As the northern hemisphere winter chill and dark days close in, thoughts instantly reminisce of sunny holidays past. Plans being to materialise in the forefront of winter minds as to the next summer island escape. With so many islands dotted along the Mediterranean, choosing a summer island destination can be daunting. Unless you have a specific destination in mind, like Malta. Magical Malta, a tiny archipelago in the Mediterranean sea and only short three-hour flight from London. Malta had been on my travel destination list for a long time, so long I cannot pinpoint the exact moment I was travel inspired by the tiny islands that make up Malta. Perhaps it was an article chanced upon while reading the travel section in a fashion magazine. Drawn to a place that promised wide blue skies, crystal clear ocean and rich ancient culture.
Little did I realise when I arrived in Malta in July for 5 days of sun, sea and a little history that there was so much to see and do. Especially when the hotel pool and sea lidos or swimming areas turned out to be so irresistibly relaxing. Who knew one could easily spend 6-8 hours lounging by the sea under cream beach umbrellas with swimming-reading-eating on repeat all day. After tearing myself reluctantly away from the seaside lidos, I spent a couple of days exploring the hotel neighbourhood of St Juliens, the capital city Valletta, and the Silent City of Mdina.
I was hesitant to stay in the St Juliens and Paceville area after reading less than favourable reviews on Trip Advisor. Nightclubs, late-night noise from revellers, hens parties and bucks parties. However, after researching a little more for a five-star resort to relax by the Mediterranean sea, the Westin Dragonara Resort appeared to be a good choice. And yes, the hotel turned out to be perfect. Situated on the edge of a rocky peninsula in St Juliens with palm trees and endless blue views overlooking the Mediterranean, a paradise sanctuary was found. The hotel delivered to expectation and more with an amazing breakfast buffet, relaxing lounge and piano bar, delicious pool/beachside menus, friendly staff and concierge. The two private beach lidos provided spacious areas to enjoy the sunny weather and direct access to the sea.
Once you step outside the sanctuary of the hotel grounds St Julien’s is a mix of old and new buildings. Apartments, accommodation, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, supermarkets, souvenir shops, surf shops. The roads and pavements bustle with locals, tourists, English Language students, buses, cars, motorbikes. Rounding the hill on Triq San Gord on a late afternoon walk, the most charming and unexpected sight was all the colourful Maltese fishing boats that litter Spinola Bay. A photographers delight. Although, the area between St Juliens and Sliema is known as Malta’s coast resort and wash with modern, somewhat unattractive apartment blocks, there are pockets of old-world charm and churches. To fully immerse yourself in Malta’s 16th-century architecture and history, you need to venture into Valletta or over to the Three Sister Cites of Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua.