Finding a good deal online for a winter week in Malta seemed irresistible and as it’s somewhere we haven’t already visited it’s an opportunity to explore a ‘new’ country. Flights during the winter are infrequent, so we opted for an early morning departure from Manchester.
Rather than risk the weather and drive to the airport in the early hours, we decided to stay overnight at the Premier Inn Piccadilly in central Manchester enabling us to enjoy a meal out in the city centre and a few hours sleep before catching the 04.30 a.m. train to the airport 20 minutes away. Our flight departed on time at 06.45 a.m. and we managed to catch up on some sleep during the 3 hour 15 minute journey to Luqa Airport. Our hotel was located in Bugibba in the north of the island and there are frequent buses (X3) taking approximately 40 minutes.
Malta does not have a rail line but a 7 day Explorer bus permit costs only €21 for 7 days unlimited travel on both Malta and Gozo. This card can be purchased in either the airport or Valletta and Bugibba bus stations and is valid from its first use. Please note that if you are travelling during the summer months then the cost doubles.
Our hotel for the week was the DB San Antonio in Bugibba where we had found an all inclusive deal which would be a new experience for us as it’s not our usual choice.
Checking in time was from 3.00 p.m. so as we had arrived at 12 noon we were just expecting to leave our luggage, go out for some lunch and return later but the helpful receptionist let us check in straight away and fitted us with our tacky plastic wristbands to allow us to enjoy the hotel’s facilities without delay. At least at this time of year my vivid yellow wristband could stay tucked away under the cuff of my cardigan – one advantage of being away when it’s cooler.
The hotel was fully refurbished a year ago and our room was spacious and well appointed with a side sea and swimming pool view. After freshening up, we went in search of the buffet lunch which was really quite good especially as we hadn’t eaten since about 5.00 a.m. It’s unlikely we’ll be around at lunchtime very often as we like to spend our days exploring but it worked well today before setting off on foot for a walk round our resort.
Lonely Planet describes Bugibba as the fun resort of Malta but during mid winter many of its bars and cafes were closed and the resort had, thankfully, more of a refined air. After strolling along the promenade and through the palm tree lined central square we returned to our hotel for a relaxing half hour in the steam room.
At this time of year the hotel offers three choices of dining – one restaurant that can be visited at any time and two others where reservations are necessary, so tonight we opted for ‘Tagine’ a Moroccan style restaurant with an intimate atmosphere and some delicious flavoured dishes. To end the meal I sampled a glass of Moroccan tea and it tasted amazing, have you ever tried it? I need to look out for it at home, or at least the recipe to make it! To complete the evening we enjoyed speciality amaretto coffees in the bar and our verdict on our first day of ‘all inclusive’- well, I think we have been spoilt! So much nicer than we ever anticipated!