After months of longing to escape from our four walls and explore the world again, we’re looking forward to seeking out our next Instagram-worthy destination, and the beautiful, sun-soaked island of Malta is certainly high on our list.
The Maltese hotel scene hasn’t been resting on its laurels during lockdown, from the creation of a brand-new luxe spa at The Phoenicia to a freshly appointed Michelin star at Ion – The Harbour, Iniala’s restaurant. Here, we reveal our must-visit places to stay in Malta for a truly unforgettable holiday.
Sitting right on the edge of Valletta’s 16th-century city walls, the grand Art Deco Phoenicia has majestic, honey-hued limestone exteriors and is a favourite of the Queen. Interiors are a mix of modern (bedrooms have a fresh feel with gorgeous fabrics) and vintage, with high, ornate ceilings and chandeliers, in keeping with the Phoenicia’s 1930s origins.
Stroll the lush seven and a half acres of manicured gardens and order a poolside cocktail – the views over Marsamxett Harbour are unrivalled. The new 1,200 square-metre walnut timber and marble spa is a welcome addition, with five treatment rooms, salt room, sauna, steam room and long indoor pool.
PALAIS LE BRUN
At the tip of Valletta’s peninsula, on Old Bakery Street, is the opulent 17th-century Baroque Palais Le Brun. Rich with history, the 2,000 square-metre palace was once home to Claude Le Brun, one of the noble Knights of Malta. Even now, stepping away from the hustle and bustle of the street and onto the cool marble floors will make you feel like royalty.
The 28 bedrooms run the gamut from doubles with balconies or terraces right up to the suite with a hot tub. And just a three-minute walk away you’ll find the unassuming dinner spot that is the Michelin-starred restaurant Noni, a hidden gem.
INIALA HARBOUR HOUSE AND RESIDENCES
Home to Malta’s latest Michelin-starred eatery (the island has an impressive five in total) is Iniala Harbour House and Residences in Valletta, with its rooftop restaurant ION – The Harbour. Menus change regularly but always feature seasonal produce, and the sunset views of boats bobbing on the waters of the Grand Harbour are spectacular.
The hotel’s ultra-glamorous rooms and suites (of which there are 23 in total) are spread over four houses decked out in a heady mix of the modern and Baroque-style sweeping staircases and hand-painted cupolas. To up the luxury, opt for one of the suites that include in-room dining and private use of the hotel’s boat Spirit of Iniala.
Overlooking Freedom Square right in the heart of Valletta, Domus Zamittello couldn’t be better placed for sightseeing – it’s just a few minutes’ walk from the Upper Barrakka Gardens, a former private garden of Italian knights, with its impressive harbour panoramas.
As you ring the bell and step inside the lavish 1630s-built palazzo, which has been meticulously restored to its former glory, you’ll marvel at everything from the intricately painted coffered ceiling in the breakfast room to the hand-painted details on the bedroom wardrobes and doors. If you book a room on the South Street side, you may even catch a performance from neighbouring open-air Pjazza theatre (although, outdoor events are currently restricted until September, so it’s worth double-checking the latest guidelines before you go).
The Corinthia brand may be growing across the globe, but its roots go back to Malta’s Corinthia Palace hotel and spa, the very first in the portfolio and one that the company still refers to as its ‘spiritual home’.
Located in the quiet, well-heeled area of San Anton, the former 19th-century villa retains many of its original features – think richly polished marble floors, balustrade balconies and neoclassical columns. You can take a dip in the Corinthia’s inviting split-level outdoor pool, or spend the day in the Athenaeum Spa – the ESPA treatment list is extensive.
Named after the area’s most famous former resident, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Coleridge is set in an elegant Valletta limestone townhouse and has a calming feel. There’s also a focus on sustainability, including using locally sourced ingredients, eco-friendly cleaning materials and certified-ethical down pillows.
Erring on the bijou side, there are only six suites, ranging from the cosy Erksine to the Fayette penthouse – worth it for the Valletta skyline views and the huge hand-painted mural alone. Breakfast is served in the barrel-vaulted cellar.