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June 26, 2024 – Published in Design & Decor Spring-Summer 2024 issue

Dive into Malta’s rich past at The Phoenicia Malta

Photography Christine Darmanin, Albert Camilleri, and Moses Dukes Media

When it comes to escaping into an immersive cultural experience, there are few destinations as vibrant or as unique as Malta—and few cities that boast the tangible centuries of history that linger in every corner of the island’s stunning capital, Valletta.

Nestled just outside this UNESCO World Heritage Site sits one of Malta’s oldest and most prestigious hotels, The Phoenicia Malta. Yet, although it opened its doors in 1947 and has welcomed generations of guests since, the architecture found within The Phoenicia Malta preserves a world that dates back further still, with bastions built by the Knights of St John within its walls.

These city fortifications once ran from Marsamxett Harbour to the Grand Harbour and, today, stand testament to the Knights’ tenacity and architectural expertise, alongside the neighbouring St John’s Garden, known colloquially as the Ditch. 

Tracing part of this line of fortifications and boasting vast landscaped gardens, 

The Phoenicia Malta’s expansive grounds stretch over half the width of the capital’s peninsula from Valletta’s main gate to the seashore. These carefully curated gardens feature sprawling paths through lush botanical greenery, as well as a Kitchen Garden that grows delicious local produce, which the hotel’s award-winning chefs use to inspire the menus of the property’s world-renowned culinary experiences. 

Several single-storey buildings appear to have been built after the war; yet, behind these, lies an opening on the bastion wall of unknown origin and an underground chamber, each speaking of a time long past when such structures were used as water reservoirs or wartime civilian air-raid shelters.

Exploring further to the end of St John’s Garden, guests at The Phoenicia Malta arrive at the hotel’s popular Bastion Pool, Bar & Restaurant, so named for the magnificent views it affords of the Marsamxett Harbour and Valletta’s ancient bastion walls. 

Open seasonally for basking in the warmth of the summer, this oasis of calm and relaxation within the hotel’s grounds is the ideal spot to relax, refresh, and refuel. Start the day with an invigorating yoga session, soak up the sun in the infinity pool, and while away a balmy Maltese evening with indulgent dishes on the fusion Mediterranean and Asian menu and a tantalising, expertly prepared cocktail. 

As guests take advantage of the lush surroundings of The Phoenicia Malta today, many have done the same before them in the hotel throughout its history. The project to build the hotel began in 1935, with its co-founder, Countess Strickland, approaching Scottish-born architect, William Bryce Binnie, to design the iconic hotel.

Although structural works began soon afterwards, the outbreak of the war paused the project, with the site suffering heavy bombardment during an air raid in April 1942, when around a hundred bombs dropped on the building and gardens.

In 1944, the Governor of Malta requested that Binnie return to Malta for the reconstruction efforts—and, just three years later, The Phoenicia Malta was ready to welcome guests for the very first time, with everyone from British royalty to international superstars dining, dancing, and relaxing there ever since. 

Book your escape at the Bastion Pool, Bar & Restaurant today on +356 2122 5241. 

The Phoenicia Malta 

The Mall, Floriana

+356 2122 5241

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