Centuries Of History Surround Phoenicia Malta
By Mary Charlebois
GoNOMAD Senior Writer
Phoenicia Malta, a five-star hotel in Floriana, Malta, is located right against the walls of Valletta. The Knights of St John built the imposing bastions in the 16th century to protect the Grand Harbor from invaders and pirates coveting the islands of Malta located in the center of the Mediterranean.
Since then, this piece of ground and the many buildings that have stood here have seen world history played out through invasions, wars, secret meetings, espionage, lavish entertainment, and modern business.
The Phoenicia Malta may not have a long history. Still, its location in Valletta is steeped in centuries of warfare and Malta life. The hotel’s magnificent gardens and walls are situated in an area once occupied by armies and citizens for generations.
As the hotel sits at the base of Valletta’s towering walls, you can only imagine the stories these walls could tell of invaders, cannon fire, and bombs that have tried to breach the formidable ramparts. Though the walls bear visible scars from past battles, they also bear witness to the incredible work of the Knights of St. John, who built them to last.
Planned And Built During Two Wars
In 1902, a proposal was put forward to construct a First-Class hotel at the site of an old fortification adjacent to the outer wall of Valletta’s massive bastions. The project involved planning and politics. The hotel endured the hardships of two world wars, ultimately impacting the long and winding journey to building Phoenicia Malta.
Finally, construction of the hotel commenced in 1935 and was overseen by Lord and Lady Strickland. However, with the outbreak of World War II, the still-unfinished hotel was requisitioned by the Royal Air Force and used by RAF personnel while on leave.
Phoenicia Malta was heavily bombed during the war, with over 100 bombs released on the hotel and its gardens in just one day. Rebuilding was slow and arduous as materials were next to impossible to find. Despite the difficulties, the hotel was reconstructed, and in November 1947, it officially opened. It became a destination for VIPs to indulge in Malta and the Mediterranean, whether on holiday or world business.
Host to Royalty, Dignitaries, Tycoons, And Celebrities*
Phoenicia Malta is a luxurious five-star hotel. It has welcomed royalty, presidents, heads of state, business tycoons, celebrities, and travelers worldwide for the past 75 years.
With its impeccable Maltese hospitality, Phoenicia is a top destination for those seeking unparalleled Mediterranean luxury. When guests enter its luxurious rooms and suites, they are transported to a world of opulence and comfort.
The hotel’s magnificent views, exquisite dining options, and state-of-the-art spa facilities make it the perfect choice for anyone wanting to indulge in Malta’s ultimate luxury experience.
The Middle of Malta
Phoenicia is in a prime location on the western wall of Valletta, offering a central and convenient base for exploring the city. From the hotel, you can enjoy incredible views of Valletta’s fortresses, the super-yacht harbor, Grand Harbor, Pjazza Tritoni, and the city of Valletta, a three-minute walk from the hotel doors. The scenery is mesmerizing everywhere you turn, making for an unforgettable stay.
In addition, Malta’s largest bus terminal is four minutes from Phoenicia. You can catch a bus from there to any part of the island. The ferry to Gozo is a 15-minute walk or 10-minute cab ride. If you desire a private car and driver for touring Malta, Phoenicia’s Guest Ambassador can arrange your outing.
Phoenicia Malta’s architecture is a striking example of the Art Deco style, designed by Scottish architect William Binnie. The building, made from Maltese limestone, incorporates elements of traditional Maltese architecture, creating a unique style in the islands. Its grandeur and elegance make it a treasure in the heart of Valletta.
Things To Do At The Phoenicia
There are four dining places at Phoenicia Malta:
The Phoenix is the main dining room, serving Mediterranean and European breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare.
The exquisite food and drink may be enjoyed indoors in the beautiful dining room or outdoors on the terrace overlooking the gardens.
An evening meal or coffee and dessert on the terrace at night is a romantic setting overlooking the twinkling lights of the gardens.
Baron de Rothschild Champagne Dinners are a culinary event hosted in Phoenix. These multi-course gastronomical occasions feature a different Baron de Rothschild Champagne for each course.
The glittering, candlelit affair is unmatchable. Although champagne dinners are rare events, you can enjoy Baron de Rothschild Champagne and other labels at the Sunday Champagne Brunch.
