With UNESCO World Heritage Sites, temples older than Egypt’s ancient pyramids, and a fascinating multi-cultural history, Malta may just be one of the most appealing locations for people who appreciate art, history, natural wonders, and international cuisine. Add to this the fact the Malta legalized same-sex marriage in 2017, and you can imagine how excited my husband and I we were to visit this fascinating island nation.
The InterContinental Malta (St. George’s Bay, St. Julian’s. Tel: +356-21-377-600. www.malta.intercontinental.com), located in St. Julian’s, just five miles from the capital city of Valletta, became our home away from home for several days. The hotel, and the location, was ideal for us. With a shopping mall right down the street, numerous restaurants, an onsite casino, and the gay club and lounge Michelangelo right around the corner, we had the best vantage point for enjoying all the pleasures and attractions of Malta.
As frequent travelers, we know the importance of having accommodations that enable us to both work and relax. We booked a Highline Suite with a huge outdoor terrace and views of the Mediterranean Sea. The space felt more like an apartment than a hotel room, and we had to pinch ourselves to make sure we weren’t dreaming. As part of our stay, we had access to the Club InterContinental Lounge that includes private check-in, a dedicated reception desk, a sumptuous breakfast, all day refreshments, afternoon tea, and predinner drinks and hors d oeuvres. Guests staying in the suites also have private access to the stunning rooftop pool, bar, and restaurant. Obviously, we were in no hurry to leave the hotel.
As this was our first time in Malta, we wanted to experience as much as possible while we were there. Visit Malta (www.visitmalta.com) had arranged for a guide, Vince Debono (Email: vincedebonoguide@gmail. com) to show us some of the major highlights of the Maltese islands and its rich cultural heritage. Vince was born and raised in Malta, so his knowledge and experience gave us a special insight into present day life and an appreciation for the history, architecture, and art for which this country is well-known.
With so much to see and do in Malta, we highly recommend hiring a guide to take you to all the places on your must see list. This will save you an enormous amount of time, and it is a wonderful opportunity to experience the islands through the eyes of someone who knows first-hand all the wonderful attractions, hidden gems, and unique culinary offerings.
For LGBTQ visitors, Allied Rainbow Communities (www.gaymalta.com), the organizers of Malta Pride, which takes place in September, also organizes regular events for the LGBTQ community. We interviewed Clayton Mercieca, the Community Manager & Coordinator for Allied Rainbow Communities about gay life on Malta and you can find his recommendations at passportmagazine.com. His suggestions will help make your stay truly memorable, and give you the opportunity to meet the LGBTQ people who live and work in Malta.
Before and after each day’s excursions, we took full advantage of all the amenities that the InterContinental Malta has to offer. The first thing we like to do every morning before breakfast is to go for a swim. With three pools from which to choose, and a beach on the harbor, we were in swimmer’s heaven.
The InterContinental Beach Club offers an exclusive sandy beach area set aside for guests’ personal use, and there are a variety of water sport facilities located within the bay, including water skiing, wind surfing, jet skis, and boat rentals.
Our favorite place to swim, however, was the rooftop infinity pool. Here you can frolic in the water, or relax and enjoy the inspiring views of the island and the sea. These facilities, called Skybeach, are located on the 19th floor and include a bar and restaurant for guests staying in hotel’s Highline Suites.
The suites range between 970 and 1,290 square feet and are designed with an emphasis on understated elegance. The décor is chic and contemporary, and if you have a chance, like we did, ask for a tour of 3 or 4 suites and choose the one you like the best. The first suite we looked at was ultra modern with leather furniture, floor to ceiling windows, and a personal treadmill in the foyer, in case we had a sudden urge for a jog.
We finally decided on a suite with a huge private terrace. The large living room and dining area were the perfect size for both us to do a little work in the afternoon before going to the Club InterContinental Lounge for cocktails and hors d oeuvres.
Returning to the hotel after a late night out with new friends, we appreciated the comfortable king-sized bed and the luxurious Frette bed linen.
If you are overworked and need help balancing business and pleasure, you’re in luck. The InterContinental Malta’s butler service is available day and night to help you with dinner in your suite, personal shopping, and help navigating Malta’s many historic sites and attractions.
To further help you relax and rejuvenate, the InterContinental Malta provides some of the best fitness and spa options in the country. The hotel’s fitness center, Cynergi, boasts a state-of-the-art, fully equipped gymnasium with over 70 cardiovascular machines, free weights, an aerobics studio and two squash courts.
After your workout, head to the Carisma Spa & Wellness and be pampered by therapists in an elegant yet personal environment. Here you can enjoy a traditional hammam and benefit from Dead Sea salt exfoliation treatments upon request. A visit to these Turkish baths is both a cleansing ritual, and a great way to promote health and well-being.
With all this exercise and spa treatments, you’re sure to work up an appetite, and we can safely say you will not lack for culinary options at the InterContinental Malta.
Waterbiscuit is open every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and offers a charming and contemporary atmosphere where you can dine with friends or meet business associates for cocktails or a wonderful meal. The everevolving menu features the freshest Mediterranean ingredients. Start with the Salmon tartare drizzled with ponzu dressing and served with double-dipped prawn tempura. We followed this with risotto with tomato fondue, roasted cherry tomatoes, asparagus, local cheese, and a basil crisp; then it was time for their delicious slow roasted red snapper with potato fondant, baby leeks, roasted fennel, and pumpkin puree.
At each of the hotel’s six restaurants you will discover many tantalizing dishes that lavishly portray the world’s finest cuisine. One day, after touring the property with Marika Caruana Smith, the hotel’s Director of Luxury, she invited us to have lunch together at Paranga, the hotel’s seaside restaurant.
Set on teak decking adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea, the hotel has created an enticing and exclusive atmosphere to enjoy some of the best food on the island. Our choices that day included a superb beetroot carpaccio with diced, dried apricots, crumbled Chevre cheese, apricot puree, walnuts, and rocket salad; barbecued octopus, chick pea puree, potato and onion croquette, sautéed green beans in garlic; and a perfectly prepared grilled rib-eye with caramelized shallots and an ale & pear sauce.
Looking out at the sparkling sea, we could not imagine a better way to spend a leisurely afternoon getting to know a new friend in Malta.
As we slowly finished our wine, we enthusiastically started making plans for our next visit in September for Malta Pride.