlooks the beach and grab to G&T to watch the sun go down. With a chilled out tempo soundtrack and plenty of squashy sofas it has hints of an Ibizan vibe but without any not going out out FOMO.
Chill out… by working your way around the hotel’s spa thermal circuit pool with its myriad of pummeling jets and tropical misting showers before heading to the cedar wood sauna for some serious detoxing. There’s an ice cold plunge pool to jump into afterwards for the brave. The treatment menu features Sisley products and trust me it’s almost worth flying budget airline if it means you can put your savings towards a full body massage that will instantly make your shoulders drop at least two inches. The hotel also comes with a gym if you’ve remembered to pack your trainers and an outdoor pool which is ideal for doing a couple of laps pre breakfast to balance out the moreish miniature pastry selection.
Cultural hit… Just wandering around Malaga City in the sun is enjoyable. The main square has recently been renovated and has all your usual high street fashion chains but head to the side streets for more crumbly old buildings that are total Instabait. A visit to the Roman Theatre and Alcazaba fortress is a must. Built in the 1st and 11th centuries respectively, they have been well preserved and offer an important insight into the ancient life of Malaga. The Picasso Museum (Malaga is where the painter was born) is also a must-do. Featuring 233 of his works spanning 80 years of his work, you’ll be hard pressed to choose a favourite.
Where to eat… The hotel’s Principe de Asturias Restaurant is ideal for fine dining. We feasted on Iberian hams, freshly caught turbot and somehow still made room for chocolate pudding. Outside of the hotel, head to the legendary Bodegas El Pimpi. Opened in 1971, it’s one of the longest-standing bodega bars in Málaga. Here’s it’s all about cured meats, cheeses and fresh seafood and an equally delicious wine menu.
How do I book... Rooms at Gran Hotel Miramar, Malaga start from approx £160 (EUR€180) per room per night based on two people sharing in a Premier Room. Click for more and to book.