TOUCHING down at Malaga Airport I can feel myself relax already. The dark skies we left behind in Glasgow just a couple of short hours before are now a distant memory and the Spanish province of Andalusia provides some much-needed winter sun.
Fifty kilometres along the coast in our private transfer (something the hotel can arrange for you), we arrive at Amàre Beach Hotel Marbella, a true oasis of luxury.
After a slick check-in we make our way through the contemporary reception and up to the fifth floor. VIP style is an understatement in our room, Oh Là Là The One. We meet chic white interiors then step through glass doors on to our own private balcony. With views out across the Mediterranean Sea, a glass of Moët in hand, I’m in awe.
We soon learn that adults-only Amàre has been created as a treat for the senses, with each area of this four-star hotel unique. Tailored scents, sounds and sights make everywhere you go feel like a whole new experience. The local artwork is changed every six months to keep things fresh and is a real talking point among guests.
Besides this, however, this place checks every box. Spectacular spa? Check. Michelin-star restaurant? Check. Rooftop bar with panoramic views? Check. And – my favourite – its very own chic beach club with DJs playing good tunes while you sip wine in the sunshine and peruse the extensive food menu: check!
Given the chilled vibes of Amàre, it’s a surprise to find how close we are to the bustle of the centre of Marbella’s old town. Hoping to get a taste of the city’s culture and beauty, we take a walking tour with Monica, a guide from the tourist board. Thanks to her knowledge and passion for Marbella, it’s a great way to spend our first morning and lets us see the real side of the city.
Firstly, forget the OTT glamour and show of riches at the famous Puerto Banús, the old town is where the real magic is. The whitewashed traditional buildings complete with straight-from-a-postcard blue shutters and plant pots create an authentic Andalusian flavour. Meandering through the neighbourhoods and narrow, cobbled streets, we are soon at the very heart of the old town, arriving at the Orange Square (or, should I say, Plaza de los Naranjos?)
This hidden gem dates back to 1485 and, as its name may suggest, is identified by the magnificent orange trees lining its gardens. The square is also the location of some of Marbella’s most important historical buildings, with the Town Hall, the Old Governor’s House and the Chapel of Santiago, which was Marbella’s first Christian church and the oldest religious building in the town, all residing within the plaza.
Alongside such history is also the chance to relax and unwind, with the iconic square surrounded by shops, restaurants and tapas bars, the perfect place to enjoy a local tipple and watch the world go by.
That’s the thing that soon becomes apparent about this remarkable town – you really do get the best of both worlds. Whether you’re looking for a weekend break to relax and unwind over a platter of mouth-watering fresh tapas, or you want to experience all of Marbella’s grand history, there’s something for everyone. That’s not forgetting Marbella’s shopping offering either, with a wealth of independent boutiques populating the pretty streets, all with unique and beautiful treasures. From shops selling handcrafted toys to vintage stores with immaculate designer bags, I could easily have spent the rest of the day discovering every retailer. A great location to find some thoughtful gifts for loved ones.
To whittle away the rest of the afternoon, we take a walk along the Paseo Maritimo. The seafront strip is fringed by pavement cafes and traditional restaurants on one side, with the beautiful sands of the beach on the other. Among the coming and going of cyclists, locals and tourists, the walkway is picture-perfect with palm trees adding to its beauty.
A short stroll along the promenade and we’re back at Amàre, ready for an afternoon of lying by the pool. A quick press of a personal pool-side buzzer and a waiter arrives, ready to take our food and drink order. Now, this is the kind of life I can get used to. Another cocktail, please…
Fly with Jet2 direct from Glasgow to Malaga Airport from £25 one way. Nightly rates start from £125 on a bed-and-breakfast basis, including complimentary daily sunbeds, use of the Technogym and wifi access. For more information visit amarehotels.com (please note, a minimum stay is required on selected dates).