Discover the most romantic hotels in and around Ronda, Marbella, Benalmadena, Nerja, Estepona, and Malaga in southern Spain’s beautiful Costa del Sol region.
Villa Padierna Palace Hotel is luxurious inside and out. It has a palatial Tuscan appearance and lush grounds filled with cypress trees, ponds, regal statues, fountains, and even a Roman amphitheater. Facilities abound, including three golf courses, an expansive spa, outdoor pool, multiple restaurants and bars, two tennis courts, and a beach club with loungers and a restaurant (accessed via the hotel's free shuttle). The 130 rooms, suites, and villas are decorated with elegant details, such as gilded mirrors, chandeliers, and blue-and-white porcelain lamps, and feature modern amenities including free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and minibars. Spacious marble bathrooms are equally as sumptuous, with their separate showers and tubs, bathrobes, and high-end toiletries. The hotel's removed setting and sprawling grounds give it a relaxed, quiet atmosphere.
First opened in 1974 by Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe, and later purchased by a Saudi sheik, Puente Romano Beach Resort Marbella is one of the most exclusive properties in southern Spain. The hotel was built to resemble an Andalusian village, with 266 rooms scattered throughout the huge beachfront property in 27 three-story whitewashed buildings. The crowd here is a mix of VIPs and well-heeled couples and families, drawn by the relaxing, classy vibe, and many top-notch amenities, like a world-class tennis club featuring 10 courts and lessons; three pools with towel and drinks service; large, elegant rooms; seven restaurants, including one by twice Michelin-starred chef Dani Garcia; and access to a beautiful beach.
The Vincci Seleccion Aleysa Hotel Boutique & Spa is one of the sharpest upscale properties in Benalmadena, near plenty of restaurants and bars. Its 35 rooms are chic and sophisticated and all have views of the sea -- the welcome bottle of cava doesn't hurt either. Some have large balconies, while others offer direct access to the pool. 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. There are plenty of less expensive hotels in this area, but none match the level of sophistication found here.
The Hotel San Gabriel is a small, upscale hotel located on a quiet street in the historic center of Ronda, a five-minute walk from Puente Nuevo. Ideally situated for tourists, the property is within easy walking distance of the main sights as well as restaurants, bars, and shops. Housed in an 18th-century building, the family-owned hotel has loads of character and historic charm, with features such as a vintage movie theater, interior courtyard, and cozy wine cellar. A cafe serves light breakfast, for a fee, and has an honor bar throughout the day. The 21 rooms are individually decorated with authentic flair, and have free Wi-Fi and minibars. Thin walls mean noise can be an issue in some rooms.
The three-and-a-half-pearl Hotel Claude Marbella is a gem of a boutique hotel in the historic city center, near numerous restaurants, bars, shops, and attractions. The handsome property dates back to the 17th century, and it's packed with charm and character. 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 seven rooms have a lot of personality, with a blend of antique and contemporary design details, plus iPod docks and flat-screen TVs. The vibe here is like staying in a wealthy friend's home, rather than a hotel.
A short drive from Marbella's Old Town, this 193-room luxury resort has a romantic setting on the coast. Don't expect a rowdy party vibe here, though, as this is a far cry from the all-inclusive resorts that are packed into this stretch of coast. The rooms feature elegant contemporary decor, marble bathrooms, and modern comforts like minibars, 37-inch flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi -- but some can be a bit small for a hotel of this caliber. The attractive spa offers a range of treatments, and there's a bright fitness center with modern equipment and tennis courts. Several restaurants and bars provide varied dining options, and the hotel offers wedding hosting.
The four-pearl Hotel Catalonia Reina Victoria Wellness & Spa is situated in a residential area of Ronda, a short walk from the city center. Although the building dates back to 1906, the hotel feels decidedly modern, owing largely to a 2012 renovation. This is particularly apparent in the 95 rooms and suites, all of which have sleek decor and modern amenities; many also have furnished terraces with beautiful countryside views. On-site features are geared toward wellness, including a lovely spa with hydrotherapy pools and a Turkish bath, a decent fitness center, and large grounds with an outdoor pool (though it's only open seasonally)
The Hotel Balcon de Europa is one of many high-end hotel choices on the Malaga 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.
