Edited by: Nick Ellis
& Kellie Jez
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Málaga, Spain, one of the oldest cities in the world, is located on the southern coast of the country just northeast of the Strait of Gibraltar. It was a location I selected because the airfare price was right and I have wanted to see more of the cities along the Costa del Sol. I was also hoping to use some of my stash of Marriott Bonvoy Rewards points for my stay — and luckily I found the AC Hotel Málaga Palacio by Marriott.
With plentiful SkyTeam airfare sales this winter, it has been easy to secure inexpensive business class tickets from the U.S. to several European cities. I took advantage of the 35% rebate for using Membership Rewards points earned on The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and purchased several tickets via the AmexTravel.com portal. The best part of using Membership Rewards points for flights, other than the rebate, is that you still earn frequent flyer miles when you fly.
I have stayed at several AC Hotels in Spain, including Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, and Valencia, each offering great value. So, with a good deal on a flight and positive experiences with AC Hotels in Spain, I was anxious to see what the Málaga property had to offer.
A better location in Málaga would be difficult to find. The AC Hotel Málaga Palacio is in the heart of everything. You can walk to the main cathedral, Alcazaba fortress, Picasso Museum, port, seaside promenade, beaches, and much more. The hop-on/hop-off sightseeing buses stop directly in front of the hotel and you’ll find the hotel surrounded by plenty of restaurants, bars, supermarkets, and shopping.
Here’s how I booked the hotel, secured transportation from the airport, and my experience at check-in.
The AC Hotel Málaga Palacio was previously a Category 4 property. Although Marriott has now switched to dynamic pricing and no longer has a set award chart, award prices per night for the timeframe I selected were 20,000 to 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. The cash rate per night ranged from €189 to €217 (~$199 to $229), not including taxes and fees.
Marriott Bonvoy offers the benefit of receiving a free hotel night when you book 5 consecutive award nights. I was happy to take advantage and secure 5 nights for a total of 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, an average of 20,000 points per night. At a value of approximately 0.7 cents each, I spent about $140 worth of Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
Although Málaga enjoys around 300 sunny days per year, I arrived during a downpour. Fortunately, it was easy to secure transportation to the hotel on arrival without braving the elements for long.
The easiest option for hotel transportation is a taxi, for which you can expect to pay around €30 (~$32). I opted for an Uber for around €17 (~$18). The Uber pick-up area was easy to find and my ride showed up promptly. I also had the benefit of complimentary Wi-Fi inside the airport terminal, throughout the parking lot, and at the Uber pick-up location.
Another transportation alternative is the train. There is a train station below Terminal 3 that provides service to the City Centre Station. The journey will take under 15 minutes and cost around €2. From the station, it is less than a 20-minute walk to the hotel or a short taxi ride.
You could also take a bus to the city, which will take about 40 minutes and cost €3 to €5.
If you’re driving, covered parking is available near the hotel from €22 (~$23) (weekends only) to €43 (~$45) per night.
The hotel is very well staffed. The door will always be opened for you and you’ll receive a friendly greeting.
Fernando was friendly and very efficient. My Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status was recognized, I was upgraded to a suite, and I received a nice welcome gift. I’ll share those details with you shortly.
I was also offered either 500 points or a €10 (~$11) food/beverage credit per day. I chose the credit. Valuing points at just 0.7 cents each, 500 points would only be worth approximately $3.50, making the €10 food/beverage credit a much better choice.
Although my room was not yet ready, (I arrived before the official 3 p.m. check-in time), Fernando made sure to expedite the cleaning and I only waited 20 minutes.
The hotel is not huge but offers several onsite services and amenities.
The fitness center was small, with less than a dozen workout machines.
As technology expands, the need for a large business center at a hotel has diminished. However, there’s always the occasional need to print a document. In this case, I decided to print my attestation form for my return to the U.S. versus filling it out at the airport prior to my 6 a.m. flight. Mission accomplished.
The small on-site hair salon was busy. With reasonable prices and energetic stylists, it was not surprising.
