A trove of history and indulgence.
In the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, a honey-coloured limestone archipelago has been resurrected over centuries to form breathtaking monuments, churches and palaces. Malta and Gozo are the largest inhabited islands in the Republic of Malta and bear the influence of a succession of foreign rulers who left an indelible mark on the language, cuisine and culture. The legacy of more than 160 years of British rule can be seen to varied degrees in the Maltese laws, education and business, not to mention driving on the left, English as a joint official language, red phone boxes and a penchant for beer.
One of the world’s smallest and most densely populated countries, the Maltese seem almost apologetic about the size of their country. Even though an astounding 95 per cent of Malta’s 316 km² is deemed urban area, an incredible 7,000 years of habitation has left the profoundly rich historical and architectural heritage that with careful development will continue to lure travellers for years to come.
Malta is the largest island and gateway to the Republic. Witness limestone arches and windows carved from wind and water, sheer cliffs that meet the sea, and rock, sand and man-made beaches along the coastline. History lovers will be awed by the Megalithic Temples of Malta that give a unique testimony to bygone eras. Ħaġar Qim, Mnajdra, and the underground Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni are both on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The towns along the northeast coast melt seamlessly into each other, and yet each has its own distinctive offerings. Built in 2007, The Palace is one of Malta’s newer five-star properties, conveniently situated minutes from the promenade and shopping Mecca, Sliema. Guests seeking quirky design will appreciate the six innovative designer suites themed: Texture, Light, Flavours, View, Music and Fragrance. Rooftop restaurant, TemptAsian, offers eight Asian cuisines with Sliema and Valletta’s harbours as backdrop.
Within The Palace is one of Malta’s most established names in spa, Marion Mizzi Wellness Centre. With a comprehensive menu incorporating Ayurveda, facials, body treatments and beauty services, the Spa connects to a gym and indoor pool area with loungers, dry sauna and steam room. www.thepalacemalta.com
THE XARA PALACE HOTEL
The Xara Palace is a charming family-run boutique hotel located within the medieval city walls of the World Heritage Site and ‘Silent City’, Mdina. Originally a noble family residence, history was restored with the 1996 restoration of the 17th-century palazzo. Discover enchanting spaces as you stroll past noble limestone arches, French blue walls and a vast collection of antiques. Each of the 17 rooms features a distinct layout and furnishings, with a luxurious marble bathroom with bathtub in every suite.
The cobbled streets of Mdina are a photographer’s dream at sunset as the limestone turn a rich rose gold colour. St Paul’s Cathedral and Catacombs in Rabat are a short walk beyond the city walls and offer a fascinating insight into the region’s history. From its hilltop vantage, discerning diners can enjoy tantalising dishes from the award-winning fine dining restaurant, de Mondion. From May until October, guests dining al fresco will be captivated by the distant display of fireworks as the towns and villages below celebrate their patron saint during festa. www.xarapalace.com.mt
PALAZZO PRINCE D’ORANGE
The restored mid-17th-century luxury suites at Palazzo Prince d’Orange offer a central stay that marries history with modern amenities. All five suites have access to a common library space, a small gym facility, sauna, and massage therapy room.
Poised majestically on a hilltop overlooking the Three Cities, the UNESCO World Heritage Site and capital of Malta oozes Old World charm. Once home to the Knights of St John, one of Valletta’s most spectacular attractions is St John’s Co-Cathedral built in honour of St John the Baptist, the patron saint of the Order. Completed in 1577, it is also home to two masterpieces by Caravaggio.
From the Upper Barrakka Gardens, relish the exceptional views of the Three Cities before boating across the Grand Harbour to the first home to the Knights of St John and the Inquisitor’s Palace. The International Baroque Festival is one of many festivals held in Valletta that celebrate the 16th-century city of baroque. www.palazzoprincemalta.com
CORINTHIA HOTEL ST GEORGE’S BAY
Like the ancient watchtower on the grounds of the Corinthia Hotel St George’s Bay, most of the 249 rooms have a beautiful sea view. Guests can choose from three spacious pools as well as complimentary activities like yoga and guided coastline walks. There’s even an opportunity to make your own jewellery with third generation master artist Gaetano Saliba who showcases his work and is dedicated to preserving the intricate tradition of Maltese filigree.
The intimate six-room Apollo Day Spa has a dry sauna and divine signature treatments including an Aromatic Anti-stress Massage and Carita Facial – the ultimate anti-ageing luxury treatment. Richard Geres, personal trainer and nutritional coach, offers guests integrative and holistic programmes as well as ongoing support once you are home with his personal training app. www.corinthia.com
PREVIOUS PAGE: The Palace Malta’s stunning infinity pool. THIS PAGE: Palazzo Prince d’Orange marries history
with modern amenities. OPPOSITE PAGE: The Palace is located minutes away from shopping Mecca.
THE WESTIN DRAGONARA RESORT
Stepping into the light and spacious lobby of The Westin Dragonara Resort, guests will experience an immense feeling of spaciousness – even during the busy summer months. On a peninsula surrounded by water, the 340-room property has vast grounds and the largest rooms on the island. Spend your days relaxing poolside, on the private beach lidos, or strolling along the promenade from St George's Bay to Balluta Bay to people-watch on the lively coastline.
