We finally were in one of the main destinations of our trip, and other than my wife’s delayed bag, we were well rested and ready to explore Andalusia for the first time.
When booking hotels for leisure travel, I generally start by looking at my preferred programs; Starwood and Hyatt Gold Passport. For visiting this part of the world, I would have to leave that comfort zone a bit. Hyatt has no properties in Spain, and Starwood is somewhat limited. We would stay in Starwood hotels later in the trip. Looking for other options for our time in Andalusia, and I saw AC hotels show up several times. This is a chain that Marriott acquired in 2011. The AC hotel in Málaga seemed to be well located, and we had some free nights from the Megabonus. With newly minted gold status thanks to Rewards Plus so we decided to book with Marriott.
It was easy walking distance to the port, and much of the historic city center including just a few steps to the cathedral. The hotel was fine, and we were given a nice upgrade to a superior ocean view room with a nice balcony thanks to Marriott Gold status. The adjacent body of water is the Mediterranean Sea, not an ocean, but that’s how the hotel website lists the room type. They provided a letter at check in describing the benefits provided. Unfortunately, AC hotels do not provide free breakfast to Marriott Gold members, but we had plenty of options nearby, including some amazing churros con chocolate at Casa Aranda.
Here are some views of our room:
View of the Port of Málaga along the Costa del Sol.
Deluxe Ocean View Queen bed room
a bit dated, but fully functional bathroom
I did it again, another toilet photo. To mix it up, this one has both a bidet and a toilet
The room was fine, if a bit small and not as clean as I expected. Its Europe, so as expected typical hotel rooms are smaller than in North America. It was’t impeccably clean and the bathroom in particular seemed a bit behind on cleaning and maintenance; the wall was dirty, and it seems the toilet paper dispenser was replaced in a rather messy way.
We didn’t spent that much time in the hotel other than as our base and a place to sleep at night.
For those following this trip report, in the previous segment of our layover in Brussels and Zürich, I mentioned that my wife’s bag was still missing when we arrived. Thankfully on our second day in Málaga, as we returned to the hotel midday, her bag was at the front desk. It was certainly an annoyance, but other than some small essentials purchased in Zürich, she had the basics she needed. With the various layers she brought to be comfortable on the flight, she had some options once we were in relatively warm Andalusia. She was obviously happy to have more clothes to change into, and I was happy she didn’t need a full shopping spree. Of course per policy as the last carrier we flew, Swiss would have paid up to US$200 for expenses incurred. We didn’t file with Swiss due to minimal expenses, but after the fact, United did provide some travel credits as a “gesture of concern”.
Onto our time in Málaga itself:
Typical view in the Old City of Málaga, pedestrian streets made of marble
a Roman theater below the walls of the Alcazaba
There were lots of little restaurants and shops near the theater. We had some nice meals in this area. Of course, tapas are quite common. We also visited the Picasso museum. He was born in Málaga, and we also walked by the house where he was born. On the day we visited, there was a long line, but we realized admission was free. That was well worth the short wait to get inside.
We also visited the Alcazaba, a castle complex built 1000 years ago by the Moors. This is one of the best preserved Moorish castles in Spain. Entry was only €3.50 to tour both the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro. This place had great architecture and despite the hike up a hill to get there, the views were well worth the exertion. The photo at the top of this page and the one below are both from the Alcazaba.
Juan L. Gaviota
In addition to tapas bars, we also visited some bodegas. One we particularly liked was the Antigua Casa de Guardia (Old Guardhouse). It is apparently the oldest bar in Málaga. This place had various wine casks available for tasting, but being new to these varieties and not fully fluent, we didn’t exactly understand what was in each one, so we just tried a few. Each glass was less than €1.5. Everything we tried was sweet red wines. The traditional wine in Málaga is a little sweet for my preference, but this was a fun experience, and the place was full of locals. I also enjoyed their accounting system; chalk on the bar.
local wine in Málaga
After a few days along the coast in Málaga, we were off to our next destination. We took a taxi to the bus station, and then took a nonstop bus to Granada. That was easier than taking a train which required a connection. Next stop was another AC hotel and exploring Granada, home of the Alhambra palace and by tradition free tapas.