Southern Spain is blessed with some of the country's best hotels. Chic, boutique and full of character, here are eight not to be missed.
Andalucía's eastern most province offers a semi-arid landscape (it's home to Europe's only desert), making for a dramatic backdrop for a weekend escapade. In the heart of the Cabo de Gata natural park is La Joya de Cabo de Gata, delightful cottages created by Charo García.
This beautiful cortijo estate captures the essence of Almeria. Relaxed and authentic, the pet-friendly accommodation is surrounded by a Mediterranean garden of olive and palm trees, pomegranates and tamarinds, featuring a stylish swimming pool and hot tub.
Superb, undeveloped beaches are a short drive away.
Western Andalucía retains much of Andalucía's charm from a bygone era. Few villages convey the magic of a classic 'pueblo blanco' than the hill-top beauty of Vejer de la Frontera. Over recent years this well-preserved citadel of noble houses and humble cottages has emerged as a chic foodie destination. Here, James Stuart has transformed the hospitality scene. First with the La Casa de Califa hotel, and now with the extraordinary Hotel Plaza 18.
On Vejer's beautiful town square, in the medieval quarter, this new boutique six-room property has breathed new life into one of the town's most elegant 19th-century properties. The former merchant's house has been sympathetically restored using traditional materials, mixed with the very latest renewable technology. Discreetly luxurious, the interiors by designer Nicky Dobree are truly inviting. The rooms offer views over the town and countryside.
Whilst in Vejer, take the opportunity to book a cooking class at Annie B's Spanish Kitchen.
Cordoba is sometimes overlooked in favour of its better-known neighbours of Seville or Granada, but this is a mistake. The province is rich in history, culture, architecture and has a great food scene. El Balcón de Córdoba hotel is a favourite. For one of the best views in the city, head to the rooftop terrace for a sundowner, overlooking the city's spectacular Mosque-Cathedral.
The province of Granada needs little introduction, and its capital has the best hotels, from quaint B&B boltholes and upscale luxury, to stylish boutique hotels that offer tantalising views of the Albaicín and the Alhambra. But to really gain a unique insight into the history of the old city, one should stay at the Granada Parador.
It may not be the city's best hotel, but it's located within the grounds of the Alhambra and Generalife Palace, so once the day-trippers have left and the Alhambra is closed, guests have the special treat of enjoying the views of the remarkable gardens and stunning architecture - without the crowds.
Andalucía's most western province is all about an amazing Atlantic coastline, verdant pine and oak forests, and spectacular wildlife. La Doñana is one of Europe's most important national parks, with abundant birdlife. Although the coast also boasts golf and spa resorts, heading inland makes for a much more interesting stay.
Finca Buenvino is an elegant country B&B and retreat, surrounded by orchards and oak forests. Hosts Sam and Jeannie Chesterton, and their son Charlie, make for a welcoming stay; and the dining is a treat. Finca Buenvino even has its own cookbook, and regular cookery courses are offered too.
Renowned for its production of 'liquid gold', Jaén province boasts more olive trees than anywhere else in Spain and produces at least a fifth of the world's olive oil. Beyond the groves are some of Andalucía's most beautiful renaissance towns, Baeza and Úbeda.
Úbeda is home to the province's only 5-star property, the Palacio de Úbeda Hotel, a spectacular 16th-century palace, now reimagined as an extraordinary city hotel with spa, pool and upscale dining.
If you're looking to explore Jaén and discover charming B&Bs and hotels then take a look at the Only Spain collection, curated by Jaén resident Rachel Webb who also offers a trip planning service.
Malaga is at the heart of Andalucía's tourist industry and has more hotel beds than any other province. However, to relive the glamour and style of when it all started on the Costa del Sol, one has to visit an icon, the Marbella Club. Prince Alfonso's family's Mediterranean hideaway has become one of the most famous hotels in Europe.
Marbella Club is at the forefront of hospitality trends and has become an established wellness destination. 2020 will see a year-long retreat series providing transformative wellbeing experiences designed by guest experts.
Also new for 2020 is La Bodega, created by the hotel's head Sommelier, Ángel González. Expect an impressive space dedicated to wine tastings and pairings with local produce.
The Champagne Room has also been reimagined with Bohemian glamour into 'Rudi's' in honour of the hotel's renowned first-ever director, Count Rudi Schoenburg.
Andalucía's capital is always worthy of a visit. New openings in recent years has transformed the city into a hub of hot hotels. One that continues to stand the test of time is Corral del Rey. This sister hotel to the Hacienda San Rafael (deep in the Seville countryside), is just a few minutes' walk from the city's cathedral. Found down an evocative narrow street in Barrio Alfalfa, this 17th-century casa palacio is full of charm and style. Book a rooftop pool suite for a romantic perspective of the city.
Licensed local guide
Ania Marchlik is an official Seville guide offering private insider tours.