Best hotels in Malaga 2023: From the beachfront to trendy Soho


Malaga has long shaken off its image as merely the jumping-off point for sun-sea-and-sand summer holidays. The Spanish city boasts an impressive roster of museums, from the Picasso to the first Pompidou outside Paris, as well as the hip urban district of Soho.

The latter, of course, is centred around the fabulous CAC art museum and houses graffiti by internationally renowned artists, cool cafes and groovy galleries abound. Not to mention Antonio Banderas’s Teatro del Soho, which puts on slick musicals, flamenco and classical concerts.

Eating out, as everywhere in Andalucia, is a hugely important part of life, with a cornucopia of tapas bars, wine taverns and Michelin-starred gastro temples, as well as the beachfront chiringuitos famous for their barbequed sardines. In terms of hotels, Malaga’s scene has expanded in recent years, also catering for all tastes and budgets, from the simple and chic to the sumptuous. Many have rooftop pools and terrace bars where you can soak up the fabulous sea views, with Aperol spritz – or moscatel wine – in hand, by day and night.

Neighbourhood: La Caleta

The Crown Suite is the most majestic room, complete with terrace and outdoor jacuzzi

(Gran Hotel Miramar)

From its majestic porticoed entrance to the marble balustrades, this recently revamped grande dame is easily the most magnificent hotel in the city. Opened by King Alfonso XIII in 1926, the regal feel carries through to gold velvet cushions in the 190 rooms, some with Moorish mouldings, while others are Mediterranean in style. The ultimate is the Crown Suite in a tower, complete with vast terrace and outdoor jacuzzi. Indulge in the Sisley spa, or soak up the sun at the beachfront pool.

Neighbourhood: La Malagueta

Close to the beach and city it’s the perfect location for your Malaga getaway

(Soho Boutique Las Vegas)

If you want to be on the beach, but also not too far from the city’s cultural draws (a pleasant stroll or short taxi ride away), this option on La Malagueta also has a (seasonal) pool with bar and garden, unusually for a three-star in the city. Try to book a cheery contemporary room with blue accents, pale wood and stylish angular headboard, as the 1970s orange-and-brown decor adorning some of the 107 rooms may not float your boat. Most have either a terrace or a sea view (or both), while the ground floor rooms look onto the garden.

Neighbourhood: El Limonar

Located next to the 17th-century castle, the hotel features 24 elegant rooms

(Soho Boutique Castillo Santa Catalino)

Located next to the eponymous 17th-century castle, perched on a hill at the eastern end of the city overlooking La Caleta beach, this 1930s neo-Arabic hotel was restored in 2021. With just 24 elegant rooms, enhanced by architectural prints and pretty patterned headboards, it offers a peaceful bolthole. Gorgeous plant-filled terraces and fabulous sea and city views are a highlight – at weekends, there’s often live music outdoors. If heading into the city centre is an effort too far, there’s a seven-course tasting menu offering a modern take on Andalucian cuisine: think ajoblanco (chilled almond soup) with pine nuts, scallops and caramelised fig.

Neighbourhood: Soho

The fashionable rooms come in bold green, blue and turquoise palletes

(Room Mate Valeria)

Decked out in bold racing green, royal blue or turquoise stripes, the 61 rooms in this fashionable hotspot recall the casetas (tents) where Andalucians gather at local ferias to party the night away. Located in an enviable spot – trendy Soho, but also close to Muelle Uno seafront and the historic centre – its roof terrace bar overlooking the rooftops and port, is a popular watering hole. Late riser? Overindulged last night? Lucky for you, breakfast (complete with gluten-free goodies) is served until midday.

Neighbourhood: Centro

Design is contemporary with high ceilings and great lighting

(Barcelo Malaga)

While not ideally located for culture, the Barceló can claim prime position for transport convenience: it is bang next to Maria Zambrano train station, which has direct services to the airport and high-speed trains to all over Spain; a walkway links lobby and platforms. Design is contemporary, almost futuristic, with high ceilings and excellent lighting, topped off by a feature that is guaranteed to keep kids happy for hours – a massive stainless-steel slide/art installation. The (seasonally heated) rooftop pool and breakfast buffet with eggs to order will also go down well. Connected rooms among the 221 sleep up to five.

Neighbourhood: Centro

Both the decor and prices of this hostel are welcoming

(Dulces Dreams Hostel)

Independent city-centre hostels with affordable prices and welcoming, stylish décor are a real find, and this is no exception. Seven rooms, named after sweet treats (dulces), are clean, fresh and bright-white – five have private bathrooms and air-con, including a suite, which is jazzed up with funky recycled furniture. Add on an excellent café-gallery showing local artists’ work, with juices, wraps and salads galore, including creative veggie and vegan options, and a pretty outdoor terrace, and this is a no-brainer for tight budgets.

Price: Doubles from £80

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Neighbourhood: Centro

Taste dishes from Michelin-starred chef José Carlos García at Balausta restaurant

(Palacio Solecio)

Exquisite taste oozes from every pore of this refurbished 18th-century palace near the Picasso museum. The sophisticated historic-contemporary look is nailed by pairing petrol blue sofas with minimalist four-poster beds and wood parquet floors in 68 spacious rooms. At Balausta restaurant, with clubby leather chairs in the cream marble-pillared patio, Michelin-starred chef José Carlos García plies Andalucian ingredients with an avant-garde touch – grilled vegetables with onion soup, Malaga goat’s cheese, and roasted peppers with hazelnuts; or sea bream tartar with apple and wholegrain mustard.

Neighbourhood: Gibralfaro

The Parador is located in a peaceful, yet spectacular spot

(Parador de Málaga Gibralfaro)

Next to hilltop Gibralfaro Castle, where King Fernando lived after the Reconquest in the late 15th century, this small parador is located in a peaceful yet spectacular spot surrounded by pine trees, up a windy road above La Malagueta beach. The 38 rooms are traditional Andalucian in style, with terracotta-tiled floors, and bathed in glorious southern Spanish light, along with a balcony.

While you’re slightly further from the main sights, one advantage is you can park your car here; otherwise, take a 35-minute bus or taxi, or it’s a 20-minute (downhill) walk. If you dine in at El Mirador restaurant, expect local specialities like gazpachuelo (egg and garlic soup) and  jibía frita (fried cuttlefish) , as well as fabulous views.

Neighbourhood: Soho

The rooftop bar reminds of a cruiseliner and has a stunning blue mosaic infinity pool

(Only YOU Malaga)

One of two hotels housed in the iconic 1950s Equitativa building (formerly the site of the Larios family palace), Only You’s eighth-floor terrace bar, Lolita Skyview, is a hot ticket among malagueños. The rooftop bar has the sleek curves of a cruiseliner, along with a stunning blue mosaic infinity pool looking across the city to Gibralfaro Castle. Sip an Americano (the sweet vermouth and Campari cocktail, not the coffee), and nibble on Payoyo cheese and baked apple fritters. The vibe in the 93 rooms is calm Mediterranean: soft, pale tones and blond wood.

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