Starting out as a guest house in St Julian's, the award-winning Hotel Valentina has come a long way, with a refurbishment that brought the room total to 94.
There are little things that make you feel as if you’re in good hands when you stay somewhere. They’re not always instantly recognisable and you don’t always walk away remembering them specifically, but they make the entire experience all the better. Little things like lit room numbers at the bottom of the hallways so that there's a soothing atmosphere on the way to your room. Like how the television comes on when you walk into the room, or how the tea and coffee stations are fully-equipped. You’ll find slippers in the closet so that you can go all the way up to the pool deck without having to put your shoes on. These are a few amongst many of the little details that add up to make Hotel Valentina feel like it’s a hotel with a five-star heart.
A family owned and run superior boutique hotel, Hotel Valentina is located in the heart of Malta’s thriving entertainment capital, St Julian’s. General Manager Lara Mangion alongside Operations Manager Giacomo Magi were my dynamic hosts upon arrival. Both are enthusiastic about the project, which Lara has seen through since its refurbishment five years ago. “We’re a three-star hotel which aims to offer clients five-star personalised service and comfort. We like to exceed expectations by promising less and delivering more, so that guests leave feeling genuinely pleased with their choice to stay with us.”
There aren’t a lot of three-star hotels in the St Julian’s area - certainly not ones that are as well-designed and comfortable as this. Cornering a very unique niche, Hotel Valentina is the answer to visitors who are looking for a chic boutique design hotel in the heart of Malta’s principal entertainment area. While Malta is small, it’s hugely convenient to be in the perfect location to explore the islands, within walking distance to public transport services, as well as the top three casinos, conference centres, diving schools, fine restaurants, clubs and bars.
Lara says, “it’s a challenge to find direct competitors because there just aren’t very many three-star hotels in the vicinity, and definitely not ones that are offering the same standard as we’re striving to deliver.”
Planned by the directors alongside architects Martin Xuereb & Associates, the design is clever and chic with a stylish yet timeless feel to the space. The height of the foyer has been exploited to maximise the feeling of space, light and air, while the public areas (the reception, library and business centre, lounge and bar, as well as the glassed upstairs breakfast area) are apparent and intertwined, with the language of the spaces open; evocative of the Maltese spirit of hospitality.
An enormous fabric focal piece climbs up the high wall of the lounge, which is located next to a sizeable courtyard that allows for a burst of lovely sunlight to flood through the reception at all times of the day.
We used the lounge a lot during our stay, mainly because the atmosphere was so enticingly pleasant, both day and night. During the day, the library area is user-friendly and convenient to get some work done without even needing a laptop (there are two computers available for guests), while the evenings bring a more refined and relaxed atmosphere – perfect for pre-dinner drinks, particularly with the live music available. All of this, I had to keep reminding myself, within the heart of Malta’s entertainment area.
My room was comfort at its best: fully equipped with ultra-modern furnishings and the latest mod cons. Sunlight floods in from the large window and even though the room is not that big, the clever design makes it feel as though it is.
While economy rooms are relatively small at around 18 square metres, they're immaculately finished with all the comforts, ideal for the solo traveller. The Superior Double rooms are furnished with a king-sized bed or twin beds, and ideal for a couple's romantic getaway or friends sharing a room. For those looking for more space and comfort, the Junior Executive rooms have a private terrace and loungers; perfect for soaking up the Maltese sun at guests' own leisure and privacy.
Dinner is available from the hotel’s sister restaurant, The Avenue, which is adjacent to the hotel. For those unfamiliar with it, this is an eatery that has been almost an institution to the locals for years, as it embodies value for money in a great atmosphere. The menu is extensive, and everything is freshly made in abundance. Guests can either visit the restaurant to receive a hotel discount, or order direct room service. We chose to order in during our stay, and enjoyed a fresh fried calamari and a Napoletana pizza with a bottle of wine on our room's terrace; the perfect Mediterranean dinner, and we didn’t even have to leave the comfort of the room!
The rooftop pool and lounge bar is a great way to wind down or up, depending on the time of day. Summer evenings bring on live entertainment, which is perfect with a drink at the bar, while a quick morning swim in the infinity pool is an invigorating start to the day before or after breakfast.
Breakfast was the best! The area dedicated to the first meal of the day overlooks the foyer through suspended glass. The buffet is extensive, with hot and cold sections and various types of teas and coffees. The area wraps around in a u-shape to seat approximately 70, and is a great way to start the day, with ample sunlight and a soothing neutral colour-schemed design.
While the interior of the hotel is entirely non-smoking, an outdoor terrace off the main lounge is available to guests, as well as smoking areas throughout the property.
A boardroom which seats around 40 is available on the ground floor for guests to rent out. The room is fitted out with all the needed tech equipment, so that comfortable meetings can take place without clients having to rent an outside space.
The great advantage to a family owned and run hotel is that there is usually a genuine, hands-on interest in making guests as happy as possible. This attitude permeates throughout all corners of this hotel, resulting in a friendly, accommodating, and dedicated team. No request is too large, and you feel as though it’s their absolute pleasure to meet your requirements as well as they can.
It’s no surprise then that Hotel Valentina has been scooping up so many awards. While there are too many to list, it’s worth mentioning that the hotel has won Expedia's Insider's Select award in 2015, has scored over 9 on booking.com over the last two years, and has also won various Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice awards, as well as Certificates of Excellence.