What it's really like to stay at a 'luxury all-inclusive' resort in Spain

This must be the best smelling hotel in Europe.

A unique scent of lemon zest and grapefruit magically fills the air every time you enter a room. The fragrance was crafted especially for the resort by the French cosmetics company, Anne Sémonin.

The Ikos Andalusia hotel, near Marbella in Spain, advertises itself as a ‘luxury all-inclusive’.

I went to find out what that really means and whether it’s worth the extra money.

The resort has just opened for their summer season when I arrive. It’s been a popular opening so far and the resort is almost fully booked already for August and September.

A major clean up mission has been needed after three weeks of poor weather and sand rain, which “made the hotel look like it was in Mars,” according to staff.

You wouldn’t have guessed, given that everything is so pristinely white. I can’t even imagine how much upkeep that requires. 

What’s really included in the ‘all-inclusive’

  • All meals at a choice of seven different restaurants, as well as the option to dine outside the hotel at select places for no extra cost
  • All drinks, including cocktails, prosecco and a choice of 300 bottles of wine
  • Fully stocked mini bar in the room
  • 24 hour room service
  • A complimentary Tesla to drive for a full day
  • Kids club and teenager club operated by UK childcare providers
  • Nespresso machine in your hotel room
  • Access to gym and spa facilities

What is it like inside?

The decor throughout is a stunning mix of boho and minimalism. There are gestures to the different interior influences inside.

At the Greek restaurant, Ouzo, the ceiling is made up of clay vases like the traditional Greek pottery, amphorae.


The spa, in particular, is as wonderfully serene as you would hope it to be.

Floor to ceiling white billowing curtains create a cosy enclave for you to wait for treatments, with a bright window looking out to a courtyard garden with terracotta pots and palms.

A neck and back massage soothes a series of stresses with a choice of ginger, olive oil or lavender oils. Yes, there is yet another scent.

What if I want to exercise?

The state of the art gym is about as good as any gym I have visited in London. There is even an outdoor gym for al-fresco dead lifts, but I didn’t bother with that.

Free bike rental is also available and the cycle to the nearby town of Estepona is well recommended and an easy 40 minute ride along the coastal promenade.

The resort offers football coaching with former Premier League players, including Ashley Cole, Joe Cole and Robbie Keane.

It is, unsurprisingly, extremely popular with families and I can imagine it being the talk of summer for kids. 

So, you can drive a Tesla?

The one-of-a-kind Tesla rental service has replaced the hotel’s recent Mini rental service.

It is included in the room booking price, all you need to do is remember your driving licence.

If you don’t drive like me, one of the staff members can chauffeur you if you just want to get a sense of the Tesla experience. 

What if I have kids?

The resort is excellently catered for families and baby-sitting facilities are available for four-month-olds upwards.

There is also a water park, a creche, and special menus for kids and toddlers.

What about the food?

I’ve been to all-inclusives before where the food is somewhat… mixed.

That’s not the case here and the choice of seven restaurants with different cuisines, as well as room service, is really refreshing.

There is also an extensive cocktail list, with cocktails from the mixologist Marian Beke. The Andalusian Julep cocktail is a delicious mix of 10-year-old Spanish Torres brandy, vanilla syrup and chocolate bitters.


The seafood on offer is the standout success for me, with menu highlights including grilled octopus, fresh seabass and tuna tartare.

The verdict

Everything seems much slower here and the change in pace is completely necessary after er, the last two years.

Sunrise isn’t until 8:45am and the resort is empty before 9am. It takes a bit of an adjustment to sink into Mediterranean hours, but it’s a welcomed one. 

Not having to worry about the final bill and the selection of everything throughout does make you relax even more.

It’s worth adding that Covid protocols are still followed inside, with mask wearing encouraged. All your documentation is rightfully reviewed when you check in.

Given it is the start of a new season, there are a few teething problems. The service isn’t as smooth as you might expect for a five-star experience in some areas.

There can, on occasion, be a long wait for drinks and check-in process took some guests up to 45 minutes.

But these points are only flagged given the luxury service the hotel aims to serve.

By and large, their intention of ‘luxury all-inclusive’ really is the case and it seems well worth the money, particularly in low season and once you add up the extra cost of meals and drinks out.

It turns out that an all-inclusive in Marbella can be a boho and glamorous experience, plus you’ll smell fabulous.

Rooms at Ikos Andalusia start from £362 per night for a superior double room during low season, transfers included. You can find out more here.

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