This was our first time to Malta and after checking out the reviews of several hotels in the Qawra/Bugibba area, we settled on the Qawra palace as it fitted into our budget. We booked 14 nights half board.
As for the sub-heading of my review, I will come to that later but first and foremost, this hotel is not a four star, I would say it was barely a three. After our flight from London Stansted we arrived at the hotel in the afternoon. Check-in was a breeze and the reception staff were very helpful and friendly.
Our room (420) was on the 4th floor which had a great view over the pool and the bay. The room was very spacious but was a bit dated but was kept very clean and came with lots of storage space. Although we booked a double room we ended up with a twin. The room came with a hair dryer, telephone, a fridge – which was very handy, a television, which broke down on the second week, an in-room safe which cost €23.50 to hire for two weeks and finally air conditioning which was very good considering how hot it was. Also worth noting is that the room had both European two pin and British three pin electric sockets. The sea view rooms appeared to have bigger balconies, our balcony came with two tatty white plastic chairs. A small table would have been handy to put your drinks on.
The bathroom was very small with barely enough room to manoeuvre. The toilet itself came with cheap plastic fittings which was hardly 4 star. The shower over bath came with a fixed shower head but the water was hot and powerful. One funny thing was that when having a shower the water would run around the top edge of the bath, mastic had been placed between the wall and the edge to divert the water back into the bath instead of flooding the floor. Fresh towels were supplied every day as were toiletries.
As you have probably read in other reviews the only negative side to having a sea view room is the noise from the road which gets very busy plus the live music goes on until midnight in the pool area but it really didn’t bother us. I would highly recommend getting a sea view room as the rooms to the rear of the hotel overlooked an inner courtyard, some rooms hardly saw any sunshine especially those on the lower floors. Balconies were literally inches apart and looking up from ground level it looked like a scene out of “the Bangkok Hilton” or “Midnight Express” (which funnily enough was filmed in Malta).
The restaurant is actually built under the main road although you wouldn’t know it. They have a funny arrangement here is that you are assigned to a “zone” in the restaurant. I personally thought the food was rather good especially the evening meals (can’t speak for lunch being half board). Breakfast was the same every morning with a choice of eggs, bacon, sausages, beans etc. Plus cereals and a cold buffet of meats and cheeses. A couple of problems was that the chef didn’t know how to fry an egg, nearly all of them came up with burnt edges, also, if you like a decent cup of tea you MUST bring your own tea bags. The tea out of the machines were like dish water. The evening meals in my opinion were very good. In the two weeks we were there not one meal was repeated. There was always a choice of main course i.e. fish, meats, pasta plus rice and a variety of vegetables. They did a curry on a couple of occasions which were very tasty. The soups were very nice too. Also available is a cold buffet. Some of the desserts were very eye watering which included gateaux, cheesecake, jellies and ice cream. If you want a drink with your meal these have to be purchased from the bar outside. House wine was very reasonable at €4 a bottle. There was one thing about the restaurant that was very irritating – the heat. Some days it was very hot in there making it very uncomfortable to eat. The daft thing was is that they had 16 air conditioning units on the ceiling but the only one working was the unit above the main door.
The pool area, which was accessed by a walkway under the road, was far too small for the size of the hotel with not enough sunbeds to go round. Once again you had the pathetic scenario of people going down at the crack of dawn putting towels down to reserve beds despite notices forbidding this practice and that security would remove towels, this never happened while we were there and if you hadn’t got your beds by 09.00 you more-or-less had it and there were no German’s in sight! And to make matters worse you had outsiders coming in also taking up beds and chairs even though there were signs saying “HOTEL RESIDENTS ONLY” I was chatting to a family that were near us by the pool asking them what they thought of the hotel only to be told “O, we are not staying in the hotel, we are renting an apartment up the road”. A number of complaints went in about this and by our second week security were going round asking people for their hotel passes. Mattresses were available to hire for €1 and extra towels could also be hired for €1 (plus €5 deposit). On the rocky “beach” there was a water sports centre where you could hire jet skis, go paragliding, skiing etc. The swimming pool area becomes the entertainment area by night. Staff clear away all the pool furniture at around 17.30 and then thoroughly hose the whole area down then set it all up again with tables and chairs. Full credit to the staff, they did work hard in keeping the area clean and tidy.
The evening entertainment consisted of different singers each night. We only spent three nights of our holiday at the hotel preferring to go out and about visiting different bars in town. However, I will say the rock band they have there on a Monday night were very good. One thing that put me off staying at the pool area was that beer was served up in plastic beakers. Stella Artois was €3 a pint, cheap by London standards but was dearer than all the bars in town. The hotel has a nightclub that only opens on Saturday nights but we didn’t use it.
