Welcome to Spain’s Golden Mile:hotel Puente Romano Beach Resort, sprawled along the sun-soaked Andalusian coast, might be big but its village-y layout and cosy atmosphere set it apart from the neighbouring beachfront behemoths – none of the traditional whitewashed buildings has more than three storeys. The resort’s show-stopping seaside tennis courts, three pools and nine restaurants make leaving the grounds entirely optional.
Get this when you book through us:
€85 a room to spend at Puente Romano's restaurants and bars
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability and a charge of €150. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £364.85 (€429), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates include buffet breakfast.
At the hotel
Treatment rooms, tennis courts, golf course, Pilates and yoga classes, DVD library, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, iPod dock, minibar, wired or WiFi internet, Aromatherapy toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
The Imperial Suite has a wrap-around terrace with sweeping views of mountains and sea. If you’re travelling en masse with family or friends, look into the interconnecting family rooms that give you two bedrooms and ensuites.
Lay out your beach towel beside one of the hotel’s three pools. The family-friendly Beach Club Pool – down on the sands beside the Mediterranean – is heated and watched over by a lifeguard from 8am to 8pm in summer; the resort’s Main Pool and Central Pool are among the gardens.
Andalusian in design, Puente Romano's sleek Six Senses Spa (awarded Spain's Best Resort Spa 2017 by World Spa Awards) has a wet area with a hydrotherapy pool, cold plunge pool, heat and ice experience showers, herbal steam room, sauna and hammam. There are nine treatment rooms: six indoors and three outdoors, with canopied roofs and swing cabanas overlooking the sea, and a range of Six Senses signature massages, facials, hammam experiences, body treatments and scrubs, and mani-pedis. The spa uses QMS Medicosmetics and Organic Pharmacy products. For a truly indulgent spa day, opt for the beauty, royal, or energiser rituals, which combine several specially selected treatments.
Don’t forget your tennis shoes: Puente Romano has its own clay courts on site.
The majority of the hotel’s common areas are on the ground floor, and there are several Junior Suites that have been specially adapted for wheelchair access.
Very welcome. Babysitting is available for €25 an hour for up to two children (book at least 24 hours in advance) and there’s a kids club during school holidays; there are evening sessions in summer (from €20 an hour).
In the Sea Grill, request a sea-facing table – candlelit dinner for two to a soundtrack of lapping waves is about as romantic as it can get.
You won’t be out of place in your best jeans, but dress them up with some smart shoes for the evening (don’t arrive for dinner at Dani Garcia in shorts or flip-flops). At lunch, a comfy-chic kaftan will help you fit right in.
You won’t go hungry: there are 11 restaurants. In Dani Garcia Restaurante, the eponymous Michelin-star-holding chef dishes up tempting tapas and other Iberian delights. Open in high season, El Chiringuito is right on the beach and specialises in fresh fish and seafood. Celicioso – set by the Roman bridge and shops of Plaza Village – dishes up exclusively gluten-free fare, including baked goods, juices and cocktails. Nobu serves up Peruvian-inspired sushi – dine alfresco or in the lantern-lit dining room. There’s also the Sea Grill, right by the pool and with its own tandoori oven; poolside Pizza Romano; Serafina, overlooking the gardens and ancient Roman bridge; Monkey Club, a Med-meets-the-tropics restaurant; Thai Gallery, the hotel's authentic Asian restaurant, serving up fragrant light bites, salads, curries and noodle dishes; Bibo tapas restaurant with a raw oyster bar; and Rachel's, perfect for healthy breakfasts and light meals.
For slick nightclubbing, head to La Suite after midnight to hear international DJs in action. In the summer, claim a sofa at La Plaza and soak up the sunshine as you sip refreshing cocktails.
Noon. Serafina, closed on Sundays, is open until 12.30pm, Dani Garcia until 10.30pm. El Chiringuito and Sea Grill start serving snacks from 11am. Suite is open on Fridays and Saturdays and pours drinks until 4am.
The resort occupies an enviable spot on the prestigious coastal strip near Marbella that’s known as the Golden Mile (actually four miles of beachy Spanish paradise).
It’s a 35-minute drive to Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport (aka Pablo Ruiz Picasso Airport) which has regular flights to destinations throughout Europe, including London, Birmingham and Manchester. Call our Smith24 team to book your flights.
A car will make it easier for you to explore the coast and countryside; you can rent a car from the Málaga airport or at the hotel itself, and there’s free parking on-site.
Worth getting out of bed for
Marbella deserves its long-held reputation as a full-service family holiday hotspot: there’s certainly no lack of fun to be had under the Andalusian sun. Tee off – for free – at the 18-hole golf course at the Marbella Club Golf Resort in the Benahavis hills, which has views stretching from the Andalusian beaches across the Mediterranean to the coast of North Africa. The high-quality greens of the El Higueral Golf Club's par-36, nine-hole golf course are dotted with lakes.
