Marbella. There aren't many places offering year-round sunshine in Europe that, from beaches and golf to shopping and fine dining, tick as many of the luxury holiday boxes. Sounds tempting?…
A small village high up in the hills above Marbella, Benahavis shouldn’t by rights be a reference point for where to eat well in Malaga Province. But for years now, in-the-know foodies have been winding their way up the mountain roads from the coast to get a place at the so-called ‘Dining Room of the Costa del Sol’.
Here are just a few of our favourite Benahavis restaurants to help you explore some of the best eating and drinking that the area has to offer.
Los Abanicos has been one of the go-to restaurants in Benahavis for years now, as much because of the feel of the place as anything else. From the super-warm welcome and a (highly recommended) large G&T on arrival, to the strings of garlic and sun-dried peppers that hang from thick wooden beams decorated with brightly coloured fans, it’s just got a lovely atmosphere.
That’s not to say that the food isn’t great, though. While it’s not fussy or remotely ‘haute’, it focuses on great ingredients, strong, simple techniques and portion sizes that mean you don’t need to eat again that day.
Baby squid, steaks as thick as bricks (although a little juicier), and tender, slow-cooked suckling lamb are all highlights.
Address: Calle Malaga, 17, 29679 Benahavis, Malaga; Tel. +34 952 85 50 22.
Tucked away within the hotel of the same name, this restaurant has been serving up some of the best food in Benahavis for over a decade now. Like the hotel itself, the décor is personal and eclectic with polished terracotta floors, evocative low lighting, mixed tables and chairs and interesting artworks on the walls.
Food-wise, the menu tends to be a small but select affair. You can expect the likes of pan-fried seabass, red tuna and a handful of barbecued meats, depending on the season and availability at the market.
The one thing that’s absolutely not to be missed, however, is the pan-fried foie gras – a speciality of the house.
Address: Calle Pilar 3, 29679 Benahavis, Spain; Tel. +34 952 85 60 26; Amanhavis.com.
The café of the Benahavis Hills Country Club strikes a nice balance between a relaxed vibe and serious food.
On the one hand, head chef Jean Francois Job comes with some pretty serious pedigree, having cut his teeth in the Michelin-starred kitchens of greats like Roger Vergé and Alain Ducasse.
On the other hand, there’s a gorgeous terrace from where, in the evenings, you can settle in with a drink and enjoy the views of the twinkling lights of the costa… and Morocco beyond.
The food itself can keep you guessing, as it varies enormously depending on which day you drop in. On Saturdays you can expect ‘rijsttafel’, a Dutch take on Indonesian small plates, Sundays are all about roast lunches, and during the week there’s an Asian-influenced a la carte menu to choose from.
Address: Sector la Coja, s/n, 29679 Benahavis, Malaga; Tel. +34 952 856 171; Benahavishills.com.
Escuela de Hosteleria
Not a restaurant in the traditional sense of the word, you have to limit your visits to this hospitality school to Monday-Friday 1330-1500 as it isn’t open on evenings or weekends. But it’s well worth the minor inconvenience, as this little gem to the north of the village is one of the best places to eat in Benahavis.
It’s also extremely good value, with menus paired with wines available on Mondays and Wednesdays for €29 and tasting menus on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from €38.
It’s impossible to make a recommendation, as the menu – and indeed the chefs – change depending on what’s fresh and seasonal, and what the students of the school are covering in their course at the time of your visit.
Address: Avenida de Andalucia 23, 29670 Benahavis; Tel. +34 952 855 242. Escuelahosteleria.es.
Tehuelche Grill Argentino
Dining in Argentina is about the simple things done really well. And this little slice of the Pampas on the way up from Estepona to Benahavis could hardly demonstrate that more clearly.
What to order? You can’t really go wrong with a Chateaubriand washed down with a nice bottle of Mendoza Malbec – and if you’re feeling particularly hungry some lamb empanadas to start off with. Simple things. Done really well.
Address: Km 1.5, Carretera Benahavis, 29688 Estepona, Malaga; Tel. +34 952 88 37 42; Tehuelche.net.
‘Typically Andalucian’ is how you’d sum up the appeal of this family-owned old favourite. You’re met with real warmth by the owner, Manolo, who’ll often proceed to roll out a magic trick or two for any children in the group.
