Malta: Good neighbours

Malta: Good neighbours

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Sliema, St Julian’s and Paceville sit next to each other, but each offers something different

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Good things are said to come in threes, and for the cluster of resorts just north of Malta’s capital, Valletta, that’s certainly true.

St Julian’s, Paceville and Sliema are among the island’s most popular holiday spots – they account for nearly half of Belleair Holidays’ summer bookings to Malta – thanks to a mix of great hotels, readily available entertainment and good transport links.

Yet as each area has grown, the boundaries have blurred to the point that most locals would have trouble saying exactly where one ends and its neighbour begins.

The differences aren’t radical, but broadly speaking, Sliema is best placed for shopping and easy access to Valletta; St Julian’s boasts upmarket family resorts and romantic boutiques with great ocean views; and Paceville is the place to go for late-night bars and clubs.

Sliema: Sights and shops

“Sliema was where tourism to Malta really took off in the 1960s,” says Olympic Holidays’ commercial director Photis Lambrianides.

“Today, it attracts a wide cross-section of visitors. It is especially favoured by older clients, with its long harbour-side promenade, good public transport connections and convenient ferry to Valletta.”

It isn’t awash with sightseeing opportunities, but with great views of Valletta across Marsamxett Harbour, there’s still beauty to be found. It’s also a departure point for diving excursions and boat trips around the island.

The Fortina Spa Resort leads the way for its high-end hotels. Adult-only for most of the year (except for the Christmas, Easter and summer holidays), it is home to a thalasso spa centre with a list of treatments as long as your arm.

Fortina Spa Resort - Image credit:
Image credit:

It’s also next to Malta’s largest shopping mall, The Point, for those who prefer to spend their downtime leafing through high street fashion brands.

Chic property The Palace Hotel – the best-selling Sliema resort for Cosmos – is a worthy alternative for couples seeking a cosmopolitan vibe and central location, plus it would be tough to beat the harbour views from its rooftop infinity pool.

And if that sounds tempting but not family-orientated enough, the Penthouse Lounge at the Preluna Hotel and Spa has the same knockout views with the addition of a private beach, kids’ pool and watersports centre.

Those who would rather steer clear of kids altogether might prefer the genteel atmosphere of another Malta mainstay, The Victoria Hotel.

Classic Collection Holidays regional manager Ivan Camilleri says: “The Victoria was new for us this year but has made a promising start following a comprehensive refurbishment. Its traditional heritage design might suit a more mature clientele.”

St. Julian’s: Stay in style

With a gorgeous stretch of coastline, it’s no surprise St Julian’s – the next stop up the coast from Sliema – is a hub for many of the island’s most-popular hotels.

At its southern end is the desirable Balluta Bay, home of fine restaurants and a delightful piazza perfect for people watching.

It’s also where well-heeled clients will find Le Méridien St Julians Hotel & Spa, a modern 276-room property that boasts the area’s highest rooftop restaurant and a lounge bar jam-packed with contemporary art and local glassware.

Le Méridien takes second place on Classic Collection’s list of best-selling hotels in this region, sandwiched between the ever-popular Westin Dragonara Resort in first and the Hilton Malta in third, both of which are classed as being in St Julian’s even if, strictly speaking, they edge over into Paceville.

The family-friendly Hilton has sizeable gardens, four swimming pools, a spot overlooking Portomaso Marina and a beachclub with watersports and diving, although the kids’ play area also makes it a hit with younger families.

Hilton Malta - Image credit:

The Westin Dragonara Resort likewise has a kids’ club for three to 12-year-olds, plus two beach lidos with direct sea access, a paddling pool and family pool with kids’ activities laid on in July and August.

On a more practical note, its generous family rooms fit two queen-sized beds, and two under-12s stay for free when sharing with parents.

This area isn’t just about big brands, however. In between the five-star resorts sit boutiques better suited to couples than families, such as the Hotel Juliani, a converted seafront townhouse with just 44 rooms and a preference for Maltese cuisine and design features.

The Cavalieri Art Hotel has modern design touches and a lobby that doubles as a gallery for local artists.

Paceville: Get the party started

Ask any resident of Malta where to find the best nightlife and Paceville is likely to feature prominently. It’s no Ibiza, with a preference for good restaurants, cocktail bars and late-night lounges rather than a hard-core clubbing scene.

Paceville - Image credit: Clive Vella
Image credit: Clive Vella

Thomas Cook assistant product manager Joanne Scudamore recommends the Sicilian-inspired seafront restaurant Paranga at the InterContinental Malta for a classy start to the evening (perhaps followed the morning after by her other tip, the brunch at fellow InterContinental eatery Waterbiscuit).

Hugo’s Terrace is another relaxed option, combining a seafront location with chilled-out tunes, though dedicated partygoers can head straight to larger clubs such as the two-floor soul and hip-hop hangout Havana, or Shadow, which focuses on house and techno.

That helps explain the popularity of properties such as Onyx Apartments, which Cosmos Holidays says sells well with groups of friends, alongside five-star resorts including the Corinthia Hotel St George’s Bay and Radisson Blu Resort.

Sample Product

Classic Collection Holidays offers a week’s B&B in a classic double room at The Victoria Hotel from £418 in November, including flights from Gatwick and private

Belleair Holidays has seven nights’ B&B at the Preluna Hotel and Spa in Sliema from £365, including Ryanair flights, on October 29.

Prestige Holidays offers a week’s B&B at the Westin Dragonara for a family of four from £1,143 for adults and £587 for under-13s, including easyJet flights and private transfers, departing October 25.


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