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Costa del Sol’s hidden gem

The Costa del Sol. OK, not right in the middle of it, but 20 minutes up the road from Marbella. Yes, away from the dazzling teeth and enhanced cleavages that tend to head to Spain’s southern coast for a touch of mid-summer sunshine, there is a, shall we say, more discreet side to the famous shoreline that has attracted the British holidaymaker for 50 years. The five-star Kempinski Hotel Bahia Marbella Estepona (just 2km from the quaint old town of Estepona) is a haven of peace, calm and, wait for it, tasteful clothing.

STEPPING OUT

We knew we were about to have a proper beach holiday from the moment we first ventured outside the hotel atrium to be greeted not only by a wall of warm sea air, but also by azure stretches of water that in Britain we’ve only ever found in very flattering brochures for Cornwall. In terms of switching off from the stresses of office life, the only decision we had to make was which of the three pools to perch by — or whether to head straight for the beach, which begins just beyond the hotel grounds. We opted to stick to a lounger close to the hotel staff in order to make sure that chilled beers were readily available.

MASTER STROKE

Once we’d tired of lazing around sipping cold ales, it was definitely time to expend some energy, although we didn’t have to move too far to do so, thanks to the on-site tennis court. But the greatest sporting treat of the region lies in the outstanding choice of golf courses available (see panel, right) — although we should warn you that turning up with just a pitching wedge and a putter will leave you stuck for ideas on some of European golf’s most demanding holes. Estepona also proved to be a stunning Spanish location with its cobbled squares.

FUELLING UP

Anyone feeling especially lazy would never have to leave the Kempinski thanks to its seven restaurants. But, in the name of journalism, we also sampled Estepona’s delights, where we found traditional restaurants doling out fine wine, tapas and fresh fish.

DOS CERVEZA, PLEASE, BARKEEP

If you’re a fan of switching off during the day but being more adventurous at night, Marbella and Puerto Banus are just a taxi ride away, boasting enough nightlife to last anyone a lifetime. We opted out, but each to their own…

NEED TO KNOW

  • Monarch Airlines offers year-round flights to Malaga from Birmingham, London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester with fares (inc taxes) from £37.99 one way; monarch.co.uk.
  • Nightly rates at Kempinski Hotel Bahia Marbella Estepona start from £215 for a deluxe double (inc breakfast); kempinski.com/estepona.

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