Often referred to as the Spanish answer to St. Tropez, Marbella is known for delivering the pinnacle of luxury at every turn. All along its beaches, bronzed bodies adorn crisp white sun loungers, sipping champagne and comparing supercars. As the sun sets, the atmosphere becomes electric and velvet ropes separate the buzzing streets and exclusive lounges, where the real party begins and doesn’t end until morning.
Reality TV stars might have given the masses a glimpse into what the Marbella scene can be like, but there are plenty of reasons why the city is really reserved for the social elite and top tiers of celebrity. Wondering about whether it’s the place for you? Here’s why the answer is “yes”
The sun, sand and sea
For starters, Marbella has the trifecta of essentials for the perfect beach holiday. Average temperatures are a comfortable 22-24°C from June to September, with the Andalusian sunshine typically being offset by the sea breeze from the Med. The city has a wealth of beautiful playas that stretch, virtually uninterrupted, from the Nikki Beach resort in Elveria all the way to the marina in Puerto Banus. Then, there’s the deep blue sea that is a cool but pleasant temperature from late May until the end of October. Basically, it’s the perfect combination for showing off your beach bod before slipping into your evening partywear without breaking a sweat.
Once you arrive, there’s no end of luxurious spots to rest your head. From world-class chains to exquisite boutique hotels, there are high-end accommodation options to suit every travelling style. Prefer to stay somewhere more private? Not a problem. Just check out some of these jaw-dropping holiday rentals, from traditional Spanish villas nestled in the mountains to ultra-contemporary beach-side pads.
Ready to let off some steam? You’re in the perfect place for a spot of retail therapy. First, head to Marbella’s picture-perfect old town, where you’ll find the cobbled streets lined with charming restaurants, manicured fruit trees and exclusive outlets. Avenida Ricardo Soriano is the best place for designer clothing and jewellery, but you’ll also find a mix of unique local wares for your home and garden.
After a siesta, go for round two at Puerto Banus, where you’ll find an outlet for just about every fashion house you can name. Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Dior, Versace and Gucci all have stores here, as does Tom Ford, Jimmy Choo, La Perla, Dolce & Gabbana and many, many more. These bite-size boutiques may not have the same selection as their flagship stores or a trip down Bond Street might provide, but in you get exceptional, personalised service in its stead.
High-end, high-speed toys
Needless to say, the scene in Puerto Banus attracts a certain crowd, which is evident by the sheer number of unfathomable yachts floating in the marina and pristine Lamborghinis, Maseratis and Ferraris slinking along the streets. If you forgot to bring your own, don’t worry. There are plenty of companies enabling you to charter a boat or rent a luxury car for the duration of your trip, so there’s no need to miss out on travelling in class.
The Marbella social scene is packed with world-famous hangouts, where you can soak up the sun on a cabana bed, enjoy dinner on an exclusive terrace and party with celebrities into the night.
Nikki Beach is arguably the number one spot for sunbathing in style, where you can enjoy exclusive events, champagne parties and some of the best food in town. La Sala is also known for its exceptional menu, although its private jacuzzis, designated VIP areas and fantastic cocktails shouldn’t be overlooked, either! Both clubs offer plenty of entertainment when the sun goes down, but you might also want to check out the fabulous open-air terraces of Olivia Valère. The Arabian-inspired club is known for offering the epitome of glamour, hosting exclusive parties with famous faces and exceptional DJs. Pangea is another hotspot for the jet-set crowd, not least because of the luxurious view over the supercars and superyachts scattered across the Puerto Banus Marina. If these places don’t sound quite like your scene, there’s always Ocean Club, Aqwa Mist, Cavalli Club and many more!
Multi-million-pound villas, high-end shopping and glitzy nightlife is all well and good, but what about when you just want to just want to escape the public eye and enjoy a bit of quiet R&R? Marbella’s ability to cater to the privacy requirements of high-roller clientele is perhaps the main reason why the rich and famous come here in the first place. Sports stars, politicians and Hollywood icons (think Novak Djokovic, Vladimir Putin, Robert De Niro) can easily escape the paparazzi, thanks to secure private buildings and gated communities like Altos Reales, Los Olivos and La Zagaleta.
The next time you think of Marbella, don’t be fooled by the reality shows and relocation programmes that make it seem like this resort is no longer as exclusive as it once was. Scratch beneath the surface and you’ll soon see that to truly enjoy this slice of paradise, you really need the cash to back it up – but boy, is it worth it.