Marbella (Costa del Sol)

The southernmost coast of continental Europe gets 300 days of sunshine a year – hence, the name. While you are unlikely to be here for sightseeing, there is a number of places here worth exploring. We only went once to Marbella for its large Monday market (aside from which, we did not see much to excite us while walking to and from our car) and took a short stroll through Puerto Bañus‘ vibrant and busy marina on the way to a dinner.


Marriott Marbella Beach Resort ♥♥♥, which is actually in Elviria, is about 10 kilometers from Marbella. An excellent resort, with well-appointed apartments (we had a spacious two-bedroom, two-bathroom one). There is everything that you might need during a beach holiday right within the confines of the resort, so you don’t have to leave its grounds if you choose so, including a supermarket, a children’s playground, a beachwear shop, several bars and a formal restaurant. You don’t even have to carry any cash with you, as everything is chargeable to the room.

There are two open pools and two heated indoor ones, plus four heated jacuzzis which are invaluable if the air gets chilly. Also, a sauna. You can rent a lounge-chair under an umbrella on the beach, but the beach itself is not great, with the mix of brown sand and small pebbles. The sea during our stay was not calm and a bit cold to take a dip in. Actually, this is the biggest negative I can think of in relation to this resort: The micro-climate in this particular corner of the coast is not the best, getting windy in the afternoons and lacking good beaches; on the boardwalk at Puerto Bañus in the evening, for instance, the air was considerably calmer.

The Kids Club has different activities every day, for a few hours in the morning and then in the afternoon.

Various snacks and platters can be had in the bar and the open café throughout the day, but the buffet lunch at the main restaurant, El Med, is a bit disappointing, consisting only of salad selection and a couple of soups. Hot lunch costs extra and makes it a bit uneconomical to have lunch here. Similar sentiment goes for dinner: While the food is not bad, the menu is fairly limited, and you’d do better by going out to one of the hundreds of places in the area. However, twice a week, there is an all-you-can-eat buffet (€30 per adult, half that per child under 12, drinks and deserts extra) with entertainment in the form of tango and singing; and once a week – a dinner followed by a flamenco show (€40 per adult, €20 per child, drinks extra), which we liked quite a lot. Last stay: 2008.

Places to Eat

All places last visited in Spring 2008.

Merendero Christina ♥ is located on the beach in Elviria, next to the Marriott Resort. Not much in the way of decor, a pavilion looking out on the sea. The food is pretty good, especially sopa de marisco, paella de marisco, the duck breast. The service is OK, but somewhat aloof. Our damage: €116 for four people, including a carafe of sangria and a half-bottle of wine.

Levante Beach ♥ is also located on the beach, in Puerto Bañus, with an “outdoor” section and a covered pavilion. Delicious cold sopa de ajo blanco for starters and shashlik from fish and shrimps for a main. The rest was OK, including parillada de carnes. The service was very friendly, but I ended up waiting for quite a long time to pay at the end. With a small carafe of sangria, the damage came to €140 for four people; we had a 10% discount from Marriott.

Other notes for Spain