If ever there’s a reputation that needs rehabilitating, it’s Marbella’s. Beautiful beaches racked by package tourism and downmarket celebs tends to be the image springing to mind when you hear the name. But Marbella’s on the rise again – and now that Robert De Niro and Nobu Matsuhitsa have deigned to open a hotel here, you can be sure that upward trend is here to stay. Marbella does glitz, of course, but it also does beauty – in spades. With beaches one side, rolling hills the other, this is a place where you can spend the day by the Med and retreat to your country estate come siesta time. And now it’s developing a luxury scene, it’s time to give it another chance.
If anything can transform Marbella’s reputation, it’s this. Opened in March, it’s the latest outpost for Robert De Niro and Nobu Matsuhisa’s fast-growing hotel chain. Adults only, and a member of Small Luxury Hotels, it has a more sophisticated feel than your typical Marbs resort. Rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, with the outside feel spilling in via blond wood furniture and cool tiled floors. The spa — a Six Senses outpost — continues the theme, with a relaxation area gazing at the Mediterranean on the other side of a glass wall, and a menu that incorporates local ingredients into its treatments. There’s a Nobu restaurant onsite, and it’s responsible for the room service menu, too. Doubles from £259, B&B.
La Posada del Angel
Six miles from Marbella’s beaches in Ojén are these very Andalusian lodgings spread over five old houses, with 16 rooms. The owners also own four houses for rent in and around Ojén. Doubles from £83, B&B; houses from £484 per week.
This 30sq metre duplex villa is set in a modern complex close to the beach and Puerto Banus. There’s a plunge pool and floor-to-ceiling windows make the most of the views. From £335 per night, minimum stays depend on the season.
A mere 20-minute drive but a world away from Marbella is this sprawling 530-acre estate. Nobu faces stiff competition here — the onsite Japanese restaurant, Kabuki Raw, is Michelin-starred. Doubles from £520, B&B.
Published in the Jul/Aug 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)