The Mediterranean’s Last Big Secret

Compared to the imposing forms of Sicily to its north, Tunisia to its west and Libya to its south, the small Mediterranean nation of Malta is but a speck on the map. Its five tiny islands have been passed through infinitely over millennia, with the occupying powers of the Phoeniceans, Romans, Arabs, British, French and each inscribing their own complicated influence. The result? A singular and fascinating culture set within a stunning landscape that only European visitors seem to have taken notice of. If you're looking for a more under-the-radar Mediterranean experience, here's why Malta is (more than) worth a visit:

THE RICH HISTORY

From ancient monuments to WWII bunkers, Malta has an astounding number of historical sites for such a small place. The Megalithic ?gantija Temples on Gozo, for example, date back to between 3600 and 2500 B.C., making them older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. There's also the three subterranean levels of the ?al Saflieni Hypogeum, an underground burial site dating back to the neolithic period, and the ancient (but still inhabited) former capital of Mdina. Practically new in comparison are structures like St. John's Co-Cathedral, a 17th-century golden Baroque masterpiece, and Fort Rinella, the world's first mechanical fort (and current vestige of British colonialism) built in 1878.

THE OTHERWORLDLY LANDSCAPES

Whether you're walking, swimming or just sitting and admiring, Malta's dazzling natural beauty is reason enough to go. Colossal limestone cliffs, natural arches and caves surround the islands and offer plenty to look at above sea level, but there's also some of the world's most interesting dive sites to explore below. Inland and coastal hikes of all levels are ideal for those wanting to explore on foot, and you'll be spoiled for choice when it comes to swimming spots; some of the best include The Blue Lagoon (named appropriately for its clear, azure waters) and St. Peter's Pool near the fishing village of Marsaxlokk. And if you ever have difficulty finding the spot you're looking for, good news - the Maltese are famous for their warm and welcoming demeanors, so ask for a little help and you'll be on your way in no time.

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THE LUXURIOUS ACCOMMODATIONS AND EXCELLENT EATS

With so many stately old palaces built across it, it's no surprise that Malta is home to some of the Mediterranean's most opulent hotels. At the Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa, for example, you can wander their own exquisite grounds before exploring the San Anton Palace and Gardens just across the road. The Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa is also a popular culinary destination; in a centuries-old villa, guests dine on dishes like scialatielli with rabbit ragout, broad beans and ricotta salata, and squid ink and crab arancini with rose harissa aioli. There's also the hotel's popular Afternoon Tea, with both a traditional English menu on offer as well as one with a Maltese 'twist'; the latter includes delights such as orange blossom cumin scones and date fritters with honey liquor.

Further east on the island is Rosselli, a boutique luxury hotel in the heart of historic Valletta. Its designer rooms marry Baroque sensibilities with contemporary aesthetics, meaning you'll find plenty of colored marble, brass and audacious wallpaper throughout. This hotel also has a renowned culinary program, with a Michelin star earned by 'Under Grain' in 2021. This restaurant takes its name not from the agricultural product, but from the tailors who historically worked on nearby Merchant's Street. When cutting highly-prized fabric, they took great care to ensure their scissors moved along the grain to prevent fraying; similarly, the Under Grain's chefs have a reverence for their ingredients, many of which come from nearby. Fresh fish, for example, is brought in daily from the Marsaxlokk market and featured in dishes like pixxispad (swordfish) with heritage tomatoes, cantabrian anchovies, courgette and green peppercorn sabayon.

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The following hotels make incredible home bases from which to explore Malta, each with their own exclusive bonus amenities made available to you through SELECT.




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