Hotel Phoenicia with a Royal pedigree
They can’t take their castles with them when they travel, but Queen Elizabeth II and her regal entourage do find some of the most elegant, indulgent properties to call home when touring the globe. One such is Hotel Phoenicia. Malta's first 5-star hotel and a favourite of the royal family.
It can be said with a fair amount of certitude that the sun will never set on the British fascination with the history and traditions of their beloved monarchy. Likewise the Maltese, who have welcomed and embraced Queen Elizabeth since she was a young princess living amongst us in post-war Malta. When Philip was posted to Malta as a naval officer from 1949 to 1951, the Queen spent several months by his side. Hotel Phoenicia was featured in a UK TV documentary by royal biographer Andrew Morton, documenting the stay of Princess Elizabeth in Malta. Princess Anne, the couple's only daughter, was also conceived during their time in Malta.
Though separated, as Bernard Shaw said, by a common language, the average Maltese lexicon contains such royal verbiage as Westminster, Buckingham, the Tower and, for the most avid fans, Crown Jewels, the Queen of Hearts and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, who is visiting the island on her first solo tour in September .
In Malta itself, no place is more synonymous with the royal family than the iconic Hotel Phoenicia, the hotel that became the luxury blueprint for Malta's burgeoning premium tourism.
Since officially opening in 1947, the Phoenicia, as it is affectionately known, has played host to many a royal, including HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip, HRH The Prince of Wales, and Lord Louis Mountbatten. The future queen and her husband visited the hotel on several occasions. This exclusive address at the impressive new entrance to Valletta is built on a perfectly delightful 7.5 acres of rambling exotic gardens, and is known for its timeless, understated luxury across every nook and cranny of its precious acres.
But what truly sets the Phoenicia apart from other royal enclaves is its longstanding association with the British Royal family. Even if HRH chooses only to soak in the famed Maltese sun, the island’s status as a member of the British Commonwealth, and the Phoenicia’s dedication to service and taste, it’s no wonder the royals feel right at home here. Crowds lined the streets of Malta for a glimpse of the young queen when she returned in 1967, making the elegant sophistication and Art Deco grandeur of the Phoenicia a welcome respite. In fact, few hotels can rival the Phoenicia’s history, charm, and high-profile clientele. In November 2005, during the Queen’s state visit to the island, the Phoenicia was chosen as the venue for one of the official receptions hosted by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.
Her Majesty is the most widely travelled British monarch, having visited 116 countries on 261 official overseas visits. She has carried out 96 state visits, including the most recent to Malta in 1992 and 2005, and has visited the island on three other occasions during her reign. That visit coincided with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s diamond wedding anniversary, during which they joined other couples celebrating their own anniversaries at an event in the Upper Barrakka Gardens. The Brits are classy, none more-so than HRH Queen Elizabeth II. The biggest compliment to our proud Maltese Islands was paid by her Majesty when she referred to her stay in Malta as a Naval wife as being the only time she could lead a normal day-to-day life. The Queen is known to hold fond memories of the time they spent in Malta out of the media glare in Britain in the years before she inherited the throne aged 25 in 1952. The Malta years are thought to be their only experience of life approaching something like an ordinary couple: staying in a villa, driving an open-top MG, eating in restaurants, and holding hands in the back row of the cinema. Less well known perhaps is that the Duke of Edinburgh discovered his life-long love of polo in Malta.
With over 300 days of sunshine every year, there's nowhere better to catch the last of autumn's rays than following in royal footsteps to this underrated jewel just south of Sicily. Where else can you explore 7,000 years of history in your T-shirt or tiara at this time of year?