The villa in question (Picture: Johnny Gates)
What makes a holiday home really great?
A outdoor kitchen? An enormous pool? Being slap-bang in the middle of all the action?
I recently stayed in Vrbo’s Spanish ‘holiday home of the year’ – a property that was ranked the very best ‘home away from home’ against over thousands of others in the country.
But what makes this home so special compared to its competitors? After all, the holiday home market is a saturated one.
Well, when I stepped off the airport transfer and into this villa I quickly understood why this home has scooped up the prestigious accolade. The picturesque view of the Mediterranean, the luxurious amenities, the space, and the homely feel made it a 10/10 experience.
As well as staying in a Spanish villa that most people dream about, I got to explore the beautiful province of Málaga. I’ve been to a lot of different parts of Spain – but Málaga felt, by far, like a place that‘s richest in history and culture.
So let’s get into all the details…
A snapshot (Picture: Johnny Gates)
Pretty impressive, right? (Picture Arlène Dihoulou)
Nestled away in a private gated residential area, Las Terrazas is a stunning traditional Andalucian-style home which sleeps up to 10 people.
Despite being in Spain, the villa’s interior and decor has some traditional Moroccan elements to it. It’s also the owner’s second home – which means it has an authentic ‘livable’, rather than decorative, feel to it. Overall the home was grand-yet-inviting and perfectly-balanced.
The fully air-conditioned property overlooks the beautiful view of the ocean (which faces towards the African coast) and the rest of the area. Stepping into this house honestly felt like stepping into a fantasy.
I bet you’re wondering what exactly awarded this house the Spanish holiday Home of the Year award. Well, it might be something to do with the double-height lounge with open fireplace and galleried library, the master bedroom suite with private solarium plus jacuzzi, and the four further bedrooms – three of which have en-suite shower rooms and separate dressing rooms as well as access to their own furnished terrace.
It’s giving Spanish Love Island villa vibes (Picture: Johnny Gates)
Jump in (Picture Arlène Dihoulou)
Oh but I’m not done, there’s also a cinema room, a fully equipped gym and a sauna room.
And in case you and your loved ones wanted to have a singalong there’s a mini-grand electric piano. For those who don’t sing, there’s a pool table and access to the communal tennis court.
Last but not least – la pièce de résistance – the terraced, landscaped gardens which feature a huge 14m x 11m, heated salt-water swimming pool as well as a gazebo with a superb gas BBQ.
Just look how inviting the bed is (Picture: A)
Yes, the villa is as incredible as it sounds. I stayed in one of the double en-suite rooms on the ground level and I had my own private patio area. The stone build of the patio meant my room didn’t get too hot during the day despite the 30-degree heat. It was wonderful.
If any holiday home deserves this award it’s definitely this one, and all its amenities came in very handy throughout the duration of our trip.
What to do
Málaga itself has a great variety of different areas you can visit – but it’s also a brilliant starting spot for day trips to neighboring cities and towns.
And the villa is the perfect base for all this exploring.
On our first evening we watched a breathtaking Flamenco performance at the very chic private member’s club Motel Particulier.
Being amongst locals and getting an insight into the trends and happenings was both insightful and refreshing. It’s one thing to visit a country as a tourist, but it’s another thing to live as the locals do and experience their home in their way.
On day two after sharing a picturesque breakfast, we had a cooking class held in the villa.
Coming from someone who doesn’t like to cook, this really was a lot of fun. Our host hooked us up with a private chef, Victoria from Food Room, who taught us how to perfect our paellas and gave us professional insights on how to master the traditional Spanish omlette.
It really is crazy how much you can learn about someone’s culture just by cooking alongside them and asking questions.
In the afternoon, we took a stroll along Playa Puerto Banus, before walking along the famous high-end high street Puerto Banus.
Boasting Lamborghinis, tiny fluffy dogs and yachts, this glamorous street has a very local feel – almost like all the local millionaires know each other.
I’d also highly recommend making a day trip to Ronda – the famous city set above a deep gorge. It’s about an hour and 15 minutes away from Málaga – and the drive there, up narrow uphill roads, is interesting to say the least. Ronda is picturesque and rich in history – plus has a lot of great food spots. And you can’t argue with that, can you?
Soak up the area’s history (Picture Arlène Dihoulou)
We explored the city via a walking tour with a local English-speaking guide, who took us to the oldest bullring in Spain, the Bullfight Museum, as well as the Cathedral and the iconic Bosco House; which is a monumental building in the town.
The stately mansion was built around 1850 and remodelled in a modernist style at the beginning of the 20th century. And it really is like you’re stepping back in time.
Back to my point about this trip being rich in culture, who else can say they’ve been to Spain’s oldest bullring? Not many.
What to eat and drink
Another honourable mention to club Motel Particulier for the ambience, fun waiters and great drinks – which is a 40-miunte drive away from the villa.
Of all the drinks I sampled in Málaga (and there were a lot) I think their punch du diable cocktail was my absolute favourite.
I also adored everything I consumed at Casanis Bistrot while on a day trip to Puerto Banús. In fact, it may have been my favouite dinner of the trip (despite it being a French restaurant in Spain). Truffle pasta can be a hit or miss for me – but I took the risk and it paid off, compliments to the back of house.
Everyone I travelled with was blown away with their meal too – and the service, and ambience was impeccable. The perfect way to end a day trip in Puerto Banús.
If you do make your way to Ronda for the day, the views at Bosco House alone make it worth it. The interior, the terrace paired with wine tasting and sun? My heart was full, and yours will be too. And Boscho House’s fine dining experience, set on the edge of the gorge, is absolutely something to behold. The squid looked and tasted like they plucked it from the ocean that morning – delicious and fresh.
On our last night, Victoria from Food Room catered our last meal at Las Terrazas and it was just perfect. This private chef experience was like no other and you simply cannot do a trip to Malaga without her.
My overall experience
You can’t deny that view (Picture Arlène Dihoulou)
I loved how Malaga is so immersive that you don’t think about home, and there’s so much to do, see, eat and so many places to be.
All budgets can be accommodated and all styles of holidaying are welcome; the party people, the luxury shoppers, the beach-side nappers and the ones who don’t want to step foot outside of their holiday rental too.
Las Terrazas was such a beautiful home to stay in, me and the girls kept comparing it to a Spanish Love Island villa, especially because it has a little separate patio sofa area (which I named my napping spot- but we called it the ‘chat around the campfire’ area).
This villa really did feel like a home away from home. The hosts were clearly very intentional about the decor and composition of this property – and it paid off..
In my opinion, it definitely deserves to be titled Spanish holiday home of the year.
More details on Vrbo’s holiday home of the year can be found here.
How to get there?
Flights to Malaga start from £26 on Skyscanner.
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‘It really did feel like a home away from home.’