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Reviewed October 30, 2010

I stayed in the Excelsior Grand Hotel for a week in October. There was a problem checking in as someone with a very similar name to my partner had already checked in before us and had been given our room despite the fact that our booking was in my name, which is different from my partner's. We were made to wait in the lounge with a cup of tea for an hour while they sorted out a room for us. When they did they said it was an upgrade, and they weren't sure if we could stay in it for the full week, so we didn't even dare unpack the first night. Also the toilet bowl in our bathroom had a very nasty crack in it! We didn't dare complain about this in case we were moved to a worse room.

We had a view over the harbour (full of boats about to set off on the Rolex Middle Sea Race) but I couldn't see a horizon out to sea at all which I suddenly realised is what I expect of a sea view - it was a bit like having a mountain view but not being able to see the top. I also learned that wind in the rigging can be very noisy at night.

Breakfast was excellent however and they coped very well with my need for soya substitutes for milk and butter. There was a huge array of different hot and cold foods to choose from.

Swimming pools (the main reason we chose this hotel over the Phoenicia) - the outdoor one was very cold. I think the sea was warmer. The indoor pool was warmer, but the way it was constructed made it more suitable to sitting around in than actually swimming - there were two pillars with seating ledges which could catch you nastily if you swam past carelessly. The jacuzzi was about the same temperature as the pool, so a bit pointless really. There are no showers near the pool where you can take your swimsuit off to shower properly, so you need to do that back in your room. On the first day I took one of their towels, which I had to sign for. On returning I gave it back, marked it back in on the paper even ... yet the next day there was someone on the phone to me asking questions about the towel I signed out the day before. What kind of 5 star hotel is that mean about their towels for goodness' sake? I used my beach towel for the rest of the stay rather than be accused of stealing a towel.

The "private beach" is a joke. It's tiny, and the sea there is really a shipping channel and harbour so it's dirty and there is only a small area marked by buoys for swimming in which really isn't worth even trying.

The air conditioning in our room was very noisy so we kept it off overnight, but then it got a bit warm, even in October.

I can't fault the location however - if you can climb 88 steps you are halfway to Valletta! It's about a five or ten minute walk and of course it's all downhill on the way home.

One night we were about to go into Valletta for a meal when we realised it was raining stair-rods so we ordered from the Room Service menu - the food was delivered in about half an hour and everything was very nice and the price compared well to local restaurants.

On our last day we had a late check-out booked as we were to be picked up at 7pm. I checked this was still OK on the morning before we went out to Valletta but when we got back at around 2pm we found our key cards no longer operated the door locks, so we had to go to reception to get them reset. Having done that there were no further problems and we made the most of the hotel facilities on our last afternoon.

Would I stay here again? Perhaps. But it won't be top of my list of places to go to.

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank nitoda
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 30, 2010

This is a really good hotel with some quirks basically everything is excellent rooms, service,& especially the ambiance. If something is not quite right like a towel is not replaced a quiet word gets it done almost before youe have had time to get back to the room.The concierge is very busy but are extremely helpful. The lounge area is one of the most welcomimg we have encountered & is a great place to relax & the bar staff are really good & friendly The location is good although it is easier to roll back to the hotel after dinner than the 10 minute uphill getting into valletta but the exercise really sets you up for the great choice of restaraunts valletta has to offer( the hotel have a courtesy bus service which is very good) Valletta is a very interesting town to wander aroundThere is a great choice of eateries but give The Chef (opposite hasting gardens) a try it is family owned & is one of the best overall retaraunts weve sampled for some time

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank wilsojohn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 30, 2010

The five stars paraded by the Excelsior need to be viewed in the context of Maltese standards (e.g. no finesse and little attention to detail) and certainly do not match the five stars held by some of the world's leading hotels (but there again the prices do not either!). That said there are still a number of plus factors which make the Excelsior a hotel that can be recommended.

Probably its strongest point is its location. The hotel overlooks Marsamxett harbour and is only a ten minute walk to Valletta's main gates and bus terminal. As with many aspects of this hotel there is a 'however' - in terms of location the walk to Valletta includes a climb up 80 steps which may prove tricky for the less mobile or the terminally lazy. There is an hourly shuttle though.

The public areas of the hotel are in the 'grand' tradition - sweeping staircases, lots of marble etc. The reception team is clinically efficient but there was no warmth of welcome. The concierege and portering teams, though, could not have been more helpful.

