Cost: £214 per person for a fortnight (£107 for a week)
Location: Palazzo, Zebugg, Malta
I love Malta. It’s my second home. It’s where my 90 year old Nonna still lives in the same house she did as a newlywed in a small town outside of Valletta. We’ve spent many a childhood summer holiday here sipping Kinnie from paper straws in glass bottles by the warm sea.
Above: Same kitchen, different decade. Four generations of Maltese-Sicilian women. Evelyn has definitely inherited lots of spirit and character from these two legends on the right.
My advice to anyone heading to this warm and welcoming island is stay in an Airbnb for a slice of local life away from the crowds. It gives you the opportunity to try the best food from local eateries and the chance to pick up lots of fresh produce from the road-side markets which sell the most incredibly sweet tomatoes, locally-grown olives, capers, herbs and fresh bread.
We stayed in an unsuspecting village called Zebbug which is a 10 minute drive from Valletta, about the same distance from the airport and 20 minutes from Malta’s best beach – the only wide stretch of sand on the island – in Mellieha, which is in the north.
This is the property we stayed in. Isn’t it beautiful?
The architecture in Malta has a massive influence from the Baroque movement which was destined to have the most enduring impact on Maltese art and architecture. This grand and continental door and large French windows are very commonplace.
We really lucked out. The Airbnb comprised of three separate historic buildings joined by a floral courtyard, pictured below, and an inviting swimming pool.
If you walk through the arched walked way pictured above, you will stumble upon a stunning garden with lemon trees, another self-contained building and the swimming pool.
Lots of room for each set of parents as well as our new little family. As I type I can hear a procession from a nearby religious feast and the sound of a baby snoring. Every night for a week extravagant firework displays, enthusiastic brass bands and music sound across the windy streets of Zebbug. There’s a religious feast like this in every village in Malta, a different week throughout the summer.
With ten bedrooms (6 en suites) sleeping 14, our party of 7 and a baby, rattled around this multi-million Euro property. But even though we didn’t use the space to its potential, it still only cost £175 per person (per week). If it was at full capacity it would work out at £107 per person. Who says you can’t have luxury for nothing these days.
The grand frontage of the main building pictured earlier, has a large kitchen, dining room, enormous double sitting room, a huge grand staircase leading to two large king sized en suites and a large double with a separate bath room. This leads onto a roof terrace that takes you down a flight of stairs to the swimming pool. Here are just a few snaps of the main building:
Or you can access the pool from the beautiful courtyard at the back of the sitting room. To the left of the courtyard is a second large building with veranda which has one of the en suite master bedrooms, a large sitting room diner, a stunning kitchen and a contemporary toilet / powder room.
My favourite building was the one to the West of the courtyard and favourite room within this building was the second, smaller cave-like kitchen:
There’s an old well, a huge thick wooden worktop and a large griddle hot plate instead of a hob. I sat in here a moment ago and inhaled a ricotta pastizzi and a Kinnie – an orange and aromatic herb soda.
Off the courtyard there is chill-out area with L-shaped sofa and also a smaller building, a granny annex with two bedrooms and an en suite shower room.
Next to the swimming pool is yet another building nestled amongst several lemon trees – the building has two floors, the bottom had a double ensuite and at the top of a winding stone staircase is a smaller loft-style single room.
Above is the garden and small courtyard off our bedroom.
Our hosts were incredibly accommodating and texted us a couple of times during our stay to make sure we had everything we needed. They left some great supplies too which you rarely receive during villa stays which meant we didn’t need to venture far on our first afternoon. They left us: olive oils, various condiments, Maltese crackers, some Maltese peppered cheese, lots of local bread, bottled water, washing up liquid and loo roll in all of the bathrooms, toilets and en suites. What legends!
The Maltese lemons are so fragrant and sweet-smelling their scent is of lemon meringue pie filling. I’ve counted thirteen trees at the property but there could easily be more:
Mid-afternoon loveliness in the villa. Maltese wine and a few anti pasti favourites: Butter beans in garlic and parsley, Maltese ripe tomatoes with oil and sea salt, local capers, olive dip, cheese in garlic oil, fresh figs, celery leaves and Maltese stuffed olives:
Who said the Maltese can’t do vegetarian?
I can’t recommend our stay in this Airbnb enough. Here we experienced authenticity, privacy, affordable luxury and a large slice of local life with not a single tourist in sight during our entire stay in the village. For more information: To view Palazzo in Zebugg, Malta go to https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/10979267
There are several ways you can fly to Malta but in my experience the best way is via the national carrier, Air Malta. The Maltese cabin crew are always so warm and friendly, it never fails to get a trip off to a good start. The seats are always super-comfortable and I can’t remember any delays from past experience. (Plus they stock Kinnie and Maltese beer Cisk!)
Air Malta fights go from Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester and they’re often reasonably priced too.