When thinking of Malaga many people will instantly conjure up images of stunning beaches, intense summer heat and divine cuisine. This heady mix is the sort of thing Pablo Picasso would have mischievously depicted in his unique style, and to honour 50 years since the passing of the Spanish master the town of his birthplace is leading the way in keeping his memory alive.
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As someone keen to learn more about the artist and also desperate to visit this part of southern Spain, the new ‘Luxury Retreat: A Palatial Stay Inspired by Picasso’ offering seemed like the perfect introduction from Anantara. Let’s find out what this imaginative two-night stay with spa, artful dining, and an eye-opening city tour – that shines a light on the artist’s formative years and creative philosophy by exploring his origins – actually reveals about the place and the man.
Where to stay
As both France and Spain are connected to the artist, Anantara Villa Padierna Palace and Anantara Plaza Nice Hotel have introduced a collection of Picasso-themed experiences to showcase the life and work of one of the most influential artists of the 20th century and the co-founder of Cubism.
You’ll arrive at Malaga’s international airport and be in your room within an hour. Set amidst expanses of rolling hills overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Anantara Villa Padierna Palace is a tranquil oasis of historic allure on Spain’s southern coast.
Boasting three world class golf courses, an impressive 21,000 square-ft Anantara Spa (the largest in Europe), Club de Mar private beach club, expansive Romanesque event spaces and numerous gastronomic outlets, Anantara’s first property in Spain combines every element into palatial luxury on the Andalusian coast.
The resort has 132 guest rooms, suites, and pool villas and is clearly popular with luxury travellers looking for golfing holidays, relaxing spa breaks and a vacation where everything is taken care of. I also visited the private beach club, which is just a short shuttle ride away, and gives you the opportunity to soak up the sun as well as dive into the Mediterranean. What surprised me most was how welcoming and relaxed the experience was, especially for someone who wouldn’t usually choose this type of stay.
The Picasso experience starts from the moment you step into the room where the chefs have created an art themed welcome gift which genuinely looks too good to eat. The chocolate easel, paints and brush are delicious even if we had to debate for a few minutes if they were actually real or not!
One of the main attractions of this trip was the Dining by Design experience. You’ll enter a dedicated area in one of the restaurants where an expert will guide you through a menu inspired by some of Picasso’s favourite dishes and ingredients. Andalusia is known as a foodie destination and the mouth-watering line up here includes fresh tuna, delicious vegetables and unforgettable deserts. The team are more than happy to adapt the menu to cater for any dietary requirements and my guest had the fully vegan option which was so good I almost asked for the same. Almost.
Anantara Villa Padierna Palace offers Deluxe Rooms from EUR [€] 300 per room, per night
Things to do in Malaga
Getting around this region is easy and cheap. The roads are excellent so if you fancy a drive, you’ll have no problems when planning out a road trip to see all the main attractions. The taxi network here is superb and if you need to most hotels and restaurants will call in a driver for you within minutes of requesting one. Our hotel had a regular shuttle service for guests to take you to the beach club and it makes a big difference not having to remember where you parked the car after a day of lounging by the sea.
Our first stop on a short jaunt with an incredible guide hand-picked by the hotel was the Picasso Museum. Here more than 230 works by Picasso are on display, and we follow his life and loves through a curated journey that explores how this unique visionary changed the art world forever.
The city centre is actually quite tight and compact and we found ourselves on a twisty route that only a local will be able to get you through. Don’t worry, if you’re a casual visitor you’ll be perfectly fine as everything is clearly marked and pretty much everyone can speak English, but someone who knows the area can certainly speed things up.
Head to Plaza de la Merced where a statue stands in front of the childhood home of Picasso which is still there today. The church of Santiago is where Picasso and many of his family were baptised and you’ll see a number of other buildings that have some link to the past.
Picasso left Malaga when he was relatively young, but he would have seen the impressive palatial Arab fortress Alcazaba which is where this tour ends. From here you’ll have great views of the city including the final stop where another impressive dining experience awaits.
Founded in 1971, the Pimpi is one of the wine cellars with most solera in Málaga. It is still possible to enjoy local gastronomy and local wines here, but mostly, the tradition and culture belongs to southern Spain. The authentic ambience and menu give you more of a flavour of the region and this is certainly one place where the staff know best. The restaurant is part-owned by Antonio Banderas, who has a rooftop home just above a nearby apartment block.
This tour combined with the two-night stay at Anantara really do showcase everything you want to see and experience in Malaga. I left feeling an affinity with the city and also with an artist that has left an indelible mark on all our lives.
The ‘Luxury Retreat: A Palatial Stay Inspired By Picasso’ package starts from €1,165
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