Saturday, 20 February 2010

Travels with a Gourmet Blogspot, All the Best Restaurant Recommendations in Marbella

For all the very best restaurant recommendations in Marbella and surrounding area (and actually right across the globe) go no further than Gourmet Traveller blogspot, written by soon to be ex-resident of Marbella, Cordon Bleu and a journalism graduate, former restaurateur, polyglot, expat wife and slummy mummy who gives you her restaurant recommendations, recipes, and foodie goodies - from books to boutiques and even some travel tips.

For all reviews on restaurants in Marbella please visit this link

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Fine Dining in La Campana | A Favourite Destination for Menu del Dia's

La Campana - a local village in Marbella's Nueva Andalucia district - and its main road Avenida Miguel de Cervantes - is becoming a foody favourite with a bunch of popular restaurants offering great value Menu del Dia's ranging in price from around EUR10.00 to EUR25.00 (both lunch times and for some restaurants at night too). Best of all, you feel like you've chanced upon one of Marbella's hidden secrets, dining like a local and not just a tourist.

Starting at the top of the hill is the popular French restaurant, Le Chateaubriant - who were so successful they moved from a smaller restaurant (now Il Ristorante) to larger premises on the roundabout - formerly Ruby's bar. Telephone 952 90 50 21.

Going down the hill on the right is Las Delices, a modest Italian eatery with a good value Menu del Dia, next door Il Ristorante (fomerly Le Chateaubriant), which is always booked out by 12 noon lunch time - so make sure you book in advance - Telephone 951 319 554. Next door to Il Ristorante is Restaurante La Campana , I expect a restaurant which has been around for a long time, serving quality Spanish food. (Telephone 952 814 041)

Il Ristorante, as featured in the Costa News, is run by Renee Conrad, whose cuisine has caused a sensation in his native Germany. At the restaurant Facile (he/or they) were awarded two Michelin Stars in a short period. You can imagine his restaurante in La Campana is very popular and booking is highly recommended. They're open Tuesday to Friday, 1-3pm and 8-12pm and Saturday evening 8-12pm. Telephone 951 319 554.

Opposite Il Ristorante is La Masia, again with a great lunch time Menu del Dia. The emphasis is on Mediterranean style cuisine with Paellas, Gallician fine meats and locally caught fish, all at good value. Since opening in February 2008, owners Stefan & Gregorio have quickly built a loyal following, so booking recommended. Telephone 952 907 309
Walk further down the hill and take a left at the Carniceria and you'll find Los Farolillos Restaurant, which is a favourite with expats and Spanish alike, casual, no fuss dining. Telephone 952 818 041.

Friday, 17 October 2008

The Journey Continues | Tangiers to Marrakesh

After discovering the Tangiers to Marrakesh train possibility I then proceeded to promote - or rather blab - to everyone I knew in Marbella that this was a possibility. Met with equal enthusiasm everyone wants to do the journey - so I thought I better find out a bit more - from the travel man himself - Mark at The Man in Seat Sixty One. I emailed him directly and it so happens he's just returned from the Guardian/Observer travel awards held in Fez last week. You can read all his travel information at or just use for train times and fares.

For a general guide to prices the ferry is approximately 40 euros each way, a taxi from the port to the new train station in Tangier 2 euros and the most expensive train ticket around 420 Morrocan Dirhams - which works out about 40 euros! It also appears a new railway station opened in Marrakesh on 8th October 2008.

So why travel by train and not get the plane? Well you can get the plane if really getting there immediately is your plan. But how exciting to go by car, boat, taxi, train and on foot - its about adventure really and I think real travel. You'll either love it or hate it!

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Train Travel | Malaga to Madrid, Tangier to Marrakesh

It's true, I love a good train journey, sitting and watching the world go by from the comfort of my train seat. With autumn and winter's cooler seasons I'm planning a few trips around Spain, from a starting point in Marbella. Sevilla and Madrid from Malaga sounds appealing (although quite easy to drive to Sevilla from Marbella), but whilst researching I've also found out its possible to take an air conditioned train from Tangiers to Marrakesh from Tangier Ville train station. Here are a few links from my research which make interesting reading:

Check out the site - a fantastic personal website by a 'career railwayman' who's travelled the world by train. Mark Smith, known as 'the man in seat sixty-one', is recognised by the Times, Telegraph, First Choice and Wanderlust Travel Awards as the guru of train travel worldwide. He doesn't look anywhere near as geeky as you would imagine. Read his guide to travel by train in Spain.

