Malta & Richard lll 013 (Small)

When I lived in Malta in my teens, I often saw the Phoenicia stood with its nose in the air when I got off a bus in Floriana, Valletta. But I never went in it. It was another world to me.

However, a few weeks ago, when Hubby John and I went to Malta, I was invited to review the luxurious old building.

Built in1936, it was taken over as Headquarters for the Royal Navy during the war, so it eventually opened as a hotel in 1947.

Rob Bruno, the Director of Sales and Marketing met us in the luxurious foyer and bar, and showed me round.

The Hotel is 5-star and the rooms are above average. But I couldn’t see any of the bedrooms as the Phoenicia is practically fully-booked all the year round.

It’s an ideal situation for anyone who likes culture, walking, exploring the island, etc. as it’s just 100 yards from the City Gate, where you can catch a bus to anywhere on the island.

In the grounds, there’s a swimming-pool, and they grow a lot of their own vegetables.

But it was too dark for me to see much, so Albert will be continuing the story soon, hopefully with photos of some of the bedrooms..

Malta & Richard lll 008 (Small)In the 1940s Prince Philip was in the RAF, and he and the Princess Elizabeth lived in Villa Mountbatten. They often came to events at the Phoenicia, in the huge ballroom.

When the Queen visited the island in 2005, she held a Reception in the Hotel.

The Ballroom was always open to the public for dances, but a certain code of dress and behaviour was expected.

Another famous guest was Oliver Reed.

He was eventually refused service as he was so drunk, so he left the Hotel and staggered to a small local bar, where he had some more drinks, and died.

Rob escorted us to the Pegasus Restaurant, then said goodbye.

I ordered a bottle of Maltese Falcon rose wine because I’d never seen it before, and John had an alcohol-free pina colada. I could hardly see him behind the tall glass and all the straws, umbrellas, etc!

Malta & Richard lll 033 (Small)Maria and Dalma were our waitresses, and the Chef was the Executive Chef Saul Halevi, who comes from Italy.

To start, he sent us a Pear and Cheese Fiocchi with a beetroot crisp.

Fiocchi means Flower. It was pastry moulded into a flower shape and deep-fried.

The bread basket came and I chose a black roll, made with squid ink in it!

I had Sea Urchin Pacchiare to start.

Sea Urchins are used a lot in Malta and I love their briny flavour.

The pasta is made in a long tube and then cut.

John had an Octopus Salad and was very quiet as he happily ate it.

Then John had the Rabbit; a very popular local meat.

Malta & Richard lll 030 (Small)I had Irish Rib-eye steak. But it came with no sauce, so it was too dry for me to eat.

Within two minutes of asking, I was given a perfect Red Wine Jus.

Despite being over-full, we tried a couple of the sweets.

John had a Granny Smith Apple and Ginger Sorbet; two combinations that he loves.

I had a filo basket filled with fruit and cream. Delicious perfection!

Then I finished off with a Maltese liqueur, and a plate of home-made almond and walnut Petit fours arrived.

It’s amazing how much the stomach can expand when it’s tempted!

I spoke to the two couples next to us. They’d both been to Malta before.

One of the couples had got engaged here, in Sasha’s Nightclub, which is still there.

It was a lovely evening, apart from the music.

Malta & Richard lll 034 (Small)So many restaurants get the music wrong. It shouldn’t be left to the staff to stick on another CD when the music stops.

Everyone in that restaurant was of retirement age. I’m sure that most, if not all of them had been to Malta before, perhaps when the Forces were there.

They don’t want Randy Crawford’s Greatest Hits – all two of them, plus the other 18 non-hits!

In an elegant building like the Phoenicia, surely some Classical music would go down well with everyone, of all ages!

 

Rooms at Phoenicia Hotel start from just

£55 per person sharing per night, valid for advance online bookings. To book call 0800 862 0025 or visit www.phoeniciamalta.com