Beach in reach, Spain
We've scoured coastlines, scaled cliffs and combed beaches in our search for the coolest coastal properties, where the water's edge is never far away. Clifftop castles, seaside stays and beach-side B&Bs – you'll find them all here, alongside paradise island resorts and Caribbean retreats. You just have to decide whether your idea of beach-hotel heaven is skimming stones in Brighton, surfing in Santa Monica or scuba diving in the Seychelles…
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Marbella has been the famously chic playground of old-school, look-at-me Mediterranean glamour for decades, and Marbella Club is one of the biggest reasons behind its rep. Opened by playboy Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe in 1951, the shore-side resort (which includes a spa, beach club, golf course, botanical gardens and champagne room, naturally) still attracts the glitz-garbed international jet set and those who like to watch them at play. Although these days, a lot of the younger guests slope off to barefoot-luxe coast club Nikki Beach down the road when they’re tired of lounging on the pool terrace…
If you have new-season swimwear to show off that is best accessorised by a 19th-century Mallorcan fort (every good bikini needs battlements for a backdrop), Cap Rocat is the place to do it. High in drama, blessed with sweeping sea views and radiating exclusivity from drawbridge to turret, it’s a secluded, adults-only hideaway, where supermodels and super yachters go for superlative service and one of the sexiest poolsides on the Med.
After-dark holiday entertainment needn’t mean sangria-crawls down the Magaluf mile, especially when you’ve got the cocktail-clinking of Palma’s Old Town a few miles up the Mallorcan coast: book a place among the beautiful people at Puro Hotel’s buzzy, DJ-soundtracked beach club. Sunsets at San Giorgio in Mykonos are crowd-pullingly spectacular, but that’s not the end of the entertainment, rather an invitation to dance the night away under the stars. Glamourpusses: dress up in your designer best for martinis in Miami or champagne in St Tropez.
It has been over 130 years in the making – and it still hasn’t been made yet. The vision of revered modernist architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926), Barcelona’s imposing basilica – an attention-grabbing mash-up of Art Nouveau and Neo-Gothic – is Spain’s greatest work of unfinished architecture, and very possibly the world’s. By the time Gaudí died, only a quarter of the building was finished, and successive generations have been painstakingly labouring through the decades to bring it to fruition. When it reaches completion (slated for 2026), La Sagrada Familia will be the tallest church building on Earth, but it’s not just its scale that makes it so captivating; the sheer, visionary audacity and mathematically complex engineering of Gaudí’s architecture make it a marvel to look at even in its incomplete state. It has its detractors, of course – George Orwell called it ‘hideous’ – but there’s no denying its impact on the eyeballs, whether you regard it as the 560-foot folly of a lunatic or an otherworldly masterpiece. Stay at Meliá Barcelona Sky and you’ll be in easy reach.