Marbella, favoured resort of playboys and Saudi princes – go on, you know you want to. This small Costa del Sol fishing village became a glamorous destination after the Second World War when the Marbella Club Hotel was as famous as the Paris Ritz. In its 1960s heyday, super yachts lined the marina at nearby Puerto Banus and regular visitors included Adnan Khashoggi and Sean Connery.
The fashion for more discreet charms left Marbella floundering in the 1990s, but now the town has been cleaned up and the historic centre shows signs of regeneration.
Among recent arrivals is Hotel Claude, a chic boutique outfit set inside a 17th-century townhouse. The building has been restored by the brother-and-sister owners with each of the seven rooms designed differently to give the feeling of a comfortable home. A charming roof terrace has views over the higgledy-piggledy old town and down to the sea.
Our room up in the attic had the look of a New York loft, with open-plan bathroom (with Molton Brown products), vaulted ceiling and cool modern furniture. The enormous bed was extremely comfortable and the huge flat-screen TV and iPod provide all the entertainment you need. The other six rooms are designed to show off the building's original features, the most elegant being the Francesa suite with wooden rafters, antique-tiled floors, velvet sofas and crystal chandelier.
The food and drink
In the small but perfectly formed dining room our tasting menu of eight courses cost €60 (£47) a head. The German chef has earned a Michelin star and I can see why. The delicate dishes included a carpaccio of sea bass, red snapper with clams, and beef fillet with an olive crust. The panna cotta with strawberries had a daring touch of chilli and the chocolate mousse came with balsamic vinegar and raspberry juice. The cellar contains a good range of Spanish wines. Breakfast, served on the roof terrace or in the dining room, is a choice of cereals and eggs cooked any way. The owners' mother, who lives nearby, supplies the hotel with avocados and figs from her garden, and the restaurant ingredients are bought daily at the nearby covered market.
A wheelchair ramp is available and the first floor is accessible by lift for guests with disabilities. Two rooms can be combined to form a family suite and young children can share with their parents. The hotel has a no pets policy and smoking is permitted only on the roof terrace.
Double rooms start at €230 (£182) per night, including breakfast and day passes to a beach-front gym and pool.
Hotel Claude, Calle San Francisco 5, 29601 Marbella, Spain (00 34 952 900 840; hotelclaudemarbella.com).