For a spa-focused sanctuary to escape to for a long weekend before the big day, or a honeymoon where pampering, sunshine and a spot of golf are at the very top of the menu. The newly opened La Zambra combines these in one, aesthetically pleasing and wellness-focused stay, bringing a touch of understated luxury to Andalusia’s whitewashed village of Mijas. This is where to unwind, poolside, after all that wedding stress (and it’s less than three hours from London).
Set the scene
Formerly known as The Byblos Hotel, this jet-set favourite of the ’80s and ’90s has received legendary architectural studio Esteva i Esteva‘s hallmark minimalism and contemporary ‘organic cool’. Guests arriving at La Zambra are greeted with chalky white walls, cavernous nooks filled with sculptural ceramics and a combination of soft fabrics and earthy, natural textures (think: terracotta and rattan plant pots, pebbled floors and exposed beams). Open and airy, the laid-back luxe style speaks for itself, with every piece of pastel-toned custom-made furniture fitting effortlessly into place.
La Zambra has a family-friendly and an adults-only outdoor pool, both lined with sleek sunbeds pretty parasols and shade-casting palm trees. Golf is a huge part of the draw to the Costa del Sol – with 12 golf courses within 15 minutes’ drive from La Zambra, and two world-class golf courses (Los Olivos and Los Lagos) brushing up against the hotel. For those in-the-know, they’re designed by Robert Trent Jones, who – we’ve been told – is a big deal in the golfing world.
The pared-back, luxxy design extends across the hotel’s 197 rooms, all of which are spacious and flooded with natural light. All rooms have their own private balcony, and the easy-on-the-eye interiors – soft beige and white hues, natural fabrics and local artwork – match the traditional finca-style architecture. Rattan bucket chairs and wafting white linen curtains perfectly frame the luscious green views onto the garden, golf course or pool, while enormous king-size beds and uber-soft pillows welcome lie-ins. If we had to choose, we’d book one of the Junior Suites for their own private lounge area. But for honeymooners with deep pockets, the Penthouse is the place to be, with its own private plunge pool (and even a wine cellar).
Food and drink
There are three different restaurants at La Zambra, each serving delicious, locally-sourced Mediterranean food. Palmito is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and overlooks the glittering adults’ pool. Natural wood and stone take on a contemporary polish here, with tables dressed with crisp white linen placemats and glossy turquoise china. The plates have a healthy skew (lots of plant-based options) and are deliberately smaller in portion size for sharing and trying a variety of dishes. But don’t let the word ‘healthy’ put you off. The menu is both nourishing and hearty. Just remember not to go too hard on the fresh bread and olive oil from Malaga, and save space for the incredible seared avocado with marinated croaker & kimchi mayonnaise. In warm weather, take refuge under the terrace’s pergola with a glass of rosé for views of the garden.
The more formal Picador restaurant offers tapas-style feasting. Expect regional Southern Spain favourites like patatas bravas and traditional Spanish omelettes (with a gourmet twist). Each plate can be paired with a different wine, and naturally, Picador showcases only the very best of the region’s renowned vineyards.
The laid-back bar – aptly named Bamboleo (‘wobble’ or ‘sway’ in Spanish) – overlooks the pretty gardens. Come dressed in stilettos or flip-flops from the pool, no one cares. By day, wash down pizza with an ice-cold glass of rosé on the terrace, and when night falls, sip on Champagne cocktails and snack on guacamole and Baba ghanoush under the romantic wraparound arches.
La Zambra isn’t just for adults – there is plenty laid on for little ones here too. A dedicated family pool ensures any raucous games of Marco Polo or general splashing will not disturb other guests, while a fantastic kids club (10am-6pm) takes on infants as young as six months to three, and then there’s a more grown-up kid’s club for children between four and 10. So parents and honeymooners with tots in tow can drop them off, head to the golf course or check into the spa, enjoying quality, uninterrupted time with one another before enjoying supper en famille.
The 2,500sqm Mood Spa at La Zambra is a destination in its own right (the competition in this part of the world is heated). There are pools of varying temperatures, saunas, steam rooms, 12 treatment rooms and an ice bath – ideal for wellness-seekers looking to lower shoulders and shake off that cortisol. The staff at the Mood Spa are big on personalised treatments. When you arrive, you’re asked to fill out an extensive questionnaire, which essentially asks ‘how do you feel today?’ and ‘how do you want to feel today?’ Choose between five different ‘journeys’ – relax, revitalise, reconnect, heal or glow – and then decide if you’d prefer either a holistic, traditional or innovative treatment. Those who want to reconnect with themselves, for example, may be offered reiki healing or a cleansing facial treatment, while those choosing to heal can expect more Ayurvedic treatments, such as Shirodhara.
If you’re really not sure, opt for the made to measure shoulder-loosening full-body massage, where you get to choose which essential oil you like the smell of best. Afterwards, switch off with herbal tea or a smoothie. Manicures and pedicures can be booked for any sprucing up before a night at the Bambolao bar.
Fitness facilities include an external gym with Technogym rowing machines, treadmills, bikes and ellipticals. There are also freestanding dumbbells and kettlebells and an outdoor CrossFit-type training station. In addition to this gym space, there’s a beautiful light-filled yoga room where yoga, Thai chi and body sculpt classes are offered to guests every day (ideal for pre-wedding wellness trips or honeymooners wanting to prioritise wellness and some me-time).
Situated between Malaga and Marbella, La Zambra is just outside of the old Spanish film set-worthy town Mijas. This hotel prides itself on feeling secluded, peaceful and quiet – tucked away from the buzzy beach bars of Marbella. So although the sea is only a 15-minute drive away, if you’re looking for a beach holiday then La Zambra isn’t perhaps the place for you.
The nearest airport is Malaga, which takes just under half an hour by car and is served by British Airways, EasyJet, Vueling, Whizz Air and Ryan Air.
We’ll be honest, you’re likely to find leaving the hotel difficult, especially come check-out, but remember, you’re just a short drive from the historic Pueblo Blanco of Mijas. And if you can peel yourself off your sun-lounger for more than an hour, there are plenty of highly entertaining activities such as a 4×4 off-road tour and other guided tours of the region.
Rates start from EUR 500 per night; lazambrahotel.com
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