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 1940s, an eccentric aristocrat and playboy called Ricardo Soriano Marques De Ivanrey got into a conversation with one of Andalusia’s landowners. The landowner rhapsodized about the charms of the Mediterranean life. 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 meter 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 Bougainvillea 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 Marbella club rooms sit in outbuildings, reached via a short golf cart drive and then winding paths that intertwine between the buildings right down to the sea. The rooms are so spread out 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 deluxe 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 leads 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 underfloor heating under the huge marble bathrooms, superbly comfortable beds, and soundproofed walls and ceilings made this the perfect place for an excellent night’s sleep.
You could walk over to the upper pool from my room that was a standard rectangle design with plenty of comfy loungers. By the start of November, this pool was a little cold, but the saltwater 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 was not too fond of the opposing walk into Marbella to the East as Marbella town itself seemed to have an unappealing town center 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 exceptional 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 centerpiece being the large grill that gives its name. Located in the middle of the room, it dominates the restaurant. The wonderful charcoal smells it emanates, and the spectacle of its colorful flames disappearing up the flume give El Grill the feel of a cozy 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 aforementioned grill, hearty plates for meat lovers, an order of steak and chips paired with a nice bottle of 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 scrumptious. Presented with little fanfare, the flavors 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 the 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 a paradise for kids. The club is set out around a large but cozy central courtyard. In this courtyard, there is an 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 chillout 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 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 EUR 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 USD 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 USD 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.
Note: Benefits offered correct at the time of writing but may be amended at discretion of the vendor.
Disclosure: Posts may be sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.