Reputation: Pool parties and champagne spray
Unsung hero: River canyons, historical farmland and stargazing
Travel inland from Marbella to get a taste of Spain before the tourists came. A two-hour drive will take you to the historical farming region of Andalucía, dotted with crumbling ruin, traditional ranches home to cattle, bulls and goats and untouched hills best explored on horseback. Alternatively, head to the Guadalmina River (about 30 minutes' drive) to visit the cavernous canyons and untouched wilderness that define the countryside. The sky comes alive by night; an evening stargazing will offer a meditative experience that's within easy reach of the hotel hotspots and yet feels worlds apart.
Where to stay: Puente Romano combines the polished side of Marbella with more than 100 experiences for guests to enjoy, many of which celebrate the region's culture. Check in to one of its suites or villas before enjoying masterclasses in local cuisine as well as private sessions with sommeliers on days when staying put appeals.