Forget Grace Kelly. I'll have the Bardot

Natalie Wain gets a taste of the Hollywood lifestyle at Marbella Club Hotel


As Count Rudi takes my hand and brushes it with the lightest of kisses, it's impossible not to feel just a little impressed as I switch down a gear and ease into my stay at the Marbella Club Hotel.

King Alfonso of Spain's cousin - Count Rudolf Graf von Schönburg, or Count Rudi as he is ubiquitously known - is the hotel's charming ambassador, guaranteed to make even the brusquest and hard-nosed city girl blush like a princess.

But then Count Rudi is no stranger to glitz and glamour. Since the young Prince Alfonso founded the hotel in the 1950s, Marbella Club has played host to countless royals as well as the beautiful, the great and the good.

Tucked away in the foyer as I check in, I spot the Count photographed in black in white having dinner with a lissome Brigitte Bardot, and there in another photograph, is a young Prince Alfonso, head thrown back in laughter with a dashing young Sean Connery.

Back in the days of black and white photography, the hotel almost single-handedly put Marbella on the map.

Getting there

Rooms at Marbella Club Hotel start from £415.43
The Brigitte Bardot beautifier costs €375 (£329)
Flight: Monarch offers flights to Malaga from a number of UK airports.

Perched on the tip of Spain's southern coast, it became a secluded hide-away and was the labour of love of its founder, Prince Alfonso.

Fast-forward a few decades and that love blossomed into mature award-winning gardens, bursting with exotic blooms that form the back-drop to the elegant villa style accommodation.

Navigating the winding path towards my superior suite, I duck my head to avoid colliding with the abundant orange blossoms that weigh down the trees.

Popping flower buds and neatly cropped grass create a blanket of serenity throughout the grounds and even in early spring, I'm struck by the vibrancy of the colours as I take in the scene from my bedroom window, and the tinkling of water-fountains.

Not all of the 120 rooms and suites have a sea view, but who would miss it when you have your own personal secret garden.

Many of the trees and shrubs were planted by the Prince as exotic mementos of his extensive travels.

And Marbella's sunny micro-climate ensures that they thrive in their adopted home. This corner of Spain is blessed with abundant sunshine all year round.

Golfing buggies double-up to bring you to your room and are a clue to the hotel's 18-hole golf course. There are also championship stud stables, should you fancy flexing a few muscles.

The only muscles I intended to flex were those my beauty therapist, Nadia, would be tweaking at the hotel's spa.

Tucked away at the front, a stone's throw from the beach, the spa's reception is overlooked by a thalasso pool.

I took advantage of the hotel's glamorous Hollywood heritage that pays homage to past guests - a series of 'Hollywood Icon' packages.

Inspired by Brigitte Bardot, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, each package incorporates a host of key treatments designed to make you look and feel like a super-star.

I plumped for the Brigitte Bardot Beautifier to help smooth away the signs of ageing and brighten dull skin.

Once installed in one of the ten treatment rooms my therapist studied my skin and prescribed luxurious Babor products for my tired complexion.

Nothing was rushed. Everything was meticulously prepared and I felt I was in safe hands.

After an indulgent afternoon in the spa, it's only a moment's walk to the hotel's Beach Club buffet restaurant which is bursting with meticulously prepared fresh fish platters and the juiciest of Mediterranean vegetables.

And then from behind me a hand is extended reaching for mine to take it for another gentlemanly kiss… "my dear, how was your afternoon?'"

'Simply divine, thank you Count Rudi', I reply. But wait, was that a hint of a French accent I detected? Brigitte would be impressed.

    Last updated: 11:30am, May 12 2011