Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Valletta Round-Up

I briefly mentioned in my last post that I was off to Malta in a couple of weeks with my fiancé, & having just come back after a week & a half of heaven, I can confirm it was well worth the hype.

Since we had such a great time, I figured I'd put together a quick blog post sharing some of our recommendations, just in case any of you are still on the look out for a Summer holiday destination. 

We stayed in Valletta, which is Malta's capital city, & I feel like it was the perfect location for a city break. It's so compact that you could easily walk round it in a day, but there's so much to do that you could easily pack out your agenda for a couple of weeks too. We took things pretty slowly, balancing sight-seeing with lounging by the pool, & there's still so much we missed out on.


The weather was perfect for us - sunny pretty much every day & the temperatures ranged from 15-30°c - perfect for relaxing by the pool or wandering round town. Taxi drivers were keen to tell us that the weather hadn't "settled" yet & that in a couple of weeks it would be wall-to-wall sunshine, which might be great if you're just looking to chill out on the beach but could easily be too much if you want to see the sights. Going in May also meant the city was relatively quiet - the only time things got busy was on our final weekend, which seemed to be a religious holiday - but even then the crowds were manageable.


We decided to treat ourselves since this is likely to be our last holiday for a while, & we stayed in the five star Grand Excelsior Hotel. Honestly, the facilities were amazing - the indoor & outdoor pools were a total winner, & we had an incredible couples' spa treatment on our last day. 

There were just a couple of issues & honestly they're kind of interconnected. First up was how far the hotel was from town - a ten minute uphill walk might not sound like much but when spoons were low it often meant we resorted to eating in the hotel or hanging by the pool rather than venturing into the centre. Secondly, we were pretty disappointed with the food at the hotel. The hotel restaurant was great - & definitely worth checking out, even if you're not staying in the Grand Excelsior, thanks to the great views over the bay - but the pool, bar & room service food were all pretty dull, & in some cases dire. This probably wouldn't have been an issue if we'd eaten there less, but it's worth bearing in mind.

In terms of things to do, Valletta is packed with hidden gems, & the best way to find them is just to wander around the city until you stumble across something that looks interesting, but if you prefer a more structured approach there are loads of waking guides available online or in guide books (I would 100% recommend the Lonely Planet guide we picked out - the detailed city maps were invaluable).

One thing that really stood out though was our trip to the Grand Master's Palace, which is right in the centre of town. It's a bit pricey at €10, but that does get you access to the state rooms & the armoury, & it's perfect if you like a bit of history.

I'd also recommend taking some time one evening to explore the new parliament building & the Royal Opera House. They were both basically deserted when we went, & the mix of architectural styles makes it really atmospheric.

My top picks for food are actually both places that we went to early on in our trip. For lunch, we loved Kantina - I had an incredible smoked duck salad, with a sparkling raspberry & mint mixer, but there was loads of choice on the menu. For dinner, we had two great meals at San Giovanni's in St John's Square - the fresh tuna, served medium rare, was perfect & the patio seating means great people-watching. There were a couple of comments on TripAdvisor about the staff being dismissive, but we had the same waiter both times & he was super lovely - we even bonded over the 10 years he'd spent living near my home town (small world).

In terms of style, I played it pretty basic - who has time for complicated layers when it's 25 degrees? I ended up loving the slightly looser fit of these ASDA leggings (I'm wearing them in the first photo) & wished I'd bought a couple more pairs, even though I found the pattern did fade slightly between my thighs. I also loved these mirrored sunglasses from New Look, especially when paired with this killer Gabi Fresh marble-print bikini - that plus this sheer, over-sized shirt from ASOS Curve was basically my go-to outfit this holiday. I also want to give a shout-out to this New Look backpack which took a total beating this trip (water bottle plus guide books plus camera plus snacks plus sun tan lotion...) but still looks great.

I kept things pretty simple in terms of beauty too: during the day, I paired my trusty MAC Pro Longwear Concealer with a setting powder for a long-lasting but natural look. Benefit's Rockateur blush isn't my favourite (there's a review post in the works) but it's great for adding a quick flush of colour, & Kiko's Velvet Mat lipstick in Rosy Brown kept my lips looking good from day to night.

On our last day, I snuck into NYX store & picked up some bargains - I'm really looking forward to giving the soft matte lip creams a go, & I'll definitely let you know what I think.

Sorry if that all seemed super bitty, but looking back it does kind of summarise our trip. If you have any questions about Valletta or Malta more generally then please don't hesitate to leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter & I'll do my best to answer.
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