You’ve probably heard a lot about Marbella from reality TV shows, Stag and Hen parties, flashy watches, expensive cars, Yachts and champagne sprays a lot of money and not that much class… but it really couldn’t be further from the truth. Marbella and Puerto Banus have more to offer than you would expect. For many years, I have always said this will be my last trip but there is something that makes me feel like I’ve returned home as I drive down the coastal road from Malaga. This is my guide to enjoying Marbella.
Research where to stay.
This all depends on what you want, there is often confusion because a lot of what people see on TV is not actually the town of Marbella but in actual fact Puerto Banus often meaning that when you book accommodation you are a good ten-minute taxi ride from the clubs and bars you want to be at. This is a best case scenario, some websites get you and you are a good 30-45 minutes away. If you are looking for a hen or stag party, big nights out and beach clubs then you want to look at staying closer to Puerto Banus. Banus is the small port town about 10k from Marbella and it’s where you will have seen all the shots of the yachts in the harbour. If you are looking for more of a quiet place to stay, nice restaurants and beaches then Marbella will be more suitable. You will hear more Essex accents in the small port town than Spanish during the summer season.
Marbella is known for their strawberry daiquiris. For the best cocktails in the whole of the south side of Spain go to Astral’s cocktail bar, it is on the far end of the port in a pirate ship shaped bar. I can guarantee these will be the most incredible cocktails, me and my girls have played cocktail roulette here where we all buy different drinks and just keep passing them around the table as there are just so many to choose from. If you are a massive fan of the daiquiris then head up to ocean club, if the pool scene isn’t your thing that is fine, there is a great bar, lounge and restaurant area which I find a lot more casual.
You can’t go to Marbella without checking out one of their beach clubs and the only thing they have in common with a beach is that they are near the sea. There is really nothing beachy about these places, everyone is dressed up, there is no sand ANYWHERE near you have perfected your outfit, there is food and drink catered for and brought over to you and your sun lounges are more like double beds than chairs.
The obvious one to mention is Ocean Club it’s the one Marbella is famous for, they were the start of the champagne sprays and until recently the owners of the largest pool in Europe, unless you are like me and a child at heart no one swims here so if you don’t care about your hair you have the pool to yourself and 100 spectators dipping their toes in.
Nikki Beach has grown massively in popularity in the last few years, they actually have easy access to a beach if that is what you like and they are also hosted by Sintilate who do the champagne spray and Saturdays at ocean club and nights at Tibu and Pangea so if you like that vibe you will love this place. It is a little further out so you wouldn’t be able to walk but well worth the visit.
Puro beach is located in Estepona (you will need a taxi) it’s part of the luxurious Laguna Village, I haven’t been to this club so I can’t comment much but I have been hearing great things and a lot of friends have been. If you are happy to be out the hub of Marbella, head on down the coast for this place. I have heard the club is a lot more chilled out and laid back than the other two.
Plaza beach and Buddha Beach
I don’t think either of these can be classed as beach clubs yet but they have grown massively in the last 10 years. Plaza beach is my favourite place to be, you can chill out on the beach sunbathing, you can be in the middle of it at the bar, the music and the dancers or you can be eating in their terrace bar. They now have larger beds for parties and hot tubs, they have really grown with the market, it’s cool its fresh and it’s not for once pretentious, it is also as close to the harbour as you are ever going to get. Buddha bar I haven’t been to since I was a small child and it was just a pool at San Pedro beach and then all of a sudden it’s a whole ‘boutique beach club’ but going by I can’t see what there isn’t to like, the music and atmosphere are always good.
Both Marbella and Puerto Banus have a massive selection of restaurants available and the majority even the harbour fronted ones are very reasonably priced. My favourite in Banus is Dalli’s Italian just up some steps opposite Dior, I have taken everyone I have ever been on holiday with this place and my sister and I will eat there a few times a week. It’s just a simple Italian but the food is always amazing it’s not expensive at all, there is something for everyone and they have a lovely terrace that you can sit out on in the summer but there is always choice no matter what your budget is.
I am not massively into my nights out which is why I decided a couple of years ago my Marbella trips needed to come to an end or at least go a little less. I am quite fussy on what I like so I tend to stick to nights out when Sintillate were putting nights on, they are always in good venues, good music, good crowds, a good atmosphere so give them a follow on twitter and Instagram before you go. They have their reps out there that will make sure you don’t miss out a night out. The ones I would recommend in Banus are Tibu, Pangea and News Café. A lot of the other bars have promo staff outside offering you a free tequila sunrise or sex on the beach (the drink obvs) it’s up to you if you take them, it can result in a very cheap night but I would recommend just sticking to your own drinks.
None drinking activities
What always gets to me is the reputation that Marbella has, every time I go there I have to explain to people that I have been going there all my life to stop the weird look they are giving me. But there is so much more to this beautiful place that is disregarded because of the reputation it now has. Every Monday and Saturday there is an amazing market at Banus and Marbella, it’s a traditional Spanish market and well worth going to have a look at. Marbella has so much beauty and architecture the old town and Orange Square is so picturesque, just 15 minutes in a taxi you wouldn’t believe you were in the same place as the 20 somethings pouring champagne into a pool, its humble and so traditional. You are still only 45 minutes away from Malaga which has so much to offer and 30 minutes away from Sotogrande which is one of my favourite towns. Sotogrande is the largest privately owned residential development in the area. It was originally a gated community but now it’s opened for tourists, they have some fantastic restaurants and shops and some amazing views. I like to visit here with the family, they have a few polo clubs up there which you are welcome to go along and watch.
So this is my quick guide to Marbella, there is so much more depending on your interests, don’t let what is on the surface put you off you will find for yourself these little port towns have so much depth if you want to look for it.
Photos are all mine taken on iphone 5. Photos in gallary below were taken on my canon.