After a week in Gozo, we spent four nights in Malta. We knew it was a very short trip and we would only be able to hit the high spots. We didn’t want to hire a car and would be relying on buses. We chose to stop at the Phoenicia Hotel which is just outside the main City Gate into Valetta.
This proved to be an excellent choice as we we spent two days exploring Valetta and Floriana. The bus station is outside the hotel and we used the buses for the remaining two days. There are always taxis waiting outside the hotel and also horse drawn carriages for those wanting a carriage trip round Valetta.
The Phoenicia is a large Hotel built in the 1930s and is quite retro inside. It is a V shaped building with a large and pleasant garden with trees and an outside swimming pool. There is also a Spa providing a range of range of holistic treatments but we didn’t investigate this.
The main entrance is reached up steps with a chair lift. Inside is a long corridor with the Phoenicia Brasserie which serves meals in the evenings on one side and reception on the other. In front is a large lounge with comfortable chairs and a bar. Beyond is the main restaurant with views over the garden. Breakfast is served here.
We arrived at 9.30am and had emailed earlier to check that we could leave bags with reception until our room was ready. When we arrived the receptionist was trying to explain to an increasingly bolshie American couple that it was not possible to book them straight into a room at that time as they had not been serviced. They eventually left muttering they would find another hotel who could put them up straight away. Her first comment to us was “You do realise your room won’t be ready yet?”. We assured her we did know and intended to drop off bags, explore Valetta and formally check in later in the afternoon. After that, nothing was too much trouble. Our bags were taken up to our room ready for when we came back.
We had a pleasant room on the fourth floor with views across the city walls and Sliema. We could just see the bus station if we craned our necks. Although it was a reasonable sized room there didn’t seem to be a lot of space in it. (I think there was less space than in the pictures on the website.) There was a large comfortable double bed with big pillows and cushions. The first thing we did was lose the cushions. Why do hotels fell the need to provide them? There was a duvet with decorative runner across bottom, which was the second thing to go. The bed had a very retro headboard with integral bedside tables with lamps. There was a long low cupboard with TV set. A large hanging area contained a mini bar and tray with kettle etc. There were two easy chairs and small table. The bathroom was off with bidet, toilet, wash basin with fixed and hand held shower. Fortunately an extending washing line was provided as otherwise there is nowhere to hang wet clothes. (A laundry service is provided.)
There were plenty of towels and two generous bath robes, a definite plus. There was a reasonable supply of toiletries which were replenished each day.
Breakfast was served in the main restaurant from 7am and was always busy from then. There is a sign asking you to wait to be seated. We were shown to our table by the Head Waiter who explained the procedure. There was a cold buffet with fruit juice, water, cereals yogurt (both fruit and plain), tinned peaches, chunks of pineapple, melon, water melon. There were prunes, dried fruit and nuts. There was a basic selection of cold meat and cheese and a selection of bread and cakes. There was some fresh fruit out but it went quickly. The hot buffet is in a separate lobby with bacon (excellent smoky back), sausage, baked beans, grilled tomato, hash browns (which did tend to become steamed and a bit leathery by being kept hot under cover). Eggs were prepared to order – fried, scrambled or omelette. There was a toaster. to make fresh toast. A tea pot was brought to the table but coffee was served by the cup. If busy staff could be slow to clear tables.
We didn’t eat in the restaurant in the evening. We checked the menu in the brasserie but it was expensive and not to our taste. Instead we patronised the Wembley Stores on Triq ir-Repubblika a short distance from the main gate. They have a selection of excellent bread rolls, cold meat and cheese and downstairs have a good selection of wine including locally produced Maltese wine.
We enjoyed our stay at the Phoenicia. In many ways it isn’t our sort of hotel but the location was excellent for what we wanted to do and see. Staff were good. My only criticism would be that there are only two small lifts, one at the end of each wing. They hold five people but that is a squash. Although we never had long to wait for a lift we had visions of there being problems if there was a large group with luggage wanting to use them at the same time.