Many resort towns in southern Spain’s Costa del Sol are packed with huge, dated, and worn hotels frequented by partiers and families with screaming kids. Each one of these boutique hotels is a lovely departure from the region’s mainstream hotel scene. 

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Hotel Claude Marbella

Marbella, Andalucia, Spain

This lovely little boutique hotel is housed in a handsome 17th-century stucco town house that was an artists' club before it opened as a hotel in 2007. Stone walls, exposed beams, and tile floors provide historic character throughout. The seven rooms are arranged around a central courtyard with huge stone columns, brick archways, and iron gates. All rooms are different, but beautifully decorated. Some rooms have vaulted ceilings, which makes them feel more spacious, and all have flat-screen TVs, iPod docking stations, air-conditioning, and free Wi-Fi. Bathrooms are small but lovely, with sandstone tile, antique-style fixtures, rainfall showerheads, and high-end Molton Brown toiletries. There's not much in the way of features, but guests rave about the free breakfast, the dining room, and the rooftop terrace with an honor bar. The atmosphere is relaxed and romantic, given it's Old World charms -- not surprisingly, couples make up the bulk of guests here.


La Villa Marbella- Old Town

Marbella, Andalucia, Spain

The seven-room La Villa Marbella is composed of several historic houses that are close together but on different streets. The buildings are charming and beautiful, with wrought iron railings plus greenery and flowers spilling across the stucco facades. Despite its location in the bustling city center, the atmosphere here is quiet and relaxed. Several terraces provide places for guests to sit outside and view the city and mountains. Rooms are individually decorated with quality Asian furniture and artwork, giving them a lot of personality that blends with the hotel's historic architecture. Some rooms have original rustic details, such as exposed wood-beam ceilings and stone walls, and all come with flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, free WI-Fi, minibars, tea/coffee makers. The hotel is popular with all sorts of travelers, especially couples, which isn't surprising given its romantic style.


Vincci Seleccion Aleysa Hotel Boutique & Spa

Benalmadena, Andalucia, Spain

This sophisticated boutique property is one of the sharpest upscale properties in Benalmadena, near plenty of restaurants and bars. Its 35 chic rooms all have views of the sea (some have large balconies, while others offer direct access to the pool), as well as flat-screen TVs, minibars, free Wi-Fi, and welcome bottles of cava. Bathrooms feature separate soaking tubs and mosaic-tile walk-in showers. The hotel's Mediterranean restaurant draws praise, and there are bars by the sleek pool and in the lobby. Lounge chairs are spaced so that there's plenty of privacy on the beach, and features include a spa, fitness center, and yoga and Pilates classes. Free bikes and courtesy cars are also available. 


El Oceano Beach Hotel

Mijas, Andalucia, Spain

The 55-room, upscale El Oceano Beach Hotel has a prime beachfront location and is within easy walking distance of bars and restaurants. On-site, there are a fine-dining restaurant, cocktail lounge, and outdoor pool with swim-up bar. Previous guests have recommend reserving a spot at their legendary Sunday lunch that features live music. Well-sized guest rooms are contemporary and equipped with free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and minibars. Most rooms have lovely sea views, but some lack a balcony. Guests under 14 are not allowed, so the hotel is best suited to couples. 


Hotel Soho Boutique Palacio San Gabriel

Ronda, Andalucia, Spain

The atmosphere inside of the family-owned Hotel San Gabriel is quiet and relaxed, with the feeling of staying in a sophisticated old home. Built in the 18th century by the noble Pizarro family (heirs to the famed explorer), the building later served as a residence and furniture warehouse, before being purchased by the current owners' family in the 1970s. Classically styled common areas feature period furniture to match the historic architecture. Walls throughout the hotel are crowded with classical paintings, stained glass windows, and gold-framed mirrors. The 21 individually decorated rooms feature original architectural details like archways, exposed brick, and ornate crown molding, and amenities like small flat-screen TVs, minibars, safes, and free Wi-Fi. Property features include a vintage movie theater, interior courtyard, cozy wine cellar, and cafe with breakfast and a daily honor bar. 