Our room was of a good size and comfortably furnished. The bed was a proper, large double. Lighting in the room was particularly good. Overall the standard of cleaning was also good. However, the question of attention to detail raised its head every day. When we arrived there was no bath mat or face flannels. The towels were of very inferior quality and the bath sheets were very small. The next day a bath mat did appear but the following it didn't - and so on! It became something of a joke. There was an evening turn-down service and sometimes towels were changed - other times they weren't. A positive was that our room, on floor 1, was very quiet. We slept very well indeed.

Breakfast offered a very good buffet selection. Again, though, the inconsistencies were mildly annoying - sometimes coffee would arrive without any delay, other times the serving staff had to be chased. Sometimes the coffee would be piping hot, other times it was luke warm. The views from the restaurant across the harbour were impressive.

Service in the bar was very good and the staff appeared to be ever cheerful.

We ate in the restaurant on two occasions - once from the a la carte menu and once from the themed buffet (there is a different theme each evening). Typically Maltese were the large portions. Overall food standards were very good for Malta (which, to be fair, is not one of the gastronomic hot spots of the Mediterranean!). There were, though, inconsistencies - for example, when we ate from the 'carte' we were offered some decidedly poor quality bread rolls, but when we had the themed buffet there was a good selection of some excellent local bread (why could this not have been offered with the 'carte'). In addition the use of butter portions in a 5* hotel (whether international or Maltese) should be a definite no!

There is a large outdoor pool and very large sun terrace area - again overlooking the harbour. During our stay it was not hot enough to spend much time out there but the hotel has the great plus of an indoor pool. This area was kept very clean and whilst the water was on the cool side it was perfectly acceptable. There is also a very well equipped gym at no extra charge. In addition there is a spa with a wide range of treatments - all of which come at an extra cost.

Check-out was efficient and the receptionist was more friendly than the one who checked us in.

Overall if you are wanting to make Malta your destination and are wanting a hotel that offers comfort and an excellent location then the Excelsior is to be recommended. If you go expecting the standards of an 'international' five star hotel you may be disappointed but put it in a Maltese context the pluses with outweigh the minuses.

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank RGYorkshire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 25, 2010

The 5* Grand Hotel Excelsior is in a superb location in the harbour and only a 10 minute uphill walk to Valetta bus station. The hotel offers an hourly courtesy car to the bus station. Alternatively there is a rough short-cut up steps opposite the hotel but it's filthy with plastic bottles, cans & rubbish thrown over the bus stop wall. The Valetta Council could improve this paved at little cost with regular cleaning & a wire fence, plus flower beds.
In the Excelsior, the choice of A la Carte food is breathtaking from superb chefs, although a bit expensive. The bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms are very comfortable and regularly cleaned with fresh towels etc. Harbour view rooms are more expensive but I guess worth it.
Improvements could be made to the Indoor Pool & Jacuzzi that were too cold in October and so little used. The Outdoor pool etc is also freezing & little used. Also a check-in time of 3pm+ is too late afer a long flight.
It is disappointing there is no hotel disco or nightclub for young people as the emphasis seems to be to serve convention/ corporate guests. It means taking a cheap bus or taxi to St Julians where there are clubs and excellent waterfront restaurants
If you haven't done it before, try a short vacation in fascinating Valetta, Malta. It is a very safe place to walk around with strong ties to Britain. Watch out for the crazy fast taxis and buses!
Get hold of a copy of 'Time Out Malta & Gozo' and the various guide books in the Tourist Office in Merchants Street. There's plenty to see and do, with good shops including many British names like M&S. The restaurants are excellent especially Cordial for fish dishes in Old Theatre Street, and Caffe Cordina in Republic Street for people watching. The cheap market behind in Merchants Street is worth browsing for leather belts & bags etc. The Maltese are very friendly and helpful.
I especially recommend visiting Upper Barrakka Gardens for the views & its cats. After Upper Barrakka Gardens, in Castille Square visit the amazing new St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity with excellent cafe & toilets in a converted fort (opposite the Prime Minister's Offices).
We really enjoyed the hourly tour of the private Palace of Casa Rocca Piccola, the National War Museum, ice-cream in Republic Square (sometimes jazz in the evenings), the Grand Master' Palace & Armoury and visiting the beautiful walled city of Medina by morning open top bus ride (North route) but very bumpy roads in places!! The Manoel Theatre is worth a look, and they have interesting concerts & plays in English.
We will definitely return to Malta as there is so much to see and do.

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled with family
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1  Thank kings4444
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 25, 2010

We don't typically stay in large hotels, but would definitely recommend this one. Conveniently located, dramatic sea views, clean, with a nice staff and good restaurants. Really great.

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank SamberPearl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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