Costa del Sol hotels

By George Prior, your Costa del Sol expert

I write for Monocle, OUT, SUR in English, The Independent, Time Out. Read more

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#2/50
expert-rated hotels in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.8 (out of 5)

Exclusive resort that recaptures the heyday of Marbella's golden era.

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Price from: £182
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#9/50
expert-rated hotels in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.6 (out of 5)

Stylish boutique hotel right in the heart of Sotogrande marina.

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Price from: £62
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#13/50
expert-rated hotels in Costa del Sol
Best for Escapists -
Expert overall rating:4.6 (out of 5)

A luxury option reminiscent of the days of the Raj, sitting in acres of avocado groves.

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Price from: £60
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#15/50
expert-rated hotels in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.5 (out of 5)

An exclusive five-star hotel in Marbella and the home of Nikki Beach!

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Price from: £77
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#23/50
expert-rated hotels in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.3 (out of 5)

The flagship of the NH chain sits on its own exclusive golf course near Sotogrande.

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Price from: £105
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#32/50
expert-rated hotels in Costa del Sol
Expert overall rating:4.1 (out of 5)

Great budget option in the heart of Estepona old town.

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Set focus

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

• 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
 

Set focus

My ‘patch’ as a reporter and features writer for a big Spanish newspaper, is the entire Costa del Sol and as such I’ve stayed in hotels and hostels the length and breadth of the area for more than 12 years. From a crumbling, independent hotel in Malaga whose ‘lift’ turned out to be a dumb-waiter and whose tiny rooms were seemingly decorated as a grand catholic cathedral, to the minimalist chic of a luxurious spa hotel where I shared breakfast with Debbie Harry and Carla Bruni, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly of Costa accommodation. The hotels I’ve chosen here reflect the diversity on offer in this massive destination and they range from the super-luxurious to the budget-friendly; from the urban centres to the remote Andalusian countryside.

Simonseeks has given star ratings out of five for all accommodation recommendations. With hotels, these will tally with the hotel's official star rating where it exists. Where a hotel has no official star rating, and in the case of b & bs and hostels, the experts have made a judgment as to how many stars the accommodation deserves, in terms of comfort, level of facilities and so forth.