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Playa power

PUBLISHED: 12:16 31 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:35 20 February 2013

Playa power

Playa power

Frank Corless discovers sparkling beaches, quirky cafés and the delights of a one euro pint in the Spanish resort of Torremolinos

Frank Corless discovers sparkling beaches, quirky cafs and the delights of a one euro pint in the Spanish resort of Torremolinos




Torremolinos is looking good in the sun thats the verdict straight from the Dark Side of the Moon. My wife and I found the curiously named caf after we opted for a lunch break soon after checking into our hotel.
Shaded by trees and a sun umbrella, enjoying our first glass of refreshing Spanish wine, we didnt even have to stretch our legs to start checking out the Costa del Sol resort.
From the caf, we only needed to look across neatly trimmed gardens, protected by a bright blue fence, to a spotlessly clean, picture perfect stretch of beach fringing the Mediterranean .
We found out later that that all of the six beaches in Torremolinos are swept and manicured every day, long before the crowds turn out.
And litter? Not a sign of any as a motorised sweeper constantly cruised the promenade, threading its way past walkers taking the air or like us heading for an early lunch.
Above us, parakeets squawked and circled before swooping into clusters of mature beachfront palm trees.
If all of this sounds reasonably idyllic, it was only the start of our learning curve, one that showed us how things have changed for the better since the bad old days in Torremolinos.
Its now 50 years since the former fishing village was engulfed by skyscraper hotels and apartments, tacky shops, and bars serving rowdy, dawn-to-dusk partygoers.
Eventually, a more demanding tourism market, and increased competition from elsewhere, cried out for the resort to move on and, from what we saw, it has. In fact, it sparkles like a new pin.
A litter-free environment has been backed up by the planting of thousands of trees and shrubs, which have definitely helped to soften the impact of wall-to-wall development.
Lovely plazas and quiet side streets are dotted with fountains and statues, one of them celebrating Pablo Picasso, born in nearby Malaga.
And the worst excesses of boisterous party-going have been toned down, without causing too much heartache to those who like to have a more energetic good time.
Prices are on the up, especially in the better quality restaurants. Yet, at a time when we are all counting our cash, Torremolinos does appear to provide more bang for your buck.
We found numerous places where you can eat reasonably cheaply, one of them offering a frying start to your day breakfast with two eggs, bacon, beans and sausage and loads of toast for as little as four euros.




Prices are on the up, especially in the better quality restaurants. Yet, at a time when we are all counting our cash, Torremolinos does appear to provide more bang for your buck.





In one bar, a pint of San Miguel beer was just one euro. We left there quite late on feeling a bit happy, and we had spent less than eight euros. It was ridiculous...but lovely!
We started a more energetic inspection tour in Calle San Miguel, a pedestrianised shoppers heaven where a friendly, cosmopolitan atmosphere prevails amid boutiques, shops, bars, and restaurants.
At the end of the street, heading towards the coast, we stepped inside the towns lovely parish church, San Miguel Arcangel, a cool and quiet haven away from the hustle and bustle.
A steep flight of nearby steps took us down to Bajondillo, one of the towns beaches, all of them linked by the magnificent, five mile long Paseo Maritimo. Resorts all over Spain love their beachfront proms, but this one takes some beating.
La Carihuela, the old fishing quarter, is extra special. It was a joy to wander the busy streets behind the seafront, and to watch chefs preparing meals in what are regarded as some of the best restaurants in Andalusia .
If you can drag yourself from the sand, and away from the inviting water-sports, the choice of more family fun from Aquapark to Crocodile Park is enormous.
The phrase something for everyone springs to mind. And the big bonus for anyone staying in Torremolinos is that it merges seamlessly into more delights at the neighbouring resort of Benalmadena.
Home to a world-class marina, and shopping centre, it also boasts a huge array of other attractions which include Tivoli World, the Costa del Sols biggest theme park.
We caught a London-style double-deck bus to tour Benalmadena, and later boarded a boat for a bracing hour-long sea trip to nearby Fuengirola.
In the mountains, Frigiliana is worth seeing. One of the most beautiful villages in Spain, it has steep, winding streets, and terrific views across valleys and foothills.
My favourite place,however, was the beautiful village of Nerja, famous for its amazing Balcony of Europe, a delightful esplanade perched above small beaches and coves.
As the sun went down, we were always more than happy to return to our hotel, the four star Hotel Riu Nautilus. Perfectly located on the promenade facing Montemar beach, its only a short walk into La Carihuela on one side, and Benalmadena on the other.
We couldnt have made a better choice to switch off, and to experience faultless hospitality and service. The choice of delicious food was amazing, and the staff were among the best, and friendliest, we have known in over 30 years of travelling.
The excellence of the hotel has secured it a Platinum rating in Thomsons Premier Collection. So its not just Torremolinos that wears a shine!




BEFORE YOU GO...



  • Contact www.riu.com to book or check availability and prices at the Hotel Riu Nautilus

  • Low fares airline Monarch has year round flights to Malaga from Birmingham, London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, starting from 46.50 one way (76.99 return).

  • Monarch also offers hot and cold meals that can be pre-booked or bought onboard with prices from 2. Seats can be pre-booked at 7.50 per one-way flight or 20 for extra-legroom seats.

  • Passengers travelling on scheduled flights can also avoid queues and take advantage of online check-in, which is available between 18 days and 4.5 hours before departure.

  • For more information or to book, visit www.monarch.co.uk.

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