Things to do in Malta

There is something reassuring about the compact size of Malta, especially in today’s climate, as we ease ourselves back into the world of travel. I have missed European minibreaks more than anything else over the last 18 months, nothing can replace that exhilarating feeling of waking up in a new city, with a whole new culture to discover. Malta’s capital Valletta is just a 3 hour flight from London but boasts sunny weather for much of the year. There is lots to entertain you in town but also many natural sights to see under an hour away by car or bus. Here are my favourite things to do from a long weekend in Malta.

Best Malta hotel

To Stay

Iniala Harbour House – With an advantageous location on the St Barbara Bastion this luxurious hotel boasts spectacular vistas of the Grand Harbour. There are 23 elegant rooms and suites, a relaxing spa, world-class cuisine and wonderful service. The hotel is housed within four historic Maltese houses, immaculately restored and lavishly decorated inside to ensure you have the most comfortable base while exploring Malta.

Malta

To Eat

Ion the Harbour – The fine dining destination atop the Iniala Hotel. This beautiful rooftop restaurant has recently welcomed one of my favourite chefs, Alex Dilling, to the kitchen. Save time and appetite for the memorable tasting menu, featuring some of Alex’s most iconic creations, such as the divine ‘Hunter Chicken’ with Sauce Albufera. The menu draws on Maltese influences and local ingredients, but is classically French in style. The restaurant was recently awarded its first star, and I predict a second will follow soon. (Other fine dining spots worth visiting include Noni and Under Grain).

Guze – This friendly restaurant serves local Maltese dishes with a twist. Found in a 400 year old historic building, dinner here is atmospheric and special. Expect refined rabbit dishes and stylish desserts from the kitchen of this celebrated bistro.

Legligin – A great spot to get acquainted with the local cuisine. This cosy restaurant offers a tasting menu with a variety of delicious homely cuisine, using the finest Maltese ingredients. Book ahead as it’s always busy.

San Paolo Naufrago – Sit on the steps outdoors and order a pizza and glass of local wine. The pizzas are generous and delicious and the atmosphere is great fun.

Museum Cafe – Established in 1921 the Museum Cafe is the best place in Valletta to pick up the local delicacy of Pastizzi.

Manouche Bakery – Head to this petite bakery (Malta’s first craft bakery) for indulgent viennoiserie and French baked treats.

Malta

To Drink

Lot Sixty One – My first stop in a new city is always a local speciality coffee shop, and Lot Sixty One is the only place in Valletta serving really good coffee. Everyone recommended it to me and it did not disappoint. Open long hours and serving their own roasted beans, the coffee here is strong and delicious. Perch on the al fresco tables with a flat white and plan the rest of your Maltese adventure.

Alchemy – If you are a cocktail fan this is the place to visit. Alchemy is serious about mixology and the knowledgable staff here will create you a totally unique and delicious drink. Open daily from 6pm and found tucked away on the revamped Strait Street.

Bridge Bar – A lovely outdoor spot for an evening drink and a bite to eat while listening to some live jazz, overlooking the Grand Harbour.

Malta

To Explore

Barrakka Gardens – Found at the top of the city of Valletta the magical Barrakka Gardens are well worth a visit while in town. The colonnaded gardens were created in 1661, and were originally the private gardens and exercise grounds of the Knights of the of the langue of Italy, they were opened to the public in 1824. It is a romantic spot to sit and admire the view.

Blue Grotto – There are a number of sea caverns on the south east coast of Malta and the term ‘Blue Grotto’ refers to the collection of them. It is a short taxi ride or bus journey from Valletta, and makes a great half day trip. Head down to the water where you can swim or take a boat ride to see the inside of these incredible caves.

Mdina – This fortified city (and Unesco World Heritage site) is known as ‘The Silent City’ and is 20 minutes drive from Valletta. Here you can wander round by foot, take a charming horse and carriage ride, and enjoy delicious ice-cream from Fior di Latte. Before heading back walk over to the neighbouring town Rabat to pick up traditional Pastizzi lunch from Is Serkin – for just 40 cents you can get a delicious savoury pastry filled with curried peas, cheese or chicken.

Boat to the Three Cities – Take a boat from the Valletta waterfront to explore the Three Cities (Birgu, Bormla and Senglea). I spent most of my time wandering round Birgu and stopped for comforting Italian food at Terrone, run by ex-River cafe alumni.

I was a guest of Iniala Harbour House and Ion – the Harbour restaurant.

Introducing FodaBox…

FodaBox (formerly Borough Box) is a community and quality focused foodie force. The company prides itself on curating beautiful and abundant hampers filled with delicious products from special independent producers. FodaBox was founded by Andy Lawson who knows the importance of shopping small as he was an independent producer himself.

Andy understands more than most how much hard work it is being a producer – very often working relentlessly for rewards that can initially be quite small – he set up FodaBox to create a supportive community for all those great sellers out there. Connecting people with a varied range of products, championing the finest food and drinks.

FodaBox

FodaBox is a communal hub that showcases the work of the hard-working producers; ultimately putting people and their fabulous products above profit. At a time of excess and festive chaos FodaBox is a mindful way of shopping for the best independent food and drink – each product and producer is handpicked for their unique story and wonderful product.

FodaBox

FodaBox kindly sent me one of their stunning Christmas Hampers. The food and drink gift box contains lots of my favourite things, I thought I would highlight a few of the artisan products that particularly caught my eye:

  • Brut Champagne from Virginie T. An exclusive champagne from Virginie Tattinger, fresh and dry in taste. FodaBox are one of the few retailers lucky enough to be offering this rare champagne.
  • Metro London Honey from Bermondsey Street Bees. This ethical brand is based in South London and has won many awards including ‘Small Artisan Producer of The Year’.
  • Raspberry Champagne Chocolate Truffles from Love Cocoa. Inspired by his great-great-great-grandfather, James Cadbury founded Love Cocoa. These white chocolate shells are adorned with raspberry pieces all encased in creamy and rich ganache.
  • Truffle Oil from Truffle Hunter. Truffle Hunter finds the highest quality black English truffles in Southern England, before blending them with their delicious cold-pressed extra virgin rapeseed oil from Oxfordshire. A really special oil that will add a touch of magic drizzled on pizzas, risottos and pastas.
  • Honey & Mustard Dressing from Lucy’s Dressings. Inspired by her mum making dressings in jam jars, Lucy was compelled to create Lucy’s Dressings to share the magic of real home cooking. Mix into marinades, roasties or salads for an intense and tasty flavour.

FodaBox

Head to FodaBox.com to see the full contents of the Luxury Food & Drink Gift Hamper or browse the other beautiful boxes on offer… There’s something for every budget and every occasion, and I can’t think of a more joyful gift to send to someone this holiday season.

See FodaBox on instagram here, and visit their website here.

This is a paid partnership with FodaBox.com.

Beauty Winter Essentials and Gift Ideas

I always ramp up my beauty routine at this time of year. As temperatures drop I notice my skin suddenly feel tight and dry and it feels good to treat myself to a few great products that will make me look a bit more healthy through the winter season. Here are a list of my top cold weather essentials, ideal as a self care pick-me-up or as a little stocking filler for friends and family this Christmas. Click on the product names to shop, many of which have amazing discounts today and this week.

Skin

Winter beauty

Chantecaille Vital Essence – This beautiful, lightweight product does as the name suggests… offers vital essence to boost hydration help collagen production. It is versatile (good for all skin types) and the clever formula is infused with powerful botanicals to make your skin look smoother and ensure you are hydrated through the colder months.

Winter beauty

Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask – I am a massive Glossier fan… the simple brilliant packaging and the easy to use fuss-free products always satisfy my skin. This soothing face mask is great for lazy winter pampering sessions. It has a creamy texture and the ingredients include Liquorice Root and Lemon Fruit Extract which will visibly brighten and even out your complexion.

Winter beauty

Emma Lewisham Supernatural Hydration Crème – At this freezing time of year my skin requires a potent moisturiser to help combat the cold. Emma Lewisham is a new brand to me, a science-led natural skincare brand which launched in 2019. This deeply hydrating cream promises to hydrate the skin and provide a luminous glow, and even after a few uses my face felt smoother and brighter.

Winter beauty

AHC Aqualuronic Cleanser – This cleanser is a year round must, I love the light foaming formula, which gentles cleans the skin and supercharges your face with moisture from three molecular weights of Hyaluronic acid. My skin always feels refreshed and soft after use.

Winter beauty

Victoria Beckham Priming Moisturiser – I’m seriously impressed with his nifty product from Victoria Beckham by Augustinus Bader. The packaging is chic and perfect for tucking away in your handbag for when you need a boost of moisture on the go. The cream is lightweight and will make your skin feel firmer whilst reducing pore size and adding hydration thanks to the cell rejuvenating TFC8® technology.

Winter beauty

Vichy Liftactiv Collagen Specialist Firming Moisturiser – This anti-ageing and energising product targets fine lines and wrinkles quickly and effectively. The ingredients include Vitamin CG and collagen-protecting biopeptides which will ensure your skin looks more youthful and supple even in the harshest weather.

Winter beauty

Nimue Winter Shield Trio – This brilliant little trio is designed to protect against environmental damage, especially at this time of year. The set includes the Sun-C SPF40 (a lightweight and moisturising sunscreen), Pre & Post (a hydrating serum which protects the skin whilst also repairing and hydrating), and Element Barrier (a face/body cream which particularly offers protection against extreme temperatures and wind). Ideal size for popping in your handbag to go.

Winter beauty

Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops – Could this be the ultimate winter product? This serum shields the skin from the harsh winter elements while also adding a subtle sun-kissed glow to your skin. Just add a drop or two to face or body moisturiser for a flattering bronzed result.

Winter beauty

StriVectin Barrier Strengthening Oil – A really special treatment oil which will nourish and balance the skin. This face oil is one of a kind, with so many valuable ingredients clinically proven to strengthen the skin barrier, it offers moisture without feeling greasy. I found that even after a few days it evened out skin tone and calmed the redness in my cheeks.

Hair

Winter beauty

Ouai Medium Hair Shampoo and Conditioner – Whatever your hair type Ouai have the perfect shampoo and conditioner pair for you. This set is great for hair that’s not fine or thick, hydrating and lightweight, while cleansing and reviving shine. After just one use I found that my split ends were more under control and the frizz wasn’t so noticeable. I’m also loving the Ouai x Byredo bestselling leave-in conditioner which has fragrance house Byredo’s iconic Mojave Ghost scent.

Winter beauty

Kevin Murphy Angel Wash and Angel Rinse – It’s always a treat when you visit a hairdresser that uses the Kevin Murphy products, they smell divine and always give your hair a boost. So I’m very excited to have the products in my own bathroom… the Angel range is great for coloured or dry /broken hair. The hydrolysed oat protein adds volume and body without weighing hair down, whilst the green tea leaf extract aids moisture retention and increases elasticity. The ideal duo for winter-worn, stressed out tresses.

Winter beauty

Osmo Super Silver – Affordable, 100% sulphate free, hair products to restore tone and shine to bleached or grey hair. Gentle and kind on all hair types it’s a great everyday haircare brand.

Scent

Winter beauty

Jo Loves Fragrance Paintbrush – Pomelo is one of Jo Malone’s most iconic scents and I love this fun, portable way of using it. The paintbrushes are the perfect gift or stocking filler, the pen holds the fragrance in gel form which can then be easily brushed on the skin, on the go. I love that it comes with a refill and is small enough to be taken in hand luggage when you travel.

Winter beauty

Acqua di Parma Eau de Parfum – I think a beautiful bottle of perfume is one of the best presents you can buy someone, and the Acqua di Parma scents are classic and alluring. Oud & Lily of the Valley are two of the Acqua di Parma signature scents, and these Eau de Parfums will (impressively) stay on the skin all day. Oud has a warm and intense scent while Lily of the Valley is a lively citrusy fragrance that I find addictive! These beautiful bottles would look wonderful adorning any bedroom mantelpiece.

Winter beauty

Diptyque Christmas candles – I love all the Diptyque scented candles but there is something exciting about the annual Christmas flavours. This Sapin (Pine tree) scent will ensure your home feels and smells festive. A limited edition fragrance that will give a warm, aromatic scent, a combination of mountain pine trees and wafts of a roaring open fire.

Gifting

Winter beauty

Drunk Elephant Hair and Body minis – The ideal introduction to the Drunk Elephant Collection. All encased in a fun neon orange make-up bag this set of seven miniatures includes some of the brands best-loved products. I’m really enjoying getting to know the haircare range, a brilliant wild marula tangle spray, cocomino shampoo and conditioner and the invigorating hair scrub which helps with scalp health. I’d love to find one of these sets under the tree this year!

Winter beauty

REN Day and Night Moisture – This definitive duo is the perfect skincare set, including the Overnight Recovery Balm for nighttime and Global Protection Day cream for all day use. These products are particularly good effective for sensitive skin, I have found they have reduced tightness and red pigmentation caused by harsh cold weather. The night time balm is transformative, even after one night I woke up with renewed and repaired skin, exactly the effects I hope for from a product like this.

Winter beauty

ilapothecary Face the Day set – The ilapothecary products really work. This luxurious set will nourish and moisturise dehydrated skin, my legs were particularly thankful for the Keep Calm hand & body lotion. The Beat the Blues Room Spray is a great addition, I recommend spraying it in the bathroom before having a bath – the powerful essential oil uplift emotions and create a wonderfully peaceful atmosphere.

This blog post includes some gifted samples.