MY PHOENICIA FRIEND
My revisit to the Island of Malta for their first International Baroque Festival was a chance again to meet up with an old friend!
This friend was to be found just outside the fortification walls of the capital Valletta, sitting high above one of the most stunning harbours in the world.
The Phoenicia Hotel very much feels like that meeting an old friend and well liked one I might add.
Great looking and refined, an elegant haven situated close to the bus terminal where the Maltese and visitors come an go constantly, but alas not now on those former colourful antique styled buses that were such an iconic sight around all the island.
Inside and away from the bustle, the cavernous lounge Palm Court area that is overlooked by a dancing Art Deco styled lady perched high above the cocktail bar is a perfect place to gather your thoughts, read or nowadays check your emails on the Wi-Fi. A genteel ambience of a former time can be recaptured here for sure, not pure colonial but a hint of it.
If you have front, side or rear facing rooms it is not really a problem as the views in most directions are excellent. To the front the comings and goings of Grand Harbour or at the rear to Sliema and the marinas there, plus over the hotel’s extensive and lush gardens. There is an outside pool that is normally open but in winter it was closed for maintenance whilst I was there. However in the spring through to autumn in the shelter of the city walls it would be a wonderful place to swim and relax once the Mediterranean heat starts to build once again.
The rooms offer very much the norm in terms of size not too large, not small, space to breath in, with a fair amount of Art Deco styled contempory fittings and bearing in mind the hotel was built just after World War II its sort of fits in with the very end of that era. There is a whole range of rooms from the ‘Classic’ up to a very large ‘Executive Harbour View suite’ should you be wanting a little more room to move.
Offering some excellent Maltese wines dining in either the main Phoenix Restaurant or the quieter Pegasus Brasserie, which had just picked up an island restaurant award. With international cuisine and local Maltese dishes to be found in both with seafood high on their lists.
The hotel is certainly blessed with its staff in all areas of the hotel, as they are very friendly, helpful and attentive in a natural relaxed manner and not in an enforced more corporate style approach.
My reason to be on the Island was to attend the island’s first Valletta International Baroque Festival and the hotel is a longstanding patron of the arts on the island and fully supported this first Baroque extravaganza. In fact the hotel was perfectly located to attend the various concerts being held in the city. Located just outside the main part of the city places it in a great position for shopping or the Barakka Gardens or to tour the island by bus as that is such a great way to see around the island and I would recommend that you do it this way. As you will meet the proud islanders going about there business and get much better views than being in a car at lower level. The buses fan out in all directions from near the hotel North, South, East or West and there’s a bus going that way!
To the south east there is the beautiful bay dotted with colourful fishing boats at Marsaxlokk or to the centre of the island you have Mdina or the ‘Silent City’ as its known, then nearby is Rabat, there is the huge doomed church at Mosta, close by from there too. Going more north west from Valletta and its St Juilan’s Bay or the Sliema which is the main coastal area for the island so there is shopping, boating, fishing, cruises, restuarants and bars to be found a plenty. Further north and you could make a ferry trip to the companion island of Gozo and that will certainly make a great day out.
I last stayed at the Phoenicia back in 2006 and coming back for me was a delight it felt very comfortable and certainly relaxed the same way you do with a good friend. You can be yourself no need to put on airs and graces, you just feel at home right away …and I did!
Stay at Phoenicia Hotel from just £55 per person per night, based on two sharing a classic room for a three-night stay, valid for advance bookings online.
To book call 0800 862 0025 or visit: http://www.phoeniciamalta.com