Experience Native Marbella Charm At La Ciudadela Hotels

The historic town of Marbella oozes sunny Andalusian charm. And there’s no better way to experience it than staying at one of La Ciudadela’s gorgeous boutique hotels.

La Ciudadela’s CEO, Miguel Cervantes, is a native of Marbella who wanted to share his hometown roots with travelers. Marbella might be a world-renowned jetset destination; known for luxe villas, luxe cars and luxe everything by the beach. But all the flashy parts which Marbella is known for is concentrated in Puerto Banus and the Milla de Oro, outside of the actual town of Marbella, which many travelers don’t actually end up spending much time in. Thus, developer-turned-hotelier, Miguel Cervantes, wanted to create accommodation in the center of Marbella where travelers could experience the gorgeous art, design and culture of his hometown.

Local artisan decor
Local artisan decor. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Meeting rooms
Meeting rooms. PHOTO NADIA CHO
High-tech finishings
High-tech finishings. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Black and white minimalism
Black and white minimalism. PHOTO NADIA CHO

Striking design is a guiding force at all La Ciudadela hotels. It’s the first thing you notice whenever you enter a property and the last thing to stick in your mind after you leave. Miguel called on the talented artisans in his city to decorate and fill the interiors of his hotels. In the rooms and restaurants, you’ll find one-of-a-kind objects made with local materials and custom bathroom installations from the glass showers to the ceramic porcelain sink by Ortiz. The design seamlessly blends sleek modern décor with an Andalusian sense of place.

Bold local design
Bold local design. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Custom bathroom sinks by Ortiz
Custom bathroom sinks by Ortiz. PHOTO NADIA CHO

Maison Ardois was the first hotel in the franchise to open. The hotel is set inside the old residence of the Ardois family which was built in 1929. Maison Ardois has the most central location, right in the heart of old town Marbella. The cozy hotel houses just nine guest rooms and suites. Despite the small size of the property, the rooms are still spacious and comfortable with all the modern conveniences of a high-end stay. These include Nespresso machine, tablet, plus GHD professional hair dryers and hair straightener, which is a unique addition you don’t always see. The décor is chic and minimalist, with a sleek black and white color palette. The natural touches of the wood beams and floors maintain a cozy, welcoming feel in the rooms, rather than running with full futuristic minimalism.

Maison Ardois Presidential suite
Maison Ardois Presidential suite. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Maison Ardois suite living room
Maison Ardois suite living room. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Maison Ardois lobby
Maison Ardois lobby. PHOTO NADIA CHO

El Castillo Hotel is another unique property, as the only hotel located inside the walls of Marbella’s castle. El Castillo Hotel is tucked away in tranquil residential plazas, surrounded by rustic foliage and colorful flower pots within the historic stone walls of the castle. El Castillo also has a fabulous location right above the road leading to the main square of Marbella town. The rooms at El Castillo are decorated very similarly to those at Maison Ardois; with a cozy black and white palette and modern finishings. The walls in the rooms are printed with vintage photographs of Marbella from way back when. The best part of El Castillo Hotel is the spectacular rooftop terrace which offers panoramic views of Marbella: from the high tower of the cathedral to the glittering Mediterranean to the majestic curve of La Concha.

El Castillo art installations
El Castillo art installations. PHOTO NADIA CHO
El Castillo bar
El Castillo bar. PHOTO NADIA CHO
El Castillo Hotel
El Castillo Hotel. PHOTO NADIA CHO
El Castillo Cathedral views
El Castillo Cathedral views. PHOTO NADIA CHO
El Castillo rooftop views
El Castillo rooftop views. PHOTO NADIA CHO
El Castillo rooftop terrace
El Castillo rooftop terrace. PHOTO NADIA CHO
El Castillo Rooftop breakfast
El Castillo Rooftop breakfast. PHOTO NADIA CHO
El Castillo rooms
El Castillo rooms. PHOTO NADIA CHO
El Castillo rustic rooftop
El Castillo rustic rooftop. PHOTO NADIA CHO

Santo Cristo Hotel is the most Andalusian out of the three properties. A quaint central courtyard framed by straw mats and flower pots recreates a typical Andaluz home. The rooms are gorgeously outfitted with artisan chandeliers, furniture and wall fixtures made with natural materials. Santo Cristo Hotel is located in Plaza de Santo Cristo, next to la Ermita del Santo Cristo de la Cruz, a flamenco tablao and rows of charming old houses. The plaza is a bit further removed from the main hustle and bustle of the town center. However, the location is still very central and within walking distance to everything.

Santo Cristo Plaza
Santo Cristo Plaza. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Santo Cristo Andalusian courtyard
Santo Cristo Andalusian courtyard. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Santo Cristo Andalusian home
Santo Cristo Andalusian home. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Santo Cristo Hotel entrance
Santo Cristo Hotel entrance. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Santo Cristo Hermitage and Plaza
Santo Cristo Hermitage and Plaza. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Santo Cristo rooms
Santo Cristo rooms. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Santo Cristo Hotel facade
Santo Cristo Hotel façade. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Santo Cristo hotel
Santo Cristo hotel. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Thaissence Lichi Collins
Thaissence Lichi Collins. PHOTO NADIA CHO

There are currently two restaurants offered by La Ciudadela. The first is Thaissence, inside Maison Ardois, which is an experience you cannot miss while in Marbella. Thaissence is the most creative and delicious fusion restaurant, with a genius menu that melds Thai, Latin and Spanish flavors in a way you won’t find anywhere else. You can get shabu-shabu made with presa iberica served with fried bao buns or creamy croquetas with red curry and coconut milk. Thaissence also offers fantastic signature cocktails like the Thai mojito or Lychee Collins, so it’s a great option for drinks as well.

Thaissence Restaurant
Thaissence Restaurant. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Thaissence Shabu Shabu baos
Thaissence Shabu Shabu baos. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Thaissence Scallop Almond stew
Thaissence Scallop Almond stew. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Thaissence Thai Jabali
Thaissence Thai Jabali. PHOTO NADIA CHO
Afuego Restaurant design
Afuego Restaurant design. PHOTO NADIA CHO

Afuego, located inside El Castillo Hotel, serves red-hot Spanish grill items. You can find high-end cuts of beef at Afuego, which are sourced directly from La Ciudadela’s partner farm in Galicia. Cattle are bred according to La Ciudadela’s instructions for free range and good treatment of the cows. You can see the quality cuts of meats displayed in the floor-to-ceiling fridge at Afuego. These cuts include the premium Rubia Gallega fore rib and Japanese Kuroge Washu sirloin. There are also premium seafood items like bluefin tuna collar and Basque spider crab with Iberian pork jowl.

Afuego dining room
Afuego dining room. PHOTO NADIA CHO