We had been to the Qawra Palace before, about 7 years ago, and had a reasonable idea of what to expect. The last visit, however, was on half board. On this occasion we had gone for the All Inclusive package, still reasonably priced at around £600 each from Thomas Cook.
Upon arrival, second drop-off, we acquired our proper key type key, and instead of the ubiquitous plastic armbands which identify you to all and sundry as a compulsive eater/drinker/sunbed fanatic, we received one discreet plastic card - which was to be our pass to all manner of goodies within the hotel.
We took our lift (one of 3) to the 5th floor and swiftly unpacked before going for our first evening meal - having arrived at around 8 p.m. and dinner finishing at 8-45 p.m.
The room was much as we remembered, functional rather than luxurious, with twin beds, drawers and wardrobe and a sliding door to a small balcony with a side view of St Paul's Bay. The plastic furniture on the balcony needed cleaning (or replacing). The bathroom was pleasant, with full-size toilet and bath. A good sized wash basin complemented these. My wife noted that the button which diverts from bath tap to shower wasn't working correctly. We mentioned this at reception the next day and it was promptly fixed.
Back in the main room we located the air conditioner (essential) and put it on low. It worked well throughout our stay and was not too intrusive. A television was present (very small) and the remote was available at reception. We didn't bother!
After putting our wordly possessions in the safe (11.50 euro for the key) we ambled down for dinner.
In the lounge bar, which is (along with the restaurant) on the Ground floor underneath the road which separates the hotel from its pool and "Oasis Bar" area, we were asked to order our drinks from Stephanie on the till and present the card (magic). She entered our requirements - Carafe of red and pint of Stella - and gave me a ticket which I then presented to the bar, which then handed over the drinks. At first this seemed a bit over the top when compared with other hotels where you just flash your bracelet, but after a while we got used to it.
In the restaurant we were allocated zone "C" for the duration (Breakfast & Dinner - Lunch you could sit where you liked on the opposite side to our usual tables). The buffet style meals were all good, with a fair selection of starters (the soups were excellent), and a good variety of hot dishes and sweets. Please note - generally the dishes were hot (unlike some we've had elsewhere). It should also be noted that apart from an abortive attempt to book at the hotel's pizzeria (to which we were entitled, but missed the day we could have gone), we didn't feel the need to dine anywhere else - apart from lunch, which we had wherever we found ourselves. There was no real need for us to buy lunch either as the Qawra Palace supplied packed lunches in nice boxes! We didn't sample these, but I am confident that they would be good as well.
Entertainment was to be found in the outside Oasis bar area. Bar service was again "order prior to service" with the magic card and we AI lot had our own bar. A plenitude of various local beverages could be found, with the draught being the usual local Stella. Carafes of red wine were also freely available and consumed equally freely as (let's face it) it wasn't too strong. That is what we told ourselves anyway!
As the week progressed we became used to the little rituals of holidays, including voluntarily paying for drinks and coffees in the Qawra's Coffee lounge on street level, where the entertainment from the other side of the road could still be heard. We usually did this after dinner and after the AI time had finished (11 p.m.).
We had very few niggles about the hotel - she is a little tired, perhaps, and could do with a 40 year old's make-over. The lifts tended to be a bit congested at certain times. The nightclub was (allegedly) grotty (we didn't go).
On the positive side I felt the hotel was clean and tidy. The staff were efficient and friendly. We reported a (dead) cockroach in our room, which I disposed of (brave, like a lion!). They happily sprayed the room for us to ensure the dead one was not the reconnaisance unit for a mighty army.
Would we go again? Tomorrow would be nice.
On a general note - Arriva buses are now in Malta. Weeekly tickets (go anywhere) are 12 euros. We stuck to day tickets which are still reasonable at 2.60. Try a trip out to Comino and the Blue Lagoon on Romantika or Keppel. Do the Harbour Cruise (Captain Morgan, Valetta) - or via Keppel from Bugibba. Go to a village "Festa" for the fireworks and to meet the locals. We took the Thomas Cook /City Sightseeing "Malta by Night" tour which was excellent, but expensive (18 euro). I would guess that the tour operator's trips are probably twice the price of local ones, but are better organised. Just remember Malta is very small so you'll never get really lost!
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- Also Known As:
- Qawra Palace Hotel Malta
- Qawra Palace St Pauls Bay