Seaside and adjacent to the main property, the award-winning Quadro serves up tantalising seafood with the daily special always local, seasonal and fresh. The smooth seafood bisque with martini cream reduction and signature chocolate pudding with tobacco and rum ice cream are perfection.
With an inspired approach to wellness while travelling, the Westin SuperFoodsRx and Gear Lending Service ensures that everyone benefits from healthy food and their gym hosts more than 20 classes every week. Within the hotel, The Beauty Clinic provides excellent facials, such as the Age Summum Facial from Guinot and poolside preparation treatments like Body Glow performed by experienced therapists. www.westinmalta.com
LE MÉRIDIEN ST. JULIANS HOTEL & SPA
Once a fishing village, St Julian’s is home to a wealth of restaurants, bars and clubs that make it a popular nightlife destination.
All 276 rooms at Le Méridien St. Julians Hotel & Spa have balconies, with the spacious executive suites each with views of Balluta Bay offering a private lounge during the day and at breakfast. While the vegetarian menu is limited, it is refreshing to find a wide selection of locally caught fish at the recently opened bistro, Taro. The spacious restaurant opens onto an outdoor terrace in the summer where guests can enjoy sea views as they ease into the evening with signature cocktails such as Le Méridien Sour.
The Balinese-inspired The MyoKa Spa has a comprehensive menu with time-honoured Ayurvedic treatments that promise to nourish the entire being. After your treatment, relax by the pool with tea served in a Japanese Tetsubin teapot. A small wellness area with Jacuzzi, steam bath and dry sauna is also available. www.lemeridienmalta.com
CORINTHIA PALACE HOTEL & SPA
In response to growing tourism in Malta, the first Corinthia Hotel was built as an extension to a fine dining restaurant. Located in the heart of the island near San Anton Gardens, every room in the Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa has garden views. original limestone grand Villa by candlelight in the evening where flambé is the house specialty.
The Athenaeum Spa was built in a separate building to ensure natural light graces the spa, indoor pool and fitness area. The sauna garden is dedicated to relaxation, while the outdoor pool is designed in line with the ancient temple sites of Malta. The signature aromatic Candle Massage uses warmed soy oil from candles made by Maltese aromatherapist, Stephen Cordina to either invigorate or relax. www.corinthia.com
Smaller and quieter than Malta, it is easy to be enchanted by the nature, hospitality and sites of Gozo. The island is easily reached via a short ferry ride from Malta that offers views of Comino Island.
Gozo’s capital city, Victoria, is not only the physical and historical centre of the island, but also its cultural hub. The spectacular citadel overlooks the region and has been at the heart of the action possibly since Neolithic times, and certainly later by the Romans who built a temple to the Goddess Juno where the cathedral now stands.
The small size of the island makes farm-to-table dining easy. Think sun-dried tomatos, peppered goat cheese, capers, olives, crusty fresh bread and local liquors. Experience wine tasting, cheese-making demonstration and simple Gozitan dining at Ta Rikkardu located within the citadel. After a day of sightseeing, Marion Mizzi’s sister property in Victoria promises decadent facials and salon services.
Take the time to wander the streets and admire the facades of old palazzos, beautiful enclosed wooden terraces and quaint village shops. The extraordinary ancient World Heritage Ggantija Temples dates back 6,000 years. A fantastic way to gain a fresh perspective of the island’s historical and natural hot spots is with a guided tour from Gozo Segway.
Intimate boutique hotels are starting to emerge on Gozo and offer travellers an authentic slice of Gozitan culture. The 24- room Murella Living in the small coastal town of Marsalforn beautifully infuses every room with design elements inspired by the island, including the 350-year-old salt pans just up the road from the property. Gozo is one of the Europe’s top diving sites and Atlantis Diving Centre instructors have been introducing divers to the warm, crystal blue for more than 24 years. Explore reefs, caverns, walls and wrecks in the clear waters year round.
For those seeking to experience local living, the Quaint Hotels can be found in the heart of five distinct villages ranging from quiet rural to vibrant village. The 12-room property in Nadur is close to the legendary Calypso Cave and one of the most beautiful beaches in the Maltese Islands, Ramla Bay.
KEMPINSKI HOTEL SAN LAWRENZ
Set amidst 30,000sqm of subtropical gardens, the Kempinski San Lawrenz celebrates traditional Maltese architecture using limestone and iron that evokes a medieval atmosphere. All 140 suites have marble floors, modern bathrooms and balconies, many sharing views of the three outdoor pools and bucolic landscape. A variety of produce and herbs from the onsite garden inspire the menu of Gazebo, L’Ortolan and award-winning Trattoria where the local catch of the day is caught by the hotel’s own fisherman. After your meal, stargaze under the dramatic night sky. The Spa & Ayurveda Centre brings the East to the Mediterranean with authentic Ayurvedic treatments. The tranquil oasis has two indoor pools, soft-lit relaxation areas, steam room and traditional marble hammam with two heated central stones and numerous fountain niches. The spa’s menu offers various treatments based around seasonal needs, to detox, balance, relax and energise. www.kempinski.com
THIS PAGE: Kempinski San Lawrenz features three pools sharing bucolic tropical landscapes; Corinthia Hotel St
George’s Bay’s original limestone grand Villa. OPPOSITE PAGE: Seaside and spaciousness are highlights at The
Westin Dragonara Resort.