With its 200-mile-long Mediterranean coastline, balmy climate — the region has an average of 320 days of sunshine a year — and villages of white houses perched on ridges overlooking the sea, Andalusia’s Costa del Sol has long been a seductive destination, especially for sun-starved Northern Europeans.
The busy airport of Málaga-Costa del Sol is the gateway to the region, with regular flights from Madrid, Barcelona and other large European cities. Until recently, most arriving travelers would bypass Málaga and go to beach towns like Marbella, or luxurious resorts in the countryside. Now, though, a growing number of visitors head into Málaga itself. This is because the ancient and atmospheric port city (and birthplace of Pablo Picasso) has followed in the footsteps of Bilbao and Valencia in reinventing itself as an avant-garde art destination. Within the past decade, several great museums, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, have opened satellite museums in Málaga.
Gran Hotel Miramar
We spent a week on the Costa del Sol early last March, just before the COVID travel bans took effect. Arriving at the 190-room Gran Hotel Miramar, a lavish wedding cake of a building in the Caleta district at the heart of the city, we were surprised by the intimate atmosphere of the property. At its center is an elegant atrium with a glass canopy roof and teardrop chandeliers. We couldn’t help but appreciate the splendor of this space in an era when so many grand hotels have converted their public areas to revenue-generating boutiques.