An 18th-century palace had lain derelict on Malaga’s Calle Granada for 80 years until major restoration work made it magnificent again – just months before the world went into lockdown and the international travel is interrupted.
The Palacio Solecio briefly opened its doors in late 2019, and after two years of intermittent restrictions and subsequent closures, the doors of the boutique hotel are firmly open and once again welcoming locals and foreign explorers beyond its doorstep. .
Being in the latter camp, my mate and I had high hopes for a respite from the hot weather and delicious food away from the dark, damp evenings that London has boasted of lately. We weren’t to be disappointed.
why come here
Nestled in the alleys of Malaga’s old town, the grand façade of Palacio Solecio is enough to stop a tourist in their tracks. Minutes from the Picasso Museum, the Alcazaba Fortress and the Roman Amphitheater which each draw their fair share of crowds to the city, the hotel’s location couldn’t be better for a weekend getaway. or for travelers looking for a central base from which to delve further into Andalucia.
Palacio Solecio pays homage to its former glory in both name and design. Italian aristocrat Felix Solecio first constructed the building with the help of José Martín de Aldehuela, the architect whose mastery is behind the spectacular Puente Nuevo bridge in Ronda. Moorish arches and a central courtyard retain the character of the original palace, updated with sleek interior design and a generous dash of modern luxury.
It won’t take long for you to feel at home in one of the hotel’s 68 spacious rooms. Filled with natural light and carefully selected furnishings, they offer all the comforts and conveniences you’d hope for — though the delightfully plush beds somewhat steal the show.
The modern splendor continues in the en-suite bathrooms, with white marble and waterfall showers. Our generous bathtub was also a highlight.
For those feeling active, there’s a small, well-equipped gym overlooking the courtyard. And after a day of sightseeing, quench your thirst with a stop at the bar, which offers a tempting selection of wines and cocktails.
Eat and drink
Although room service is offered, I recommend heading downstairs for an evening feast. Michelin-starred chef José Carlos García is behind the menu at the Balausta restaurant, where traditional Andalusian recipes are royally elevated, with dishes worthy of serving in a palace.
With a penchant for local ingredients, unsurprisingly, fresh fish is very present. For tapas-sized bites with a fancy finish, start with spider crab croquettes and fried crayfish. Switch to cream of lobster (you’ll thank me later) or the traditional porra antequerana, but be sure to leave room for the dish.
Scallops, cod loin, bass and tuna tartare are on the menu, and the lobster pappardelle, “a whim of the sea and the mountains”, the menu informs us, is absolutely worth the detour. The restaurant staff are ready to offer advice and guidance, and were happy to accommodate our request that each dish be split in half so we could sample as much as possible. For those who don’t want to share, a six-course tasting menu is also available.
The Balausta’s large dining room is also where breakfast is served in the morning, with a generous continental buffet and hot items including eggs Benedict, pancakes and omelettes, more than enough to get you ready for a day of sightseeing.
What to do
Malaga’s best galleries and attractions are on the hotel’s doorstep, and the staff will be more than happy to help organize tickets and reservations for guests. If you’re staying for a long weekend, be sure to catch an evening flight on Sunday, so you can make the most of the free opening hours that many museums and galleries offer that day.
The Alcazaba fortress is a must. Built in the early 11th century, a climb from the old town through the Arab fortress offers history, impressive views and a bit of a workout. Return to the ground floor and head for the sea or the bustling shopping streets, depending on your energy level.
Between exhibitions and visits, the bars and restaurants of the old town are worth the detour. Casa Lola is one of my fondest memories from a previous trip to town, but the long lines didn’t subside for a moment during our trip, so we ventured to Vermuteria La Clasica, another restaurant where I would happily return.
Another 49 rooms will open this year at Palacio Solecio, along with a rooftop bar and pool. If that’s not reason enough for a trip home, this lobster cream soup certainly is.
Palacio Solecio, C. Granada, 61, 29015 Malaga, Spain; palaciosolecio.com