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I'm a regular visitor to Malta (except for the past few years) with friends over there I have been visiting since I was 3 months old, so over 20 years now!
This was the hotel we went to from the age of 2, my last holiday there was when I was 15 in 2004 as there were no rooms available the last time I went (I'm now 24). So over 10 years for this particular hotel.
First things first, this hotel is in BUGIBBA! Not St. Julians, which is quite a distance away. It has also been re-named recently to 'The Bugibba Hotel' and it is a 3 star hotel. The location itself is inland, but about a 5 - 10 minute (maximum) walk from the seafront. However there is no sandy beach. There are lots of clubs/pubs/cafes/restaurants/shops nearby and the local bus station is short walk away, there is also a place to book a taxi right around the corner and a laundrette nearby too with a newsagent straight across the road, not to mention a cinema, and play area too!
Disclaimer: Some things may have changed as it's almost 10 years since I last visited this hotel, however over the 10 years I visited this hotel I have a lot of happy memories (some bad ones too) and felt it was important to share them.
It didn't matter what time of day you arrived, whether it was early in the morning or late at night, there is always a smile and a porter to help with your luggage and guide you to your room. They have incredible patience and we got to know the old manager pretty well, and he always ensured we were happy with the service and our room and if not, it was always ensured that they met our standards and I remember one occasion when we were moved to a 'timeshare' room with carpets etc. (most rooms have tiled flooring to keep the rooms cooler) as my grandparents weren't happy with where we were as they have health problems which meant they needed to be near to reception when possible.
What are the rooms like?
The rooms are very spacious, cool and the beds are comfortable, we only ever stayed in apartments generally with a kitchenette, the rest of my family are diabetic so it's important for us to have access to a constant supply of room and as shops aren't open 24/7 over there, it was a necessity but not all rooms have this. The rooms we stayed in always had a sofa, table, and kitchenette (except the timeshare room we stayed in) so it was just like staying at home, except much more exotic! The only downside we always found was that the air-con rarely
worked, and it was the same for the radio.
The rooms are very comfortable, they are spacious and most rooms have a balcony, I don't think we ever had a room without one. Sometimes the sofas have been a bit batter, but as a child/teenager I never really noticed it. The lounge in foyer was a bit battered the last time I went but the sofas etc. were still REALLY comfy, and the restaurant seating etc. is comfortable too. I had a wonderful night’s sleep whenever I was there as the beds were really comfortable and you could just sink into them.
The cleanliness is fantastic, our rooms were cleaned every other day (4 days max on public holidays/weekends) and the beds were made every day, with towels topped up whenever we needed them.
We never had a problem with the service any of the times we visited, and were on first name basis with some of the staff (being a kid had its perks :D). They went out of their way to make sure our needs were catered for and ensure any questions were answered as quickly as possible.
They were also fantastic when any medical problems arose (which happened many times due to the nature of my families' illnesses).
When I was 14, I was hit by a car just outside, the staff took fantastic care of me, and even those who were there just for entertaining made sure I was looked after properly, I ended up being in hospital overnight as a precaution and when I got back the next day they waited on me hand and foot, and I didn't even have to get up to go to the buffet they asked me what I wanted and brought it to me!
Memories from when I was younger include my mum having a fit just before we went down to dinner (she hadn't made sure she'd eaten enough and she has both diabetes and epilepsy) and the staff got her to the sofa nearby and pushed 2 of them together to make sure she didn't seriously injure herself while they waited for the ambulance to arrive, I was under 10 at this point and while my grandma and granddad were looking after her, the waiters etc. looked after me in the restaurant as I ate with another family who had offered to take me down for dinner instead and kept me informed of how my mum was, and tried to keep me calm as obviously as I was worried etc.
If that's not a great service I don't know what is! The staffs always made an effort to get to know their guests when they could, and always made you feel welcome, even the cleaners were friendly!
The facilities are good, though they do need updating it was being refurbished the last I knew though so this may have been rectified since.
