El Fuerte Marbella Hotel

Marbella, Málaga Spain

A historic Andalusian retreat with exceptional coastal views and a reputation for old-school glamour sets you down in a prime location on the timelessly elegant side of Spain's Costa del Sol

Standing on shore overlooking the inviting Mediterranean Sea (on clear days you can see past the Rock of Gibraltar, across to Africa), and just streets back from the heritage Old Town, family-run El Fuerte is a world away from the fast-paced glitz the Costa del Sol is known for. Alongside the best views in Marbella, expect contemporary interiors, local sea fare and historic charm.

The building was originally part of a fortress erected in 1554 to ward off pirates, and the ruins take pride of place in the grounds. In 1957, the remaining house was transformed into a hotel by José Luque Manzano (making it one of the oldest in Marbella). Since, El Fuerte has played host to a string of notable guests, from Walt Disney – who would be seen walking his dog Pluto on the beach – to the likes of Diana Dors and Penélope Cruz.

A recent refurbishment has given the laid-back Andalusian retreat a five-star rating and endless appeal for the modern aesthete. Behind the redesign is multi-award-winning Jaime Beriestain Studio, who have restored architectural features while introducing a warm, earthy palette that showcases terracotta and mustard complemented by emerald pops and natural materials like marble, raffia, clay and wood. Spanish artists come to the fore with hand-crafted ceramics and sculptures dotted throughout.

Open living is emphasised with restaurants that lead down to the candy-striped umbrellas and cabanas by the pools. You can dine on fresh Mediterranean flavours as local musicians play at Levante; choose Le Marché for grilled octopus, Iberian pork tenderloin and tower-high sponge cakes; and for the best vistas and culinary creations by four-Michelin-starred chef Paco Pérez head to rooftop Edge. Or take to the beach at Soleo to dine on seafood paella as waves softly break around you.

An extensive buffet breakfast sets you up for days lapping up the sun, with dips in the two pools, sessions in the ocean-facing gym and full body pampering at the Clarins Spa options. A pebble’s throw away, take a jaunt through the Old Town to spot colourful tiles, Moorish churches and pretty orange-tree-lined square.

Doubles from £400. 00 34 952 861500, elfuertemarbella.com

Words by Megan Dickson

This review was taken from the October 2023 issue of Food and Travel. To subscribe today, click here.

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