The first time I traveled to Malta, I lived for three months in an unassuming little 55-room hotel in Sliema while I worked as a group counselor for an international English school. If you’re not yet familiar with Malta, Sliema is a popular seaside village full of London-inspired fashion shops, gelaterias, pizzerias, and a lot of stunning cobblestone streets and limestone apartment buildings splashed with the colors of the brilliant Maltese balconies. It’s a five-minute walk to the shore and the bus stop, a fifteen-minute walk to Paceville (probably the craziest epicenter of European night life I’ve ever seen), and a short ferry ride to Valletta.
I loved it. I was twenty-one years old.
How could anything, anything at all, top our hotel experience? All the memories we made, the lives we led, the people we met?
Fast forward here. A very long—and yet simultaneously very short—ten summers later, I went to Malta again to reunite with my group counselors and enjoy the islands once again. To be honest, life hadn’t changed all that much since 2004 (I’m not a college student anymore but I’m still in graduate school, for one thing), and I still thought longingly and fondly of the beautiful beige island, but I had the feeling that I hadn’t seen the all of the faces of Malta. I’d seen the teenage, young twenty-something face, the one that doesn’t mind if she falls asleep on the floor, gets two hours of sleep, stays up all night talking to new friends. I’d seen the side that doesn’t think about nice sheets, private terraces, and luxurious showerheads. Now, after nearly twenty-four hours of traveling, these amenities sounded like absolute heaven.
Plus, ten years later, I came back to Malta with my husband, who, like me, really, really likes a comfortable bed to sleep in. So this time, we stepped it up.
This time, we stayed at the Corinthia Palace, a gorgeous 5-star hotel and spa in the city of Attard, just steps from the ancient city of Mdina. The property, which looks out at the Presidential Palace across the street, is almost completely covered in trees, giving the entire facility a kind of peacefulness and quiet that Malta—let’s face it—doesn’t often have (it’s a small island with a lot of people!).
The Corinthia Palace, which was founded in 1962 by the Pisani family, was modeled after the aesthetic of an old Maltese estate with spacious outdoor gardens, water fountains, tall, exquisite pillars and understated luxury. It’s also the very first of the Corinthia hotels—their collection now spreads from London to St. Petersburg. Alfred Pisani, Corinthia’s founder, likes to think of his work as a kind of craftsmanship, where hospitality is a timeless skill, as “challenging and inspirational as that of being a master stone-mason, goldsmith, painter, or musician.” His attitude seems fittingly European here, a time-tested model based on apprenticeship, honing of a craft, and finally, mastery. They started small with just a restaurant and then expanded into the hotel, wanting to welcome and meet guests from all over the world. We didn’t see any other Americans while we were there, so I like to think we helped Mr. Pisani expand his reach just a little bit.
During our short two-day stay here, we spent every minute we could in our very spacious Garden King room, sat on the patio balcony, drank coffee, and looked out over the medieval city of Attard, admiring the beige limestone buildings, the colorful balconies, the understated elegance of this very old place. We walked around the silent city of Mdina (Malta’s medieval walled city and the old capital of the country), took a day trip to the very old island of Gozo and visited the most ancient freestanding stone temples in the world, and we dined on fresh cheese, olives, tomatoes, and French bread. We visited with old friends, slept late, and enjoyed eating one of everything at the morning buffet breakfast. From Maltese olives, fruits, and local torta tal-irkottis (flaky ricotta pies) pastizzis (spinach or pea-stuffed flaky pastries) and qassatas (ricotta-filled dough) to hot sausages, potatoes, and eggs, the buffet was diverse and flavorful, stretching the entire perimeter of one of the ballrooms. The service, too, was exceptional—I believe I drank more coffee during one breakfast than I do during a normal week at home because the server kept dropping by to fill up my coffee mug. We also tried the local jams and jellies and went back, unashamed, for seconds.
I’d say we definitely, most certainly, absolutely stepped it up. Thank you, Corinthia, for your heartfelt service, your excellent sheets, and your elegant atmosphere. Until next time, I will continue to carry Malta in my dreams, the island nation I spent one unforgettable summer, the gorgeous Mediterranean country I keep coming back to, the special land I adore with all my heart.
Though prices do vary throughout the year depending on season and availability, at the time of this review, the best available rooms start at € 300/night (about $425 USD), which includes the daily buffet breakfast, tax, and WiFi. During our trip, we stayed in the Executive Garden King room. Book online with the hotel or go to agoda.com or Hotels.com to check rates and make a reservation.
Corinthia Palace, Malta
De Paule Avenue
San Anton BZN9023
+356 2144 0301
Article and all photographs (except for featured image, compliments of the Corinthia Hotel) by Kristin Winet.
A special thanks to Michelle Buttigieg and Malta Tourism Authority for hosting my stay at the beautiful Corinthia Palace.