Malaga, the gateway to the Costa del Sol, was once known only for its airport and close proximity to popular beach resorts. No one ever stayed in Malaga. I have been to the Costa del Sol on countless occasions and this year was the first time I actually visited the city. My only reason for venturing there or so I thought was to check out Malaga’s first proper luxury hotel, the Gran Hotel Miramar.
I had heard about Malaga’s so called regeneration but I did not actually believe it. I had thought it was a strange location for the Pompidou to set up its first European outlet outside of France, without actually ever going there. I guess that was rather ignorant of me. However in recent years Malaga has undergone somewhat of a transformation, due to a multi-million pound investment, emerging out of the shadows behind other iconic Andalusian cities such as Seville and Granada.
It is not only the arrival of the Pompidou Centre as I thought, there are a whole host of esteemed galleries choosing to make Malaga their home including the St Petersburg State Russian Museum, the Picasso Museum and Museo Casa Natal de Picasso. Malaga is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso after all.
I decided to walk to the hotel to see what the hype was all about and I must admit at first I was not impressed. I got dropped by the El Corte Ingles, pretty much Malaga’s only attraction as of about 10 years ago. As it was a Sunday most things were closed apart from the Indo-Italian restaurant specialising in Korma and Carbonara. It was mundane and rundown, exactly as expected; mid-century apartments and convenience stores with about as much ambience as a sweaty sock. As I kept walking it got a little busier, I strolled down a street not dissimilar to Las Ramblas and this is where things really took a turn as I stumbled across the most beautiful botanical gardens and the impressive Alcazaba Fortress. I felt like I had been catapulted into another dimension, a tale of two cities most definitely.
It was here that I started to understand the pull of Malaga, the Moorish influence, the attractive architecture, the super stylish new port which was bustling with yachts and chic eateries. I wandered past the Pompidou Centre, a multi-coloured Perspex cube, and looked down the pretty waterside promenade towards the Ferris wheel and thought, I would definitely come here again.
The Gran Hotel Miramar launched at the beginning of the year after an investment of 65 million Euros. The majestic building is situated on the seafront located in Caleta in the centre of the city. Designed by Spanish architect Fernando Guerrero Strachan, the hotel has undergone many incarnations including a stint as a hospital during the Spanish Civil War.
I had seen some images on the website prior to my visit and whilst I was impressed, the property is even more breathtaking in person. Featuring 200 rooms and suites, a luxury spa, three restaurants and bars including a sensational rooftop spot; it is a force to be reckoned with.
Much of the hotel has been beautifully preserved maintaining some spectacular original features such as Andalusian tiling and hand painted frescoes. The sense of grandeur is undeniable; old school glamour oozes from the opulent lobby (one of the best I have ever seen!) to the royal blue parasols lining the pool. You can imagine exactly how the hotel would have been during its heyday, welcoming discerning guests including Elizabeth Taylor.
Each floor offers a unique and modern room design whilst still remaining sympathetic to the original style of the building with Arabian and Mediterranean influences. The two rooms I viewed differed quite dramatically but were still very much in keeping with each other. The beautiful pop of peach in the ocean themed premier room was just as inviting as the lavish suite with muted tones and gold accents. Expect luxury amenities including a pillow menu and magnificent marble bathrooms.
The icing on the cake was the impossibly cool rooftop bar providing the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail with serene sea views. The minimalist setup and stunning backlit bar could have rivalled a sleek Ibiza hotspot. It proves that the Gran Hotel Miramar can do both. It is a proper hotel definitely deserving of its accolades. Next time, I might even leave the hotel and explore some more of the city!
Gran Hotel Miramar, Paseo Reding, 22-24, 29016 Málaga, Spain
(+34) 952 603 000