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Discover the Hotel Claude Marbella, which was once the regal home to Eugénie de Montijo, Empress of France.

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Hotel Claude Marbella, a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2022, dates back to 1650.


Located in the quaint coastal town of Marbella, Spain, Hotel Claude Marbella was one of the first boutique hotels to debut in the area. This fantastic historic site has not always been a celebrated vacation destination, though. On the contrary, Hotel Claude Marbella was once a secluded, regal palace ages ago. Originally constructed during the 17th century, it housed generations of local noble families. Perhaps its most noteworthy resident was Eugénie de Montijo, wife to the French Emperor Napoleon III. Empress Montijo was a native of nearby Granada and often returned to Andalucía for summer holidays. Upon her arrival, she specifically used the future Hotel Claude Marbella as a haven from the pressures of the royal court. But following the overthrow of her husband in 1870, the house left Empress Montijo’s ownership before finally falling into a period of disrepair. Thankfully, salvation came when an opera singer named Claude Devoize obtained the structure a century later.

Together with her partner Don Juan Berjano, Devoize subsequently renovated the brilliant mansion back to its former glory. Taking months to complete, the revitalized estate opened as the couple’s own seasonal retreat during the 1970s. The house experienced a renaissance under their collective stewardship, hosting all kinds of literary gatherings, dance parties, and even opera rehearsals. Then, in 2020, the current owners decided to conduct a thorough renovation that helped preserve its rich character. Already a historic hotel since 2008, the architects in charge proceeded to renovate each one of the building’s seven guestrooms to brilliantly reflect the culture of greater . Andalucía. Furthermore, the house boasted countless antique period pieces and was decorated with original artwork made exclusively for the hotel. Now open as the “Hotel Claude Marbella,” this terrific historic location truly conveys the unique and unmistakable spirit of the region to its guests.

  • About the Location +

    Located along the famous Costa del Sol in southern Spain, Marbella is an incredible community steeped in history. Some evidence has suggested that the earliest known inhabitants were possibly the Phoenicians, who were known to establish small trading outposts along the Iberian coast throughout much of antiquity. Other historians believe that the discovery of Carthaginian pottery nearby indicated that Marbella was once within the realm of its sprawling Mediterranean empire, too. Regardless of its exact origins, historical records are certain that Marbella had become a Roman town called “Salduba” amid Rome’s conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in the 2nd century B.C. Traces of Roman influence can be seen throughout modern Marbella today, such as the three beautiful Ionic capitals that still exist within a ring of historical fortifications. Nevertheless, Marbella’s time as a Roman town eventually ended when the Roman Empire collapsed throughout the 5th century A.D. In the power vacuum that followed, the Visigoths briefly controlled the area until the Umayyad Caliphate crossed the ocean from North Africa and seized the territory in the 8th century. The city subsequently became integrated into a growing Islamic civilization referred to as “Al-Andalus” by its new Muslim residents. The Umayyads and their descendants then began transforming the community’s appearance, constructing a series of unique townhouses and commercial structures that featured a stunning array of Middle Eastern design aesthetics. Perhaps the greatest building project the Muslims oversaw was the creation of an imposing walled citadel that prevented attacks from both land and sea. Marbella even assumed its current name then, with the very first iteration spelled as “Marbal-la.”

