Named for the striking steel crane that once occupied this maritime Maltese building, Cugó Gran Macina Grand Harbour is open for goods of the non-cargo variety. With a backdrop of sparkly Med waters and the 16th-century fortress walls, this heritage building – with vaulted ceilings and limestone walls – has been brought up to date with Scandi-style flourishes (statement seats, pendant lamps, grey sofas). You’re never far from some bobbing boats, especially up at the rooftop pool where the sunloungers overlook the historic port for a little naval gazing.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm, also flexible.
Double rooms from £184.11 (€215), including tax at 7 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €0.50 per person per night on check-out.
Rates do not usually include breakfast (€25).
Weddings can be held on the rooftop or amid the centuries-old restaurant walls. There’s no spa, but visiting therapists can call in for everything from a mani to a massage.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, air-conditioning, minibar, coffee machine, under-floor heating in the bathroom and Alchemist bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Every room overlooks the harbour, so vying for views isn’t a big concern. For loft-style living, go for a high-ceilinged Grand Harbour Suite; or, if a harbour-facing terrace is a dealbreaker, pick a Senglea Suite. If you fancy your skills in the kitchen (and prefer not to eat out every day of a holiday), book an oven-enhanced Macina Suite.
There’s an unheated, harbour-facing pool up on the roof, with sunloungers to sit and spy the yachts and surrounding fortress walls.
Sensible shoes for tackling the pedestrianised zones of Valletta and the hotel’s 16th-century setting.
Some of the suites have been adapted for wheelchair users and most of the communal areas (except the rooftop pool) are accessible.
Welcome, but the design could be hazardous for tots. Extra beds and cots can be added (free for under-6s, €75 a night for ages 6-12), and some rooms can interconnect. Highchairs can be provided in the bar and restaurant, but there are no dedicated menus.
The huge windows at the front of the restaurant are framing the harbour for you – sit as close to them as you can get.
Hammett’s Macina is a modern Med and Maltese affair with a multi-award-winning chef at its helm. At breakfast, guests can expect the usual pastry and egg suspects, as well as the full English. The restaurant – marble-topped tables, Scandi-style furniture – is set within the 16th-century fort and its menu reflects the various invasions over the years. You can choose from a tasting menu, small sharing plates or regular old-fashioned main courses; we loved the grilled polenta with scallops.
The cocktail bar is next to the restaurant, with classic muddles on the menu along with some elaborate local specialities – and some must-try Maltese wines. The restaurant menu can be served here if you prefer.
Breakfast is served from 7am to 10.30am during the week and from 7.30am to 11am on weekends; dinner is from 7pm to 10pm (10.30pm on Friday and Saturday); Sunday lunch is from noon to 2.30pm. The bar is open from 10am to 11pm daily.
Cugó Gran Macina Grand Harbour is in Senglea, part of the Three Cities within the Grand Harbour area, and just south of the capital, Valletta.
Malta’s main international airport is a 20-minute drive from the hotel. Transfers can be arranged for €27 each way.
The closest town is Birgu, a five-minute drive away. Conspicua (the third city in this trio) is a similar distance.
The Three Cities ferry transfers guests from the Valletta waterfront to Senglea; the stop is Bormla and from there you’ll have to cross the footbridge and head along the water to the hotel entrance. The ferry to and from Valletta shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes; the last ferry departs Valletta at 7pm.
Worth getting out of bed for
The Three Cities Grand Harbour area is a short ferry-ride south of Valletta; included in the ferry price is a ticket for the lift up to Barrakka Gardens, where a cannon is fired every day at noon. The ferry departs from across the footbridge and will take under 15 minutes to reach the capital. Stroll along the Birgu waterfront, stopping off at the historic Fort St Angelo.
In Senglea, head to Enchante (+356 2180 7734) for seasonal food on the water’s edge; the service is great and it does a side line in pizza. Also on the Senglea waterfront is Il-Hnejja (+356 7960 3564), which serves excellent seafood, pasta and seafood pasta. On St Dominic Street in Birgu, Del Borgo is a wine bar offering tapas, salads and sharing platters – and some interesting Maltese dishes, including a take on the island’s famous sesame rings: a bread dough stuffed with pork belly, ricotta and oregano, and sprinkled with the requisite seeds.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel in Malta and unpacked their phrasebooks, a full account of their city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Cugó Gran Macina Grand Harbour in Senglea…
Malta may be more famous for its namesake chocolate balls, but as the young Princess Elizabeth would tell you back in the late 1940s, this magical Mediterranean island is a dreamy spot for newlywed life, especially if you love balmy climates and boats. South of Valletta in Senglea, one of the three cities in the Grand Harbour area (along with Conspicua and Vittoriosa) that were enclosed with some major fortification in the 16th century, Cugó Gran Macina Grand Harbour was originally built in 1554. Today, the 21 suites sit within the vaulted ceilings and limestone walls, but with a stylish Scandi rebrand to bring it bang into the 21st century. The lofty black steel macina is no more, but in its place is a boutique hotel with a rooftop pool, smart restaurant and regular views of the harbour and marina. Malta is great. Just ask the Queen.
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