Senglea, Malta

Photo: Cugó Gran Macina Grand Harbour

It seems like everyone you know has been traveling to Malta this year. After numerous publications named it 2018’s destination of the year, interest in the Mediterranean archipelago soared. Valletta’s walled city. Gozo’s gorgeous beaches. Mdina’s historic sites. So, with just a few weeks to spare, you’re finally going to see the main island, also called Malta, for yourself.

December is a great time to visit Malta. The summer crowds have dispersed. Mild temperatures, among the warmest in Europe, still hover in the mid-60s. Plus a new design hotel, which overlooks Malta’s natural Grand Harbour, recently opened in Senglea.

Senglea lies across the Grand Harbour from Valletta. Ferries run back and forth between the bustling capital. Along with Birgu and Cospicua, it’s considered one of the three Grand Harbour cities. Covering just over one half of a square mile, Senglea is Malta’s smallest and most densely populated city. Tight, medieval alleys wind out to Gardjola Gardens on the tip of its peninsula. They offer a perfect view of Fort St. Angelo in nearby Birgu. While the seven bells of the Basilica of the Nativity of Mary, a Baroque church, can be heard all along the waterfront.

Photo: Cugó Gran Macina Grand Harbour

One of Senglea’s many historic buildings, this one from the 16th century, was recently revived and turned into its first luxury hotel. Cugó Gran Macina Grand Harbour was named after the steel maċina crane, which used to lift large cargo and masts as they passed through the Mediterranean Sea. The building’s arched brick ceilings, chalk-white walls, and black-slate accents remained. Twenty-one minimalist suites were then carved out of the interior. Light-filled communal spaces, an upscale restaurant, and a rooftop pool were added, as well.

After being handed a glass of chilled Ghirgentina, a wine grape indigenous to the island, you pause to look at the photos of historic Malta before heading upstairs. Your corner suite has a cozy living room, light wood furniture, and a small balcony. Its wide windows, which overlook the harbor, are its most important features, though. You have a perfect view of the periwinkle water directly from your bed.

Your next stop is the roof. The terrace is used for events, yoga, and pilates. The pool is surrounded by sun loungers, from which you can spy on the yachts below. While you can see across the harbor and over Valletta. As you take in the breathtaking view, you immediately begin to understand why so many people have fallen under Malta’s spell this year.

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