Puente Romano, Marbella - hotel review

Age before beauty” is not an adage that resonates deeply in Marbella. This is a city where youthful good looks reign. A notable proportion of visitors are of indeterminable age, cosmetically plumped, their complexion enhanced by deep, golden tans.

The busiest restaurants are those with a propensity for glossy white decor rather than dark wood and Andalucian tiles, while the cobbled streets of the Arabic-era old quarter are almost lost behind the spruced-up seafront avenues.

An anomaly is Puente Romano 
One of the city’s first luxury hotels, home to a Roman bridge from which it takes its name. Dating from the first century, the stone bridge now crosses a brook that babbles through the resort’s verdant gardens. Built in 1974 as an apartment complex by Prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe, Puente Romano was converted to a hotel five years later, hosting the wedding of tennis legend Bjorn Borg in 1980. The Swede was to become the manager of the hotel’s tennis club, which has since hosted events including the Davis Cup and ATP Grand Prix. 

Borg isn’t the only big name associated with the hotel. As well as a roll call of celebrity guests (the Kennedys, Serena Williams, Elizabeth Taylor), it recently attracted Michelin-starred chef Dani Garcia, who opened an eponymous Andalucian restaurant and Bibo, a tapas bar, here. Both were full during my stay, so I tried two more of the dozen options available — the pescatorially inclined Sea Grill and Uni, an offshoot of the Nikkei restaurant in Belgravia. The €60 five-course tasting menu is a study in modern Peruvian-Japanese fusion, its highlights including soy-infused salmon and crab tacos. The restaurants cluster around the Plaza, a buzzing square where coiffed locals quaff chilled cava on cushion-strewn sofas.

From the Plaza, the sub-tropical gardens bind together what could otherwise be an overwhelmingly large resort. They wind along either side of a stream that empties at the beach, via several pools and the 264 rooms that are housed in whitewashed buildings, constructed in the style of an Andalucian pueblo blanco.

While the public spaces are contemporary, the accommodation is more traditional. My Grand Junior Suite was spacious, with a huge terrace overlooking the sea, but it had a slightly dated Romanesque-style bathroom with mosaic fish tiling. The neutral decor —cream walls, pale linen — was enhanced with fresh lilies and two curiously identical pictures of bamboo. 

A nice touch was a tablet, which could be used to order room service, find out the day’s activities (beach yoga, sushi masterclasses), book treatments at the Six Senses spa or glean recommendations of where to eat and drink beyond the resort. A more modern ambience infuses the trio of luxurious, three-, four- and five-bedroom villas that have just opened, each with a private pool, garden and kitchen, plus use of a Mercedes A-class.

The area
Easily accessible for a long weekend, the hotel is just 30-40 minutes’ drive from Malaga airport, well served by flights from London. Located on the “Golden Mile” between Marbella and Puerto Banus, Puente Romano has its own section of beach, where an attendant will roll out your towel on a sunlounger and ferry drinks from the pool bar. 

Stroll the promenade, or rent one of the hotel’s bikes (€15 per day) to explore the coast, with the Mediterranean on one side and the soaring Sierra de las Nieves range on the other. In favourable spring times, you could be skiing in the morning, then sunbathing on the beach in the afternoon. The shoreline is peppered with beach bars and restaurants, including that of sister hotel Marbella Club (reservations essential), but if you want a flavour of old Marbella try Patio Restaurant or Taberna la Nina del Pisto in the old town, or La Taberna del Pintxo for tapas just off the beach.

By: Sophie Lam




Latest news