Lodging in Malta comes in all shapes and sizes and from comfortable to elegant; we tried a little of each. For our first lodging in Malta, my husband and I chose a B & B instead of a hotel. Our reasoning was simple: tips about transportation, sights, food, wine, even whether the tap water is okay to drink – are best gleaned from the proprietors of a good B & B.
Lodging in Malta
A hotel concierge may dispense helpful advice, but B & B owners LIVE here and are more likely to guide you objectively. So we started our trip on the isle of Gozo at the Dar ta’ Zeppi. The name means “the house of Giuseppe” and is located in Qala, about 10 minutes from the port of Mgaar.
Vince and Tanja Buttigieg (he Maltese, she Belgian) converted an old Maltese house into a small lodging and filled it with his local knowledge, her artistic skills, and their combined charm. Having breakfast with them each morning was like chatting with old friends.
Their tiny town has a number of excellent restaurants for evening meals, thanks to the many (mostly-British) expats who live there. We ate happily at Il Wileg and Ta’ Vestru, the former dripping with atmosphere and service, and the latter a comfortable hangout with unexpectedly good food.
Both offer spas, tennis courts, gyms, pools, and a choice of restaurants. The atmosphere and accouterments are completely different from those of a B & B, so the choice depends on your vacation needs . . . and budget.
The island of Malta offers a wide range of lodging options, including small B & Bs that cost like hotels, large apart-hotels that cost less than B & Bs, and about two dozen hotels that are ranked five-star (with commensurate prices).
Unless a seaside location is an imperative, the best hotel in the country is the Xara Palace Relais & Chateau. It is a 17th century converted palace done in the impeccable taste for which Relais & Chateau is known – antique furnishings, French savoir-faire. The location is Mdina, in the center of the island, so everywhere is accessible. The price may be accessible to few.
We opted to stay at the Corinthia Palace Hotel and Spa, also centrally situated in the garden town of Attard. Its modern additions are built around a 19th century villa across the street from the official residence of Malta’s president. Large rooms, gorgeous grounds, great spa facilities, fawning bellhops, a pianist playing at breakfast, free shuttle service to and from St. Julian (known for its nightlife) every evening, Corinthia has all the features you would expect of a five-star establishment. Except . . . in four days, no one ever vacuumed our room. Not once. When we finally mentioned it to the front desk, a maid appeared within minutes but that we had to ask for this service was inexcusable in a hotel of this caliber. We had other issues as well, but we balanced them against the fact that we were paying a low off-season price for our stay.
Other top-ranked establishments on Malta include the usual suspects: Le Méridien St Julian, InterContinental Malta, Hilton Malta, Westin Dragonara Resort, and Radisson Blue Resort Golden Sands. All but the Radisson are located in and around St. Julian, so if you want beach days and boozy nights with luxury in a naturally gorgeous setting, you can’t go wrong. Another advantage is that you can eat at a full-service hotel every night, and, if you arrange a “demi-pension” in advance, you may be ahead economically. This is a plus for families and less-adventurous eaters.
Hotel Casa Ellul in Valletta is a combination of an upscale boutique hotel and B &B. Its eight impeccable suites have the aura of a stylish neoclassic townhouse, its family ownership infuses warmth, and membership in Small Luxury Hotels of the World ensures a high level of sophisticated service.
If you want a more personal B & B experience, the choice is vast for an island of this size. Julesy’s B n B is in one of the Three Cities across from Valletta — friendly atmosphere, chic furnishings, a short distance from the must-see Hypogeum in neighboring Paola. Great location, but if you want to avail yourself of the bus hub in Valletta, you will need to take the ferry each day.
Loggia Mariposa in Naxxar is not far from Mosta and its famous domed church. Being inland, the location is less flamboyantly touristy than the seaside resorts, and this B & B reflects quiet good taste – exposed limestone brick, tile floors, etc.
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