This summer, the Times newspaper featured Mark's suggestions of 'best train trips around Europe' - which included details of how to get to Marrakesh from Tangier Ville train station on the 'real-life Marrakesh Express' - Morocco's air-conditioned trains. Read more details here.

I haven't got as far as working out how to book seats and timetables yet but probably visiting Renfe website will answer a few questions. For visitors in Puerto Banus/Marbella - you can also book and purchase train tickets from the travel agent counter at El Corte Ingles department store.
A great reason to base yourself in Marbella during autumn and winter - apart from the great climate, world-class golf, lovely restaurants and reasons to get dressed up (and reasons not to) - is that its a great base to visit some of Spain's best landmarks and cities and some of North Africa's too.

Further reading:

Monday, 29 September 2008

La Canada Shopping Centre

La Cañada is the largest shopping centre on the Costa del Sol and located just behind Marbella. With over 150 shops, La Cañada caters to everyone’s personal shopping needs. There's free, ample parking as well as regular buses and two taxi ranks. In addition to the numerous shops La Cañada also has restaurants, hairdressers, ten pin bowling and an amusement arcade, multiplex cinema, Alcampo supermarket and Oxigeno Fitness Centre, a state of the art gymnasium. La Cañada’s grounds are also home to Boulanger, a big electrical store, Leroy Merlin for all your DIY materials, Intersport and Norauto Garage which does general repairs and sells car accessories. You can read more about it at this website Opening times are Monday to Saturday 10am to 10pm and in the summer open on Sundays too.

Paint and Fun Ceramic Cafe

Paint & Fun is a 'paint your own pottery café' for children, teens and adults. They offer everything you need to create your own special work of art. You can choose from over 140 different shapes of pottery bisque: mugs, platters, bowls, figurines ... as well as from over 50 different colours of paint. Visit their website for full details or call 952 78 34 84 to check on opening times and activities.

A little more information from the owner, Carol

We are the ideal spot for any day. In the summer, we have our creative camp with papier mache, clay and handicrafts, outside in our garden, but for rainy days, it’s an even more unique and ideal place for all ages …. for the kids, parents and grandparents who can busy themselves painting ceramics. We have a tea & coffee shop serving home-made cakes, hot drinks, milk shakes, special teas, sandwiches, etc. This autumn we will have autumn paints and designs to choose from and some special Halloween ceramic pieces such as pumpkins and ceramic accessories to stick on the pieces, with shapes of spooky things like ghosts, black cats, bats, witches, etc.

Our new opening hours, from Tuesday 16th September onwards:
SATURDAYS 11 am to 7 pm
SUNDAYS 11 am to 2:30 pm
Closed on Mondays.
Open on all national holidays and over the Christmas season

  • Come and try our new AUTUMN special effect paints to make the most stunning ceramic pieces.
  • Beading: try our bead bar. We have a great selection of glass beads and natural stones. Book your beading party for all ages with our coach included
  • Book your child’s birthday party
  • Choose a night for a ladies’ night out. Painting and dinner. Min of 10 pax for the event.
  • NEW OIL PAINTING CLASSES: every Tuesday from 4 to 8 pm. Please call for further information.

Regards, Carol, Paint & Fun Ceramic Café, 952 783884 Paint & Fun Ceramic Café

Megabowl & Sportsbar Marbella at La Canada

For the big kids and the little ones you might fancy a spot of tenpin bowling at Megabowl Marbella - visit website Located in La Canada shopping mall on the top floor, Megabowl features 22 state-of-the-art tenpin bowling lanes, an American diner and sports bar, big screen Sky Sports and best of all (for non-sporty me) - close to all the best shops Marbella has to offer - so really fun all around for the whole family. Open from 4pm - check out their website for full details.