If you need a quick haircut or color touch-up, you’ll find these services available. Prices seemed reasonable for a hotel salon.
Although I was not able to access any of the meeting rooms, the AC Hotel Málaga Palacio offers 7 separate meeting spaces with a maximum capacity of 225 in its biggest space. Altogether, the hotel can accommodate over 500 attendees.
This makes the hotel a good choice for a wedding, family gathering, or business conference.
The hotel had several small meetings going on while I was there and is available for booking future events.
Get ready for a spectacular experience while enjoying the rooftop pool. You’ll have an expansive view of the city and the port. Don’t swim during happy hour, however, unless you want to be surrounded by a lot of people enjoying the same view while partaking in a cocktail.
The pool was open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
With way too many attractions to list, you’ll find an endless array of things to see and do in Málaga. Best of all, everything is right outside your front door when you stay at the AC Hotel Málaga Palacio.
Take a walk along the seaside promenade to shop, listen to live music, and enjoy a beverage or meal at one of the dozens of restaurants, cafes, food trucks, or small eateries.
Take a cruise on the Mediterranean for less than $20 or purchase a day pass on the hop-on/hop-off bus that picks up right outside the hotel. The pass includes a 1-hour boat tour.
Since I received an upgraded room, I was anxious to have a look at what my surroundings might be like during my upcoming 5-day stay.
The door opens to a hallway leading to this spacious living area. There are windows across the entire wall adding light to the space. One strange element of the entire accommodation space was that it was void of any artwork. This was not negative but noticeable.
If you notice the green box on the coffee table, you’ve spotted my welcome gift from the hotel. The huge flaky pastry, a local specialty known as a Palmeras Gigante from Casa Kiki, was more than a foot wide and glazed in dark chocolate. Although my name was preceded by Mr., the spelling was correct, which was one attention to detail I appreciated.
This pastry with coffee in the morning would have been perfect for the sweet lover. Although I do not prefer sweets, on the second day I did break down and eat a small portion. It was like a crispy buttery chocolate croissant that melted in my mouth. I promptly handed it over to the housekeeper due to the fear of eating the whole thing as days went on.
There were 2 coffee stations in my room. One was located in the living area and another in the bedroom. There were 2 complimentary bottles of water provided on arrival and refreshed daily.
I liked having the work area separate from the bedroom. The views were still amazing, the lighting perfect, and the chair was comfortable for short durations.
The Wi-Fi worked well regardless of where I was situated in the hotel. The city, in general, has great Wi-Fi access.
I loved the bedroom. The bed was comfy, the room was full of light, and it also had those amazing views.
One nice feature of the bedside table was that the outlets were universal, no adapter was needed.
With an assortment of teas, condiments, and an electric kettle, the bedroom had its own coffee station. There was also a small refrigerator.
One bonus of the bedroom was that it had this lovely balcony. Having outdoor access to enjoy my morning coffee while taking in the fabulous view was a real treat.
There were 2 closets in the bedroom. One was located at each end of the room.
One closet held a space for storing clothes, the ironing board/iron, the safe, and a space for hanging a few items. Closet 2 was near the door and offered a lot of space for storing clothes and luggage.
The bathroom offered the convenience of a separate vanity area outside of the actual bathroom. This comes in handy when 2 people, or more, are trying to get ready at the same time.
The shower was enclosed in marble and had a shallow bathtub.
There were 2 plush robes and 2 pairs of slippers provided, as well as nice fluffy towels. Fortunately, there was also daily housekeeping, so I never ran out of anything.
There were plenty of AC Hotel-branded amenities that were refreshed daily as they were used.
You couldn’t beat the view from my room, whether via the living area or the bedroom.
The hotel is 15 stories high, but my fifth-floor room still offered an expansive landscape.
There were 3 dining venues at the property and fortunately all were open and fully functional.
