Design Hotels represents and markets a hand-selected collection of privately owned and operated hotels in hundreds of destinations around the globe. Each is a wholly unique creative expression crafted by individual teams of experienced hoteliers, architects and interior designers. We’ve been seriously impressed by what we’ve seen and experienced while visiting Design Hotels’ many properties locally and around the world, including: Mira Moon Hotel Hong Kong, Limes Hotel Brisbane and Hotel Omm, Barcelona. The Cugó Gran Maċina Grand Harbour, which opened in Malta this January – is no exception. This vast regenerative project sympathetically transformed the iconic Maċina Bastion building in the old harbour of Senglea into a luxury hotel, where cleverly minimalist Scandinavian interior styling showcases the original glorious sandstone structure.
Built in 1554 during the reign of Grand Master Claude de la Sengle, the Maċina was originally used to hoist and fit ships’ masts. As 48th Grand Master of the Order of Malta, and a highly successful military leader of great influence, he initiated the development of the fortified city of Senglea in south-eastern Malta. The historic region is now being revitalised via the Cottonera Waterfront Rehabilitation Project – a regenerative concept designed to boost economic development and residential services in the area.
The Maċina’s sympathetic restoration and repurposing makes it a standout of the rehabilitation programme. The development included – fittingly, given the city’s maritime history – a new Grand Harbour Marina. All of the hotel’s 21 luxurious suites feature harbour and marina views, overlooking the yachts bobbing at their moorings.
Cugó Gran Maċina Grand Harbour’s suites are a glorious achievement, subtly transformed from medieval industrial quarters to comfortably cool, designer accommodation. The five-metre-high vaulted stone ceilings are jaw dropping. The poured concrete floors that root the structural design are a clever touch, as are the additional areas of laid slate, lava stone and Maltese hard stone – textural elements that are soft underfoot, and also present the spaces as cooling cocoons to protect guests from the warm climate.
Architect Dr Edwin Mintoff wisely chose to leave exposed many of the Maċina’s ample historical elements, including such oddities as the 3.5-metre walk to some of the windows that reveals the full depth of the impenetrable limestone fortifications. Complementing Mintoff’s structural design, the Milanese design team Daaa Haus contributed sleek Scandic aesthetics through the use of lacquered raw steel, limed oak, Carrara marble and custom-tinted glass and mirrors. The overall effect is pleasing to the eye, adding comfort and functionality without overcrowding.
We suggest you beat the tourist high season (July-September) by visiting Malta in spring (April-June) – a time when the best annual events and festivals begin. May is also the month where swimmers usually start heading to the beaches. The Medieval Mdina Festival, on May 5-6 this year, is two days of pageantry that evoke Malta’s late medieval period (AD1200-1500). It’s held in the streets and main square of ancient Mdina city, once the island’s capital. The festival includes re-enactments of the slave market, medieval kitchens and taverns, sword fighting, archery, parades and flag throwing.
The International Fireworks Festival in Valletta’s Grand Harbour features the finest creations of international pyrotechnic companies as well as some of the best locally made fireworks (it’s a popular but dangerous cottage industry). The display of fireworks in Malta is a tradition that dates back to the time of the Order of the Knights of St John. The annual event now also commemorates Malta’s accession to the European Union on May 1, 2004.
Etihad Airlines has connections to Malta, flying ex Melbourne and Sydney via Abu Dhabi and Rome. Connections from Rome are with Alitalia. Return Economy Saver fares ex Melbourne, departing June 1, 2018, start at $1963* including taxes, fees and charges. Baggage limits apply. *Price, based on the return date of June 30, 2018, is accurate at the time of publishing. For more information: etihad.com
Cugó Gran Maċina Grand Harbour
Macina, Triq il-31 ta’ Marzu L-Isla (Senglea), Malta
Tel +356 2711 2711