Visiting Malta Last Minute

It’s not often you decide to randomly go to Malta last minute, but when S sat across from me and said the words “we haven’t taken a holiday in 9 months” I immediately got to planning.
 
You see, I tend to get restless after 3-4 months of not travelling, and yes, I know that being able to say that comes from an incredible place of privilege. Yet the truth remains that there’s an itch that only travel can scratch—and no matter how many English adventures I fill my life with, nothing else compares to the feeling of venturing somewhere completely new, and that’s how S and I ended up in Malta last minute.
 

 
The thing with last-minute breaks is that there are great deals, you just have to find them. This usually involves a combination of switching your browser to incognito, opening a million tabs and going full detective on each website. But I went one step further…
 
I made a spreadsheet.
 
You see, S had tasked me with the challenge of finding somewhere to go for a last-minute break. The only issue is that it was the end of August. Which means three things:
 
#1: It’s my birthday.
#2: Travel is expensive because it’s the school holidays in the UK.
#3: It’s my birthday.
 
And because I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, I fired up the laptop and dove into the task head-on, creating a spreadsheet on Google Sheets (because a decade later and Excel still confuses me) with columns for hotel names, prices, board, locations and countries.
 
“What country to visit” is the question that I struggle with most when planning travel. I mean, there are 197 countries in this world so option paralysis tends to kick in. So, to keep my wanderlusting mind on track, we set ourselves a rule: the budget could not exceed £600pp and had to cover flights, hotel and breakfast at the very least. Anything above that? A total bonus.
 
I wanted to venture somewhere new and somewhere warm and S was feeling pretty burnt out and wanted somewhere he could relax and unwind, but also not get bored in. A relatively vague brief, but eventually we narrowed down the options to three countries: Cape Verde, Malta and Croatia.
 

 
I got to work on researching options, looking into the basics like transport and hotel location. I’d never really planned a trip like that before. Usually, we pick a place, book a flight and figure out the rest as we go. But conflicting schedules and a need to relax meant that this time was different. So, once I’d found a few options per country, I presented the findings to S who went through the list and highlighted the options he liked in green, the potentials in orange, and the firm “lol hell nos” in red (like the beautiful deal I found in Croatia that would take an entire day to get there).
 
Once we had the shortlist, we deleted the reds and sat down together working our way through the options. As we were doing so, we noticed that Malta seemed to be the country we were leaning towards the most. Which is where we found the Pebble Hotel Resort in St Paul’s Bay in Malta.
 

 
It was a hotel I stumbled upon by sheer chance and, for the price point, offered the most. It was a convenient location, close to public transport and the waterfront, offered half-board for prices which were cheaper than bed and breakfast (go figure) and was one of those deals where it looked too good to be true. After looking into it I saw why—the photos were concept photos and the hotel was new and therefore still under construction.
 

 
But it was the hotel I was leaning towards the most. So, I found some people who had been staying there on Instagram and messaged them to find out what they thought. The reviews were good: spacious rooms, friendly staff and occasional construction noise. A risk? Sure. But would it be a worthwhile one? We looked at the area and saw it was in a place called Bugibba in St Paul’s Bay. An area we knew next to nothing about because we’d done absolutely no research into Malta before deciding to go there, yet I had come to the conclusion that I can deal with construction noise. S agreed, because what’s life without a little risk, and so we booked it.
 
It was then, when I realised I’d be visiting Malta last minute, that I realised I’d be seeing the place my mum visited when she was 13 years old and has loved ever since. Something which comes across as strange when you realise it was over 37 years ago she visited—but hey, travel love affairs can last a lifetime.
 
And with that, it was confirmed: we would be visiting Malta last minute.
Literally.
 

 
Because a few days later and we packed up the car, popped Akira (my dog—I haven’t introduced her on the blog yet, but I will, she’s a Shiba Inu, she’s adorable and she has her own Instagram) into her crate and drove to the kennels to drop her off. It was the first time we would be leaving her for more than a few hours so I was hesitant to do so, scared she’d love her life filled with dogs more than me and wouldn’t want to come home (spoiler alert: she was much happier to see us and came home no problem). But I digress. So, after dropping her off we drove to Manchester to spend the night there before catching our flight the next morning.
 
We booked the trip through On The Beach and flew with Thomas Cook Airlines—an airline which has sadly now ceased trading. And just 3 and a half hours later, we were there: visiting Malta last minute, ready to explore.
 
The journey from the airport to the hotel was a 35-minute journey by car, so we assumed it would take around the same amount of time by bus, give or take a few stops.
 
But we were wrong.
We were very wrong.
 
We took the X2 bus from Malta’s International Airport to Imhasel bus stop which is conveniently located near the hotel (about a two-three minute walk depending upon your pace) but the journey did not take 35 minutes. Nor did it take 45. Or 55. It took two hours because it stopped at almost every single stop. We didn’t mind because our flight departed at 6 am and so we had a few hours to kill before check-in anyway, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind if you’ll be using Malta’s public transport system!
 
We arrived at the hotel too early to check-in, but reception said we could store our stuff and enjoy the hotel’s facilities and so after a quick wardrobe change for S, we stored our suitcase behind reception and went on our way, opting to go out for a wander to get a feel for the local area.
 
From the hotel you can walk to the seafront in an almost-perfect straight line, so we started there, passing an abundance of cute fishing boats along the way. Having been up since 3 am, we weren’t at our most energetic and were definitely at our most hungry, so when we smelt fresh dough we stumbled straight into Rossopomodoro: something I’d never heard of but now know has 103 branches scattered across the world.
 
I demolished the Rossopomodoro (€13)
 

 
Which featured smoked Provola di Agerola cheese, San Marzano DOP tomatoes, Piennolo del Vesuvio DOP tomatoes, yellow Battipaglia date tomatoes and shavings of mature Cacioricotta cheese, washed down with a Coca-Cola (€1.80).
 
Whereas S had the Diavola (€11), which featured Roma tomatoes, mozzarella, spicy salami and basil, and washed it down with a Peroni (€3).
 

 
The pizza was juicy, flavoursome and oh so filling. So after finishing our drinks and enjoying the warmth of the Maltese temperatures, we got up to stretch our legs along the waterfront. Where we passed a random float (months later and I’m still not sure what these were for—any ideas?)
 

 
We passed cute fishing boats
 

 
Salt baths and made our way towards Wignacourt Tower (a watchtower in Saint Paul’s Bay) to enjoy the views across the bay.
 

 
We sat and relaxed, not really doing much, just taking in the fact that we were warm, together and full of pizza.
 

 
As time passed by we realised we’d be able to check into our hotel room soon, and so we ventured back towards the hotel, taking the inner-city route this time so we could walk past the shops and window-shop as we went.
 
I thought I was full, but after spying pastizzi (a traditional Maltese pastry) in a bakery window, I decided I still had room and bought some cheese pastizzi for the journey back.
 

 
Only it turned out, it was peppered sheep cheese, and I have to say: am not a fan.
 
After this we checked into our hotel, ready to explore and see whether our risky purchase would pay off… But more on that in my next post!
 
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Any questions about visiting Malta last minute?
Let me know in the comments!