The menu is full of simple southern Spanish staples – from gambas al pil pil (spicy prawns) to gazpacho via suckling pig – served against a typical and pleasingly lively backdrop.
Is it going to win any Michelin stars any time soon? It’s unlikely. Is it one of the most inviting places to eat in Benahavis? Without a doubt.
Address: Calle Almendro 2, 29679 Benahavis, Spain; Tel. +34 952 85 52 35
Like this pick of the best Benahavis restaurants? Book a foodie break with a stay at one of our nearby luxury villas.
If you’re planning a gourmet trip to the town, and want to reserve your place at the best table in the house, contact our concierge.
Array (  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 78708 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-12-02 11:31:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-12-02 11:31:07 [post_content] => Marbella. There aren't many places offering year-round sunshine in Europe that, from beaches and golf to shopping and fine dining, tick as many of the luxury holiday boxes. Sounds tempting? Perhaps the best part of all is just how easy it is to get to...
Where is Marbella?First things first, though. Where is it? Marbella is in southern Spain - in the province of Malaga in the Andalucia region, to be exact - on a stretch of coast called the Costa del Sol. Here's a map of Marbella to help you get your bearings:
Where Do You Fly to?It depends on from where you're flying in. The nearest international airport to Marbella is Malaga. Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport (Aena.es) is 51km away and an easy 40-minute car/taxi ride. Virtually all the major airlines fly there direct from the UK and from across northern Europe. The next closest airport to Marbella is Gibraltar (Gibraltarairport.gi), which is just over an hour's drive away. British Airways, Easyjet and Monarch all fly direct from the UK to Gibraltar.
From the USIf you’re flying into Spain from the USA you'll probably have to travel to Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport (Aena.es). From there you'll have to either fly, take the fast speed AVE train (Renfe.com) or drive to Malaga and transfer from there to Marbella. The most convenient way to get to Marbella from Madrid is by the fast speed train taking just 2.5hrs or by flying taking only 1 hour and 15 mins.
how to get there from malaga airport
By CarThe best way to get from Malaga to Marbella is to drive. And if you're on holiday that probably means you're going to need to hire a car. As with almost all international airports, Malaga has a frankly baffling array of different car hire options to pick through. To avoid the scrum of the departures lounge, jump on the complimentary minibus to the offices of Niza, Helle Hollis or Enterprise situated a mere minute outside of the terminal. Inside the terminal you can find Sixt, Hertz and Europcar. If you're unsure of which company to use, click the following link. For a more luxury car hire service we'd recommend Sixt (Sixt.com). They're friendly, totally professional, trustworthy and have a range of high-end rental options, from BMWs, Audis and Porsches to Mercedes and Range Rovers - and even automatics. If you're travelling in a large group, they also have 8-12 seater self-drive minibuses available for hire. Of course if you're looking for ease, our Concierge can make the reservation for you to be dropped directly off at the villa. A car of your choice can be delivered to your villa. Once you've picked up your car/minibus hire, driving from Malaga airport to Marbella could hardly be easier. Directions from Malaga-Costa del Sol airport are as follows:
- Leave the airport and head southeast onto N-348
- At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit and stay on N-348
- Take the Torremolinos ramp to N-340/Cádiz
- Merge onto Avenida de Velázquez/N-340/MA-21
- Take the ramp to E-15/A-7/Benalmadena/Algeciras. Merge onto AP-7
- Pass Torremolinos, Benalmadena, Fuengirola
- Take exit 184 towards Marbella/Casco Antiguo/Avenida del Trapiche
By TaxiFor sheer ease, you can’t beat jumping in a taxi. A taxi rank is situated outside the arrivals sidewalk of Terminal T3, level 0. It's best to ask the driver, beforehand, how much a taxi is from Malaga to Marbella to ensure they don’t overcharge you. There are two transfer prices, and these are dependent on both times of the day and the day of the week. Transfer Price Band 1 is weekdays from 06.00 to 22.00 hrs. Transfer Price Band 2 is weekdays from 22.00 to 06.00 hrs, all day Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays, the August Feria and Holy Week. Band 2 transfer time is more expensive than Band 1. Alternatively, you can pre-order a taxi at Malaga Airport Taxi (Malagaairporttaxi.net) and get a price when booking. The transfer time from Malaga Airport to Marbella takes around an hour, in a taxi.
Other Ways to Get to Marbella
- By bus: It is possible to take a bus (Alsa.com) from Malaga airport to Marbella. But it's a whole lot less convenient than driving via hire car or private transfer.
