It is no secret that Spain has a very special place in my heart. My parents made sure to that. And a place that brings incredible family childhood memories is, without a doubt, the South of Spain. So when The Luxury Villa Collection invited me to return to the area and stay at Villa Malibu, I knew who the perfect company would be: my mother and my sister. The most civilised girls weekend (well, a 5-day weekend) ever who were in need of a luxury villa holiday in Marbella.
Booking a luxury villa holiday in Marbella
My stay was organised directly by Lindsay, who owns the company and after a villa was selected for us (the only one not booked on the dates I travelled in May – which should tell you something!), and everything was super smooth. I received all the correspondence that a normal guest would, with maps, directions, information about the house, everything. I was also put in touch with Fay, who runs the LVC’s concierge service, who then helped me organise a few other things.
I flew to Malaga airport from London, and my mother and sister drove from Lisbon. The team had pre-arranged a private transfer to pick me up from the airport and drive me to the villa, which is located in the Los Monteros gated neighbourhood, a few miles before Marbella.
The transfer took a bit under an hour (and had cold water and chocolates waiting for me), and on arrival at the villa, I was met by both Steve (who is in charge of operations) and Fay, who gave me the tour of the house and ensured I knew how everything worked and where I could find things.
Villa Malibu has 6 ensuite bedrooms, and obviously, we only used 3 of them. I thought the villa was even better than the photos on the website showcased – and I love when that happens.
The decor was incredibly modern and I loved it. There was only one aspect of it that I didn’t like – a little bit too much fur in the bedrooms, which we put away on arrival and did not have to see again. The specs overall were excellent (the renovation is very recent) and I cannot fault anything else on the villa.
Allow me to take you on a little tour!
Bedrooms & Bathrooms
As I said before, the villa has 6 ensuite bedrooms – all with double/king beds, except for one, which has twin rooms. Each room is very spacious.
My sister stayed at the master bedroom, as I thought she would love the walk-in shower and the gym. And the pool view, of course.
I stayed in one of the 2 bedrooms in the ground floor, as I thought I would like to have direct access to the pool (should I have a midnight urge). As we could choose from 6, why not?
I liked that every bathroom had liquid hand-wash (yay) and honestly I wasn’t expecting toiletries. We did not use them, but I thought it was a nice touch.
Indoor or outdoor living room? Our choice to make. The indoor living room was lovely and we used it quite a bit during our stay.
The villa had a great sound system as well, which we (surprisingly) were able to operate.
However, should we be bored of the living room, we had a conservatory-style option just next door. This house is a house made for entertaining – be that groups of friends or families.
This room was gorgeous. We had dinner in once (with a private chef) and my only comment is that the chairs looked prettier than they were functional. They were not very comfortable (but we found cushions) and really quite heavy, so not ideal in a family scenario.
The Kitchen and Dining Room
The kitchen was not only very very sleek and sexy (I loved it), it was incredibly well stocked too. Should you want to prepare any meals at home (we had lunch once), you needed for nothing. I was also very impressed by the welcome basket and the stocked fridge, which I honestly wasn’t expecting. From iberian ham, to olives, water, tonic water (duh!), fanta lemon, milk, cereal and gin mare… what else could I need? It was a very nice touch.
BUT (I think you can see where I am going with this)… should you be bored with this kitchen and dining room, there was an alternative. I am not joking.
I am gutted we actually did not use the outdoor kitchen as the barbecue really was calling my name. It added a lot to the house and it was also beautifully done.
Worth nothing that the house was perfectly equipped for the perfect Mrs. O gin and tonic experience – glasses, ice, tonic and fresh rosemary from the garden.
The pool was super clean and we got 3 full days of use. And we loved it.
Fay was the concierge and she helped me a lot making sure we knew where to go. The brief was clear: no sightings of TOWIEs and very real Spain was what we wanted.
We had breakfast out in Marbella (we had a list to choose from) and Malaga, and for dinner, one night, a private chef came over to prepare dinner for us and some friends – Ana and Vitor and their 2 children – who were visiting. The experience was good and the food was delicious. My negative comment was that more things could have been cleared from the dining table when they left, as I really did not fancy unloading the dishwasher and load it again. But I did it and it did not hurt me. But I really did not want to… When I mentioned this the next day, I was told that most people have a cleaning service daily and they would have taken care of that – which makes perfect sense.
I also tested Fay to the limit when on Sunday I asked to have a very real paella nearby. With 30 minutes notice.On the beach. Nothing fancy – and with lots of Spanish people around. And boy, did she deliver!
Out and about
If you read this blog regularly, you will know that I continue to visit this part of the world almost religiously every late June/early July? Why? Time for my annual pilgrimage to Finca Cortesin, which is my favourite hotel in the world. Not sure why (well, I may know why!), but I just find it perfect. So being so close, there was no way I could not pay a little visit – and also my mother and sister were intrigued as I may mention it to them a little too much.
We got things started with a little (or not so little) gin, because.. Spain and then enjoyed a tasting menu (12 courses, 145 Euros) at its Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant, Kabuki Raw. It was outstanding (but we had to cut the menu short as we really could not eat it all!). All Finca Cortesin restaurants are open to non-residents but you absolutely need to book way in advance.
The following night, we met with my friend Michelle Chaplow who I always see when I am in the area and we went to one of our favourite places – a very very simple restaurant located at the Port of Estepona called La Escollera. From Michelin star to the fishing port within 24 hours – life does not get boring, does it?
Private Tours in Malaga and Marbella
And what did we do the rest of our time when we were not by the pool or eating out? We were with Manni from Toma Tours. Manni organised a super evening out for us in Marbella’s old town, which included tapas and a bit of shopping.
It also included a spectacular olive oil tasting at D’Oliva, which you must visit if you are in town. I have been back to the area since this visit (for my annual Finca Cortesin retreat) and we went back and let’s put it this way: olive oil was bought. And wine. And salt. Yum.
The following day, we spent it with Manni too. Where? In Malaga! I had been to Malaga a few times (and I will admit it, only for shopping) and I was blown away with the city. It really has changed dramatically and after spending half a day walking around (and not shopping only), I am seriously considering going back for a weekend, with Malaga as a destination it itself.
We went all the way to the top of the cathedral, visited the Picasso Museum and got lost in the little streets in the old part of town. I got lost, but Manni knew where we were going, namely as we stopped in some delightful little places for a bite of this and a bite of that.
We loved our time with Manni so much, my mother felt quite disoriented on the third day when she realised there would be no more Manni for us. I think it was the best private tour we have ever done and Manni really was lovely. You can read about my favourite food tours in this article.
We absolutely loved our time in and around Marbella. Villa Malibu was excellent at all levels but what really impressed me were the people who run the operations – they really cared about what they were doing. They know the area for decades (a lot of love for all things Spanish) which really was an added bonus.
I liked how easy it was for them to coordinate between themselves and how you don’t just book a villa when you book with The Luxury Villa Collection. You get a lot more – attention, service and a genuine desire to help you have the best experience the region offers.
And what more could I ask for? Nothing.
Disclaimer and fact box: I was a guest of The Luxury Villa Collection and all opinions are my own.
The Luxury Villa Collection are offering Villa Malibu in May for £8,500 per week, and £9,995 in peak season, which includes a personal meet & greet, a complimentary massage, welcome gift and free membership to their private concierge service offering a pre-departure itinerary planning and a local concierge on call. Private villa chefs can be hired from €300 per service with tailor-made menu design available.