GOOD POINTS: Great location and setting, wonderful service, yummy breakfast, large comfortable rooms, quiet pool, free gym
BAD POINTS: Drinks and food are very expensive, room could do with some sprucing up, breakfast seating questionable
I've stayed in quite a few different hotels in Malta over the years, but this was my first venture to a 5* hotel- and I have to say, there was a clear and discernible difference in the quality of our stay at the Excelsior in comparison to other respectable 4* hotels on the island.
Beginning with the positives: the location and setting of the hotel has to be one of it's biggest plus points- with a pool and restaurants overlooking the harbour and the hotel itself only a five minute walk from the centre of Valletta, the Excelsior couldn't be in a better position. Every time we went for breakfast we marvelled at the views and it looks even better than any of the photos online.
The service was also fantastic, and was one of the main elements that demonstrated that this is a 5* hotel. On arrival and whilst waiting to check in at the reception, we received a complimentary glass of mixed juice, which was refreshing after a long journey. Similarly, the daily free bottles of water and turning down service (with complimentary pillow chocolates!) made us feel looked after; these are only small details but they made a big difference to our experience at the hotel.
Similarly, whenever we had any requests or small problems, the hotel was (on the whole) happy to help. The air conditioning in our room was a bit pathetic and wasn't cold at all, but a quick ring down to reception and within an hour an engineer had had a look and had managed to improve it so that we were more comfortable for the rest of our stay. Similarly, we needed a bottle opener for some wine that we'd bought outside of the hotel, and again a quick ring down to reception and one was delivered with a smile to our room ten minutes later. When we first arrived to our room, the bellboy ensured that we knew everything about the facilities, such as where the room's hairdryer was located and so on.
Breakfast was delicious with a wide range of options on offer, from cooked English breakfast to the usual continental options, as well as the choice for the chefs to cook fresh pancakes, omelettes and fried eggs. There often was a bit of a queue for this latter service, but the food itself was superb. Similarly, it's worth trying the selection of pastries on offer, particularly the traditional Maltese pastizzi, which were especially yummy.
Our room was large and comfortable, although we had requested a twin room but had been placed in a double. However, as soon as this was mentioned to the receptionist, she offered to try and re-jig the rooms if possible to get us a twin room, despite the fact that the hotel was running at full capacity. She also pointed out that we'd paid for a room with a garden view, but had ended up with a partial seaview, and once we saw the room itself we were happy to stick with the double considering the size of the bed and the beautiful view. However, her offer to help us try and change rooms was nevertheless very much appreciated.
Concerning views and balconies, it is definitely worth trying to get at least a partial seaview, though the angle of the hotel to the harbour means that there are a lot of rooms that technically have a seaview, but in reality are facing the other side of the hotel. We were lucky with our view as we could see most of the harbour, and as we were on the third floor with the cove balconies, we had a lot of privacy. In fact, when we were in our room it was easy to forget that anyone else was staying at the hotel! However, it was easy to see that a lot of the other rooms did not have the same level of privacy, especially as most balconies seem to be divided simply by a loop of metal, meaning that if you're sitting outside you're able to see everyone else sitting on their balconies in a row. Hence I do recommend trying to get one of the more private balconies such as the ones on the third floor or lower, as it did make a difference to our stay.
The pool was surprisingly always quiet- in fact, we often wondered where everyone was! And so there was never a rush to try and find a spot and swimming was always a joy. There were few children at the hotel so this meant that there was a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere, especially by the pool. Accompanied by the wonderful views and staff who were on hand to bring out parasols or get drinks and food, chilling out by the pool was always a pleasure.
Finally, during our stay I made use of the free gym. Although the equipment isn't massively up to date (there isn't anywhere to put your iPod if you want to listen to your own music, for example) there's plenty of it and there's almost everything you could want to exercise with. And as with the pool, it was very quiet- in fact, during the several times that I used the gym, I was the only person in there, and it was great to be able to exercise in peace and privacy.
As much as our stay was near-perfect, there were a few minor negatives. Firstly, it is an expensive place to stay if you want to get extra drinks or food by the pool, at the Tiki bar or in the hotel reception bar, for example. It does depend on what you want to get, but even lunch at the Tiki restaurant (with drinks) costs at least fifteen to twenty Euro per person, which is a pretty hefty price. We tended to avoid buying too much at the hotel itself due to the cost, though it could be argued that higher prices are part and parcel of staying at a 5* establishment.
Secondly, although our room was generally lovely and clean, it could have done with a bit of sprucing up. There were stains on the lampshade next to my bed, and the lamp itself flickered slightly. There were a few stains on the carpet, too. But more than anything, the outside and frontage of the hotel really needs a lick of paint.
Finally, although we very much enjoyed our breakfasts overlooking the harbour, getting the right seat was a bit of an issue at times. During our first breakfast we were placed in a corner of the room far from the windows despite the fact that many other tables in better situations were free, and this corner was very poorly lit. In fact, it was so poorly lit that we did request to move, for the main reason that my mother is deaf and hence has to lip read in order for us to converse, and she finds it more difficult to do so if the lighting is poor. However, although the waitress happily listened to our request, nothing was done and we remained at the same table for the rest of that breakfast. Thankfully the following morning and thus after we were seated at tables with better lighting.
However, these negatives are all only very minor, and in general our stay was fantastic. The Excelsior truly is a 5* hotel and we very much had a 5* experience!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Grand Hotel Excelsior Malta is a deluxe, 5-star resort situated within the sixteenth century fortifications of Malta’s capital city, Valletta - a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Excelsior commands the island’s premier waterfront location offering breathtaking sea views of Marsamxett Harbour and Manoel Island. As a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, the hotel exceeds expectations on the basis of its 5-star service excellence. All deluxe rooms and suites enjoy a harmonious blend of classic and contemporary design mixed with modern 5-star convenience including multi-channel flat screen TV. Spread over ten levels, three of which are executive floors, most of the rooms and suites overlook stunning harbour views. The Excelsior’s facilities include a private 30-berth marina, large outdoor and indoor swimming pools, health & beauty centre and 3 food and beverage outlets. The Excelsior offers versatile conference & banqueting facilities, fourteen flexible venues, a number of which have natural daylight - an ideal environment for business meetings, conferences and other events. Near to the Excelsior is the Mediterranean Conference Centre. This historical building enhances the Excelsior’s conference potential with an auditorium capacity for up to one thousand four hundred delegates. The Grand Hotel Excelsior opened its doors to its first guests on the 10th September 2007. Right from the start it was very clear that the product and service offerings were to be of a superior nature. The hotel prides itself in attracting and retaining a faithful following of leisure and business guests as well as prominent international personalities. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Excelsior Grand Valletta
- Hotel Excelsior Grand
- Excelsior Grand Hotel Malta/Valletta