Whilst I am sitting here in cold London, watching the final day of the football season, I thought, what better time to start writing my travel blog for The Grad Hub.
With a Captain Morgan in hand here goes…
Where can you go that is not too expensive, is a short distance to travel from London, has sun, sea and sand and has everything you can expect from a good holiday. Well apart from Spain, France and Italy, where I’ve already been, I thought I’d try the Mediterranean Sea and head to Malta. Only 3 ½ hour flight from London Gatwick, this holiday seemed like the one.
Arriving in Malta
I started my holiday in Malta having to wait a good 30 minutes for my hotel transfer to arrive. I booked through a company called Hoppa.com and they source local transfers at a cheap price. Cost about £45 from Malta International Airport to the Intercontinental Hotel in St Julian’s, return!! Bargain. But waiting 30 minutes wasn’t the best start to the holiday, but hey sh!t happens.
Staying at the Intercontinental Hotel, Malta
First things first, there’s no point emailing the hotel. I emailed twice before I left and didn’t receive a response. Not the greatest of starts. We were coming to the hotel for a friend’s birthday so was hoping for something special for my friend, but it wasn’t acknowledged, so got here and nothing was arranged. Oh well.
We arrived at the hotel and was greeted by the receptionists. We tried our luck to get an upgrade, but the staff didn’t seemed willing to accommodate, another oh well. But they did manage to get me a tour of the hotel with their Senior Marketing and Communications Manager, so something came of speaking to them.
I was travelling with my family, so arranged for a family room. The room was really big for a family room, had a cot, a sofa bed, a king size bed and an extra sofa to chill. The only issue was, we were on the nosiest strip in Malta, the party area in St Julian’s, so I guess it’s not a great place for families but great for students. All 481 bedrooms are superbly furnished having all the comforts expected of a luxury hotel, including twin or king beds, spacious bathrooms with separate showers and bath facilities, private balconies, coffee and tea making facilities and high-speed internet access. In-room dining is also available 24 hours a day.
If you have a spare penny or two whilst at University of after graduating, check out the Highline Suites. Each Highline Suite offers you an uninterrupted transition between its indoor and outdoor environments, enabling you to enjoy the innovative luxury enhanced with panoramas. All furniture has been uniquely designed by ‘Minotti,’ well renowned for their signature clean design. There’s a choice between 7 different suites, so if you feel you want to splash out, then definitely give these a try.
After managing to get a great night sleep, the beds were comfy for sure, although pillows could have been better, we headed down for breakfast. We were on the b&b offer and the breakfast was amazing, so many choices. Everything from cereals, to full English, different styles of eggs, pancakes, waffles and pastries, the lot!! I think I put on a couple of kilos just looking at the food. If you’re going to have one meal whilst partying in Malta, make sure it’s the breakfast.
The first couple of days in Malta were quite windy, a rare for this time of the year, so we relaxed at the indoor pool and gym, whilst the other half got herself a massage at the Intercontinental spa. The pool was nice and warm, the atmosphere was bliss!
The gym!! Oh my god, the gym was massive! It’s supposed to be the largest on the island. For a hotel gym you wouldn’t even think it. It had 2 squash courts, an aerobics studio, over 70 cardiovascular machines, free weights and more. Check out the pictures. I wouldn’t say I spent a second in the gym, but if I was a gym freak and most students these days are, I definitely would have used it.
The hotel also has its own private beach at the local St George’s Bay beach, which is a couple of minutes walk. Although the beach is a small and in the middle of town, it was a nice private area with clean, clear water and sand. It was so relaxing. We were given sunbeds, beach towels and umbrellas as part of the hotel’s compliments. Waiter service was supposed to be available, however I didn’t wait to check and headed straight to the bar! We made the most of the beach after the wind calmed down on the third day.
After the beach we headed to one of the hotels outdoor rooftop pools, the one that was free and open to all guests of the hotel. It was amazing. So much space to both swim and relax on the sunbeds, with food & drink service at the call of a button. There’s also a rooftop pool on the 19th floor called Skybeach, which is free to guests staying in the hotel’s Highline Suites or costs 60 euros per person. The 60 euros however goes towards food and drink, which isn’t too bad. The views up at the top are just amazing and the pool is an infinity pool, so you can definitely get some great Instagram pictures up there.
The hotel has six restaurants and six bars, although we only went to the Waterbiscuit Lounge bar and Paranga, and I definitely couldn’t complain about the food. Paranga is located right on the beach and served some amazing dishes. Whether you just want to have a drink or have a full 3 course meal, Paranga is definitely worth a try. Plus, we were dining with award winning chefs. In 2018, the hotel entered Malta’s Kulinarija, where Malta’s top restaurants and hotels attended this Cookery and Culinary Arts Championship. The prestigious award of ‘Chef of the Year’ was won by the hotels Executive Sous Chef Brandy Dalli. So, if you like your food and drink like me, then definitely try the restaurants and bars at the Intercontinental Malta.
