We managed to 'dump' the kids and nip away for a short City break in Malaga, where we were fortunate enough to stay at the Hotel Maestranza. Well, what a fabulous find this place was!! Superbly located, being just 100m from the beach and a ten minute stroll (or seven minutes through the smelly tunnel) to the wonders of the Old Town, it had everything we were looking for - a lovely roof-top terrace for late-afternoon sunbathing, a nice jacuzzi, a handy little gym, superb views of the Bull Ring, both castles and a glimpse of the beach too! It also had a bar and a restaurant though we confess we didn't go to these - but we did go to the cafe just outside each morning for some delicious coffee and bakery. One day, we even ordered some take away rolls filled with cheese, ham, etc, that were individually wrapped and scoffed later on while at the beach!
If tapas and cheap but oh-so-smooth Rioja is your thing, you'll struggle to beat the Old Town in Malaga - we'd advise strolling around just about all the street bars in the day and taking your pick but in the evening, a trip to Vino Mio on Calle Alamos is essential (though the flamenco only goes from 8-9:30pm) and Liceo, which looks like it's just opened and isn't in the best area but has a truly amazing flamenco show from 8:30 and is really quite amazing once inside and upstairs. Then head back down to either Calle de la Caldereria or Calle de Sanchez Pastor for later night drinks and tapas, all sat outside in the beautiful weather of Southern Spain. If you fancy a bigger meal, El Pimpi is probably a good bet too - and we didn't manage to get to Tapeo de Cervantes due to time but the menu looked fab.
We did an hour cycle tour for a very reasonable 18 euros one day (pick them up from outside the incredible Cathedral), and the guide does take you around most of the Old Town, where you can learn more about some of the gems that exist in terms of both food, architecture and history - on the back of this, we found some free museums to browse through that were very interesting indeed.
Naturally, there's a Picasso theme to a lot of places (Malaga being his birthplace) and they are currently renevating the square where he was born - doesn't cause too much of an issue though and you can still see the building where the great painter (or not in my opinion but each to their own!) was born. You'll also hear some stories about Malaga's other favourite son, Antonio Banderas, who apparently still comes back once a year for a visit.
There are plenty of banks in Malaga but be aware that they shut at 2:30pm - they're also full of generally unhelpful staff who stand around doing not-a-lot! So I'd suggest you get your euros before you travel or just get a wedge out of a cash machine straight away to avoid multiple foreign charges.
A quick note on the beach - we were told that it's man-made with sand from the Sahara and we found it to be really quite nice. You can hire sun loungers for 4 euros, though there's plenty of space if you just want to throw a towel down and lie on it for free. Seemingly thousands of guys walking along offering Coca-Cola, Fanta, water, etc - rather annoying after a while until you suddenly get a thirst and then you're thankful you kept a euro handy for an ice-cold Coke! Be warned though that the water is (or at least was) freezing and that you're walking straight into a load of stones once off the sand. So depends what you're looking for in terms of the beach - if you just want to lie on it and enjoy the weather, it's great.
To sum up, amazing place and a quite super hotel to be based at if a City trip with the added bonus of a beach is for you. We booked through booking.com and found it very efficient indeed - all the details were waiting with Reception on arrival. We had a room on the 5th floor with a castle view (though you could look out left from the balcony and see the sea!) - the road below, as mentioned in a few reviews, is quite noisy but only from the balcony itself - close the doors and we could hardly hear a thing. Presumably, higher up nearer the roof (12th floor) would be even quieter. The Reception staff don't speak a lot of English which we personally thought was great since it gave us a chance to test out our Spanish - but they are very helpful and really try to guide you in the right direction on anything you need. There's a supermarket just across the street that sells all the usual stuff (except cigarettes - you have to go slightly further afield for those) and we bought some lovely cheap wine to quaff on our balcony - 97 degrees at 7:30pm, a glass of wine and a great view before going out to eat equals Heaven for us!
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- Also Known As:
- Maestranza Hotel málaga
- Hotel MS Maestranza Malaga, Costa Del Sol, Spain