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Power and USB plugs either side of the bed.The first thing you need to know about Valletta’s 19-bedroom AX The St John is that it is a boutique property. Don’t expect all the noise and action of your experience in the foyer of a large hotel—in fact, there is no foyer. You book in at another AX property a few doors down, where you also go for breakfast—but more on that later.

The property is brilliantly located in the city’s heart—Merchant Street runs from the top to the bottom of Valletta. Set in a historic 17th-century building once a merchant’s residence and shop, it has been expertly restored to retain its charm while providing the comforts and amenities we all expect.

Breakfast is a real treat – no smorgasbord with dried-out scrambled eggs here. One of the highly delightful waiters takes your order, and everything arrives straight from the kitchen. However, there are not enough tables in the main serving area when things get busy, but there are additional tables in the entrance area.

The rooms are big. We had a lovely view of Merchant Street with its never-ending line of street restaurants and bars. The bed was okay, but the pillows were a bit lumpy. There was plenty of hot water in the morning – but our room’s shower head and handheld unit were due for replacement. It’s great to see the bathroom goodies include a shaving kit and toothbrush – plenty of airport hotels don’t do that these days – but why go to all that trouble and then put in pump shampoo and wash bottles?

I hate that in a good hotel. I like soap – and a bottle of decent conditioner. Bit old-fashioned, I guess. You check in at the super five-star Rosselli – AX Privilege at 167 Merchant Street. The front-of-house gal was accommodating – she even brought a book on Malta to our room to clarify a few of our questions. All the staff try hard. It’s also great to see the power and USB plugs on either side of the bed, along with light controls. The aircon was noisy, but it was warm enough to turn it off. The wardrobe is a bit small – not that it matters these days – and there is a curious mix of stylish through to practical furniture in the room – but everything you need includes a coffee machine and iron. Safe is at the right height as well.

All in all, we enjoyed our stay. Try the Cheeky Monkey Gastropub next door to the hotel – good, tasty food in a spotless environment. I was a bit wary of the street restaurants. Luciano’s is another dining spot on Merchant Street we can recommend. For coffee, la Crema is also on the main strip.




Written by: Ian McIntosh