YOU arrive in a atmospheric courtyard, your car quickly taken away by a valet, and you are ushered into a privileged world of antiques, hidden corners and, above all, style.
This is Finca Cortesin, one of the most charming hotels on the Costa del Sol and a place where celebrities and sportsmen come to hole up.
Probably Andalucia’s most exclusive place to stay these days, rates start at €450 for a double, but it is easy to see why; the grounds are impeccable and the well appointed, sumptuous rooms are all beautifully decorated and the height of comfort.
This is a real pleasure palace and stories abound of diners paying nearly €15,000 for a meal, including pink Champagne and other famous French first growths.
But it is possible to simply enjoy the vibe, taking a couple of cocktails in the bar and maybe a snack on the light bites menu.
Here, you will be served arguably Andalucia’s best gin and tonic, fastidiously crafted by white-suited mixologist Alberto, a Gibraltarian who trained in London.
There are no less than a dozen different G&Ts on the wine list and expect to get a lecture from Alberto on how vital it is to ‘break the botanicals’ when making a good mixer.
For those on a budget, head higher up into the Sierra Crestallina until you see the sign for Hotel Hermitage.
Take a right and you still have a few kilometres drive up a wonderful country lane through a mix of cork, pine and oak forests.
Arriving at this new hotel really is a joy and, set in a nature reserve, the location could not be more privileged.
“We get wild boars literally sniffing around the pool throughout the summer,” explains the receptionist.
Walk straight from the door, or simply relax in the gardens by the pool, from where there are amazing views to Gibraltar and Africa in the distance.