The Palm Court Lounge is the center of the hotel and was open-air at one time. It is a lovely lounge serving high tea, cocktails, and delectable pastries.
The Bastion Pool Bar and Restaurant is a poolside outdoor eatery and bar. Seasonal menus feature the best of Malta’s produce in the market. This summer I had the best sushi I’ve had anywhere.
I still dream about going back for more of the salmon. Live music is also poolside on select evenings.
Beefbar in the City offers a wide variety of the finest cuts of beef, fish, and vegetable options.
Enjoy the knock-out view from the terrace overlooking Triton’s Fountain while savoring a glass of local wine or indulging in a perfectly-cooked steak.
Cocktails And History
Cocktails and wine can be enjoyed anywhere at Phoenicia Malta, but the cocktail lounge, Club Bar, is a time machine transporting you to a bygone era. The atmosphere is reminiscent of the 1940s and 1950s when RAF personnel came to the Phoenicia Malta to unwind during leave.
The walls are covered with vintage photos of famous and infamous guests and events hosted at Phoenicia. Cocktails are a perfect mix of modern and classic. I suggest a Manhattan; it was the perfect nightcap for me and my companion. Just watching the barman make the drink was a special event.
Phoenicia Malta is like an art and antique gallery with paintings, sculptures, and antiques everywhere—even the guest rooms. They host local and international artists in residence and curate changing exhibits several times yearly. A walk through the public areas and hallways is an immersion in modern and classic works.
Swim And Sun at the Bastion Pool
The Bastion Pool, below Phoenicia Gardens, is an infinity pool with a grand view of the yacht basin and Valletta Bastions. They offer poolside service for food and drinks you can enjoy while lounging in a roomy cabana or under an umbrella. It’s the perfect spot to relax and unwind in the Mediterranean sun.
Experience Mediterranean luxury at Phoenicia Spa and Wellness. Customized services include bodywork, skincare, nail care, and water therapy in a tranquil atmosphere. Relax in the private pool, sauna, salt room, steam room, and multi-jet showers. Indulge in a pampering day.
Take a stroll through the lush 7.5 acres of Phoenicia’s gardens. You’ll discover peaceful spots to unwind, sip tea, or a cocktail. Box hedges encircle inviting benches, perfect for intimate conversations or the next chapter of your book.
There are breathtaking views of the yacht harbor. Secret views offer unobstructed vistas of the magnificent bastions, which can only be seen from Phoenicia Malta.
Luxury goods and services are offered throughout Phoenicia. You’ll find a luxury perfume boutique, designer sunglasses, and hair care and hair care products.
Things To Do In Valletta
Immerse In Baroque Valletta—
Valletta is renowned for its Baroque architecture, evident in its buildings, churches, and palaces. The city’s Baroque past is characterized by ornate facades, decorative elements, and lavish designs, reflecting the power and wealth of the Knights of St. John, who ruled the island for centuries.
Take an afternoon walk through this UNESCO World Heritage City’s wide boulevards, narrow streets, and lanes for a glimpse of life in the 16th century. Colour My Travel has several Valletta walking tours.
Valletta has more than 20 museums showcasing Malta’s history and culture. The National Museum of Archaeology, the National War Museum, the Postal Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts are just a few examples of Valletta’s museums that offer an in-depth look at the country’s rich heritage, culture, and past.
Food And Libations
Valletta has a vibrant, international food and drink scene with plenty of options to suit all tastes and budgets. There are foodie adventures from traditional Maltese dishes to international cuisine.
Local specialties include rabbit stew, pastizzi, and fresh seafood. Local wines and spirits, Cisk beer, and Kinnie (a Maltese soft drink made with oranges and herbs) are offered everywhere, from street kiosks to five-star restaurants.
Valletta offers a buzzy shopping experience with wide, shop-filled avenues or narrow streets hosting tempting boutiques.
All sell local crafts, handmade jewelry, and designer clothes. Whether you want a “Malta” ball cap or a cashmere coat from Italy, you can shop till you drop in Valletta. The open-air market at Merchant Street is perfect for fresh produce, spices, and souvenirs.
*With respect to the privacy of Phoenicia Malta’s guests, no photographs that include individuals have been used in this article.