Spain sizzles. Whether it is because of the year-round sun or fiery flamenco, Spain is a unique, one-of-a-kind place just calling to be explored.
Spanish style is epitomised along Marbella's Golden Mile - and in prime position is the legendary Marbella Club Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa. Formerly owned by socialite and business mogul Prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe-Langenburg, in its heyday it counted silver screen stars Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Sir Laurence Olivier amongst its loyal fans. Today, the pace is slightly more laid-back, exuding a real sense of sophisticated elegance; Andalucian-style villas with private heated pools are dotted amongst the lush gardens. Journey past Marbella's star-studded clubs, bars and restaurants and you'll find a true hidden gem - the surprisingly quaint casco antiguo (old town). Well worth a visit.
For more rural R&R, head down the coast and further into Andalucia, where the glamour of the Costa del Sol is more understated, and where you'll find the cool, calm and collected Finca Cortesin tucked into the foothills between Estepona and Sotogrande. The service here is impeccable, and it is from this focus on the ever-changing needs of guests that the hotel's latest offering was born - tailored private excursions. Only one mile from the beachfront, guests can head out onto the water for a Champagne superyacht supper and, an absolute must-do, is the whale watching trip. Pilot, killer and fin whales, as well as three different dolphin species can all be found here.
One to watch: the hotel boasts one of the best golf courses in Spain that will soon be home to 15 new luxury villas, located just off the fairway between holes 9 and 10. Another must is a trip through the mountain villages into the nearby town of Ronda. One of Spain's oldest towns and arguably Malaga province's most spectacular, its location encircled by the Serrania de Ronda is nothing short of dramatic. The views from the Puente Nuevo over the El Tajo gorge will quite literally take your breath away. Back at Finca, recover from the day's sightseeing with a delicious cocktail whilst watching the sunset at the hotel's superb beach club.
No exploration of Spain is complete without its islands and no discussion of its islands is whole without Tenerife. The largest Canary Island, its famous Pico del Teide is Spain's tallest mountain and the climb to the top is on many visitors' must-do lists. In Costa Adeje, lies Bahía del Duque, set out in the style of a Canarian village. A key draw is the beach; Playa del Duque is one of the quietest in the area, its golden rather than black volcanic sand being a huge advantage. New for returning visitors is the recently re-opened Café Bahía that has been given a facelift. The beachside eatery, with views over to the island of La Gomera, now has Swiss chef Robert M. Keller at the helm, his international menu sure to delight the palate.
Mallorca's beautiful coastline is renowned, yet venture further afield, and discover so much more. Take the capital Palma. Framed by mountains, the old quarter's Gothic cathedral is a must-visit - eschew your afternoon siesta in favour of wandering the labyrinthine lanes. Looking across the Bay of Palma towards the city is a 19th Century fortress-turned-hotel, Cap Rocat. From its location on this headland you can survey the beauty of Palma from your private terrace or whilst enjoying traditional Mallorcan food at the open air Sea Club restaurant. Ayurvedic rituals are the order of the day in the spa and other popular activities include wine tasting and cookery classes.
For a true get-away-from-it-all stay, visit Belmond La Residencia. Mallorca's magical mountain hideaway is located in the quaint village of Deià, former home of British poet and author Robert Graves and various other bohemians over the decades. The village has a plethora of outstanding eateries, with Michelinstarred Es Raco d'es Teix being a highlight. Back at the hotel, cocktails at Café Miró at Son Moragues are accompanied by live piano music. Effortlessly channel the artistic energy of Deià in painting, ceramics and sculpture classes; the breathtaking scenery can be your muse.
> Explore Spain for luxury Spanish holidays