Kidz Kingdom

When it rains in Spain, kids can be ... mighty*#%$! bored! How about a visit to Kidz Kingdom near Cancelada - towards Estepona. Open Tuesday to Sunday (generally from 4pm to 9pm), this is a fun indoor playground with slides, ball pools, trampolines and lots of kids fun games. Check website for opening times and full details. You can also read a review here - sounds fun!

Visit their website to read all about it Also check out website Marbella4Kids for lots of other ideas for entertaining children in and around Marbella.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Polo Tournament at Santa Maria Polo Club, Sotogrande

Taking place on Saturday 20 September from 5pm, experience the great sport of polo at the Santa Maria Polo Club, Sotogrande. Teams include Laguna Village, Bentley Motors Marbella and Styger & Partner. Starts off at 5pm with presentation of the teams and players and the tournament starting at 5.30pm. Prize giving ceremony at 7.30pm. Santa Maria Polo Club, C/Ramiro el Monje, Sotogrande A7 Exit 131/130.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Ronda's Annual Feria Goyesca

Ronda is a wonderful mountain town to visit any time of the year, but best of all during its annual Feria Goyesca, or Feria de Pedro Romero. A fairly recent festival, at least in Andalucian terms, it has become an event that has captured the imagination of Spain with its traditional dress, important bullfights, and its ageless glamour. The brilliant site can provide you will all the history of the Feria and you can download the Feria's programme of events here.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Guacin's Gecko Invasion

Gaucin is a beautiful, whitewashed, mountain village about 30 minutes drive inland from the town of San Roque. They currently have a great art project on display, developed by the Association Initiativas Turisticas de Gaucin and called Salamanquesarte Guacin 2008, The Gecko Project. Its a brilliant idea to encourage you to wander around the whole town.
Inspired by the Swiss artist Walter Knapp, who in 1998 was the creator of “Cow Parade”, a businesses initiative of Zurich to encourage tourism into the centre of the town. Resin copies of life size cows were made and subsequently decorated by local artists. This idea was taken up by other cities of the world using different animals – bears in Berlin; lions in Munich; camels in Dubai - approximately 65 cities worldwide have used a similar idea. In Gaucin, they decided to use an animal that is often found in the streets but hardly ever seen up close – the Salamanque or Gecko. Four hundred resin unadorned moulds were ordered, measuring approximately 42 cm long. These were to be decorated by the inhabitants of the village. The first moulds were given to 175 children in the school. Then each local artist received one and subsequently anybody living in Gaucin who was interested in decorating a gecko found they had a model to work with.
The geckos have been painted, dressed up or transformed in some way or another producing a tremendous variety of colourful geckos highlighting the extraordinary imagination of all who live in Gaucin. Even the local post office (Correos) and bank Caja Mar have got into the spirit with their own geckos! Click here to view the gallery of photos.
Its worth making a day trip to Gaucin with a bit of forward planning. Its a pretty town in the mountains with superb views, a spectacular Roman castle - Castillo de Aguila (Eagle's Castle) - read all about it at Another Gaucin tourist initiative is a regular farmers market on the first Saturday of each month, between 10am and 2pm - the next scheduled for 6 September 2008. You might also check out this nearby walk detailed on website and called 'Grazelema, The Walk of Mr Henderson's Railway'. By the way, remember everthing shuts down during siesta.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Gran Catamaran | Fly Blue Sailing and Dolphin Search

Last Sunday a bunch of my friends did this - ranging in age from 12 to well past 40 (plus, plus!) - and had a brilliant day. Fly Blue Gran Catamaran provides a mini cruise for 3 hours, or a longer day cruise for 5 hours departing from Marbella and Puerto Banus. My friends did the mini cruise which included searching for Dolphins - they saw 9 of them - and then a dip in the sea miles out from the coast. They all loved it. Prices range from 39 euros for adults and 22 euros for children plus Fly Blue can arrange special cruises too. Read full details on their website, or email them at or telephone 696 501 159.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Banks, Shopping and ATM machines

Whilst on holiday in Spain please be aware of a new money making activity by the banks. When you go to the cash machine or whilst shopping in some of the larger shops and using your credit/debit card, you may be asked if you would like to pay in Euros or Sterling. It sounds an attractive option, but in fact it creates a poor exchange rate (a DCC - Dynamic Currency Conversion) which is costing you money and making the banks lots. If you don't want to do this just say no! Read the full article published in the Guardian newspaper July 2008.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Cabaret at the Beach | Restaurants with Entertainment

