Day 1 – 5th December 16
I started my trip on a cold December day where I met the rest of my group at London Heathrow, taking the short flight with Air Malta. The flight was smooth and once we arrived in Malta, we got through customs and retrieved our luggage quickly.
We got a minibus to the Cavalieri Hotel, where we were staying, in St Julian’s Bay. The rooms were large and had views over St Julian’s Bay, but need some refurbishment. A recent storm had caused damage to this and some other hotels in the area. I classed this as a 3 star hotel.
Day 2 – 6th December 16
This morning we took the minibus to Valetta, with lots of improvement building work on the outskirts, the journey was not the quickest. Our guide took us on a walking tour of Valletta, first visiting Barracka Gardens, which had fantastic views over the neighbouring towns. The cruise terminal was below with a lift up to the Gardens, which costs only 1 euro to go up but is free to go down. We then visited St John’s Co-Cathedral, which was beautiful and a collection of the Italian artist Caravaggio’s work. Our guide Maria explained that a lot of the hotels within the centre of Valletta are small boutique properties , and the evenings in the city are extremely quiet with most of the shops and restaurants closing around 7pm. I thought Valletta was a lovely city, rich in culture and history.
After our walking tour of Valletta, we took the mini bus to the Hilton Hotel in St Julian’s Bay. The Hilton has recently undergone some refurbishment, which finished at the beginning of 2016. They have refurbished the public areas, the restaurant and the executive areas. The facilities included 4 outdoor pools, a private car park for customers, and leisure facilities, including a gym, spa and indoor pool. They have 198 executive rooms, which allow free access to the executive lounge, where you can go for breakfast, afternoon tea and pre dinner drinks.
In the evening we visited the Corinthia and the Marina Hotels, in St George’s Bay. The Corinthia is a 5 star hotel, and the Marina is a 4 star sister hotel, both beautiful properties. One bonus of staying at the 4 star Marina is you still get to use the facilities of the 5 star hotel, including the 6 swimming pools.
Day 3 – 7th December 16
We started this morning with a walking tour of Mdina, with our guide Maria. Known as the silent city, you barely ever see the people living inside the city. After the Short tour we had some free time to look round the shops as Mdina is famous for its handmade glass.
After Mdina, we visited the Victoria (4 star) and Palace hotel (5 star) in Sliema. These hotels are joined together and guests of either hotel can eat in either of the hotels restaurants. The Victoria hotel was being refurbished with the lobby, bar and restaurant just been completed. The Palace hotel has an infinity pool on the rooftop with a bar and an Asian a la carte restaurant with amazing views.
In the evening we visited the Westin Dragonara Hotel in St Juliens Bay, another beautiful 5 star property. This hotel offers two private small cove beaches which are open in the summer months. This hotel caters for families with a kids club for ages 3-12 and offers interconnecting rooms.
Day 4 – 8th December 16
On our final day, we visited the Fortina hotels in Sliema. Not up to the standard of the beautiful Westin Dragonara, I rated these as 3 and 4 star hotels, with a bit of updating required.
Overall, I think Malta is a fascinating destination with so much history and culture to offer. I would love to go back and visit again to see more of the island. The weather in December was mild, but unpredictable and we had a couple of days of rain, so would not recommend it as a guaranteed winter sun destination. Driving on the same side as the UK was a bonus!