Just outside Benidorm might not be the first place you’d expect to find an Asian-themed five star hotel, with luxury facilities, five-star food and a spa to die for, but that’s exactly what you’ll get at Asia Gardens, one of southern Spain’s top hotels
The sun beats down from a bright blue sky. Great swathes of green jungle and pink bougainvillea fall over the walls of our thatched-roof hotel and the sweet scent of jasmine hangs in the air. If it wasn’t for the cheery ‘buenos dias’ that comes from our welcome party I would be sure I was in Asia.
In fact I am somewhere between the foothills of the Sierra Cortina Mountains and the Costa Blanca, a two-hour flight from London, 10 minutes from Benidorm, and fantastically hidden from both. Asia Gardens – my destination for the weekend – could well be Spain’s best kept secret.
The vision for this slice of Asia in Spain was created by interior designer Christian Larrain who sourced Maharaja’s palace doors from India, hand-painted screens from Japan and Buddhas from Bali to create an authentic look.
While the rooms draw inspiration from eight different Asian countries, they find common ground in their chic colonial interiors and amazing views of the mountains, sea, or best of all, the gardens.
This small red citadel is surrounded by impressive flora and fauna. Fruit trees, frangipani and a 175- year old Bonsai tree are among the 200 Asian plants that thrive in the area’s warm microclimate. It’s the end of May when I visit and so far the area has only seen five days of rain, which makes this the ideal place for a lazy spring escape.
Time at the hotel obeys a slow Mediterranean pace. We spend our days lying in the sun or at the poolside restaurant hoovering up bowls of garlicky prawns, salty padrón peppers and plates of marbled jamón ibérico washed down with crisp white wine. The hotel has a vast regional pantry, from the all-singing all-dancing Mediterranean breakfasts to Japanese-fusion nouvelle cuisine and a Thai restaurant as good as any you’d find in Asia, point in case being the lobster curry.
If you manage to hoik yourself out of the restaurants and off the sunbeds you’ll be thrilled to find the spa. The alfresco treatments are not to be missed, particularly the traditional Nuad Thai massage – a one-woman wrestling match that will iron out every knot in your body. And if you’re craving some Spanish culture, head to nearby Altea, where you’ll be charmed by chalk-washed restaurants, or into the mountains to the local vineyards. But then again you could just head back to your sunlounger.
Prices for two people in a standard double room with bed and breakfast start from €200 a night. asiagardens.es