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Best hotels in Malta: From Valletta to countryside hideaways

Where to stay on the island for luxury and sea breeze

Lucie Grace
Friday 21 April 2023 14:54 BST
Ghar Lapsi is a small fishing village with a beautiful bay for swimming
Ghar Lapsi is a small fishing village with a beautiful bay for swimming (Lucy Grace)

One of Europe’s sunniest destinations, the Maltese islands are absolutely packed with fascinating historical and natural sights. The archipelago has served as a cultural crossroads between Europe and North Africa for millennia – due to its location in the Med (between Sicily and Tunisia), many conquering nations have come and gone. The result is a brilliant melting pot of language (Maltese is a mix of Arabic and Italian), cuisine, architecture and attitude that is completely unique to the surprisingly small country.

In the past decade, Malta has noticeably transformed from being a family focused, all-inclusive resort type of holiday to a wildly trendy destination full of boutique stays and renovated baroque townhouses. Capital city Valletta is now a booming arts and culture hub, while small quaint fishing villages such as Marsaxlokk are finally getting their dues. The large, cheap and cheerful hotels of Qawra (don’t pronounce the “Q”) and Bugibba are still in fine form but the portfolio of accommodation has certainly widened and there’s now, quite literally, something for everyone. So, read on for our picks of the best hotels in Malta and Gozo.

Best hotels in Valletta

Best boutique hotel: The Embassy Valletta

Neighbourhood: Valletta

The hotel is located right in the dining quarter of the bustling capital (The Embassy Hotel)

The capital city is brimming with boutique hotels but The Embassy takes the top spot; an oasis of zen right on Straight Street, the dining quarter of the bustling capital. Full of elegant design that’s a modern homage to Art Deco, the 80+ large rooms are spacious, reasonably priced and very easy on the eye. It’s the rooftop that has the added wow factor, though; the swimming pool and breakfast terrace overlook St John’s Co-Cathedral, an icon of the Valletta skyline, with views of Manoel Island and Sliema beyond the famous dome. Up here, grab a brilliant breakfast and don’t skip the pastries.

Best city hotel: The Phoenicia

Neighbourhood: Valletta

The bright interiors are dotted with antiques (

Malta’s premier heritage hotel, the exquisite Phoenicia is a local institution full of old-world charm, while simultaneously being absolutely contemporary. Flanking the southeast wall of Valletta in the capital’s neighbouring suburb Floriana, the bright interiors are dotted with antiques as a nod to the legacy of the place, designed in 1936 by Scottish architect William Binnie (who also created Arsenal FC’s east-stand in the club’s former stadium). If the exquisite hotel bar doesn’t capture your imagination, the luscious gardens and infinity pool are sure to dazzle.

Best for views: Iniala Harbour House

Neighbourhood: Valletta

USPs are a stunning view and Michelin-starred rooftop restaurant (Iniala Harbour House)

This ultra-luxe stay was designed with jet-set visitors in mind. Discreetly set across four adjacent townhouses on Valletta’s eastern wall, the views of the Grand Harbour are absolutely majestic, sweeping across medieval bastions, box-windowed townhouses and endless church domes and spires of the Three Cities: Senglea, Conspicua and Vittoriosa. The view isn’t the only USP here; Iniala’s Michelin-starred rooftop restaurant ION Harbour serves impressive plates of light modern Mediterranean fare. After dinner, pop down to Essensi Spa in the historic hotel’s stone vaults, where there’s a steam room, sauna and heated pool, plus Ayurvedic health treatments and traditional Thai massage on offer.

Best hotels in Mdina

Best budget hotel: Point De Vue

Neighbourhood: Mdina

This gorgeous building dates back to the 17th century (

Great location, service and character do not come cheap in Malta, so this restored period property, just a stone’s throw from Mdina’s walls, is a rare find. The family-run guest house is in a gorgeous building that dates back to the 17th century and is in such close proximity to the ‘Silent City’, you are pretty much guaranteed to have Mdina to yourself in the morning and evening – before and after the daytrippers. The 15 rooms are large and decorated with pops of colour and pattern. Most importantly, you’ll be well looked after by the lovely staff, who pride themselves on creating a home-away-from-home feel.

