Places to Stay: Anantara Villa Padierna Palace, Spain

Food and wine, Spa breaks, Spain, Travel / Friday, April 12th, 2024

After flying into Malaga and driving up the long palm-lined entrance, arriving at Anantara Villa Padierna Palace feels like I’ve entered a whole other world. A vast, luxurious resort, set amid the hills between Marbella, Estepona and Benahavis, it has three golf courses, a lake and a Roman amphitheatre to boot. 

Michelle Obama stayed here when she was First Lady, and you can book the three-storey Obama Villa, should you wish to follow her lead. For the rest of us, there are 132 other rooms and suites to choose from, to suit all tastes and budgets. I stayed in a first-floor suite with a terrace overlooking the outdoor pool. It was extremely spacious, comfortable and tastefully decorated.

On my first evening, I was treated to fabulous cocktails in Eddy’s Bar, courtesy of mixologist Diego Cabrera of Madrid-based cocktail bar, Salmon Guru. This was followed by dinner at the hotel’s Mediterranean-inspired La Loggia restaurant, where I tried gazpacho with king prawns, freshly grilled sole, and a chilled glass of Albariño. 

It would be very tempting to stay here and not leave the hotel, but I didn’t come to Spain to miss the sights. So the next morning, after a buffet breakfast served on a shady patio overlooking the golf course, I took a drive into the nearby hills, to the traditional pueblo blanco of Casares. Its narrow streets were lined with bright-white Andalusian houses, and from the top of the village you could see all the way to the ocean. It’s said that Julius Cesar built a villa up here after he discovered the curative properties of the sulphuric water in the valleys below. Today, you can still bathe in the Roman baths at Hedionda, and they’re a great addition to a trip out here. 

You can’t leave Casares without having a meal at Sarmiento – a fabulous Andalusian restaurant with a large terrace and views to die for. So I booked a table outside and devoured prawns pil-pil with garlic and tomato, barbecued sea bass and a dessert of grilled pineapple with ginger ice-cream. The view and food combined made it one of the most memorable meals of my life. 

Thankfully, the following day was a spa day back at Villa Padierna Palace. I opted for the spa circuit, which included an aromatherapy massage and as many trips to the sauna and pool as I liked. I then took my robed self to loll by the outdoor pool, where I promptly fell asleep in the spring Andalusian sunshine. That night I dined at the hotel’s 99 Sushi Bar – an avante-garde Japanese restaurant with the freshest of seafood. 

As the resort itself is sequestered up in the hills, it has a separate private beach club down by the sea, and a shuttle to take you there. Here, you can frolic in the waves then have a cocktail by the water’s edge, or enjoy paella with a glass of cava, as I did. The club often has live DJs so it’s a great place to let your hair down and stay from noon till night. All in all, I found Anantara Villa Padierna Palace a wonderfully relaxing place to be, whether you come in spring or later in the season. I’ll be back in a heartbeat. 

How about you? Have you been to Andalusia before? Let me know in the comments below!

Details: Anantara Villa Padierna Palace, Urbanizacion los Flamingos, 155, 29679 Benahavís, Málaga, Spain, +34 952 88 91 50,

Image by Peter H from Pixabay
Image by Paolo Trabattoni from Pixabay

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