Not all of us want a 'designer' beach experience - some of just want a nice, non-pretentious, reasonably priced, beach restaurant, serving good food, with a good atmosphere and possibly with a bit of entertainment. Marbella has these types of beach restaurants and chiringuitios in abundence. It's simply a case of getting to the beach and choose the one you fancy first. To get you started here are a few recommendations:

Heaven Beach Club, near Estepona
A very popular family beach with both expats and local Spanish people. Heaven, which is not at all fancy, is a Sunday lunch must do (and probably good any day during the week in the summer months). If there's a Spanish festival - say Noche de San Juan, and as a tourist/expat you want to get in with the buzz, then Heaven is also a good bet - although you may need to book tickets/reserve tables. On Sundays they also have a superb and very loud Jazz band. Visit their website at

Vista Del Mar, Playa Miraflores - towards Mijas Costa
Why? Beach side restaurant offering a summer programme of cabaret acts including a Spanish themed night with Flamenco Dancers, Guitarists and Spanish food on Wednesday nights. Open every night except Monday night, other acts include a Big Band Era and 60s Nostalgia Night, Ambient Jazz and Chill Night, Rock and Roll Night and Broadway Hits Night. Visit their website for full schedule plus you can read a restaurant review here.

Beach Bars in Marbesa - east of Marbella
Marbesa is a beautiful residential area of Marbella and its beach front feature a bunch of really good, old fashioned, characterful beach/sea front restaurants, namely Rama's Restaurante (952 83 24 38), Restaurante Club 200 (952 834 992), plus two I haven't been to are The Triana and Restaurante Papillon. Click here to read the restaurant review of all four restaurants.

Buddha Beach | Boutique Chic on the Beach at Nueva Andalucia

Just launched this summer and only open a few weeks now is the new Buddha Beach, “Marbella’s first boutique beach club”, located in the former Moosh-Moosh beach club on the beach, close to Puerto Banus.
Buddha Beach is a small beach club which includes two champagne and cocktail bars, a comfortable al fresco restaurant, swimming pool, boutique and sunbeds right on the beach. There's also a rock pool jacuzzi - an area that can be hired by groups for an indulgent - and cool - day at the beach. The club is attractively designed in an Asian style, with serene looking Buddhas, wooden decking and teak beach beds and cabañas around the pool and beach. The venue's atmosphere is more chilled out than full-on party, champagne spraying holiday time.

Open just for lunches, the menu has an East meets West theme and includes such delights as Sushi, Chicken Satay skewers and Thai Green Curry plus serves succulent seafood platters and great looking salads.

At weekends the volume and the tempo are cranked up with regular party nights planned from the likes of Kinki Malinki and Miss Moneypenny, as well as Cuban extravaganzas with live salsa, it looks like Buddha Beach will be a fun venue close to Cumbres del Rodeo. Large plasma screen TVs are there for sporting events.

Buddha Beach is easily reached on foot from the Nueva Andalucia Roundabout. Park your car up and then walk under the underpass and take the turnoff with the barrier, then walk for 5 mins to the bottom of the road where you will see a entry way to the club. Closer parking is difficult and access may be limited by the barrier. Alternately, walk from the beach at Puerto Banus heading west, past Ocean Club.

Buddha Beach, Urb. Villa Marina, Nueva Andalucia. Tel: 952 813 882.

Castillo de Monda | Musical Entertainment Programme for July and August 2008

Monda is a small town with a population of less than two thousand, beyond Ojén and about a 20 minutes drive into the Sierra de la Nieves (mountains) from Marbella. Crouching into a mountain valley at a height of 1,200ft the town is dominanted by the Monda Castle (el Castillo de Monda) built on the towers and walls of an Arabic fortress. The castle, now a hotel, is sumptuously decorated in Moorish style and offers good accommodation and cuisine.

