I spent some time considering a late summer holiday and opted for Almuñécar, which is about an hour east of Malaga on the southern coast (Costa Tropical) of Spain. I'd never been to Spain before, apart from a brief excursion to the northern town of San Sebastian whilst staying in south-west France many years ago. I prefer places that provide an authentic experience of a country and was therefore keen to avoid destinations that cater predominantly for the British: I'd read that Almuñécar was popular with the Spanish so it seemed an ideal choice and I wasn't disappointed.
I flew into Malaga, collected my hire car, and not much more than an hour later I arrived in Almuñécar. Having done some research on Spanish driving and the quality of roads, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised: there has clearly been a lot of recent investment and the motorway along the southern coast, with its numerous viaducts and tunnels, is very impressive.
I stayed at the Hotel Arrayanes Playa, which I'd booked online. Sadly my Spanish is very rusty but the girl on reception spoke very good English. I'd prepaid for a room without a view but upgraded for 3€ per night which was well worth it. My room, which was on the first floor, looked out across the bay towards the town and it had a small balcony where I could sit and admire the view. The room itself was spacious with twin beds, a huge built-in wardrobe and a TV. The bathroom was also of substantial size, with a large shower, basin, toilet and bidet. My room was immaculate, which was in keeping with the rest of the hotel. The hotel had the feel of a small, family-run hotel and I was very pleased with my choice, especially as it also had free WiFi.
I'd booked the hotel on a room-only basis because I like the freedom to choose when and where I eat. The hotel has its own bar and restaurant and I ate there on two occasions. There seemed to be a full 'à la carte' menu but they also had a set menu which was a real bargain: for 10€ I received bread, a choice of 4 starters, a choice of 4 mains, a choice of desserts and a drink (including wine). The food was fairly simple and on the first occasion my starter was bigger than my main course but it was sufficient, good quality and I had no complaints for the price! I didn't try breakfast so I'm unable to comment on that.
The hotel is located at the western end of Almuñécar, with just a small road between it and the seafront. The beach is just 5 minutes walk and the main town and further beaches are 10-15 minutes beyond that. There are a few bars and restaurants nearby; there's a small supermarket and bakery a few minutes away; and in the town there are many more shops and places to eat.
As I walked around Almuñécar, I discovered that it has a lot of history dating back to Phoenician times so there was plenty to explore. I was also pleased that although I came across a few other British people, the majority were Spanish so I had plenty of chance to practise my language skills. My visit, in early October, was clearly after the peak holiday season so it was relatively quiet but the temperature was a very pleasant 24C and, from my perspective, it was an ideal time to go. I'll definitely return to Almuñécar and the Hotel Arrayanes Playa for longer than four days next time.
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