Let’s start with the most outstanding feature of The Grand, which is without doubt, its location overlooking Gozo’s Mgarr Harbour. Despite being a tiny island there is a huge volume of shipping activity with many tourists flocking over on day trips from neighbouring Malta. From our balcony we spent hours watching three large car ferries arrive and depart, along with the fast passenger ferry, and numerous other smaller boats. We also had a great view of the Church of the Madonna of Lourdes and Fort Chambray, both high on a hill overlooking the harbour.
However, this is where the four-star Grand stops being ‘grand’ and becomes, in my mind, a mediocre three-star hotel. The hotel is divided into two sections with a third being developed. Our standard room was in the older, original part, and it showed. The room was badly configured with the slightly outdated furniture creating a narrow corridor and a large empty space. In addition, on arrival, there were a series of housekeeping/maintenance issues which required attention, including a red wine stain on the duvet, malfunctioning plug point, and drawer knob which fell off in my hand.
The dated bathroom was in serious need of refurbishment and the shower over a small bath had a head so low, my husband had to duck under it, and the shower curtain was grim. The basin was huge, but the water pressure poor. However, having asked us to preserve water and hang towels for reuse, this was abided by, unlike many hotels who automatically change regardless.
Having asked generally about the different room types, we were shown to an alternative room in the newer section. However, this had the outdoor pool right in front of the balcony, and although it was slightly larger, the bathroom was still as old-fashioned.
On our second day, the two bottles of complimentary water had not been replaced, and having been told it was because we were in a standard room, I wrote a rather scathing Trip Advisor review. This generated daily offers of alternative rooms, the provision of slippers and robes, and a huge stack of toiletries (I’d checked whether the water issue applied to these as well). Needless to say, water was provided thereafter. Wi-Fi was complimentary but frustratingly slow and erratic although the air conditioning was good.
Breakfast was reasonable and served in a rather formal ground-floor restaurant. There were two juices, a small selection of cut fruit and cereals, pots of yoghurt, cold meats, cheese and salads along with a buffet of all the elements of a full English including fried and scrambled eggs. Rolls and warm bread were available along with Danish pastries. Coffee machines dispensed speciality coffees, with what we found to be rather sweet milk and so we opted for ‘cold cereal milk’ in our drinks.
Having just had two weeks chilling in Malta, we didn’t use either the indoor or outdoor swimming pools, particularly as the loungers round the latter were particularly ‘nipped in’.
Whilst we enjoyed excellent, good-value sandwich lunches on the hotel’s front terrace, we only ate in once – where pub style meals were served in the bar. There was a fancy fine dining restaurant on the 9th floor which had a happy hour where we enjoyed beautifully served cocktails at €12 each: 2-4-1 with complimentary canapes. The 8th floor restaurant had a daily schedule of a set menu, Grand BBQ or a tasting menu of seven courses for €65 or nine for €85. Bearing in mind there were a plethora of restaurants within a 10-to-15-minute walk where we could eat comfortably with a bottle of wine for around €50, it seemed a little overpriced.
I suspect experiences depend on the type of room you pay for, and where in the maze and labyrinth of the hotel it is located. Having got out of the lift at the third floor, we then had to negotiate our luggage up a flight of four steps and then a curved set of 11 marble steps with no offer of help.
However, one of the most fun things about the hotel was ‘celeb spotting’ as the cast of the Channel Five comedy drama, The Madam Blanc Mysteries were staying in the hotel whilst filming in Gozo. This included, Sally Lindsay (the barmaid in Corrie), Robin Askwith (Confessions of a Window Cleaner, who still sports a magnificent hairstyle), Sue Holderness (a memorable Marlene in Only Fools and Horses), and the diminutive Tony Robinson. We look forward to seeing the series when it is broadcast in 2024.