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Iniala Harbour House: The Boutique Bolthole in Malta’s Capital

There is no better view in Valletta, Malta than the one from Iniala Harbour House. This swish boutique hotel, which opened in 2021, is set on the capital’s most desirable street.

Located on St. Barbara Bastion, expect widescreen views of superyachts bobbing in the Grand Harbour alongside the medieval Fort St Angelo and the honey-hued buildings of The Three Cities. Spread across four townhouses dating back to the 17th century, this hotel’s painted wooden shutters and wrought iron balconies sit perfectly in this pretty fortified capital city listed in its entirety as a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Yet inside is a different story, with the hotel’s daring design touches, fine dining and contemporary art collection making it Valletta’s most glamorous city retreat. Plus, with warm temperatures and 300 days of glorious sunshine each year, Malta is a great choice for a winter weekend break while the rest of Europe shivers.

The Vibe

A chic city crash pad with plenty of traditional Maltese charm. Entirely renovated by Istanbul interior designers Autoban, the hotel is full of quirky original features including timber-framed picture windows, frescoed ceilings and subterranean stone vaults. Yet the space has been given a sleek, high-end makeover, with custom-made furnishings, lavish contemporary light fixtures and striking art work from up-and-coming Maltese and Gozitan artists. It’s luxe but always relaxed, from the sofa check in over a glass of champagne to the handmade chocolates and pillow spray left in rooms each evening at turndown.

The Rooms

Every one of the 23 rooms has serious wow factor, whether it’s the penthouse suite with its sunny terrace in the Harbour House or the plunge pools in the Grand Residences. From fully equipped kitchens to duplex suites with private entrances, each one is different so it’s worth studying everything on offer before deciding which to choose.

One – The Hideaway House – features four rooms spread over five floors which can be booked separately or as an entire house, all including a complimentary afternoon tea, pre-dinner drinks and a butler at your service. Mine, The Gallarija Grand Harbour View Residence, came with two bedrooms, statement wallpaper and a living area big enough to throw a party in, complete with a traditional Maltese balcony overlooking the Grand Harbour. Bathrooms are equally opulent with double showers, heated floors, freestanding baths and oversized Diptyque products.

The Food + Drink

The hotel’s tiny ION Harbour restaurant became the city’s hottest reservation when it was awarded a Michelin star within six months of opening. With an outdoor terrace offering panoramic views across the harbour, it’s helmed by British chef Simon Rogan and serves an elaborate tasting menu featuring over ten courses of Maltese produce including sea bass with red prawn butter, lobster cooked over embers and sheep’s yogurt ice cream with dill and elderflower.

Breakfast is served in the same restaurant and is equally exquisite, with detox juices, perfectly flaky pastries and tea served on a wooden platter with a mini glass teapot and sand timer for the perfect cup. You won’t need to go far for a more casual meal either. Head out of the hotel’s back door to reach the pedestrianised St Lucia’s Street directly opposite, a narrow terraced street strung with fairy lights and lined with tables for al fresco dining. San Paolo Naufrago serves delicious homemade pasta and pizzas loaded with toppings but be prepared to queue, particularly during summer.

The Little Extras

The hotel may be small but it doesn’t skimp on details. There’s a sleek gym packed with equipment and a separate yoga studio just across the street plus a heated pool, steam room and spa tucked into the hotel’s subterranean stone vaults.

The To-Do List

The concierge team here can arrange almost anything, from a private tour of the National Library of Malta to sculpture workshops and wine-tasting at the Ta’Betta Wine Estate. Looking for something a little more decadent? Try chartering the hotel’s very own 44-foot Riva Rivarama yacht for a day snorkelling and sipping drinks while you cruise Malta’s coastline.

All Valletta’s attractions are on the hotel’s doorstep. Upper Barrakka Gardens has sweeping harbour views, colonnaded gardens and canons that fire twice a day, plus an elevator to the foot of the fortifications for the ferry to the Three Cities across the water. Don’t miss St John’s Co-Cathedral either, a spectacular 16th century church with an intricate marble floor, gold walls and two Caravaggio paintings on display. Other museums include Malta’s National Museum of Fine Arts and the National Museum of Archaeology which houses artefacts dating back to Malta’s Neolithic period. Elsewhere, Valletta’s steep streets and sweeping boulevards are made for pottering, calling into tiny jewellery workshops and family-run coffee shops, before heading to the waterfront to sample excellent Maltese wine as the sun goes down.

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