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The best of Malta
Boutique hotels have been popping up around Valletta, Malta’s historic capital, at an ever-increasing rate over the past few years, as dilapidated palazzos are one by one restored to their Baroque glory. Those looking for independent, design-led spots to rest their head are now spoilt for choice, with Casa Ellul, The Coleridge and Merchant Suites among the best of the bunch – though this means that it’s now hard to find hotels on the cheaper end of the scale in Valletta. Casa Asti Malta is a good mid-range option, however. More budget and mid-range options are available inland or on Gozo, with ThirtySeven Gozo among our favourites on the latter. If you’re looking for old-school grandeur, consider basing yourself in Mdina, the former capital. Now referred to as the ‘silent city’ for its nighttime calm, the tiny walled town’s Baroque palaces are mainly owned by the island’s nobility, with only one, the elegant Xara Palace, functioning as a hotel. Conversely, the waterfront town of St Julian’s is unrestrained, with most of its hotels boasting of their harbour views and flashy local entertainment. We like Hotel Juliani here for its more laidback, though still stylish, feel.
In the 1980s, this European destination became a huge hit among a demographic of people aware of where to stay in Malta to make the most of each neighbourhood's offerings: from sun and sea to cultural must-sees. The country has come a long way since then, especially since the awarding of European Capital of Culture status to Valletta in 2018, which has sparked a new generation of contemporary hotels and cultural openings in the area. The coastal capital has always been one of Europe’s most beautiful walled cities, full of interesting winding streets and Baroque mansions. Mdina, further north, is even more fairytale-like, with its high bastions and moat. The truth is the rest of Malta is quite overdeveloped, but there are pockets of beauty and characterful villages on both ends. Plus, there are all the unsurpassed ancient temples and cathedrals that really make visiting worthwhile, not to mention all those sublime seafood restaurants overlooking the glimmering Med. Check out our guide to the top neighbourhoods in town.