Small but perfectly formed: Puente Romano
Tempus visits this unique Spanish resort for a taste of sun, sea – and Nobu
If you love the many choices a luxe resort destination can offer but you’re not so keen on sprawling homogenised complexes, the five-star Puente Romano Beach Resort hits the sweet spot. The award-winning resort combines oh-so-chic Andalusian-style accommodation with a sense of intimacy and top-notch personal service.
Tempus escaped to the resort, set in a prime location between Marbella and Puerto Banus along the Costa del Sol’s Golden Mile, in mid-September, eking out the UK’s dwindling summer months. With just a 45 minute transfer (organised by the resort) from Malaga International Airport, travelling to Puente Romano is easy and quick, making it perfect for a last-minute long weekend getaway for time-pressed Londoners.
Puente Romano even has a royal seal of approval, don’t you know. Once a clutch of the most sought-after apartments in the region, the owner, German-Spanish Prince Alfonso Von Hohenlohe, could see the potential of turning it into a small resort. Iraqi hotelier Mouaffak Al Midani – a frequent and favourite customer at Hohenlohe’s renowned Marbella Club Hotel – picked up the reins in 1979, officially opening Puente Romano Marbella as a hotel.
Fast-forward over 40 years, and that regal pedigree is very much alive and kicking, now with Midani’s son, Daniel Shamom, at the helm. Featuring more than 15 restaurants, including celebrity favourite Nobu (more of which later), the resort boasts a veritable smorgasbord of standout dining experiences.
A breakfast fit for a King (or Queen) is served in the Sea Grill Restaurant with its gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea, glittering in the early morning light. Highlights include an exquisite patisserie station (the cream and raspberry-filled croissants are sensational), a stupendous fresh fruit bar piled high with mango, dragon fruit and pineapple, serrano ham on the bone, and free-flowing champagne on ice. Coeliacs are well looked after too, with a selection of satisfying gluten-free breads and crispbreads (not a taste of cardboard in sight).
You can get oriented by following the charming, illustrated map you’re given on check-in, but we recommend just strolling around and being surprised by the little gems discreetly hidden behind beautifully kept subtropical foliage. Around 600 varieties of botanicals create a strong Garden of Eden vibe – all glossy leaves, architectural shapes and splashes of vivid oranges and fuchsias. Tinkling water fountains add to the sense of serenity.
We followed the strains of a Spanish acoustic guitar and the scent of jasmine, carried on the early evening breeze, and found Serafina, the resort’s modern Italian restaurant. On the terrace, a private wedding reception was in full swing; the bride, groom and guests serenaded by the music.
Luckily, we already had a reservation at Nobu, which is housed in the Nobu Hotel Marbella. The five-star resort within the Puente Romano resort overlooks the Plaza, a square that comes to life as the sun goes down. We recommend sipping on a pre-dinner cocktail to drink in the arriving designer-clad clientele. Everyone certainly brings their A-game when it comes to style and glamour, and thankfully it doesn’t seem to be on the radar of the Essex crowd!
If you are feeling underdressed, don’t stress. Alice Temperley London and Los Noches Ibiza by Eric + Jack – stocking a ‘signature hippy, glam style’ which adorned many stylish guests – are just two high-end retailers in resort. There was also a Dior pop-up store during our visit for those with serious cash to splash.
As first timers at the Michelin-starred global restaurant chain, it made sense to try Nobu’s Omakase tasting menu. Translating as ‘trust us’, it features seven classic Nobu dishes that show off the restaurant’s signature Peruvian Japanese fusion style. Our waiter explained each dish in detail and recommended sake pairings. Standouts included the Black Cod Den Miso with Yuzu Miso Sauce, one of Nobu’s most famous creations. The fish is marinated in sweet sake-miso for up to three days then baked in the oven, infusing it with a delicate yet full flavour and a melt-in-the-mouth quality. Trust us, it’s the closest thing to heaven on a plate you will ever taste.
Those who love eating al fresco should head to Chiringuito Puente Romano. Set just off the beach under swaying palm trees and commanding prime views of the ocean, it’s popular with the locals, too – always a good sign. We tucked into authentic Andalucian black paella, espestos, grilled fresh sardines, and fresh-out-of-the-oven bread, washed down with an ice-cold Chablis. When night falls, there is a killer cocktail menu to choose from to kickstart your evening.
If you’re keen to offset your calorie intake after all of that fine dining and drinking, Puente Romano has you covered. Gym bunnies will be in their element in the state-of-the-art spinning, barre and boxing studio, or the compact but cute outdoor Jungle Gym. Other sporty options include a top-class tennis complex, three swimming pools and a private golf course. And with its extensive hydrotherapy facilities – a herbal steam room, cold water plunge pool and indoor swimming pool – the Six Senses Spa will help you to get your chill on in no time.
Puente Romano is also rightfully proud of its extensive activity offering – 100 and counting – so there’s zero chance of being stuck for inspiration if you fancy going off to explore the region or want to dive into a new water sport.
Each of the 33 accommodations provide a little oasis of calm in their own right, too. Our ‘home’ for the getaway was a 60m2 Deluxe Junior Suite. Featuring a muted palette of pale tones, cool-to-the-touch Egyptian marble and understated yet elegant furniture and furnishings, it was a wonderful space to retreat to. There are 22 different accommodation permutations – designed by well-known architects such as Melvin Villarroel – to choose from in total, suiting any booking size and wealth bracket.
It was easy to forget that Puente Romano is a resort – and we mean that as a huge compliment. We were only reminded that this wasn’t our actual home when a small but intricately decorated commemorative chocolate cake, made to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, appeared as if by magic in the suite. This very sweet touch perfectly illustrates the level of bespoke, thoughtful service you can look forward to if you’re tempted to visit.