Málaga, Spain, is a popular embarkation/disembarkation port for many cruise lines. We recently visited Málaga for the first time at the beginning of a 10-night Transatlantic cruise aboard Seabourn Odyssey. Málaga is definitely a city worthy of a two-night pre-/post-cruise stay. For our stay, we chose the Hotel Molina Lario located right in the middle of town, and near the port.
Located in front of the Cathedral of Málaga, in the commercial and cultural center of the city, near the Port and the Picasso Museum, this newly-built hotel, inaugurated in August 2006, is actually made up of three buildings. Two have been completely refurbished, keeping the original 19th century façade, and the third is completely new.
Our Superior room, number 419, was situated in one of the 19th century buildings and had a small step-out balcony overlooking a narrow cobblestone side-street lined with cafes and shops. At 27 sq. meters, the room itself was narrow and a little cramped by American standards, but certainly not the smallest room we have stayed in. The black-and-white décor is definitely European contemporary, bordering on sterile. The bathroom was large and well appointed with a large tub/shower combination, toilet, bidet and a small vanity/sink with magnifying mirror attached to the wall. Complimentary soap, shampoo and shower gel are supplied; however, no hair conditioner or body lotion were to be found. Two toothbrushes, a razor and a packet of tissues were also provided. In addition, each room comes with a hairdryer, bathrobes and slippers.
The closet is divided into two sections, one for hanging clothes and the other with shelves where you find an electronic safe large enough to hold our jewelry, laptop, iPods and video camera. A desk located behind the bed was an adequate work space for my laptop and is also home to a CD/radio system and two lamps.
There is a small flat-screen satellite television with mostly Spanish programming. However, there is CNN International and BBC for English-speaking guests. There is a mini-bar and fridge found below the TV. The bed is located in the center of the room and is definitely on the firm side of things. I found the bed to be acceptable, but Rickee said it was the hardest bed she has ever slept on and that it hurt her back. There was a good selection of pillows and the bedding was comfortable. The room also was furnished with a small chair and a coffee table at the foot of the bed.
Our only major complaint with the room was its location. At night, the noise from the street below was annoying and forced us to use our Bose noise canceling headphones just to mask the noise. The cafes along the street are open until 1:00 am and after they close, they start cleaning up, dumping garbage and dragging chairs and tables across the cobblestone street. Did I mention that it was very noisy? If you book a room here, you may want to ask for a room facing the street in front of the hotel. There is traffic on that street, but it probably dies down late at night. Much to our surprise, it was not as noisy the next night even though it was a Friday.
We were on a Bed and Breakfast plan, very common in Europe. Breakfast was served in El Café de Bolsa from 7 am until 11 am each morning. There was a nice selection of fruit, pastries, meats and cheeses, scrambled eggs and English-style bacon. There was a menu on the table with other offerings from the kitchen, but no one ever offered to take our order. The service in El Café de Bolsa is sparse and a little cold, but the food was good and the restaurant is clean and convenient.
There is a nice bar/lounge located in El Café de Bolsa and a lovely garden terrace where you can dine and/or enjoy a drink. Speaking of dinner, you should know that Europeans, and especially the Spanish, eat late by American standards. The Café de Bolsa does not even open for dinner until 8:30 pm. There is a selection of sandwiches available from the bar menu, but if you wish to dine earlier you will need to visit one of the sidewalk cafes near the hotel. There is also an excellent Chinese restaurant right across the street from Molina Lario.
Service from the front desk was much friendlier. We found the staff eager to assist with any question or request. Everyone at the property spoke good English, something that is difficult to find in Spain.
There is a swimming pool located on the 8th floor rooftop with amazing views of the city and the nearby Cathedral of the Incarnation. A business center is located in the “basement”, or whatever they call the floor underneath the lobby. There are two computers and a printer with Internet access. The hotel is set up for Wi-Fi Internet, but it was not working on our visit. The front desk graciously provided us with an Ethernet cable so that I could use my laptop in our room. Getting Internet time is a little confusing. We had to tell the front desk whenever we wanted Internet access, they would set it up so that we could log in for a specified amount of time. Nevertheless, once connected, Internet speeds were fast and reliable.
The best feature of Molina Lario is its location. You can literally walk from the hotel to most all of Málaga’s historic sights. There are seemingly endless shops, cafes and restaurants lining the narrow streets that surround the hotel and the beautiful Paseo del Parque is right across the street. Another benefit for cruise passengers is the proximity to the port. You can see the port and the cruise ships from the front door of the hotel. There is a line of taxis in front of the hotel and the cost for us to get from the hotel to the pier was less than €10 (about $15 US in 2009 exchange rate).
THE BOTTOM LINE
Overall, we were very pleased with our stay at Molina Lario. We would recommend it to our readers based primarily upon its excellent location to shopping, restaurants and the cruise ship terminal, the very warm and friendly staff, and the overall value. The only caveat would be our recommendation that you ask for a room that does not face the cobblestone street, otherwise, you may experience a fair amount of noise.