A taste of history in Malta
A neoclassical hotel in the capital of Malta, The Phoenicia is a building enriched with history. Director of sales and marketing Andrew Strickland tells Duncan Gorman about the story of Valletta’s luxury hotel, home to Society partner bar The Club Bar
The Club Bar at The Phoenicia Hotel in Malta hosts 72 bottlings of whisky as well as a selection of six SMWS expressions, with more on the way. But for this fascinating historic building, the fine selection of Scotch is only part of the hotel’s Scottish influence.
ABOVE: One of the SMWS bottlings on offer at The Phoenicia.
In 1930, Scottish architect William Binnie led the design of the hotel, with a vision for it to become Malta’s first luxury five-star hotel.
However, construction was later postponed by the island’s involvement in the Second World War, when the building was requisitioned by The Royal Air Force.
The base was heavily targeted during the war, with over 100 bombs dropped on the grounds one evening on April 27, 1942. However, just a few years after the war, The Phoenicia was opened and praised for successfully embodying the spirit of Malta.
The hotel to this day is full of history. During construction, ancient walls dating back to the 16th century were discovered and incorporated into the design of the building.
“The Spa wall dates to the 16th century and was integrated in the design,” says Andrew Strickland, director of sales and marketing at The Phoenicia.
“The large historic structures that were discovered during works date back to the years when the city was born and included two walls forming part of the foundation systems of the place of arms. The historic walls were retained in their entirety and integrated within the primary spaces in the hotel to ensure their continual maintenance and preservation.”
Andrew adds: “I would say the main inspiration for the bar is that it is an essential part of a hotel to have a calming place to start or end an evening. The bar is always the main stay of many hotels’ guests and many, many stories have been told within its four walls.”
The strong connection to the building’s history and the relationship with the British army is still celebrated today through the Society’s partner bar. The Club Bar is both cosy but spacious, while still intimate. Decorated with an array of photos dating back to its period of construction, including visits from the late Queen Elizabeth, it gives visitors a glimpse into the building’s past.
“The venue is unique in that the bar has been around from the late 1940s, as part of the hotel services, and played host to the higher command of the British fleet in Malta on several occasions,” says Andrew. “It offers guests the chance to take in old photos from the 1930s and 1940s, as well as offering stunning views of the Valletta Bastions and hotel gardens from the bar terrace.”
Large white pillars divide the bar, while guests can enjoy the calming tones of the grand piano greeting them as they enter. Towards the back of the room visitors can choose from a selection of cigars which can be enjoyed on the bar’s balcony overlooking the surrounding gardens and the grandeur of Valetta harbour.
The Club Bar has been a Society partner bar since 2017, and with SMWS drams being a favourite among visitors, it is due to refresh its range of SMWS single cask bottlings.
Experience the best of Valletta’s luxury with a trip to The Phoenicia Hotel and embrace the building’s history alongside some of the finest Society drams