Hotel Balcon de Europa

Nerja, Andalucia, Spain

The Hotel Balcon de Europa is one of many four-pearl luxury hotel choices on the Málaga coast, but what sets this 108-room property apart is its prime location on the beach in the center of tourist-friendly Nerja. There's definitely an adult vibe here thanks to the rooftop swimming pool, spa facilities, and a romantic restaurant with views of the beach through floor-to-ceiling windows.


Hotel La Luna Blanca

Torremolinos, Andalucia, Spain

Hotel La Luna Blanca is a quaint, Japanese-themed value hotel tucked away in a residential area of the beach town Torremolinos, a short drive from the city of Malaga. It's intimate, with personalized service and only 11 rooms on the entire property; they're spacious, and as with the rest of the residence, Japanese-themed. Although the beach is a 10-minute walk away, there is an adequately sized pool in the back garden and a private hot tub on the roof. The hotel offers authentic Japanese cuisine at its on-site restaurant, which has outdoor seating on the terrace.


The Marbella Heights Boutique Hotel

Marbella, Andalucia, Spain

This tranquil boutique hotel offers gorgeous views of the countryside and the Mediterranean. It's a picturesque setting, and interiors that are equally stunning. he five rooms are all individually decorated in an attractive Southeast Asian style. They are all equipped with air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, digital music players, and minibars stocked with soft drinks and water. One of the highlights of a stay here is the small outdoor pool and hot tub, surrounded by a grassy lawn with lounge chairs and umbrellas. The views of the countryside and distant sea from here are stunning. Massage services are available in the spa treatment room, in guest rooms, or at the pool garden. Breakfast is served daily, and guests can dine in the small breakfast room or out on the terrace. Free tapas are offered in the afternoon, and activities like private yoga sessions, wine tastings, and boat trips can all be arranged.


Vincci Seleccion Posada del Patio

Malaga, Andalucia, Spain

The 109-room Vincci Seleccion Posada del Patio is an upscale hotel that offers subtle, thoughtful decor; high-quality furnishings; and a chic gastrobar -- with the extraordinary added feature of archeological ruins preserved beneath the building. Remains of centuries-old sections of the city's Roman and Arab walls and other artifacts are on view, and the Wall Bar has a glass floor so patrons can gaze upon Malaga's past while sipping champagne.


Hotel La Fonda

Benalmadena, Andalucia, Spain

Hotel La Fonda is a sharp boutique hotel that's far from the region's party madness (and beaches), with excellent views over Benalmadena and the sea. Its 28 rooms have flat-screen TVs and mini-fridges, and the handsome, romantic decor is based on cultures that have shaped the region. Some rooms have balconies and/or sea views. There's a small courtyard pool, a rooftop terrace for better sunbathing, and a spa. Free breakfast is included at the Mediterranean restaurant, and there's a lovely little cocktail and coffee bar in a tiled atrium. 


Hotel La Chancla

Malaga, Andalucia, Spain

Hotel La Chancla is a nine-room budget boutique hotel on the Malaga seafront with a relaxed vibe and prime location a 10-minute drive from downtown. Rooms are bright and upbeat, with free Wi-Fi and air-conditioning, although bathrooms are generally small and amenities are otherwise limited. The hotel’s casual restaurant overlooks the water and serves a generous continental breakfast complete with accompanying musical entertainment every morning. A modern bar draws crowds and buzzes with energy into the night. For a respite from the social scene, there’s a rooftop terrace with excellent views of the water and a hot tub. 


