The shimmers coming off the Med as the Spanish sun playfully bounces off the surface are enough to make mermaids green. We’re coasting along the motorway on a balmy 20-degrees-in-November day, the sparkling sea line to our left and, to our right, mountains so mighty they’d make the Green Giant look like a miniature – we’re in a Cali dream. Except we’re cruising along the highway in Spain, not America. From Malaga airport to its more southern sister, Marbella.
If you’d suggested a holiday in Marbella to me before I would have laughed in your face: I’m too old for that Club 18-30 type shit. So, when Nobu landed here my eyebrow rose and my curiosity roused. Which is exactly what the owner of the adjacent 200+ room, 5-star Puente Romano was aiming for when he sought out the partnership. The Nobu Hotel has barely been open six months but plans are already underway to almost double their room count from 40 to 81 next year.
And what gorgeous rooms they are. Not designed for those who like confined spaces, these apartment-sized pads have enough room to put a wild cat in each hand and give it a good swing. But, one of the highlights for my boyfriend and I – on our first ever weekend away together – is a bath big enough for two – complete with all the bells and whistles a gal could ask for – lights, jets, and Nobu’s very own bespoke bath salts. As well as the nightly treats that magically appear in our ‘living room’ that are made by the hands of angels, as far as we’re concerned.
The arrival of Nobu coincides nicely with a drive from the new female major to reinvigorate the tired and dated classless clubbing image of Marbella. And with a brand that many will follow all over the globe, the rewards began to show almost overnight. Not just in numbers but in the type of clientele – designer-clad and with money to burn. Which is why La Plaza – a courtyard surrounded by some of the top eateries in Spain, including the two-Michelin star Dani Garcia – sat cosily in the heart of the Nobu property, is now one of the hottest places to be seen. While enjoying our countless courses at Nobu – including my forever-favourite Black Miso Cod – the people watching was worth the trip alone. The food was just a healthy bonus. (The cocktails less healthy but create what I like to call a ‘balanced diet’.)
Tented in the ‘winter’ months, the courtyard is the perfect place to while away an evening, lounging on sofas and enjoying live music. But, if you fancy taking it up a beat, there’s always the on-site club La Suite, which is where we head when the doors open at 12am but don’t last until the 6am curfew when the doors close and sun rises.
Open all-year-long, in November it’s low season, so the activities are more limited than perhaps at the height of summer. However, we take advantage of the hand-built bikes by William Claeyssen and set off on a coastal adventure. From the hotel, in one direction you’re only a 10-minute ride from Puerto Banús, in the other direction, a 10-minute cycle from Marbella town centre. We spend a gorgeous two hours in the sun tearing up the coastline like a couple of OAPs, before grabbing a bottle of bubbles and enjoying the purple haze of the sunset on our new doorstep – the beach.
If tennis is your thing, you’ll lose your mind when you see the private club they have here – ten courts, including their very own centre court. All of which Nobu guests have unlimited access to. It’s an unexpected place and rather large gem within the wider Puente Romano side of the property, and the perfect place to train. Which is perhaps why some of the world’s greats – like Djokovic – come here to get their serve up to game, set and match.
But if you’re more food-orientated, like we are, you’re in paradise: at organic haven Rachel’s, we enjoyed juices, Champagne, fresh dips and Turkish Passion – Arabic flatbread, with a spread of hummus, laden with halloumi, avocado and sprinkled with rocket and pomegranate – honestly one of the most gorgeous combos ever; at 100% gluten-free Celicioso we had even more nutrient-packed juices, along with salads, fries and a brownie that was made by the hands of more angels, but these ones are tolerance-aware; at Sea Grill we feasted like kings on the fruits of the ocean – I opted for a light avo salad, followed by Sea Bass, while my boyfriend’s eyes popped out of his head when he saw the Surf & Turf. All washed down with a rather yummy Tempranillo.
While Nobu and Sea Grill are more of a splash-out occasion, Rachel’s and Celicioso are pretty reasonable, so it’s a nice mix ‘n’ match approach to suit every taste bud and wallet size. But, what else are romantic breaks for but blowing the budget and indulging each other a little?
Which is the perfect excuse for a full-body massage at the Six Senses Spa. I think this is my first experience of this globally-renowned luxury brand – and I get the whole place almost to myself. I enjoy the cascading water windows that look out over one of three pools on the property, before your eyes hit the ocean.
And, as I submerge myself in the jet-stream of one of their hydrotherapy pools, I am utterly and totally content. A fish in water, who’s just spent the most amazing weekend with my human love. I think Ariel would be proud.
Nobu Marbella is open all-year-round and rates start from £295 per night for a Superior Double Room on a bed and breakfast basis. For more information, or to book your stay, visit www.nobuhotelmarbella.com.