THE ITALIAN STUDENTS – apparently this hotel takes in large groups of Italian students in the summer months doing English language courses. Their rudeness and ignorance are unbelievable. Although they were not around during the day, they were in the morning and at night. Shouting and screaming and running around in the corridors banging on each other’s doors. We were on the 4th floor and were surrounded by them. We paid extra for a sea view room but many of these students had these rooms either side of us. One reviewer said they were put in the back rooms and indeed some were but many had sea view rooms. One night the noise got so bad I had to go out and shout at them to shut up, as they were learning English I think they got the message. My wife was waiting for a lift when a group of them turned up, when the lift arrived they just barged past her. Many complaints were lodged with the holiday reps and I too complained to management about their conduct expressing I didn’t spend good money for a fortnight’s stay in a youth hostel. By our second week extra night security had been brought in and things did calm down – but only a little. I must mention that these students eat in their own dining hall attached to the hotel.
The hotel itself is really in need of a makeover, it’s kind of stuck in an eighties “timewarp” although it is kept very clean by all the staff. There is a very nice coffee shop attached to the hotel that does a variety of coffee’s, pastries and other snacks. Across the road is a pizzeria restaurant which you can have instead of your normal evening meal. However, you must book this a couple of days in advance. Other facilities include a number of computer terminals, two pool tables (one broken), air hockey machine and out the back in the “Ghetto” was a very run down mini golf course. Also available was a full size tennis court, a sauna room and massage was available. Other facilities included a hair dressing salon and a couple of gift shops plus a car hire shop.
The hotel sits in a great location on the Qawra waterfront overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The towns of Qawra/Bugibba are right behind the hotel but be warned there are steep hills to climb either side of the hotel before it levels out. We found all the staff at the hotel from the room maids, the restaurant waiting staff and reception staff friendly and helpful. Indeed, we found all the Maltese people to be friendly.
Qawra and Bugibba are not really lively towns with night clubs aka – Magalluf. If you want lively clubs then I would suggest booking somewhere in Paceville near St Julian’s bay. There were some lively bars such as Incognito. With the football season starting, one bar I can recommend is the Misty Blue sports bar. It has a large screen on the front patio and many screens inside showing different sports, we watched some of the Olympics here. Drinks are quite cheap too, plus they bring out a variety of snacks for you to enjoy. If you fancy a flutter in a casino we joined the one in the Dolman Hotel called the Oracle. Very nice atmosphere and reasonably priced drinks as well. On the subject of drinks, of all the places I have visited in Europe, Malta must be one of the cheapest places I have ever been to for bar prices especially in the Qawra/Bugibba area.
Getting around Malta is pretty easy. Arriva buses operate the buses around the island. Gone are the famous old yellow buses much to the dismay of residents and tourists alike. The bus terminus is a short 5-10 minute walk (depending how fast you walk up those hills) behind the hotel in town. Buses from here go to many parts of the island. TIP – Although there is a bus stop almost opposite the hotel, if you want a good chance of getting a seat I would strongly advise catching it at the bus terminus especially if you are catching a No12 which runs to Valletta and is very popular. Very often by the time the buses reach the bus stop they are packed. Another tip, if you plan to explore the island as we did then the 7 day bus pass offers great value for money at €12.00. If you need any advice on Malta buses, Phil-the-bus is brilliant on the forums, just tap him up and he will put you right.
Other places we visited was the island of Gozo which was very nice. We took the 221 bus from Bugibba to Cirkewwa ferry terminal then caught the Gozo ferry. If you are interested in old aircraft the Malta Aviation Museum makes an interesting visit. The museum is based in Ta’Qali on the former RAF base. You can reach it by catching the X3 bus. One place that is a bit special was the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum which is located in Paola. The Hypogeum is an underground cemetery that dates back thousands of years and was carved out by hand using primitive tools. If you are into history this is a must visit but you must book at least two months in advance. So unique is the site that only 10 people are allowed in at a time. Malta is stacked in history with its old forts, churches and temples etc.
In summing up, despite some issues with the hotel we still had an enjoyable holiday. We loved Malta, its history, its culture, its people and its drink prices were pretty damn good too! Plus the weather was very hot. As for the Qawra Palace hotel, would we return there? Only if they gave the place a spruce up and sorted a few other issues out especially the Italian students we may give it another go. But for our next visit we may choose either the Dolman resort (which has the casino) or the Seashells resort which was next door and looked rather nice.
Hope this is of some help.
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- Also Known As:
- Qawra Palace Hotel Malta
- Qawra Palace St Pauls Bay