La Zambra has plenty of playful personality. The building is an icon, the former Byblos Hotel – a jet-set favourite of the 80s and 90s with its famous white façade and blue towers.
Following a complete renovation, it is now La Zambra. Although the striking Spanish architectural features have been retained, every element of the interior is reimagined with spectacular public spaces and elegant guests’ rooms, while the setting has been significantly enhanced with new landscaped gardens with swimming pools, that overlook one of the region’s most popular golf courses and to the countryside beyond.
La Zambra – Now Open
It’s been with much anticipation that La Zambra has opened. This property, located between Malaga and Marbella, close to the picturesque Andalucian hilltop village of Mijas, has played an extraordinary part in the Costa del Sol’s legendary hospitality. The hotel was originally made famous for welcoming the likes of The Rolling Stones, Princess Diana, and Julio Iglesias, and is now starting a new chapter in its story as the luxurious La Zambra.
I can confirm that the transformation is remarkable. The resort has been painstakingly reimagined. While retaining emblematic design features, La Zambra is something completely new.
From the moment one arrives, passing through the gates, one feels that La Zambra is special. Towering palms, set in the arrival courtyard surrounded by high walls covered in flowing bougainvillea, draw your eyes up to the clear blue sky. This is a moment of contemplation that centres and grounds you to this new destination.
The team greet you with enthusiasm, dressed in bespoke Mediterranean-style uniforms of cotton and linens, in muted, earthy tones. The welcome conveys calm, and the property feels full of light, with an abundance of space.
The hotel’s architectural style is full of arches, curves, and rounded surfaces. Heading to the room you catch views through shady arcades and patios, passing delightful courtyards of fountains and lofty cypress trees, gardens filled with palms and subtropical plants, and borders filled with aromatic Mediterranean herbs. Together with the evocative whitewashed walls, stone latticework, painted tiles and Moorish gardens, it all conveys the allure of Andalusia.
La Zambra is at the heart of the coast’s acclaimed dining and entertainment scene, yet you’ll be tempted to stay on the resort for the live music, cocktails and the different restaurants showcasing the contemporary cuisine of Southern Spain.
Indulge in creative tapas paired with the world’s fine wines at Picador – my favourite dining spot at the hotel. Set in its own private terrace courtyard, this bar restaurant has a compelling atmosphere that captures the essence of Andalucia, the joy of sharing plates and tapas with friends and family. Picador is more than just a bar with great design, the menus invite you to share, and to try new dishes. Try delicately favoured oysters, with a touch of fennel and apple, a prawn salad, that’s a visual treat too, or the signature steak tartare which is standout quality. If you enjoy seafood, the creamy rice is perfect or maybe the octopus from the grill.
Picador is a great place to learn about Spanish and local Andalucian wines too. I can recommend starting with a chilled Manzanilla, the Papirusa is superb. There’s a wonderful selection of Ronda wines too, like F. Schatz Rosé, and local sweet wines that go a treat with the deserts.
The wine collection is impressive, and what’s more, you can enjoy them by the glass. The team are so welcoming and friendly and will help suggest dishes and wines.
This is the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant. Start the day here for breakfast. The large terrace is a shaded and wonderful place to enjoy a meal.
For lunch and dinner expect Mediterranean and seafood cooked on the spot alongside healthy and plant-based options. Again, you can expect friendly, attentive service, and an excellent wine list.
This lively bar, which opens onto a large terrace with creative, banquette-style seating outside, is the place for live music and great cocktails. There’s a tempting snack menu too. We nibbled and snacked on finger-licking edamame beans, seared avocado with carb and kimchi mayo, as well as homemade babaganoush with crudites.
This is the hotel’s contemporary twist on a classic Andalucian ‘chiringuito’ beach bar – opening in the spring, it’s set to offer poolside snacks and family lunches.
The defining feature of the rooms and suites is space and light, and the understated, thoughtful design.
Our golf and mountain view suite were the epitome of La Zambra style. The design has been led by Esteva i Esteva, the renowned architectural studio based in Palma, Mallorca.
Rooms are welcoming and spacious, with natural colours and textures, with touches of bold colours. Expect warm terracotta, stone, wood, polished concrete, and light and soft fabrics with natural textures. The imperfect beauty of locally crafted ceramics, rugs, art, and fabrics, combine to create a relaxing, supremely comfortable ambience, a contemporary homage to Andalusian style.
Our suite was one of the most comfortable rooms I have enjoyed. The entrance vestibule included a separate W.C., a truly extensive mini bar (with all the details including a carton of milk for the coffee, something most hotels forget) and then led into the living room area with bold curved sofa and glass doors out to the balcony.
A cleverly designed sliding door allowed this living area to be part of the open plan suite or closed off to make the neighbouring large bathroom more intimate, perfect for when you want to relax in the huge bathtub.
Beyond was the bedroom, again with another balcony. The king bed was super comfortable. Fixtures included a large smart TV, that at a touch of a button, would disappear into the cabinet.
The thoughtful touches were really evident with the welcome amenity that not only included treats from the chef, but a delightful handpainted ceramic tile, so evocative of Andalucia, made by a local artisan in Mijas pueblo. The tile was personalised with my name, a beautiful lasting memory of my stay at La Zambra.
‘Mood La Zambra Spa’ is a spectacular space, probably one of the biggest wellness centres in the area. During our visit, Sandra the director, explained treatments are created as personalised journeys, that perfectly reflect the guests’ mood or needs at the time. These journeys are based upon ‘Relax – Heal – Reconnect – Vitalise – Glow. Each one is further tailored with three specific approaches.
In addition to the large heated, in-door swimming pool, there are whirlpools, Turkish bath, sauna, and twelve treatment cabins. Mood La Zambra Spa is also open to the public.
Across the resort La Zambra’s guests can choose between three swimming pools, two tennis courts, one paddle court, an extensive gym (including an outside gym) as well as a yoga and Pilates studio.
For the keen golfer, there is access to two world-class golf courses – Los Olivos and Los Lagos, by the renowned designer Robert Trent Jones, who has built more than 400 courses around the world. Nearby, there are more than a dozen other superb courses, including Santana Golf and Chaparral Golf Club. The dedicated golf concierge is on hand to make all the arrangements.
La Zambra will open in 2023 a Kid’s Club with its own pool.
The Spirit of La Zambra
La Zambra’s philosophy is ‘the freedom to be whatever your heart tells you…’ The hotel is named after an exuberant Flamenco dance, typical of Granada and Almería. It is performed in bare feet with a knotted blouse and long skirt to create a free and floating effect in the air around the dancer – a true expression of the region, bringing people together, in the moment.
Marbella is a half-hour drive and Málaga airport is just 30 minutes. Jesus, La Zambra’s Concierge can arrange a visit to the charming Pueblo Blanco, white village of Mijas; an expedition with local fishermen; hiking in the mountains; visits to local artisans (from a glass workshop to gold embroiderers); to the mesmerising sight of hundreds of pink flamingos in the nearby wetlands .
La Zambra is part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, and managed by Marugal – specialists in the conception, launch and operation of distinctive luxury hotels, whose portfolio includes Palacio Solecio, Malaga (opened 2019); Le Relais de Chambord, The Loire Valley (2018); Akelarre in San Sebastian (2017); Gecko Hotel & Beach Club in Formentera (2017); Totem (2016) and URSO Hotel & Spa (2014) in Madrid; Torralbenc in Menorca (2013); Cap Rocat in Mallorca (2010).
La Zambra is included in our guide to the best hotels in Malaga
Address: La Zambra, Urbanización Mijas Golf, 29650, Málaga, Costa del Sol, Spain