Most of the millions of visitors, including my friends and family, still opt for the beach-side hotels, which offer views to the sea and the mountains, subtropical gardens, large swimming pools, and family-friendly entertainment. Generally, these hotels are located within walking distance to bars, restaurants and clubs, and just a short drive to the golf courses.
But there are also a growing number of rural getaways which I'm continually urging my guests to try out, so they can explore the majestic landscapes, plentiful wildlife, whitewashed villages and the time-honoured country traditions. And, as the Costa del Sol seeks to diversify its appeal, you’ll now see many character-led, city-centre boutique hotels cropping up. I find these are the ideal base to discover the bright, bold culture and history of southern Spain.
I believe some of the most unforgettable places to stay are Paradors, top-end, state-run hotels usually set in historic buildings such as monasteries and castles. The Costa del Sol’s Paradors are in Malaga (two), Nerja, Antequera and Ronda – and all five have their own bragging rights. For instance, Malaga’s Gibralfaro Castle Parador, which is built on the hilltop, next to the ancient Alcazaba fortress affords spectacular views over this historic city and Mediterranean.
Things to consider before booking
- There are only a few hotels in Sotogrande proper, but if you spread the net a little there are three or four excellent choices within ten or 15 minutes. A couple of them super budget choices.
- Due to the amount of accommodation on offer, hotels often try and under cut each other on price, especially in the winter – which is great news for people looking for a good deal. Shop around and look out for deals.
- Prices rocket during fiestas. Every town has its own ‘feria’, or fiesta, and they’re all at different times of the year as they relate to patron saints’ days.
- The Costa del Sol covers a massive area and each place has a very different character and facilities. The type of holiday you want will guide you to the right destination. For example, don’t stay in Puerto Banús if you’re after a quiet, low-key vacation; and perhaps Estepona would be better for golfers than Nerja.
- Most advertised hotel rates don’t include breakfast or IVA (VAT).
- Some hotels can charge a fortune for breakfast and you can often find better and cheaper alternatives at a local café or bar around the corner.