These are unusual times, and the state of affairs can change quickly. Please check the latest guidance before travelling. Our writer visited these hotels prior to the pandemic.
Between its thriving art and theatre scenes, excellent drinking and dining, and buzzing historic core packed with great shopping, there’s no stopping seaside Malaga right now. Part of the city’s appeal lies in its elegant accommodation offerings – nowhere does evocative, true-to-location luxury stays quite like soulful Spain. Settle in at a hilltop castle-hugging Parador, a boutiquey old-town hideaway or perhaps a reimagined century-old, celebrity-glam grande dame: these are our top picks of Malaga’s most alluring luxury hotels.
This intriguing 18th-century palace-mansion has become one of Málaga’s hottest tickets for its culinary credentials and rich historical character infused with smart, contemporary design features. Rooms impress with oak floors, beamed ceilings and velvet bedheads evocative of the palacio’s past, and all but the entry-level rooms have freestanding bathtubs. Some rooms have little balconies looking out on Calle Granada. The light-flooded main patio, with its excellent Michelin-starred menu by malagueño chef José Carlos García and cocktail bar is the Palacio’s hub, serving delicately presented dishes with southern-Andalucian flavours.
Pack your film-star shades and a statement hat. Grand style meets contemporary luxe at the Miramar, which is all about full-on seaside grandeur. The hotel has a rich history and dates back almost a century. It was opened in 1926 by Alfonso XIII, and over the next few decades hosted famous names including Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner, Jean Cocteau, Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway. The spirit of the original property lives on in the Neo-Arab and traditional Andalucian décor in parts of the hotel. There are brilliant white spaces too, so while some areas feel old-school classic, others, such as the rooftop bar, have an Ibiza-style, chill-out vibe.
With Mediterranean-view rooms, a popular restaurant and the Gibralfaro castle as its next-door neighbour, this hilltop parador is one of Málaga’s most sought-after hotels. An attractive stonewalled building decorated with arches inside and out, the Parador has a calming, laid-back-Málaga vibe, though you’re still somewhere supremely smart. Tall palms, beautiful ceramics and vibrant potted geraniums feel very Andalucian, while tasteful rooms incorporate cheery Mediterranean flair. It’s perfect for anyone after a swish escape (or rooftop-pool dip) between city-centre sightseeing and tapas-tasting sessions.
This smoothly sophisticated four-star overlooking Málaga’s cathedral has fresh neutral-toned colours, plenty of natural light, and a calming yet understated luxe feel. The small open-air pool perches stunningly on the eighth floor, from where two more descending terraces lead to the smart rooftop cocktail bar. DJ sessions, live music and other events are often hosted here, and there’s monthly flamenco in the courtyard of the ground-floor Mediterranean restaurant. At breezy rooftop bar The TOP, carefully crafted cocktails are inspired by ports around the world. Or just name your favourite tipple and the team will whip up something personalised based on home-grown ingredients – and deliver it to your poolside sunbed.
• The best hotels in Malaga
Towering over Málaga's city centre, the 50-year-old Palacio remains as sought-after as ever. The moodily lit lobby lounge sets the tone for the hotel's polished, minimalist style and subtly glam vibe, though really the location is the thing here. The very popular 15th-floor roof terrace is easily the tallest around, so you can have a glass of wine, a dip in the pool or a Mediterranean meal at Ático while gazing out on some of Malaga's most dramatic vistas – from the Gibralfaro castle and the cathedral to twirling church spires and the glinting sea. Rooms, meanwhile, are smart, bright and up-to-date with crisp white bedding, wooden walls and floors, and a smattering of fresh flowers for decoration.
Built around a small lantern-lit patio, this five-star occupies an old posada, whose wide, odd-angled corridors lead to stylish, urban-inspired rooms. It’s all marble floors, straight lines and glossy contemporary styling in the lobby – until you spot the glass panels revealing an impressively preserved stretch of ancient city wall below, with fifth-century Roman stone and 15th-century Arabic brick sections. Monthly-changing art exhibitions liven up the reception area, while the travel-themed library is decorated with cardboard interpretations of Velázquez’ Las Meninas. There’s a lovely rooftop pool with views across Málaga to the Gibralfaro castle.
• The best nightlife in Malaga
Barceló Malaga is a sleek hotel with a zingy, contemporary design and a slide (by Jordi Torres called Sliding Structure for Daring Humans) to zoom you down to the lobby. When cutting through to the hotel from the station, entering a walkway of brightly coloured mosaic tiles gives you an idea of what is to come. The tiles, in lime green, mauve and pink, continue inside in the B-Lounge bar and chillout areas, where curving white seating is reminiscent of a 1970s disco. The bar and terrace is great for a coffee, smoothie or cocktail at any time of day. Rooms are spacious with chic, contemporary design and wooden floors.