The Marbella Club is the epitome of beachfront luxury. It basks in more than 300 days of sunshine a year and enjoys the rare European micro-climate that enables short sleeves in the winter and outdoor swimming and sunbathing from March to November. Drive through the pantheon style arch at the entrance to this iconic hotel and you drive into a slice of tropical beach-side paradise on the Marbella coastline.
The history of the Marbella Club is a glamorous story. In the 1940’s an eccentric aristocrat and playboy called Ricardo Soriano Marques De Ivanrey, got into conversation with one of Andalusia’s landowners. The landowner rhapsodized about the charms of the Mediterranean life and Soriano became hooked on the idea of a place in the sun and, without even visiting the area, bought the finca El Rodeo near Marbella. Having heard so much about life on the shores of the Mediterranean from his cousin Soriano, Prince Max decided to take a drive his charcoal-burning Rolls Royce Phantom down from his palace to see it for himself. His son, Prince Alfonso, returned the following year to buy this rural 180,000 square metre enclave. Santa Margarita, the old finca, became the family’s Mediterranean hideaway. The young Prince wanted to fashion the finca into a hotel, and after visiting motels in America, the embryo of the Marbella Club was opened in 1954. Since then the much expanded version of the now infamous Marbella Club has had recurring guests that include Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly and Sir Lawrence Olivier.
The first thing that strikes you when you arrive is how perfectly manicured the beautiful grounds are. The tropical trees and flourishing bourgenvilla that clad the whitewashed spanish style buildings are almost LEGO perfect. You are immediately whisked through a cool chapel style hall and into reception for check in. Then the friendly concierge will drive you and your luggage to your room in a golf cart.
Many of the rooms at the Marbella club sit in out buildings, reached via a short golf cart drive and then winding paths that intertwine between the buildings right down to the sea. The fact that the rooms are so spread out means that each block has its own garden area and is beautifully secluded beneath the trees. Styled by Jean-Pierre Martel and Kamini Ezralow, the rooms are chic. I booked a delux double and was upgraded a level with Leaders Club Unlimited to a spacious Junior suite with white walls mixed with high end oatmeal furnishings. A small sofa, perfect for lounging on had been placed next to terrace doors that you could throw open to enjoy your patio. My patio lead directly onto the lawn, and you could walk directly across this lawn to the pool. Perfect! The finish in the rooms is excellent and they feel brand new. Little touches like the under floor heating under the huge marble bathrooms, superbly comfortable beds and sound proofed walls and ceilings made this the perfect place for an excellent nights sleep.
From my room you could walk over to the upper pool that was a standard rectangle design with plenty of comfy loungers. By the start of November, this pool was a little cold, but salt water outdoor pool at the beach club was heated (and there is also a warm little paddling pool for kids) so I thoroughly enjoyed a dip even though it was November. The beach club itself has a Hawaiian look to it. The bar-restaurant had a huge thatched roof and tables & chairs spilling out onto the patio around the pool.
Bar & Food
In the morning I chose to take a room service breakfast out on my patio. During the day I found enough to do swimming and strolling up the seafront walking to Puerto Banus for some shopping. I didn’t like the opposing walk into Marbella to the East as Marbella town itself seemed to have an unappealing town centre full of rather cheap and nasty looking beach cafes.
In the evening the “Champagne Room” bar was atmospherically candlelit. The bar had quite vivid and artistic decor and in November the roaring fire gave it a wonderful atmosphere.
Opposite the Marbella Club’s bar, down a step or two, is the hotels fine dining restaurant El Grill. I’ve eaten here many times, including one very special evening when my husband and I were the only diners, a rare occurrence as El Grill is normally packed full, but still manages to feel inmate with excellent service and superb food.
The matradee runs a tight ship, if he finds you loitering in the bar and can coax you to your table early, he will. However he’ll bear no grudges if you politely refuse, both he and his large team of waiters were perfect hosts the nights we dined with them on our last stay.
The restaurant’s decor is typically Spanish, the centre piece being the large grill that gives the restaurant its name. Located in the middle of the room it dominates the restaurant, the wonderful charcoal smells it emanates and the spectacle of its colourful flames disappearing up the flume give El Grill the feel of a cosy taverna. The crowd is nicely split between locals and hotel guests, we normally stay at the Marbella Club around mid October, during that time the clientele is predominately made up of the former.
