The Snop House offers an experience like no other, in the undiscovered gem that is Senglea.
As locals that have been born and raised in Malta, a beautiful yet tiny island that covers a total area of 316 km2, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we’d discovered all there is to see and experience on our island home. You’d be forgiven of course, but you’d also be wrong. One of the amazing things about this little archipelago is that it’s so dense.
I’m not just talking about the amount of people that call Malta home – though we are the fifth most densely-populated country in the world – I’m talking about the wealth of history, culture and beauty that the islands have to offer. Wherever you find yourself, it seems that behind every door, around every corner, and down every alley lie so many secrets, just waiting to be discovered. And nowhere more so, perhaps, than in The Three Cities, comprising the three fortified cities of Vittoriosa (Birgu), Senglea (Isla), and Cospicua (Bormla).
Hailing from the centre of the island, Cottonera, positioned in the South Eastern part of Malta, feels like a different place entirely – so much so that staying here feels like going away on holiday. It is this curious feeling that my partner and I are musing on as we are welcomed into The Snop House, a fantastic boutique accommodation in Senglea, the smallest of the Three Cities, which will be our home for the weekend.
The Snop House is situated in the heart of Senglea, at the top of the hill on Victory Street, just a few metres away from the Our Lady of Victories Basilica. It’s also located just a few steps from the lively waterfront-facing Birgu, so it really is at the heart of it all.
The Three Cities offer an intriguing insight into Malta and its history, and ever curious to discover more about our island home, my partner and I couldn’t wait to explore the neighbourhood. Relieving ourselves of our bags, we set off for a stroll, taking in the social atmosphere and simple way of life that still presides here. As we ambled down the charming streets and made our way down to the promenade, we’re greeted by locals who mistake us for tourists, making several stops to take in the magnificent architecture, often dating back to the time of the Knights.
As day gave way to night, we toyed with the idea of making the short ferry ride to Valletta from the Birgu pier, but decided that the trip could wait till next time. The atmosphere at dusk is so romantic that we couldn’t resist making plans for a quiet dinner at one of Senglea’s waterside restaurants for later that evening.
Back at our new home away from home, our affable host and owner Olivier delights us with a tour of The Snop House, which, we discover, is sweetly named after an acronym for his young family. A French art curator and collector, Olivier’s passions for art, and his adopted home, shine through via the pieces he has carefully chosen and commissioned for each space.
Formerly a local social club, the classic Maltese building has been renovated and transformed into a unique boutique accommodation that feels as welcoming now as it must have in its past life. And this is exactly what the owners wanted to achieve – emphasising their focus on the hospitality and warmth that the Maltese are so well known for. And, Olivier continues, all the staff that work here are from Senglea itself, another important element he feels makes the experience all the more authentic.
The property offers six luxury-designed bedrooms, two on each floor, which are all serviced by an elevator and a magnificent internal staircase. Each room has a different spirit and theme, yet what ties them together is what Olivier likes to call the spirit of dolce farniente. Indeed, as we walk from room to room, we are constantly surprised by what comes next.
Each bedroom invites you to discover an interesting piece of local history, culture, environment or tradition, without ever venturing into cliché territory. The elegant Timouzokro, for example, features contemporary art and furniture pieces that echo a marine theme focusing on the Mediterranean Sea which surrounds us, while the room we had the pleasure of calling home for the night, Cabrighar, evokes a feeling of spirituality through its timeless décor.
As we settled in, we continued to notice the delightful touches that really make the room feel special. The attention to detail is exquisite, making it feel like an elegantly decorated home, with all the upscale touches – including a comfy double bed, large private bathroom and wide wardrobe – as well as the usual amenities like Wi-Fi, a mini bar and safety box, that take the experience to the level of a luxury accommodation.
In the morning, the glorious winter sunlight shone through the traditional shutters from the balcony overlooking the main street, and made for a perfect spot for a morning cuppa as we took in the magical views of the Grand Harbour beyond. Feeling refreshed after a delightful evening and an exceptional night’s sleep, we made our way down for a continental breakfast, which is served in the dining room, stretching out to the courtyard on sunny days.
While the breakfast is self-service, nothing is too much trouble for the friendly Manuel, who happily grants my wish for a boiled egg to go along with the lovely selection of hams, cheeses, breads and pastries, which we enjoy with a range of traditional marmalades and seasonal honey.
As we sipped on our coffees, our lovely hosts regaled us with stories from the area, giving us tips and advice on what to do with the rest of our time in their beloved Senglea. We drank it all in and thanked them for not just a wonderful, but what also turned out to be an unexpectedly educational experience.
Some time later, as we looked out into the deep blue vista from Gardjola Gardens at the tip of Senglea, we promised ourselves we’d be back. It may just be 316 km2, but Malta really does have so many gems to discover, and we hadn’t even begun to enjoy all that Senglea, and The Snop House within it, have to offer!
Check The Snop House out for yourself at 23, Victory Street, Senglea or visit their website. For enquires, email [email protected] or call +356 27029324