Room Mate hotels are often situated in the coolest neighbourhoods of cities in Spain and beyond. The Lola is in the heart of the Soho area of Malaga, which is gradually taking shape as the arty part of town. There is street art wherever you look and just in the last week top international graffiti artists Shepard Fairey and D*Face have created amazing murals on a building behind the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, better known simply as the CAC.
The CAC opened in 2003 and three years later the Room Mate group showed its faith in the potential of the neighbourhood by opening its first hotel in Malaga there. Although right in the centre of the city, between the Alameda boulevard and the sea, the area was quite rundown and is still a bit grungy in parts. Perfect for creative types then.
The Lola is is one of the nicest Room Mates; in fact, I think it’s my favourite. Designer Lorenzo Castillo has used sleek art decó lines and a lot of black and white perked up by blues, greens and mauves – a perfect fit for this urban setting with the Mediterranean just a few minutes way.
There are 50 rooms: standards (23-26m2), executives (26-29m2) and junior suites (47m2). Don’t be alarmed by the claim on the English version of the Room Mate website that all the rooms are ‘outdoor’ - this is just a bad translation of the Spanish ‘exterior’, which in this sense means that all rooms give onto the street, and thus have plenty of natural light, rather than onto an inner courtyard or a wall. By the way, the website also states rather sinisterly that the headboards in the executive rooms and junior suites are made out of ‘skin’, but you can take that ‘eew, yuck, gross’ expression off your face as they are actually a lovely luxe cushioned leather.
Room 308 is a standard at the rear of the building, giving onto Somera street, with sky blue walls contrasting with the overall black and white colour scheme. There are two beds pushed together, reading lights, sockets by the bed and plenty more in the room. No socket-anxiety here! There is a good-sized desk with a black Panton chair, and also an art deco club chair to slouch in. The bathroom is spacious with a marble bath and panelling. The own-brand toiletries – shampoo, gel and body lotion – are good quality with a citrus fragrance and come in dinky square bottles. There is a good hairdryer and a magnifying make-up/shaving mirror.
Earlier this year I stayed in Suite 101, which gives onto the pedestrianised Casas de Campos street at the front of the hotel. It is twice the size but has the same sort of décor. There is a double bed, a white leather sofa with a glass coffee table, steel lamps, Barcelona chairs and a larger desk. If you are going to spend a lot of time there, or have a lot of work to do, it is worth considering. I felt much more glamorous as soon as I entered the room!
There is free wifi and the signal was strong in both the rooms where I stayed. You need to enter a code to connect, but it is the same for all your devices and you only have to do it once. Room Mate is rolling out a mobile wifi service across its hotels too, called WiMate, although I wasn’t offered it at the Lola. There is a complimentary bottle of water in the rooms and a nice selection of glossy mags too.
Breakfast is in the very chic, light-filled restaurant on the ground floor. You serve yourself coffee from an espresso machine and there is a buffet with bacon, scrambled eggs, pastries, ham, cheese, tortilla, cereals, pastries, yogurts and fruit. Excellent value for money too: only €6 if it’s not already included in your room rate. And oh bliss, like at all Room Mates, breakfast is served until noon.
The staff are always great at Room Mate hotels – professional but friendly and not too formal, with great tips on where to eat etc. Rates start at around €65 for a double room including breakfast, with junior suites from about €115.