Welcome to the island of Gozo, Malta’s little sister and a picturesque place full of historical sites, clear clear waters, and sleepy seaside towns.
If you are spending a week in Malta then Gozo is a must-visit to see a completely different side of the Maltese Isles, so we sent #Teamcoco’s Rachael Lindsay to check out one of the most recent openings on the island, Murella Living.
Gozo is our first stop on our trip to Malta – and as I quickly learn from some locals, Gozitans are from Gozo first, Malta second, as Gozo is it’s own island with its own quirks. Our base for our time there is Murella Living, a new boutique hotel which opened last year in the heart of Marsalforn, one of Gozo’s pretty seaside towns.
The hotel is moments from the stretch of restaurants that run along Marsalforn’s harbour and an easy walk from sandy beaches like Xwejni Bay and the natural salt pans, scattered in otherworldly fashion along the coast.
I also have to mention the easy and refreshingly air-conditioned bus service that runs from Marsalforn to all of the other key sites of the island, like Gozo’s capital, Victoria, the evening party base of Xlendi and the Game of Thrones film spot, Dwejra. You could easily stay four or five nights, exploring the island at leisure amongst some chilled beach afternoons…
Murella Living stands out as a boutique hotel in Marsalforn because of the design inspiration for its rooms, each inspired by a truly Gozitan theme. These include the Honeycomb room, inspired by the age-old island tradition of honey-making, and the Prickly Pear room where we are staying, with vibrant orange and green motifs and splashes of prickly pear artwork. Even the outdoor design is inspired by Gozo, with the balconies displaying colourful motifs seen in the traditional Gozitan lace.
After settling in with tea served in rustic teal and white crockery, we drift into a deep sleep in the luscious double beds, waking to sunny views of the village from the private balcony. The landscape almost seems North African with sand-coloured buildings and linen waving in the wind – quite different to the main island of Malta which seems more European in its architectural styles.
Breakfast is served in a spacious courtyard area and features fresh juices, home-baked cakes, Gozitan soft cheeses and the local snack, pastizzi, pastries filled with cheese or mushy peas – and yes they are surprisingly delicious! We linger over this tasty start to the day before beach time.
We are also lucky enough to try the local Murella restaurant for a sunset supper. Located in the harbour, this is the perfect spot to sip Maltese wine while the sun goes down. We are treated to Maltese pizzas, home made chickpea and kidney bean dips and divine chocolate fondants for dessert.
The family behind the Murella hotel and restaurant also own Jubilee Foods which you might spot in the capital – they sell the best local products including ‘Nanna’s Ravioli’, pink salt from the salt pans and home-made jams (we recommend prickly pear for some serious local flavour). These make lovely take-home treats.
After a few days acclimatising to the tranquil pace of life on Gozo, we check out with a heavy heart, wishing that we were staying longer.
Malta is quickly becoming the place to go if you are in the know – and there are lots of festivals on throughout the summer which make it even more tempting for music-loving millennials.
But if you like a dose of culture and serious relaxation as part of your trip, include Gozo in your plans too, it makes a contrast to the main island of Malta and Murella Living makes a chic and authentic base.
For more information, visit www.murellaliving.com.