    In 1485, the Catholic Monarchs of Spain—Queen Isabella I of Castile and Fernando II of Aragon—peacefully obtained the settlement in one of the last phases of the Reconquista. Now part of Spain, Marbella assumed the position of an important provincial capital that dominated the politics of the region for generations. Its economy also remained firmly rooted in agriculture for centuries thereafter, especially once sugarcane became the primary crop grown at the numerous farms populating the surrounding countryside. But Marbella began to experience yet another period of significant change when industrialization began to arrive in the 19th century. In 1828, one of the first modern industries to initially appear in Marbella was mining, with businessman Manuel Agustín Heredia founding an iron-ore smelting company called “La Concepción” downtown. While his blast furnaces were only active for three decades, their presence presaged the construction of many more factories throughout the late Victorian era. Then in the 20th century, Marbella’s manufacturing sector was joined by another lucrative trade—tourism. Following the aftermath of World War II, the beaches near Marbella rapidly became popular vacation destinations due to their fantastic weather and turquoise water. Recognizing the economic potential, a European aristocrat named Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenburg started developing upscale resorts in Marbella and the rest of the Costa del Sol. His investment transformed the region into an incredibly attractive seasonal retreat for travelers throughout the world. Marbella has since retained its illustrious identity as a premier holiday destination, particularly among cultural heritage travelers eager to experience its luxurious character and fascinating heritage.

  • About the Architecture +

    The fantastic historic mansion that now constitutes the Hotel Claude Marbella brilliantly displays Andalusían-inspired architecture that was first introduced in Spain by Muslims throughout the Middle Ages. Indeed, the architectural legacy that they left behind has been cherished in the country ever since. Successive generations of Spanish people have thus sought to replicate this form of Andalusían architecture within their own building projects, as well as to safeguard any surviving examples. Berber and Arab origin, the Muslims that arrived in Spain had originally settled almost all of the Iberian Peninsula at the dawn of the Early Middle Ages. Establishing small kingdoms, the Muslims subsequently resided in the region for years. But while their civilization was eventually gone by the 15th century, many aspects of their culture nonetheless endured thereafter. Perhaps one of their greatest legacies was their grand architectural designs. Influenced tremendously by Islamic design principles from the Middle East, the Iberian Muslims created brilliant edifices that embraced the concepts of rhythmic linear patterns, vegetative design, and elaborate geometric shapes. A combination of wood, stucco, and tiling—most notably “zellij”—constituted the building materials, although architects added more resources when attempting to emulate the design much later in modern times. One of the greatest components to this kind of Andalusían building style involved the “horseshoe arch,” which consisted of a perfect curve that bulged outward from the base. Furthermore, the local Muslims had also decorated their structures with onion-shaped domes that were generally topped with a pointed spire. Cultural heritage travelers today can witness this historic architectural form throughout much of Spain in places like Alhambra, Granada, and Córdoba.

    But the Hotel Clade Marbella also displays elements of Tudor Revival architecture, despite its location in southern Spain. Tudor Revival architecture is best defined as an eclectic mixture of late medieval building traditions that influenced the appearance of English villages during the Middle Ages. The form specifically attempted to emulate the historical character of the feudal cottage that once dominated England’s landscape. The name “Tudor” is somewhat of a misnomer though, for the design aesthetic did not borrow any of its principles from buildings constructed during the reign of the 16th century Tudor monarchs. Buildings constructed with Tudor Revival-style architecture were typically identified by their half-timbering. In essence, “half-timbering” is the practice of constructing a series of interlocking load-bearing timber frames that were then filled with some kind of plaster mold. As such, the architects left the frame exposed, creating a visibly distinctive appearance. Another common characteristic of Tudor Revival-themed buildings was the presence of a steeply pitched roof that usually featured heavy shingles. This area of the structure was often lined with overhanging gables, as well as eaves and diamond-shaped casement windows. In many cases, the architects endeavored to make the roof appear as if it had been thatched. Stone chimneys also protruded from the roof, conveying rich details. A wonderful, round arched doorway guided guests into the interior, too, which featured an irregular floor plan. The use of such a layout was normal inside late medieval English homes, as it usually took several generations to build. Modern architects hence attempted to capture that ambiance whenever they set about creating the blueprints for Tudor Revival-style buildings.

  • Famous Historic Guests +

    Ferdinand de Lesseps, French diplomat and mastermind behind the Suez Canal.

    Eugénie de Montijo, Empress of France (1852 – 1870)

  • Film, TV and Media Connections +

    Desátate (2009)