Mattie Lacey-Davidson discovers the truth about the Spanish city of Málaga during a weekend stay at the Barceló Málaga hotel...

I was completely taken aback by Málaga on a recent weekend trip.

I had banded the city together with other Spanish spots, such as Marbella and Magaluf, which have a particular reputation as party places that young Brits flock to.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. The city is absolutely drenched in culture and overflowing with history. Not only is it one of the oldest cities on the planet but it gave the world painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso, Hebrew poet and Jewish philosopher Solomon Ibn Gabirol and the actor Antonio Banderas.

The history is ever present as you walk around, passing the Fortress la Alcazaba, the Roman Theatre and the Cathedral de la Encarnacion.

Whilst the Mediterranean Sea bathes the Málaga coastline, the Málaga Mountains close ranks behind the city to form a barrier of peaks that protects it from the cold, while the regulating effect of the sea gives the area its characteristically mild temperatures.

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Over the weekend I stayed at Barceló Málaga - a gorgeous htoel with avant-garde design inside and a reception area that is hard to beat. Here you will find an enormous steel slide that directly connects the first floor to the lounge.

Every inch of the hotel is incredibly chic, whether it is the bar with a large set up lips making up a mirror and its low sofas among pink mirrored tiles, there is the slide, the huge windows that overlook the train station, and wonderfully modern and luxurious hotel rooms.

The El Anden restaurant, where you will have a never ending buffet with an eclectic offering, both healthy and indulgent, has an incredible evening offering. I had a three course meal there, but what stood out and stayed with me was olive oil tasting. So simple, but fascinating and delicious.

Unfortunately I was one week too early for the opening of their B-Lounge terrace cocktail bar, but I was allowed a sneak peek. It had ultra-trendy furniture, a gorgeous pool and during the summer will be open until 2am.

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Barceló Málaga is located in-between the beach and the centre. The city is a small place, packed with 37 museums and many galleries. My favourite, not only there but across the globe, is the Museo Automovilístico de Málaga – an automobile and fashion museum.

It is also home to The Centre Pompidou Malaga - the first one that this Parisian art institution has opened outside France.

The exhibition presented by the permanent collection of the Centre Pompidou Malaga is divided into five topics: las metamorfosis, el cuerpo en pedazos, el cuerpo político, autorretratos, el hombre sin rostro (the metamorphosis, the body in pieces, the political body, self-portraits and the man without a face). They are extended pointing in two directions. It is an emblematic building and a unique cultural model.

In Malaga, the Centre Pompidou will offer a permanent exhibition of several dozens of works of the impressionist collection of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, inviting the public to explore the art of the XX and XXI centuries.

As well as the galleries and museums, simply walking around and soaking in the history will absrob your time.

If you’re not eating at the hotel, which I highly recommend, another wonderful place to eat is El Pimpi.

Opened in 1971, it is situated inside an old 18th century mansion house and is one of the longest-standing bodega bars in Málaga.

Its name harks back to the ‘Pimpi’, a local Málaga character who used to help the crews and passengers from the ships that arrived at the city’s docks. Before long, they had become the first Málaga tour guides, famous for their service and good humour.

These days it’s a place to get together for celebrities, Malagueños and visitors alike, who go on to recommend us, rating us as one of the top cultural and culinary destinations in Málaga.

It is always busy so be sure to book. As you make your way to your table or the bar waiters walk past with huge trays held high above your head as they weave up and down the passages into the different areas. It is a maze inside, with photos and barrels adorning the walls.

By Mattie Lacey-Davidson

Rates at Barceló Malaga start from €105 per room based on two sharing including taxes. For further information or to book visit barcelomalaga.com, +34 952 04 74 94