- By train: There isn’t a train connection from Malaga airport to Marbella.
Distances - how far is marbella from...
- Malaga (city): 61km away and 46 minutes' drive.
- Granada: 187km and just over 2 hours' drive.
- Seville: 258km and 2 hours 45 minutes' drive.
- Gibraltar: 78km and 1 hour 2 minutes' drive.
- Madrid: 584 km and 5 hours 45 minutes' drive.
A Bit of HistoryThe land previously belonged to the Saudi businessman Adnan Khashoggi, who it is said, used the estate as his party house and hunting grounds. The property and land went up for sale and a group of Spanish property developers bought it and put plans together to create a playground for the rich and famous in Marbella. Each villa is unique, with their own styles depending on the specifications of the owner.
Location & Getting There
So where is La Zagaleta?The large estate sits in Malaga province in the south of Andalucia. It’s in the foothills of the Ronda Mountains just 25 minutes from Marbella, 18 minutes from Nuevo Andalucia and the nearest beach. It's 20 minutes from the village of Benahavis, 40 minutes from Sotogrande port, 50 minutes from Ronda, 55 minutes from Malaga airport and just over an hour from Gibraltar airport. La Zagaleta is very easily accessed by car or helicopter. There's heavy security surrounding the estate and entrance is on prior permission only.
What Else is in La Zagaleta?It’s worth noting that all the facilities in La Zagaleta are for exclusive use to villa owners only; they pay an enormous service charge to be allowed to use the facilities.
Golf CourseLa Zagaleta golf club is only open to villa owners and their guests. They have exclusive access to two of the Costa del Sol's best private golf courses, La Zagaleta and Los Barrancos. La Zagaleta golf course - known as the Old Course - is to championship standard with 18 holes, Par 72 over a distance of 4800 - 6000 yards. Designed by renowned golf architect Brad Benz in 1991 and redesigned by Marc Westenborg in 2016, it’s a rewarding course with fantastic views to the coast and flanked by mountains. The New Course, Los Barrancos, is very different to the Old Course. It’s a challenging 18-hole, Par 70 with lots of obstacles over a distance of 4356 – 5381 yards.
The ClubhousesThe hub of the estate is the spectacular Old Clubhouse, or La Zagaleta country club. Measuring 5,100m² it has an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, billiards, bowling alley, tennis courts, gourmet food supermarket, pro-golf shop and restaurants (see below). There's also a nightclub, bars and events space where there’s a full schedule of experiences and parties planned. The New Clubhouse is a thatched lakeside venue. A lot smaller than the Old Clubhouse, it's still just as popular with La Zagaleta residents for events or having a quick drink in the bar.
Horse RidingLa Zagaleta is home to some beautiful stables with indoor and outdoor schooling arenas. Horses can either be kept on a full livery basis, or horses and ponies can be hired for lessons or hacks. ‘The Riding Club’ equestrian centre has a team of instructors and well-schooled horses for all levels of rider including Arab, PRE and, for the children, Farabella horses and Welsh ponies.
RestaurantsWhy leave the comfort of a beautiful villa when you can enjoy a top-quality meal at home? At La Zagaleta there are Michelin starred chefs available for in-house dining throughout the estate. However, for owners the clubhouse has two restaurants: the formal dining Old Course Restaurant; and a terrace bar restaurant that's ideal for light bites and brunches.
Famous ResidentsThere is private security throughout the whole of La Zagaleta - so know one really know who lives or owns houses there. It’s a place where the super-rich and famous go to be away from the limelight. However, it is said that Hugh Grant, Rod Stewart and Vladimir Putin all have house in La Zagaleta.
What to Do NearbyWhen staying in La Zagaleta, the houses are so special that it’s sometimes difficult to tear yourself away from the estate. However, if you do want to see more of the area, here's our pick of easily accessible and great day trips:
- Ronda: historic, boutique wineries and ab-so-lutely beautiful.
- Benahavis village: a great option for restaurants; have a lunch or dinner in this pretty village.
- Granada: a romantic inland city and home to the Alhambra Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Malaga: the birthplace of Picasso with a fort, palace and Roman amphitheatre.
- Cordoba: historic city with a stunning mosque-church at its centre.
- Sevilla: one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
- Sotogrande: a lovely port, wake boarding lake and polo hub.