The Marbella Club has long been touted as the grande dame of southern Spain and so I was intrigued to see if she lived up to the accolade on my recent visit to the property.
Sadly, my short stay here proved that her crown was slipping and, in certain areas, she looked and felt a little tired and threadbare, clearly living in her past glory.
The resort is steeped in history. Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe-Langenburg, dubbed the ‘King of Clubs’ and around-town known as Olé-Olé in reference to his partying and hard-to-pronounce surname, was looking to restore his fortune when he headed south from Madrid in 1947 to explore business opportunities. Here in Marbella, he bought a plot of land of 180,000 m² and an old finca (in Spanish, estate) which initially became the family’s private residence.
In 1954 the prince opened the doors of this twenty room home to his friends and, with a penchant for partying hard, opened the bar and dining room to the same well-heeled crowd. The Marbella Club was born. Friends would ask to stay for one night and end up staying longer.
During the early years Alfonso hosted at least three parties a week, mostly fancy dress events on the beach. Guests included members of the English aristocracy, Hollywood stars and European royalty.
As the destination’s popularity grew over the decades so did visitor numbers. Children were welcomed along with their party-going parents and the resort expanded to introduce large villas and suites with pools and more facilities. Today, it offers a vast range of accommodation to suit all needs and requirements. In 2014, the hotel completed an extensive renovation of its rooms.
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