This is a restaurant of two halves, there is the food from the afore mentioned grill, hearty plates for meat lovers, an order of steak and chips paired with a nice bottle or red is not frowned upon at this fine restaurant. But for those in the mood for something with a little more finesse El Grill also offers classic dishes from its pick of international cuisines, all made with the finest local produce.
The menu changes five times a year, whenever I visit I find it hard to resist the gastronomic menu which promises to showcase the best dishes on offer at the time. This year was no exception. From the first dish on the menu: a rather simple sounding cold tomato soup that tasted anything but ordinary, to the last: an absolutely fabulous Red Velvet Cake, each course was simply scrumptious. Presented with little fanfare, the flavours were left to do the talking. There were just so many hi-lights: El Grils Tartar of Tuna is the best I’ve ever tasted, the Fillet of Sea Bass beautifully fresh and cooked to perfection. If I had to pick a favourite it would be the confit shoulder of lamb with truffle puree, simply delicious.
The kids club at the Marbella Club is easily the best of its type that I’ve come across on my travels. It’s rare for me to give anything such a strong accolade, but the Marbella Club’s kids club really is exceptional. The facilities are amazing, the activities put on for the kids are terrific and effort the staff put into entertaining the children in their care is fantastic.
Built in what was originally the villa, garage and courtyard of Prince Alfonso’s residence, and reached through a large and secure gate, this large and secluded part of the Marbella Club is simply paradise for kids. The club is set out around a large but cosy central courtyard. In this courtyard there is a open-air shelter with a straw roof packed full of bean bags for chilling out and night-time movie watching. Open air benches sit to one side of the courtyard for lunch and a central bench showcases an array of kids creations like candles, bath-bombs and art. Leading off the courtyard are numerous rooms for creating and playing. In one room the creative kids were making gorgeously scented cat shaped soaps. Outside the more active kids played football, versions of tag and hide and seek. While we stayed it was halloween and the whole space had been given a wonderfully spooky makeover: pumpkins and candles created by the kids adorned every surface, fluffy spiders were crammed into corners and witches hats hung from the roof of the chill out area.
The expanse of rooms and play areas goes on with a painting room, a music room where discos are held, a very young kids room, another movie / games room, a library, a grassy pitch, an all-weather mini football pitch and a shallow pool area. All the areas are dressed with all sorts of nicknacks and allurements, giving the whole club a playful and creative feel. Kids aren’t just confined to the club though, as long as the weather allows, the team of staff also take the children down to the beach for all sorts of activities like kayaking, canoeing, biking and surfing.
My son loved the active games and improved his goal scoring skills thanks to, “the big guy”, called Ryan who had never-ending energy and a brilliant imagination in creating active games. Being a girl, I was very tempted to join the scented soap workshop – the resulting soaps looked so very professional!
Being out of season in October, the weather remained hot, almost 25’C most days, but the resort was quiet so we had all the pools (The main resort pool and the beach club pool) to ourselves and we spent most of our time in and out of the saltwater beach club pool as it was warm!
How to Get There
Fly into Malaga, just 3 hours from the UK. Transfers to/from Marbella, are approximately 60 euros for up to three people by taxi, but are more expensive if arranged through the hotel. There are plenty of taxis waiting outside the airport that you can pick up for this short transfer.
Join Leaders club. In midsummer it may be worth joining unlimited for $1,200 and a guaranteed room upgrade and an amenity. This hotel is generous with upgrades out of season, but in season, unless you are a regular guest, they have every right not to upgrade you at all.
Out of season, joining standard leaders club for $150 will usually suffice and will get you an upgrade and an amenity.
If you are feeling cheeky and energetic, bed hoping does pay with Leading Hotels Club. You could book 3 nights here (= 1 stay credit) then 2 in the Puente Romano which is also Leading hotels (= 1 stay credit) and then another 3 at the Marbella Club to finish with (= 1 stay credit) earning you 3/4 of a free night from your 8 night stay. If you stay at the Marbella Club all 8 nights you will only earn a single stay credit.
If you intend to book direct, drop me an email as our partner agent offers cashback for all Leading Hotels of the World hotels whilst retaining your Leaders Club perks.
Disclosure: Most reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.