Best luxury hotel: The Corinthia Palace Hotel

Neighbourhood: Mdina

While the hotel may look posh, it comes without any fustiness or snobbery (

Technically 10 minutes’ drive from the walled Silent City of Mdina, in the quiet neighbouring suburb of San Anton, The Corinthia Palace Hotel may look posh but it comes without any fustiness or snobbery. The wonderfully attentive, welcoming team take pride in the 150-room hotel, which launched the local Corinthia chain of hotels in 1968. The huge outdoor pool, heated indoor pool and fantastic spa are as unforgettable as the afternoon tea, which would give Fortnum and Mason a run for its money.

Best hotels in St Julian’s

Best spa hotel: Holm Boutique and Spa

Neighbourhood: St Julian’s

The Boutique hotel holds its own against big-name neighbours (

The St Julian’s area – comprised of Balluta Bay, Spinola Bay, Paceville and St George’s Bay – is awash with large luxury hotels such as The Hilton, Radisson Blu and InterContinental but we love this homegrown Maltese outfit, Holm Boutique and Spa, which holds its own against the big-name neighbours with impressively extensive wellness facilities. Full of kaleidoscopic (occasionally eccentric) design, bijou stay Holm houses a sauna, steam room, hot pool, ice room, brilliantly peaceful Himalayan salt room, shower bath and rooftop infinity pool. Meanwhile, spa therapists offer an equally wide-ranging array of treatments.

Neighbourhood: St Julian’s

Jet-ski, canoe and paddle boat rentals are available at some of the best prices on the island (

Local and international guests legitimately have a lot of love for Maltese chain Corinthia, which is synonymous with thoughtful, dedicated service. This family-friendly resort Marina Hotel sits adjacent to the more expensive sister branch Corinthia St George’s Bay. The huge pool area, backdropped by gorgeous sea views is a fun, safe place for the small ones to run around while you relax, and your teens will love the Sun & Fun centre, where jet-ski rentals, parasailing, banana rides, canoe and paddle boat rentals are available at some of the best prices on the island.

Neighbourhood: St Julian’s

(Radisson Blu Resort & Spa)

With an unbeatable location overlooking Malta’s top sandy beach, Golden Bay, if you’re here for the sand, it doesn’t get better than the Radisson Blu Resort. Take in the breath-taking sunset before enjoying one of four restaurants and three bars on site – the delectable chicken tikka and samosas at Essence of India are a must. The 300+ rooms and suites are full of sleek, smart decor in sandy tones. Expect five-star treatment but in a very child-friendly environment; babysitters are available if you want to visit the spa’s in-house hammam or heated indoor pool.

Best hotels in Gozo

Best hotel for foodies: Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz Malta

Neighbourhood: Gozo

Tucked away in idyllic countryside surroundings, the Kempinski Hotel is the perfect hideaway (

This sublime, luxury hotel in west Gozo is tucked away in idyllic countryside surroundings. A self-styled “hideaway” this five-star resort provides serenity for travellers seeking privacy during their high-end stay, with large pools surrounded by terraced farmland. It’s the seasonal menus at the exceptional restaurants on the property that steal the show, though. Try L-Istorja for fine-dining versions of Maltese and Gozitan cuisine, such as Gozo tart tatin and Maltese rabbit and sausage, served alongside sumptuous pastas and risottos. The Il-Baldakkin Bistro is a Mediterranean affair with mouth-watering fish of the day, Angus beef flank steak, crispy duck legs and veal schnitzel on the menu, and don’t miss the exceptional breakfast in L’Ortolan, where they make the best eggs benedict on the islands.

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