Parador de Malaga Gibralfaro

Malaga, Andalucia, Spain

Parador de Malaga Gibralfaro is a 38-room, three-and-a-half-pearl hotel on top of Mount Gibralfaro with great views across Malaga. It’s 10 minutes by car from the beach and historic city center, making it a nice respite from the busier pace in town. The air-conditioned rooms have a classic Mediterranean look, and some include balconies overlooking Malaga. Upgraded rooms have nice additions like Nespresso machines and Wi-Fi is free throughout. The rooftop pool is a highlight, with a cozy patio area and beautiful views. An on-site restaurant serves mostly well-liked Mediterranean and Andalusian cuisines and has a terrace that looks out onto the sea.


Hotel Casa Consistorial

Fuengirola, Andalucia, Spain

This upper-middle-range property has modern, elegant interiors thanks to a 2013 renovation, and sits just a five-minute walk from the beach. The Hotel Casa Consistorial is small, with just 38 rooms, and previous guests have noted that other features are compact, too -- such as the rooms and outdoor pool area. Still, rooms are contemporary, equipped with flat-screen TVs, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and safes. Three on-site bar and restaurant options plus room service are definite perks, as is the sauna and massage services. The clientele here is predominantly couples, as there isn't much here to entertain young children. 


Hydros Hotel & Spa

Benalmadena, Andalucia, Spain

Part of Malaga's Holiday World group of hotels, the 28-room Holiday Hydros is an upscale boutique hotel that has access to a popular beach club nearby. It's a bit removed from any major Costa del Sol action, but many guests consider that a plus. Suites are modern and done in attractive dark palettes, and all have sea views. Some have huge balconies, and many have outdoor hot tubs. A continental breakfast is included in some packages, and meals at the attractive restaurant are well-liked. The outdoor pool and bar overlook the sea, and the elegant spa provides a range of services including hydrotherapy. 


Mariposa Hotel

Malaga, Andalucia, Spain

The three-pearl Room Mate Lola is a 50-room boutique in Malaga, located a 10- to 15-minute walk from the town center and beach. Guest rooms and common areas throughout the hotel are stylish and modern, many with a monochromatic color scheme. All rooms are equipped with marble bathrooms, minibars, and flat-screen TVs, though they suffer occasionally from noise. The property lacks most standard features, as there's no pool, full restaurant, gym, or bar. Amenities are limited to a quality breakfast buffet served late, a meeting room, and free Wi-Fi throughout. With little-to-no entertainment features, the clientele here is predominantly adults and couples rather than families with children.


Hotel Villa Guadalupe

Malaga, Andalucia, Spain

The 11-room Villa Guadalupe is a family-owned boutique hotel perched high on a hill in a residential area outside of central Malaga. The charming, whitewashed property is bright, peaceful, and atmospheric, with an esteemed gourmet restaurant on the premises. Still, guests will need a car or be willing to take taxis to reach the beach, city center, or major tourist sights. The extraordinary views and tranquil surroundings make this a great location for travelers who don't need to be right in the center of things to have a good time.


Hotel Plaza Cavana

Nerja, Andalucia, Spain

The mid-range Hotel Plaza Cavana is a small property with lovely sea views from multiple areas and located just a five-minute walk from the beach. Rooms are contemporary, with slightly varying features, but all promise free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, and balconies -- though some are Juliet-style and not big enough for chairs. It's worth mentioning that some rooms, particularly plaza-facing rooms, can pick up street noise. On-site features are limited to a rooftop pool and adjacent snack bar, and dining room for breakfast. 


Malaga Hotel Picasso

Malaga, Andalucia, Spain

Outwardly homey surroundings make the Malaga Hotel Picasso a cozy pick for those who don't mind being removed from the center of Malaga. This 13-room, mid-range property is a 10-minute walk from the beach, and a 15- to 20-minute drive from historic central Malaga. The air-conditioned rooms have antique and traditional details, and all include free Wi-Fi, coffeemakers, and air-conditioning, though some of the bathrooms are cramped. A generous breakfast spread is served daily, overlooking the hotel’s best amenity: its outdoor pool, which is set in a sweet little garden.