First impressions count and the Kempinski Hotel Bahia, conveniently located between Marbella and Estepona, sure knows how to make one. As I entered the resort I felt like I was in for a grand experience. Whilst walking through the impressive lobby and past the boho-chic lobby bar ‘Black Rose’, that holiday feeling started to creep up… Once I stepped outside onto the terrace, overlooking the stunning landscaped gardens, pools and the Mediterranean Sea, I smiled and thought to myself: “Yep, I am on holidays.”
The generously sized property only consists of 145 rooms and suites. The Kempinski Hotel Bahia is in fact all about an experience, above all, a culinary one. The recent 4 Mio. Euro part-renovation included a total revamp of the lobby and the restaurants. A new concept, called ‘El Paseo del Mar’ (the walk by the sea) was introduced to offer in-house guests as well as outside visitors a variety of dining options overlooking or sitting by the Mediterranean Sea. Of course, I had to try them all… it’s a tough job, I know…
The first one I experienced was the ‘Black Rose’ which takes its name from a famous ship. The design concept of the lobby and the Black Rose is about paying homage to travellers and explorers. The custom made rugs depict ancient maps, the colours and the baldachin remind us of nearby Morocco and an oversized chandelier makes a bold statement. The layout of the space is aiming to recreate a Moroccan courtyard and the deep blue colour used on the columns apparently took 5 coats of paint. The design of the bar itself is boho-chic using lots of natural materials and palm trees in pots accentuating that holiday feeling. On the terrace, on the other hand, you will find more of a Marbella-chic style with woven armchairs and colourful cushions inviting you to lounge. Here you can enjoy a light meal or a cocktail or two. Cocktails for that matter are what the ‘Black Rose’ is famous for and I would have needed to stay (a lot) longer to try them all…
After lounging by the sea in my own cabana for a couple of hours and a brief visit to the Spa, I was ready to experience the restaurant of the ‘Spiler Beach Club’ for dinner. The indoor section of the restaurant is elegant, yet playful. Discolights create a lighthearted ambiance, flowing white curtains create zones and privacy and the large glass front offers splendid views overlooking the beach. On the terrace, however, is where you get that true holiday feeling. Here it’s all about simplicity. Plain, but tasteful rattan furniture blends into the surrounding and ensures that the focus is on the view.
The restaurant sits right on the edge of the beach and is a great place to admire the sunset, whilst sipping on a Cava and leafing through the menu. Comfort food such as wood oven pizzas and burgers, superfood salads, as well as local specialities including lots of fish and seafood offer ample choice for any palate. It truly is a perfect spot to end a perfect day.
As a foodie I just love hotel breakfasts. The Kempinski Hotel Bahia did not disappoint. After a good night sleep, I headed across to ‘El Mirador’ for breakfast. As the name implies, you can enjoy your breakfast on the terrace overlooking the gardens and the Mediterranean. What a way to start your day! It’s a casual buffet style breakfast where you are spoilt for choice. There is a wide range of hot and cold dishes, sweet and savoury options, coffees, teas, juices and smoothies.
With all this eating, I truly felt the need for some exercise. Even though the well equipped hotel gym would have been a possibility, I opted for something a bit more fun (in my opinion). I borrowed a bicycle from the hotel and cycled along the coast (most of the path runs right next to the beach) to Estepona. I explored the old town with its white washed houses and hundreds of colourful flower pots and cycled along the boardwalk past the many ‘chiringuitos’ (beach bars) soaking up the summer holiday vibe.
Andalusia is rich in history and has more than its fair share of sites worthwhile visiting. Whether you prefer shopping in Malaga, explore ancient towns, such as Sevilla, Granada and Ronda, get lost in the ‘Pueblos Blancos’ (white villages), visit the famous rock of Gibraltar or hang out in one of the many beach towns ranging from jet set Marbella and Puerto Banus to the laid back town of Estepona or Bolonia – the choice is yours.
With so much to do and see, I hardly spent any time in my room. The rooms are classic in style, featuring marble floors, carpets and dark wood. The marble bathroom offers a tub, a shower, a double sink and a separate toilet cubicle. Though the rooms are somewhat dated (they will be renovated during a second phase), they are very spacious and comfortable with a balcony with direct or partial sea view. The rooms offer all the amenities you need for a pleasant stay, they just aren’t as hip and trendy as the public areas.
Speaking of hip and trendy, on my last night at the Kempinski Hotel Bahia, I got to enjoy a fabulous dinner at the ‘Baltazar Bar & Grill’. It’s a Spanish style grill restaurant with a distinct ethnic touch, reminiscent of a ranch somewhere in New Mexico. Whilst the cognac and brown coloured leather chairs made me think of a cigar lounge, the forest green tiles reminded me of a fancy American diner. The food was truly outstanding with plenty of options, even for a vegetarian (and occasional pescatarian) like me.
The concept of ‘El Paseo del Mar’ and the design of the individual restaurants themselves were conceived by the Hungary based Zsidai Gastronomy Group, who has specialised in creating iconic restaurant concepts around Europe. The quirky and somewhat atypical approach for a hotel group like Kempinski seems to be much in line with their fabulous art and sculpture collection, including an in-house art gallery featuring artists such as John Illsley (member of Dire Straits), as well as a space for pop up exhibitions.
My personal observation was that even though each restaurant has its own character, all of them have been divided into zones using curtains, partitions, rugs and different levels in heights. This is so important in large open spaces, because even though people may crave space and openness, they also need to feel a sense of comfort, safety and privacy. It’s amazing what a simple curtain can do to create that sensation. Even in the gardens, the pool area and the ‘Spiler Beach Club’ (private beach club) I noticed the same concept.
In conclusion, I think the Kempinski Hotel Bahia is a great base to explore the nearby attractions of the Costa del Sol. At the same time, the resort is a lifestyle destination in its own right. There are plenty of sports activities, including gym, tennis and watersports, as well as cycling and walks along the boardwalk. On the other hand you got the hotel pool and the private pool and beach club and of course the spa. The spa, which features an indoor swimming pool, is a bit too dark for my taste (dark brown mosaic tiles), but offers everything you need to have a relaxing time.
One thing I know for sure, is that I kept postponing my departure time… Needless to say, I didn’t want to leave..
Hasta la vista!
Courtesy of Kempinski Hotel Bahia
Simone Aïda Baur
Note: This blog post was created in collaboration with the Kempinski Hotel Bahia (sponsored press visit).
Posted by Simone Aïda Baur: I’m a multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-passionate award winning international interior designer, award winning blogger and ex-hotelier. Feel free to learn more about my story and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.
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