The seven-room La Villa Marbella - Charming Hotel is a three-and-a-half-pearl property in Marbella's historic city center that lives up to its name. Rooms are spread out in several buildings, and they are individually decorated in pleasing Asian styles, with flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, and minibars. Some have outdoor terraces with hot tubs. Breakfast is free, though for other meals guests will have to venture out to the many restaurants, cafes, and bars within walking distance. The beach is also about a 10-minute walk from the hotel. There's a small outdoor pool that's a nice place for hanging out, as well as terraces and lounges.
Senator Banus Spa Hotel is in a residential area about a 10-minute drive south of Puerto Banus, about a quarter mile from the beach. It’s an adult-only luxury property offering half-board and breakfast-included packages. The 146 rooms are spacious and modern, with balconies. The complex has two outdoor pools, a 7,535 square-foot (700 square meter) spa with a thermal area and fitness center, a garden, and bar terrace. Breakfast earns good reviews for the variety of choices and made-to-order omelets, but guests say the long wait times and food at dinner is more of a four-pearl experience. Be aware that the spa facilities are free to guests for only two hours in the morning -- guests get a 50 percent discount at other times of the day.
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.
The Marbella Heights Boutique Hotel is a lovely little three-pearl property with just five rooms. It's located in a quiet residential area up on a hill that provides spectacular views of the countryside and Mediterranean. There's not really anything within walking distance, and getting to the beach and city require short drives, but it's a tranquil alternative to the buzzier locales closer to the coast. Rooms are attractively decorated in Asian style, and they all have nice views, with even more glimpses of the sea from the hotel's pool and outdoor terraces.
The 18-room, mid-range Hotel Paraiso del Mar is short on amenities but it has an intimate and inviting atmosphere ideal for couples. The hotel's proximity to the beach is another major plus, as there's a staircase that brings guests straight to the sand. It's also within walking distance of quite a few bars and restaurants, as well as the town center of Nerja. Guest rooms are old-fashioned, but they're comfortable and outfitted with free Wi-Fi, minibars, air-conditioning, and jetted tubs. Aside from beach access, an outdoor pool, and hot tub, there are no leisure facilities, and dining is limited to a lobby bar and breakfast buffet.
Parador de Ronda is a three-and-a-half-pearl property right in the heart of the city, housed in what once served as Ronda's town hall. The 78 rooms here are contemporary and light, with polished wood floors and furnished balconies, many with beautiful views of the valley or the adjacent New Bridge. Though three meeting rooms and free Wi-Fi appeal to business travelers, the hotel is largely geared toward tourists. Other features include a restaurant specializing in Andalusian cuisine and a small outdoor pool, but guests might find the lack of a gym and spa off-putting.
A 10-minute drive from Marbella's Old Town, this large beach resort is set on lovely grounds filled with palm trees, flowers, and sculptures. Its superb facilities include a beach club, two outdoor pools, full-service spa, tennis club, and several restaurants and bars. The 243 modern rooms come with plush beds, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi -- though some can be small and the decor in a few is a bit dated. Spacious villas and Oasis Rooms come with extras like personal butlers and high-end sound systems.
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.
The four-pearl Sensimar Riviera by MedPlaya has a great location on Benalmadena's beachfront promenade, a 10-minute walk from the bustling marina. Shops, restaurants, and bars line the block and the beach is just across the street. The 189 trendy, contemporary rooms have furnished balconies, some with sea views, though noise can be an issue due to thin floors and walls. A large sundeck around the outdoor pool and a sharp spa with a hot tub and plunge pool provide plenty of relaxing opportunities for adults (kids aren't allowed in any of the pools).
Room Mate Larios is a mid-range boutique-style chain hotel in an excellent location near the historic and commercial center of Malaga. The hotel has 41 spacious rooms and suites with minibars and free Wi-Fi, and some have kitchenettes and balconies. Though there's no full restaurant, there is a breakfast buffet for a fee, a posh indoor bar, and a rooftop terrace bar, but guests complain about it opening later in the season than other nearby rooftop terraces. There’s no fitness center or pool, and parking is located a half-mile away.