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Travel Journal - Sotogrande

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

I'm lucky enough to call a holiday destination home, so thought why not write a travel entry on it!

Although you probably haven't heard of it, Sotogrande is positioned between two better known places; Gibraltar and Marbella on the Southern East coast of Spain rightttt down at the bottom.

High season is July and August but my favourite time of year is June or September for perfect weather, fewer people and easier parking. January is best for sunny, crisp days. It never really gets that cold but when it rains, it pours.

It is not a city, rather a 'resort' or sorts with tennis, golf, polo, water sports, beaches, pine forests, holiday makers and people who live there all year round (my family).

So, for my favourites in each goes:

Where to eat:

My favourite spot is Cancha II. An Argentine steakhouse on the edge of a polo field is the cosiest spot in winter, and a constant goodie during the warm summer months for dinner under the stars. The staff are so friendly it feels like you're being welcomed into a home which I love. The food is fantastic whether you eat meat or not (but the meat really is special) and make sure to try the provoleta cheese starter with the empanadas. Yum.

KE is a firm favourite and has had the same menu since I can remember. I'd say it's the best spot for salads, sandwiches and tapas in town but you can also have a 'proper meal' of fresh fish or meat. Having breakfast in the summer or winter on the terrace overlooking the harbour is one of my favourite things to do. On the topic of breakfast, their churros or Pan con Tomate rocks.

Midas which is also over looking the water in the port has a chilled tapas side and a smarter restaurant side to it. I like both, but the tapas side is great for a bite to eat when you haven't made prior plans. It never disappoints!

For brunch, Foodisiac in blue Marina is good and that's where you'll find your avotoast, granola bowl or croissant and jam. I think it's the only place that serves almond or oat milk with coffee in the area which is probably how they lured people in in the first place. If you want to go on a Sunday morning, make sure to book as it's market day and gets full very quickly. Great for a sunny day.

Trocadero is a beautiful beach club setting on the side of the water and obvious choice in the summer. I also love it in winter as it feels very cosy. It has an extensive menu to choose from but I always have sushi. I know that the lamb dish is meant to be amazing, too.

If you have access to a car (I would recommend this because things are fairly spread out in the area) there is a local spot in the nearby white mountain village of Casares called Restaurante Sarmiento. Book for dinner and watch the sun set over the most gorgeous view of an old church perched on top of a hill. It is home Spanish cooking personified and I love going as a bit of a treat.

Also slightly further afield, El Guadarnes is a restaurant in Estación de San Roque. I've never seen fried olives other than here and their local, Spanish dishes are rich and full of flavour. Great for a Saturday or Sunday lunch in the winter or dinner during the summer. Make sure to book.

Agora is new, and very cool. With a beautiful courtyard for dinner and drinks in the summer it converts into a nightclub once you go through the huge sound cancelling doors and into a beautifully designed orange and terracotta themed indoor restaurant turned nightclub as the night goes on.

Venta Manolo is a classic Spanish 'venta' with fairly basic home-cooking. It is very popular among the holiday makers from Madrid during the summer but again, my favourite time to go is winter. They get their strews and soups spot on (potajes or guisos) , and they always have room unlike in July and August.

I know ice cream isn't a meal to most, but because of my love for it I have to include my favourite spot. Eccolo in the Port is the best!

Where to stay:

SO hotel - recently renovated with a brand spanking spa and gym, this new hotel by Sofitel is child friendly, has 2 or 3 pools and a cool bar and restaurants. The rooms are spacious, well designed and modern and it sits on the Almenara golf course. 20 mins from the beach.

MIM hotel - this boutique hotel is perfectly located in the heart of the port and a 2 min walk from the beach. Above Midas restaurant and next to KE, it is the closest thing you'll get to a beach front property in the area unless you rent a house. The rooms are small but it is perfect for a weekend away and is reasonably priced.

Finca Cortesin - a mega wow in every sense. The food is exquisite, the swimming pools look like they've been plucked from a Slim Aarons book and the rooms, bars, chill out areas and restaurants are beautifully designed with no detail spared. Also on a golf course, this hotel has tennis courts, padel courts and its own private beach club you can access via shuttle busses from the main reception. The spa and gym have everything you could imagine, including a room made of ice which is the real deal cryo chamber. This hotel is a real treat that you'll love and your bank account wont.

Polo Valley - Glamp for a night between polo fields, the Guadiaro river and mountains with beautiful views. You can book a hack down the river (yes, really the horses will walk through the water) or a polo lesson and enjoy an 'asado' cooked under the stars for you. Incredibly romantic and a very special experience.

Where to drink:

Bunker Beach Bar is on Guadalquitón beach and is perfect for sundowners and an evening dip.

Chambao Beach bar is on Torreguadiaro beach and serves great food as well as cocktails. you can also rent sunbeds and the music turns up till the early hours of the morning.

Bahia Limon, for live music, drinks and a great vibe.

Agora for late night drinks and dancing.

KE for a drink at any time of day or night winter or summer.

Trocadero for sunset cocktails.

The Polo (July and August only).

I also love to take an eski of drinks to any of the beaches in the area with some towels to have a swim, watch the sunset and enjoy a non-alcoholic beer with my feet in the sand. During the summer months Midas serve takeaway pizzas which also taste good on the beach!

Where to shop:

The Sunday Market is a must-do. The stalls change every year and there are lots of stands selling beautiful fashion, jewellery, homeware and more. It is positioned between all the restaurants in Blue Marina and takes place on a Sunday morning from about 9-2pm. Great for presents and holiday memories.

El Almacen in the port has a mixture of clothing, homeware and accessories as well as magazines, wrapping paper and birthday cards. I bought a beautiful ashtray there years ago and keep my crystals in it because I don't smoke.

SaxDoodle for illustrated prints of the area and all the local haunts. The talented designer behind the brand has also branched out to other cities around the globe and takes comissions if you'd like to create something special.

Sotogrande isn't really a shopping place, but you have Puerto Banus and Marbella up the coast (about 40 mins drive) which is hope to the designer boutiques and shopping centres with Zara, Massimo Dutti, Uterque, H&M etc.

What to do:

  • Play tennis, padel, golf, polo and do any water sports you desire.

  • Walk in the pine forests up behind Sotogrande or along the beaches. There is also a great 5km loop that takes you round 'paseo del parque' which is the ring road that Sotogrande was built around.

  • Chill in any of the hotel spas or on the beaches.

  • Visit Castellar castle, Jimena, Casares, Ronda or Gaucin for quaint, Spanish villages.

  • Visit Marbella for trendy clubs, shops, restaurants and hotels.

  • Visit Gibraltar because it is a quirky place like no other. Climb Med Steps for the most incredible views across the straits of Gibraltar over to Morocco or do a tour of the caves, tunnels and historically important places on the rock.

  • Spend the day learning to kite surf in Tarifa and visit the old town for food, great shops and bars.

I hope you enjoy, and let me know if you ever visit!

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