Enjoy traditional Mediterranean cooking (and a 150-strong wine list) in stylish modern surroundings right over the sea at El Gran Gatsby; after dark, once the DJ starts up, it’s a beautiful location for dancing. At Restauranta Trocadero, book ahead in high season to enjoy the freshest of fish in a bustling atmosphere right by the beach.Masqueria La Pesquera is the perfect spot in for people watching: it overlooks a traditional square in Marbella’s Old Town. It’s also a top choice for fresh fish or tapas and a beer. The super-stylish MC Beach hangout serves juicy barbecued prawns and more from a boat by the sea. Pick a spot in the shade, or by the misters if it’s particularly hot.
I could go for a gradual build up; a detailed description climaxing with the declaration that the Puente Romano is the jewel of Marbella’s Golden Mile. But never one for shimmying around the edge or dipping my toe, I’d rather dive straight in and state for the record that this place is truly, truly special.
While the rest of the hotels along this famous stretch of golden sand jostle to be seen – each one bigger and grander and shinier than the next – Puente Romano (named after the ancient Roman Bridge which stands among the lush grounds) is almost inconspicuous from its low-rise and unassuming exterior. Once inside, it’s a different story.
There’s no fuss or fanfare as we arrive, just friendly staff ready to greet us. Miss Smith is already making friends in the cool, polished marble reception, and thanks to a generous receptionist she has a new partner in crime: a teddy bear sporting the hotel logo. Just as well she’s got assistance – there’s a mystery to solve. Terracotta urns acting as table legs to the oversized glass have nesting birds in them! How did they get in there? More to the point, how does a two-year-old rescue them?
Leaving this unresolved for now, our attention is diverted to our easy-on-the-eye porter who has loaded our luggage and Mr Smith onto his golf buggy, ready to give us a tour around the grounds en route to our junior suite. Mr Smith is playing it cool as his two girls playfully flirt with Pau (which, swoon, means ‘peace’ in Catalan). Signorita Smith is particularly enamoured with our tanned chauffeur; she’s never seen such a cool pair of wheels. As the wind blows through her hair she squeals with delight; I do the same as the Pau points out Bar Cascada the ‘best place for sundowners’.
Simple and beautifully decorated, our suite is a lesson in understated luxury. A corner desk and drawers is made from soft cream leather and exquisitely cut Venetian glass. The bathroom, in contrast, is resplendent in traditional jewel-coloured Andalusian tiles. Mr & Mrs Smith agree: we are going to like it here. Keen to explore our miniature version of the famous white towns of Andalusia or Pueblos Blancos as they are know locally, unpacking is put on hold. Traditional whitewashed walls studded with splashes of red in the form of geraniums in baskets abound – it’s like walking through a scene from a postcard, with the added sweet scent of fresh flowers.
Reach any of the hotel’s six restaurants, leisure facilities or the beach, with a walk through sub-tropical gardens of giant bamboo, ferns, palm trees and grapevines complete with ornate water features and a gently bubbling stream. Wildlife in the form of swans, frogs and terrapins make it more magical. Add to that, us being fortunate enough (so Mr Smith tries to convince us) to witness a real-life David Attenborough moment as a water snake wrestles a frog. Those not keen on reptiles needn’t be put off: the excited staff watching assure us that we are witness to a very rare occurrence. Lucky us, eh? It is the frog’s lucky day too, as he lives to tell the tale.
WiFi throughout the hotel grounds means this couple can also keep friends and family updated on our wildlife adventures, sharing pictures of our water baby in her stunning new setting. Delightful bath-water-warm pools (there are three in total, one specifically for children) means that at the end of each day she’s reluctant to be led away by her wrinkly hand.
In-suite computer wizardry means that everything is also available at the touch of a button: restaurants and spa treatments to pore over and book in the comfort of one’s own room, perfect for this indecisive Mrs Smith. The Thalasso Spa offers first-class therapies and those choosing to exert themselves on holiday are also spoilt for choice – the hotel’s internationally renowned tennis club has 10 courts. To my untrained eye I’d say that the centre court is not for the faint hearted with an audience capacity of 2,500 and the claim that the world’s greats including Becker and McEnroe have trodden this clay. Perhaps sign up at the club for a few lessons from a pro beforehand.
The Sea Grill restaurant is an especially romantic beach setting to take in the breathtaking Med view while tucking into mouthwatering fresh fish. The waiters strike a perfect balance between offering enough attention and allowing you to enjoy your feast privately. And then there are the ice-cream sandwiches. Divine little triangles of sponge filled with creamy goodness… The fight is on for the final triangle. Mr Smith goes for an underhand swipe but a sneaky backhand sees Mrs Smith triumphant. Mmm… pistachio. I’d go as far as saying it’s up there with my all-time favourite sweet treats… and the same goes for the hotel. You’d be nuts to pass on the opportunity to try either.