The sole purpose of this dining area is to serve breakfast. The venue was open from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. each day. Breakfast was served buffet style and cost €22 (~$23) per person. If you use the €10 (~$11) per day (per person) credit, this would net the cost of breakfast to €12 (~$13).
There were also hot dish choices, including meats, potatoes, and eggs, including the local dish tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelet), and boiled eggs. You could also request eggs to order.
Self-serve juices included orange, pineapple, and lemonade. Still water and sparkling water were also available.
There was never a wait to refill your coffee cup. You could ask the server or visit 1 of the 2 self-serve coffee stations.
The main bar area, situated in an area away from the reception desk, is a street-level venue, perfect for people-watching. Additionally, there is a more private seating area for enjoying a nice beverage and conversation.
Rather than post the entire drink menu, I’ll just tell you that soft drinks cost €2 to €3, beer €3, wine €4, and cocktails started at €3.
You can also order food from the bar menu.
The bar was the central meeting place of the hotel. You could visit any time, but the menu was offered from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The bar area covered 2 levels. The first level was perfect for grabbing coffee, lunch, or a light dinner. If you would like a quieter spot where you can have a private conversation, the upper level would be perfect.
On my first night at the hotel, I decided to have an early dinner in the bar. The fish of the day, according to the menu, was supposed to be accompanied by grilled vegetables but came with just the salad. No explanation was offered when I mentioned it to the server. The dish was good, however. Dinner with a glass of wine and bread was €21 (~$22).
The crowing glory of the AC Hotel Málaga Palacio is its rooftop bar. In the late afternoon each day I stayed at the hotel, there was a line outside the hotel waiting to receive access to the bar. As a guest staying at the hotel, however, you could visit anytime you wished.
The views were spectacular.
Visiting the rooftop bar for a beverage is a must-do. The bar/restaurant is also the perfect venue for an evening meal with a view.
The ATICO Restaurant is in the same space as the rooftop bar and is open for lunch and dinner from 12:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. during the week, and until 12:30 a.m. on weekends.
On my second night, I decided to try dinner and take in that view. This time I ordered sea bass and it came with the grilled vegetables. It was delicious. My dinner with a glass of wine was €22 (~$23).
There were several ways in which the hotel delivered well when it came to service. There was always at least 1 doorman plus an elevator manager on duty during busy hours. I never opened the hotel entry door during my entire stay, either arriving or exiting, it was always done for me.
Although there was not a designated concierge desk, the front desk always had several staff members working and they were able to take time to answer all my questions.
I was also acknowledged immediately when I entered a restaurant and received excellent service during my meals. The overall service at the hotel was exceptional.
Additionally, daily housekeeping was provided, although I refused it most days and just asked for the specific items I needed.
The COVID-19 precautions at the hotel were also mirrored throughout the city. Masks were always required indoors, social distancing was recommended and generally adhered to, and few wore masks outdoors (not required). There were also sanitizing stations located throughout the hotel. The hotel was fully operational with none of its services or restaurants shut down.
The AC Hotel Málaga Palacio delivered beyond my expectations. The location with access to all the city has to offer and the spectacular views were key factors. I felt I received good value, would return to the hotel again, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.
I had 3 meals over a 5-day period at the hotel. The food was good but not spectacular. With so many great restaurants within walking distance, there is no need to eat many meals at the hotel beyond experiencing dinner at the rooftop bar.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
Yes, the hotel has a rooftop pool and it has spectacular views of the city, harbor, and mountains.
It is crowded, however, during happy hour.
Pets are not allowed at the hotel.
There is no airport shuttle. However, transportation to the hotel is easy to secure. A taxi will take about 15 to 20 minutes and cost around €30 (~$32). Uber is also available and convenient.
Additionally, there is a train station in the airport that provides service to Málaga Central Station. From there, it’s a short taxi ride or less than a 20-minute walk to the hotel.
Yes, the AC Hotel Málaga Palacio is less than 2 blocks from the cruise port. There, you will find an active promenade with restaurants, shopping, and tour boats.
You can also walk to the beach in less than 15 minutes from the hotel.
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