Marbella

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Private yachts in Puerto Banus

By George Prior, your Marbella expert

I write for Monocle, OUT, SUR in .... Read more

Why go to Marbella?

For the celebrity spotting

Previously the European holiday destination of choice for the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Frank Sinatra and Princess Diana, today it wouldn’t be unusual to bump into Simon Cowell, Kate Moss, Rod Stewart, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Julio Iglesias, Bruce Willis, the Beckhams, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffiths, or a host of footballers, TV presenters, and wannabes who want to get ‘papped’. I often spot famous faces in clubs like Olivia Valere, the Suite, or in the front line watering holes of Puerto Banús.

For the quaint Plaza de los Naranjos

I love wondering around the cobbled ‘Orange Square,’ as it’s known in English. Full of traditional white-washed Andalusian buildings, flowers cascading from balconies, a regency palace, a 16th-century town hall, and with the scent of orange blossom hanging heavy in the air, it is, in my opinion, one of the prettiest parts of the historic quarter. Explore the surrounding streets for arts, crafts and souvenirs.

To see ‘how the other half live’

With top-end piano bars, al fresco restaurants and luxury clubs, stylish hedonism is what Puerto Banús does best. In fact, it lives by Donatella Versace’s mantra that “more is more”. One of my favourite ways to spend an early evening is having a cold glass of wine in one of the bars (usually Sinatra’s), watching the Beautiful People starting their night out as the lights on the mega yachts shimmer on the sea. Read more on my Marbella nightlife page.

For some serious retail therapy

Get ready to flash the cash, darrrrling! Every designer worth their salt has a store here. If money’s no object head to the likes of Christian Dior, Roberto Cavalli and Gucci in Puerto Banús. If you’re not Paris Hilton, check out El Corte Inglés department store, or Marbella’s Avenida Ricardo Soriano and La Cañada shopping centre (about a ten-minute drive from the town centre) where alongside the independent boutiques, you’ll find major high street brands like Zara and Mango. Read more on my Shopping in Marbella page.

For the old school glamour

It all started when Prince von Hohenlohe and Queen Victoria Eugenia founded the colonial-style Marbella Club Hotel among the pine trees, just outside Marbella. Grab yourself a martini in the MC Café and then explore the sub-tropical, landscaped gardens that have hosted society parties for the likes of Cary Grant, Grace Kelly and Sophia Loren, Omar Sharif, Sean Connery and Deborah Kerr. The latter two loved it so much they bought villas nearby. Old habits die hard and I still often meet members of the aristocracy (including Marie Louise of Prussia, the Rothschilds and Princess Von Bismarck) at the Marbella Club.

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Marbella Hotels

Price fromRating (out of 5)
1. Hotel Puente Romano
£144
4.8
2. Marbella Club Hotel
£182
4.8
3. Hotel Claude
£127
4.7
4. Los Monteros Hotel Marbella
4.7
5. Casa La Concha
4.6
See all expert-rated Hotels in Marbella

Marbella Restaurants

Price guideRating (out of 5)
1. The Beach House Marbella
Expensive
4.7
2. Palacio de Babilonia
Expensive
4.6
3. Villa Tiberio
Expensive
4.4
4. Polo House
Mid-range
4.3
5. Skina
Expensive
4.3
See all expert-rated Restaurants in Marbella

Marbella Things to do

Price guideRating (out of 5)
1. Marbella Old Town
Free
4.7
2. Puerto Banús
Free
4.6
3. Mistral Beach
Free
4.3
4. Artola-Cabopino
Free
4.0
5. La Fontanilla Beach
Free
3.9
See all expert-rated Things to do in Marbella