It has a bar on site (which makes brilliant non-alcoholic cocktails for kiddies! And has entertainment every evening - when I was there a guy called Martin who also worked on reception did a great Elvis impersonation and was happy to let the kids join in too if they were still up!), a restaurant, a pizzeria (which makes the most delicious pizza's I have ever had!), it also has an outside bar, a small games room, a TV room where the news and films are shown daily, plenty of toilets dotted around, and three swimming pools (2 outdoor, 1 outdoor with a children’s paddling pool and 1 indoor), plus 1 heated Jacuzzi. The indoor pool also has access to showers.
The kitchenette facilities in the apartments are basic but great with an oven, sink, worktops and fridge, there is an adjoining seating/dining area. You can also get irons/ironing boards/hair dryers on request and most rooms have a television with cable.
They also have internet access which can be bought from reception, which is available 24/7
The food and drink is nice, the only problem I found was sometimes the bacon had bones in, but this wasn't too much of an issue and it still tasted pretty good! We stayed at all times of year, sometimes for up to 3 weeks and in winter the menu would be slightly different to summer etc. The kids menu was pretty basic though, but still yummy.
Breakfast: There are always cereals available with milk. When I was last there, there was a choice of three types of juice, coffee and tea was served at your table, and there was the option to have a hot breakfast, it was usually sausages, beans, some type of egg, bacon. You could also get yourself toast, a selection of breads, with jam, marmalade, butter etc. as well as a cold selection of meats and cheese being available. There is also the option for room service.
Lunch: We usually were out of the hotel for lunch, but if we had lunch at the hotel we went to the Pizzeria, and a guy called Joey always served us, no idea if he still works there, if he does then the hotel is very, very lucky as he is so friendly and happy. They do great coffee there, but my favourite drink is Kinnie, which is a maltese soft drink. I have eaten the best Pizza's I've ever had there, and the pasta dishes are delicious too. (So is the ice cream!) and because of the way the Pizzeria is set out, meals are very much a family event as you are all facing each other around table, with the added bonus of looking out to the pool, or eating outside in Summer. The kids menu was smaller and not as many options, but the food that was on there was pretty much just a smaller version of the adult menu, with a couple of meals different.
Dinner: These consisted of a starter/main course/dessert. The starters always had soup of the day, juice and then 2 or 3 other options which changed daily. The main course had a cold buffet option, or a hot buffet option, though you could request that it be served to you if you wanted to be waited on. I actually quite liked the buffet style as I got to know the Chefs who had worked hard cooking the food. For the cold buffet, there was a selection of pasta dishes, cold meats, cold vegetable dishes, and fish, there was also a selection of breads and butter like at breaskfast time. For the hot buffet, you got a hot plate (so be careful!) you usually had a selection of 3 lots of meat, and 3 selections of veggies, and there was always a potato option and the options changed most days, the meat options changing daily. For dessert, there was always ice cream available and fruit cocktail, plus 2 or 3 other options which changed daily like with the starter.
Drinks: They had a good selection available... hot drinks there was (off the top off my head it's been a while!) coffee, tea, milk, lattes, cappucino, hot chocolate, Irish coffee and many others, but those are the ones that spring to mind first as our family was mostly teetotal (we rarely drink alcohol) Cold drinks: Kinnie, lemonade, coca-cola, pepsi, 7up, sprite, fruit juice, water, non-alcoholic cocktails (these are yummy!) the list goes on... And then obviously you get to your alcoholic, of which there are maltese 'house wines' (these are very strong! I tried them out the last time I was in Malta, though obviously not at this hotel, the novelty of being legal drinking age!) imported beers, you can get some British brands, imported wines, cognac, whiskey, brandy, cocktails, again the list goes in, there is a good selection!
Value for money
Our holidays usually came in at under £1K. If you go self-catering it's obviously cheaper, but I don't think we ever paid more than £1.5K for half-board. It did get more expensive as the years went one, and it does depend which travel agent you go with. We found that first choice/Thomas cook were among the more expensive ones. Whereas Co-op travel was slightly cheaper as were chevron. It has the added bonus of being incredibly family friendly, which is very representative of the country too as it extremely family orientated.
Would I recommend, definitely. However like the rest of Malta you either love it or you hate it. The only way to find out is to go and visit!