Any Essex girl would be thrilled to see a weekend-long invitation to Marbella drop in her inbox. Marbs! Only, I'm not an Essex girl. So what was I going to think of the place that has earned itself an unfortunate reputation thanks to the bevy of overzealous, stiletto-wearing, party goers that descend on it every summer?
Firstly, it’s not summer, it’s early – and crucially off-peak – spring. And it seems like the weather gods were on our side too, forecasting a bikini-wearing 22 degrees.
So, not one to form opinions based on the TOWIE cast members [anyone seen Gemma Collins' recent declaration she's a massive fan of the dictionary?] and always keen to clap eyes on new corners of the globe, I snapped up the opportunity courtesy of Amare Hotel and Grifco PR to see another side to the Andalusian offering.
Turns out it wasn’t hard to like Marbella pretty quickly. It serves up a heady mix of beach life, culture, sublime food, shopping, partying, pampering and, thanks to Amare's location between the sea, the mountains and the beautiful Old Town, beauty. I'll talk in my next post about what we got up to outside the four walls of our hotel, but first a bit about our weekend base camp.
Waking up on our first morning to the soul-soothing sound of waves breaking outside is the kind of pinch-yourself-you're-not-dreaming moment that makes trips all that more memorable – not much beats a seaview room. Other notable perks of my new digs included an absolutely ginormous bed and a shower where an extra wall has been replaced with glass, meaning not a minute of ocean-gazing was wasted whilst I lathered on the Molton Brown minis. And not forgetting that headboard...
All barriers everywhere are glass – on balconies looking out across the seascape and within the hotel to avoid obstructing any views. In the picture above you can make out a shadowy Gibraltar on the horizon and, excitingly, Africa was also in our sights.
Breakfast was an all-you-can eat affair at restaurant, Mare Nostrum. Usually one for piling up a combo of scrambled eggs and salmon, I was strangely drawn to the chocolate pancake stack and pretty watermelon and pineapple fruit salad (not just for Instagram purposes I promise). Plus I could have easily put away gallons of the freshly squeezed orange juice (I'll be showing you pics of the incredible orange trees in my next post). The eatathon continued with lunch at Amare Beach Club (it was such a treat to be soaking up warm rays at this time of year) – think tapas galore (octopus, white bait) coupled with perfectly pale rosé. There's a new outdoor restaurant, Verité, set to open in July/August too.
The wellness concept is a big focus at Amare – there's a 24 hour gym and newly introduced yoga classes on the beach bi-weekly. We squeezed in a circuit of the spa – Jacuzzi, sauna, steam and later slunk back in for an Aromas of Andalusia treatment. Translation: surrendering to a top to toe muscle-melting massage (after getting over the initial humiliation of slipping into the baggy Borat-style disposable pants that is – one size doesn't fit all).
When you're too embarrassed to ask your fellow journalists to take your picture but the lift throws you a bone
Shirt | Rails
Shorts | Levi's
Bag | Mehry Mu
Espadrilles | Soludos
Crochet top | Rails
Our travel was supported by Monarch who operate flights to Malaga from London Gatwick, London Luton, Leeds Bradford, Birmingham and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, starting from £42 one way (£75 return), monarch.co.uk
We were shown around Marbella Old Town by Marbella Tourism Board
Thank you to Amare Beach Hotel and Grifco PR for having me.