Is Marbella the California of Spain?

Is Marbella the California of Spain

Marbella, Spain has often been compared to California, but is this is a valid claim?
We can see why our favourite Costa del Sol resort is viewed as a mini- version of The Golden State. Some similarities are the climate, the nature (both destinations have beaches and mountains) and the beautiful people. Nonetheless, let’s not pretend that Marbella’s 17 miles of coastline can rival California’s 900 miles. Or, that Marbella has the same features and facilities as the large metropolis of LA, or the iconic Las Vegas – where ‘the good times roll.’

Can Marbella compete or are we just California dreaming?

“You could travel the world, but nothing comes close to the golden coast.” – Katy Perry.

There are much worse places to be than California. With its “Golden State” reputation and the unrivalled, legendary cities of San Francisco and LA, it’s not hard to see the appeal. The glamour of Hollywood, the Californian landscape, the weather, and its fabulous wildlife parks pack a solid punch. California has a booming wine industry with its own wine valley too, and those tall, iconic palm trees that grace the avenues of Beverly Hills are enough to give us goosebumps.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California

Accommodation Compared: Luxury Villas in Marbella and California

When it comes to accommodation, there are definitely some similarities. Both destinations offer a wide range of luxury hotels, resorts, and stunning villas. Just watch the Netflix show, “Selling Sunset” and you’ll see the types of high spec villas on offer in LA (not to mention the cutthroat industry behind the sales). But wait, Marbella also has its own fair share of incredible, out of this world villas on the coast and in the hills, which command multi-million Euro (or Dollar) price tags. Some of them look similar in style too!

A modernist style prevails in the Californian villa design, and in fact, one particularly spectacular property in Palm Springs, California is on sale for a potentially record-setting $25 million. You may be thinking why is it so expensive? Well, it was captured by photographer Slim Aarons’ popular 1970 photograph “Poolside Gossip” Showing the likeness in the two resorts, Slim Aarons chose to use villas in Marbella for the backdrop to some of his work too, capturing Marbella’s Old School Chic.

There are similarities between the Californian modernist architecture style and many of the luxury villas in Marbella. The open plan design and blend between inside and outside with the use of modern shapes is important on the Costa del Sol. In fact, one of our exclusive properties in Sierra Blanca, villa LA, is reminiscent of this style and very aptly named. This fabulous villa would definitely not be out of place in Los Angeles.

Villa Los Angeles, Sierra Blanca, Marbella
Villa Los Angeles, Sierra Blanca, Marbella

Villa LA, Sierra Blanca, Marbella

California vs. Marbella: Food and Drink

Spain and California both offer an array of delicious food choices. However, in our humble opinion, Marbella wins when it comes to seafood. There’s freshly caught fish, paella made with saffron rice and the famous espeto (Malaga’s answer to the beach barbecue).

Seafood, fish with ice crab

California, on the other hand, having had many cultures help develop its cuisine over time, does offer even more choice. Californian food may display any one of its Hispanic, Asian, or American roots.

On the subject of restaurants, there’s a plethora of Hollywood hot spots and LA fine dining venues. Given LA’s reputation for celebrities and their food trends, there’s ample choice for vegans in Hollywood, like Crossroads Kitchen, a vegan restaurant gaining popularity with the stars.  Marbella has its share of swanky places to eat at too, one being The Puente Romano Beach resort on the Golden Mile, where you’ll find at least 6 delectable restaurants to choose from.

Wines in California and Marbella

Wine is as important to California as the sun is to Marbella! It has the Napa Valley, which is one of the premier wine regions in the world. The region is responsible for generating $50 billion in annual revenue. (Source: Sevenfiftydaily)

Wines in California and Marbella

These are impressive numbers but it’s not all about quantity.

Marbella and its surrounding regions also produce some fantastic wines, plus if we are comparing Marbella with the vast expanse of the whole state of California, then let’s not exclude the wines from other regions of Spain. In Marbella, you can find delicious wine from Ribera del Duero and La Rioja in abundant supply.


California vs. Marbella: Lifestyle

Marbella has long been known as a fashionable and luxurious vacation destination for the rich and famous. But then again, so has California with areas like Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Malibu, and Santa Barbara.

Venice beach, California

The Californian stereotype is someone who enjoys the great outdoors, lives a healthy lifestyle with plenty of time in the nature and on the beach, practises yoga and eats well, possibly into organic food. There’s the ‘surfer dude’ stereotype, the Silicon Valley stereotype and the ‘LA celebrity’ stereotype (who is always into the latest health fad and has plenty of quirks). There are certainly a lot of stereotypes, but we can beat those in Marbella. Here, we have our fair share of interesting and unusual people, those into the latest health trends and those who embrace nature and the ocean.

One way that the two resorts’ lifestyles differ are advances in technology. San Francisco and Silicon Valley was the birthplace of the sharing economy, and the home of Airbnb. Apps like Uber all originated there, and the Californians blend tech seamlessly with their new-age trends and love of the outdoors. In Marbella, not so much! While we have the standard Wi-Fi available in nearly every bar and restaurant, apps for car sharing and for transport, as a whole Marbella is not as switched on as Silicon Valley. There, we said it!

Marbella and its lifestyle are similar to California in many ways – with the excellent climate, food, drink and high standard of living. You can hike a mountain, head to the beach or even dance the night away in both places.

California vs. Marbella: Lifestyle

Call us biased but we feel that Marbella has its own charm and identity that you just don’t find in California. There is that unmistakeable Andalucian flavour that gives the area something extra.

Don’t believe us?  Come and visit and we will show you the highlights.

With love,

The Swish team xx




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