It has also just announced its musical entertainment programme for July and August 2008 which includes a selection of operatic and classical musical performances, perfect for a summer evening, whilst viewing the magnificent views over the Guadalhorce Valley. Click here to view more details or contact the hotel directly for dates, restaurant reservations and accommodation.
As well as the castle Monda is a nice little town with lots of bars and restaurants, so worth a short drive out. General driving directions: Take the roundabout at the shopping centre La Canada and follow the signs to Monda along the C-337 road or visit the hotel website, - for more information. Telephone 952 457 142

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Review | Whilst in Spain Read About Spain

I love reading a book about the country I'm visiting so if you're visiting Spain then here are three great books I can strongly recommend to you.

Queen of the South is a novel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte and is a brilliant, contemporary novel about a poor Mexican narco's morra who flees Mexico on her boyfriend's murder, to Spain and eventually high society Marbella, via the Spanish enclave of Melilla. This story is based in Andalucia, with Morocco, Algeciras, Gibraltar, Sotogrande, Marbella and Sevilla all featuring. The story focuses on the rise and rise of the novel's anti-hero Teresa Mendoza and the world of drug smuggling, as told by an anonymous Spanish journalist who is researching a book on her life. Read review here or purchase online from Amazon.

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a magical story based in mid-century, Barcelona and begins with the 'cemetery of lost books', a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles that have long gone out of print. To this library, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel one cold morning in 1945. Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the shelves and pulls out 'La Sombra del Viento' by Julian Carax. But as he grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find. Then, one night, as he is wandering the old streets once more, Daniel is approached by a figure who reminds him of a character from La Sombra del Viento, a character who turns out to be the devil. This man is tracking down every last copy of Carax's work in order to burn them. What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to find out the truth behind the life and death of Julian Carax and to save those he left behind.
Read review here or purchase online from Amazon.

Winter in Madrid by CJ Samson is set in Spain, September 1940. The Spanish Civil War is over and Madrid lies in ruins while the Germans continue their march through Europe. Britain stands alone as General Franco considers whether to abandon neutrality and enter the war. The story centres around three British men in Spain, one a reluctant spy, the other a shady businessman and the third a passionate communist who joins the International Brigade. This novel is a wartime thriller involving espionage, plus provides an historical window of an important time in Spanish history.
Read review here or purchase online from Amazon.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Andalucia and Morocco Excursions and Tours

Do you fancy being a tourist, doing something different, leave the car and just enjoy the views? Then visitors staying in the Marbella area might like to check out 'Viajes CostAfrica' who offer regular daily excursions and tours of Andalucia and Morocco. They have 1 and 2 day tours to some of the Costa del Sol's favourite cities including Gibraltar, Granada and the Alhambra, Ronda, Cordoba, Sevilla, Nerja, El Chorro and the Lakes. Or if you fancy further afield then they have 1 to 7 day tours of Morocco including Tangiers, Fez and Marrakesh. Prices for the short tours are in the region of EUR 30 to EUR 95 and can be booked via the small travel agency, Viajes Ardasa, situated next to the H-10 Andalucia Plaza Hotel, 2 minutes from the Nueva Andalucia roundabout. You can telephone them on 952 281 32 96 or email

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Chiringuito Las Cuchis, La Playa Fantastica

Looking for a relaxed, beach side dining experience, one that makes you feel 'in the know' in Marbella, popular with Spanish people and regular visitors? Then check out Chiringuito Las Cuchis, La Playa Fantastica - close to Puerto Banus at the start of the Golden Mile (on the beach) - where they serve fine seafood and meditteranean cuisine in a fab Morrocan style, rustic, beach bar restaurant, with a definite upmarket feel. Run by uber glam mother and daughter team, its a great place to people watch, chill and eat real Spanish seafood. Great on a Sunday (and probably any lunch or early evening during the summer time). Mid to expensive price range. For other recommendations check out 'My Top 5 Chiringuitos and Beach Bars around Marbella'.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

If Its Sunday it Must Be Lunch at the Beach!

As well as the fantastic designer beach clubs of Ocean Club, Puro Beach, Nikki Beach etc, you might feel like a different kind of beach dining experience and Puerto Banus and Marbella have loads to offer. Best of all they all offer a different kind of experience. Look for the label 'Chiringuitos' for some of my favourites. For other recommendations visit the blog, 'Travels With a Gourmet', written by a food lover and Marbella local, who knows all the best restaurants and food experiences Marbella has to offer.