The Local Area
The hotel is situated in the exclusive beachside resort of St Julian’s, is within walking distance of some of the islands finest shopping facilities and is in the centre of Malta’s entertainment and clubbing district. The area is a built-up area of fast-food, clubs, bars and adult entertainment, most frequently visited by students. Opposite the hotel is a shopping centre and a bowling alley, as well as Malta’s largest Casino. A few doors down is the local cinema, along with many good restaurants. This area is full of everything a student wants from a holiday.
Now that the hotel is done, let’s turn to actual Malta!
What can I say? I came to Malta thinking this place is for old people, but I was so wrong. With pristine beaches, lots of history, plenty of amazing food and nightlife that can give any place a run for its money, Malta is definitely a little gem.
Gozo and the Comino Blue Lagoon
One of our five days was spent exploring Gozo and the Comino Blue Lagoon. We got on a boat at 10:30am from the local marina which took us on a 2 hour journey to Gozo, a small island of the coast of Malta. Gozo is a true escape. Life here is leisurely and the people are friendly. In Gozo there is still time for each other, time to appreciate the bright blue skies and crystal-clear sea, the unique coastal landscape and unspoilt countryside. Time to savour the mouth-watering Mediterranean recipes and drift back in time.
We stopped for a bite to eat before heading off again at 3pm to the Comino Blue Lagoon. The tiny Island of Comino sits right in the middle of the channel between Malta and Gozo. The unspoilt island is a haven for all those who love swimming, snorkelling, diving, wind surfing and other water sports. The Blue Lagoon, with its crystal-clear blue sea surrounded by awe-inspiring caves and is one of the most spectacular sights to see if you come to Malta.
To discover the true magic of the sea around the Maltese Islands – swimming, snorkelling and diving – Comino is the place to be. Even if you do not stay on the island, the Blue Lagoon, with its safe bathing in bright turquoise waters, makes a memorable day out by boat – your own yacht, a charter or a public cruiser.
There are several different companies arranging trips to the Blue Lagoon, so check them all out when you arrive. I would advise going for the boats that have waterslides, so you can plunge directly into the Blue Lagoon.
We spent a good couple of hours here, enjoying the clear waters of the Blue Lagoon, before heading back on the boat to the Marina where we started. It was a long day but totally worth it. If my words don’t sell it, then check out these pictures.
On the last day on the Island we decided to spend a few hours in the city of Valetta, the capital of Malta. Being here reminded me of watching scenes out of Game of Thrones, not to mention several scenes were filmed in Malta. The buildings were very old and dainty. The architecture was beautiful. We started the day in the Upper Barrakka Gardens, which is a scenic public garden overlooking the habour. We were just in time to catch the firing of the cannons at midday. A daily ritual and something worth seeing.
We then headed to the City Gate, which is a giant pair of sloped stone blocks opening the city walls. If you like some history, it’s worth a visit. On the way there we had the pleasure of a band playing some fabulous music, the kids certainly enjoyed it.
After the gate we made our way to St. John’s Co-Cathedral, a Roman Catholic co-cathedral dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. This Cathedral was just amazing. So much decorative marble, gold colours, paintings and history. Just beautiful!
As time was against us, we thought it’s best to grab a bite to eat. Our taxi driver recommended this restaurant on the waterfront called Porticello, it’s an old police station turned into a fish restaurant. The food was just sublime and the views, oh my, I could spend the whole day sitting here taking in the views.
If you only have a few hours to spend in Valetta, then make sure you visit these sites.
Our Return Trip
We headed back to the hotel and waited for our transport back to the airport, through Hoppa.com. And to be on the safe side, I thought I better had call ahead and make sure they aren’t late again. Oh, I’m so glad I called. None of the numbers given by Hoppa.com were going through. The local company seemed like they had gone out of business or something. I called Hoppa.com and even they tried to reach the company but to no avail. 30-minutes later the driver turned up and I was fuming! We just about made it to the airport with 10-minutes to spare but didn’t have time for any duty free shopping. I definitely won’t be using Hoppa.com again or recommending them to anyone, but as students Hoppa.com was by far the cheapest.
There’s so much to see and with only five days in Malta, it was tough to see everything. We made the most of it and I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to come to either hit the beach and soak in some sun, head out and enjoy the nightlife or just spend time enjoying the sites and islands. Definitely visit the Blue Lagoon, it’s worth every penny. The Intercontinental Hotel in Malta is second to none, with great views of the city, its own private beach, 3 pools, 6 restaurants and bars and in the centre of the clubbing district, this is the hotel you should be staying at when you visit Malta. If the cost is an issue, then two doors down is the Holiday Inn Express, which I’m sure would be no match for the Intercontinental but is still in the centre of the hustle and bustle of Malta.
For more information on the Intercontinental Hotel, Malta including room rates, visit www.malta.intercontinental.com
For further information on the Intercontinental Hotels Group, click here.
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