24-Hour Room Service: Shanti-Som, Málaga, Spain

Asian wellbeing arrives in Andalucia

You don't have to go all the way to Thailand, Bali or India to have your chakras realigned: the new Shanti-Som Wellbeing Retreat brings all the wisdom and atmosphere of an Asian health retreat to the hills of southern Spain. So there's no long-haul jet lag to disturb your pranayamas (that's yogic breathing to the uninitiated).

Opened in May, Shanti-Som is the fruition of a long-held personal ambition of its founder, Kezia Jacobsen, who has more than 25 years' experience in health, beauty and holistic therapies. After her son was involved in a serious accident, she decided on a path of creating a haven of peace, harmony and balance.

Consequently, her heart and soul has gone into making this a special place. Guests are greeted on arrival by a stone-carved Balinese reclining Buddha. The inspirational staff have been carefully chosen. They include yoga teacher Petra Lindros – who practises an energising, Anusara-inspired yoga – and a detox expert, Cristina Azcárate Hane. Kezia has also attracted high-profile instructors such as Maya Fiennes, who is hosting a Kundalini yoga week at here from 16-23 July.

While the hotel is not part of a spa chain such as Banyan Tree or Six Senses, Kezia visited several for inspiration. She was particularly taken with the Four Seasons Resort Sayan and Como Shambhala Estate, both in Bali.

Set among the fragrant pine, almond, lemon and olive trees of the Sierra de las Nieves natural park (a world away from nearby Marbella), Shanti-Som offers yoga, detox or weight-loss programmes. Gentler treatments are also offered in the spa, such as an hour-long Thai massage (€75) or lavender herbal repair facial (€60). More unusual treatments include a sound massage that uses Tibetan singing bowls.

You can also come for a relaxing break without a yoga mat in sight, instead treating the place as a five-star sanctuary.

Shanti-Som was previously a two-star rustic hotel. Now, the existing 10-year-old structure has an impressive, vaulted thatch roof and an overall style that is an eclectic mix of Balinese, Moroccan and Indian – though not overwhelmingly so.

Non-detoxers can also indulge in the top-notch food at the Amrita restaurant, whose name translates as "nectar for the soul" . The head chef, Ben Hayes, was previously executive chef of a Spanish health food restaurant chain. He focuses on nutritionally balanced meals. If there was ever proof that healthy food can taste wonderful, it's in his Asian-Med fusion menus. My asparagus frittata starter was delicate and delicious. Mains include pan-roasted fillet of sea bream, and rib eye steak; Ben even manages to make tofu appetizing in a coconut milk-based yellow curry with green beans, pumpkin and coriander. He has also worked out the secret to a tasty wheat- and gluten-free chocolate cake.


Shanti-Som is a 40-minute drive from Málaga airport, past the intense sprawl of the Costa del Sol and up into the fresh air and tranquility of the Sierra de las Nieves.

Kezia is designing tranquil walks in the mountains. She took me on a brief jaunt to La Mirador, a vantage point with dramatic views down to Marbella. She intends to offer a form of yoga called Raya (yoga for the mind) on these walks. Climb higher and you can see as far as North Africa.

If you want to pick up the pace, Puerto Banús is a 20-minute drive away, with its wealth of designer shops, yachts, restaurants and bars.


The huge lobby is a fusion of styles. A baroque-inspired Parisian sofa sits next to Moroccan candleholders. A painting of a young Buddhist monk by local artist Alejandro Hermann hangs above the vast fireplace.

The 14 rooms are arranged in cloister formation around three sides of a central patio that is used for al fresco dining. There are 12 "premium rooms" and two luxury suites. The rooms have names such as "Inspiration", "Peace" and "Happiness". They are snug and designed vaguely according their name, so you could find yourself in "Courage", a masculine room with muted browns, or "Friendship" with an old-fashioned lilac quilt on the bed. Depending on which side of the cloister you're on, you will have a balcony – with wonderful mountain views – or a small garden.

Suites are larger, with four-poster beds and extensive outside lounging space. I would opt for "Passion" for its corner balcony with loungers and orchids, overlooking the yoga pavilion and the hills. There is a television, but, this being a health retreat, you will only find the Body Balance Channel, BBC World and some movies. There is also a nice selection of herbal teas and a plate of fresh fruit; mobiles and laptops are discouraged.

The writer flew with BA (0844 493 0787; ba.com) from London City to Málaga.

Shanti-Som Wellbeing Retreat, Llanos de Purla km22, Monda, Marbella, Andalucia, Spain (00 34 9 5286 4455; shantisom.com).

Rooms 4 stars
Value 5 stars
Service 5 stars

Double rooms start at €175, including breakfast. Two-and-a-half-hour spa packages start at €190 per person. One-week yoga programmes from €1,500 per person, half board.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
peopleJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice