In Travel

Birgu’s Locanda La Gelsomina Showcases Ancient Maltese History

Build in the 1500s, this ancient Birgu boutique hotel is a lesson in ancient history, blended with modern and eclectic design.

The medieval city of Birgu (AKA Citta Vittioriosa) is one of Malta’s three fortified old cities, once serving as capital of the Maltese Islands, due to its valuable portside position and strategic stronghold.

The Maltese port city of Birgu.

Only 800 metres long and 400 metres wide and home to less than 3000 citizens, tiny Birgu is best known for its historical aspects and medieval architecture, with museums dedicated to its battle-scarred past.

Flags of Malta in Birgu.

Hidden within its walls, Locanda La Gelsonmina is a boutique guesthouse, offering just four suites within an impressive limestone building dating back to the early 1500s.

The limestone-walled entrance to Locanda La Gelsonmina.

Inside, ancient Maltese design blends with eclectic finishings -Tibetan cabinets, Burmese lacquerware and Cambodian antiques – collected during the owner’s lifetime of travels. 

The reception area and boutique.

The accomodation regularly runs wellness retreats, which guests can customise with bespoke tours of the island covering natural, historical and cultural sites. The teahouse offers daily afternoon refreshments with organic blends by Bellocq tea atelier.

Part of the hotel’s tea room.

Skipping a tour of Birgu’s wine bars in favour of wellness? Personal yoga classes can be taken in your room, by the sea, or on the terrace roof top, overlooking Birgu as the sun sets. A Zen Sounds ceremony, using Japanese singing rings, is also on offer – the hotel recommends the ceremonies as an antidote to jet lag and fatigue.

The sunset view from the hotel’s terrace rooftop

Each of the four suites offer different features, plus Frette linen, organic toiletries, and all of the usual mod cons you’d expect from a luxury hotel.

Suite two, laid with antique red Maltese tiles and a crystal chandelier, includes a lush courtyard view.

The private courtyard of the second suite.

On the top floor, suite four showcases skyline views of the city’s historic centre.

The bedroom of suite four.

Suite one includes a Shakespearean-style internal balcony, and private terrace overlooking the university.

The private terrace of suite one.

In suite three, antiques mix with the thoroughly modern; an artwork by Dame Vivienne Westwood frames the wall behind the double kingside bed.

Birgu is a short ferry ride from Valletta, and due to its tiny size, walking the best means of transport.

Visit Locanda La Gelsomina for more information.

(Lead portrait image:Juan Antonio Segal/Flickr CC . All other images: supplied)

Published 29 June, 2017