El Paseo del Mar, Kempinski Hotel Bahia – All in Good Taste

The classic, luxury Kempinski Hotel Bahia, on The New Golden Mile, between Estepona and Marbella’s Puerto Banus has been given a new design edge, and a tempting culinary appeal, writes Andrew Forbes.

Classic luxury

Andalucía’s Kempinski was a luxury pioneer when it opened in 1999. It set the standard for 5-star style on a stretch of Andalusian coast east of the traditional seaside town of Estepona. The Melvin Villarroel architect-designed property, with 127 rooms and 17 suites; and spacious terraces and pools overlooking the Mediterranean, certainly put the area on the map for international guests. Yet for locals it wasn’t really a destination.

Spring 2018 and things are so different with the launch of the hotel’s ‘El Paseo del Mar’. The Kempinski Hotel Bahia reopened in February following a significant re-design which totally remodelled and reimagined the once classic lobby as part of its new ‘El Paseo del Mar’.

The new space follows the trend where hotels endeavour to make their public areas compelling for both guests and locals. The striking design is brave and bold. There are no half-measures here.  It sets the scene for a completely new experience at the hotel, one that is designed not just for privileged guests, but also f or locals, from Estepona or Marbella, looking for a fun place to meet, relax, enjoy a cocktail or have a meal in a relaxed environment.


This new El Paseo del Mar concept is designed to create a foodie hub in the hotel and includes the new lobby bar evocatively called ‘Black Rose’, a Spanish-style steakhouse restaurant, ‘Baltazar’, and the Spiler Beach Club open this month.

The new cocktail bar, The Black Rose, is named after a legendary 16th-century caravel tall ship said to have protected this strategic part of the Mediterranean from pirates. It promises signature cocktails and an ‘astonishing experience in a glass’. Try for example a bourbon-based ‘Alquimister’; or a decadent gin and absinthe based a ‘Rose Fountain’; accompanied by some bar bites.

The lobby bar is very theatrical, mixing styles and periods – one minute one feels it’s a colonial space; the next a corner of Miami. There is a variety of woods and metals too, especially copper which runs throughout. There are plenty of bespoke touches like the commissioned rugs depicting old maritime maps.

I particularly liked the concierge area, flooded in natural light.


Step down to the level below and one finds the new Baltazar Bar & Grill where Chef Santiago and his team create bistro favourites with a twist.

Expect tapas for sharing; steaks, and burgers; and, seafood & fish prepared on the Josper Grill and in the Tandoori clay oven. Puddings are classic bistro fare like cheesecake and lemon meringue pie.

Design again builds upon the focus of copper, blending international design cues with Andalusian touches.


The Spiler Beach Club is open from this month and complements the Spiler Pool Bar. The beachside location is second to none, with views across to Gibraltar and North Africa. The new casual restaurant promises wood-fired artisan pizzas and Argentinian steaks from the grill, together with healthy salads.

So, it looks like Kempinski is being pioneering again and bringing the destination lobby experience to the Costa del Sol.

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