European Capital of Culture status, a revived foodie scene and slick event spaces has put Malta firmly back on the MICE map – here’s the best of it

Malta meetings events

Meet

Considering its size Malta’s range of high-end hotels with dedicated meeting and conference space is impressive. The daddy of the pack is the five-star Hilton Malta found by the water in the fashionable St Julian's district. Nearly 4,000sq m of event space is spread out across 19 well-appointed rooms. Those who need the same level of quality but for smaller groups should look in land to the Corinthia Palace. For added culture, check out the venues listed on Heritage Malta’s website. We particularly like St Angelo Hall at the Malta Maritime Museum, a multi-purpose and characterful space for 250 seated guests, with the plus of a terrace overlooking the Birgu marina. For maximum theatre, though, it has to be The Grand Salon in the National Museum of Archaeology, which seats 220 delegates amid high-baroque painted walls and an ornate wooden-beamed ceiling.



Malta meetings events

Play

There’s enough Unesco-protected architectural history in the archipelago to see you entertained for weeks – particularly if you go round with one of the island’s accredited (and really rather brilliant) guides. Narcy Calamatta took our group around the fortified Three Cities and kept us entertained for the day with his anecdotes and exhaustive island knowledge. If you’re idea of fun is eating and drinking, then take your group to the San Niklaw Winery. Owned by the island’s only paediatric surgeon, this relatively small plot turns out high-quality wines with grapes more likely found in the Southern Rhone. A short tour can be followed a lunch and wine pairing. For something special in the evening, enquire about a private tour of the Malta Maritime Museum. If possible, have precocious curator Liam Gauci take you round, and then enjoy dinner (period-themed-menus are an option) on the listed building’s terrace.



Malta meetings events

Eat

If your group is sufficiently small (say around 16), you must go to eat at Bahia in Lija. A converted town-house, it now contains a series of high-ceiling, stone-wall rooms with bags of Maltese character. It won’t be long before you realise the quality of the staff who are happy to explain as little or as much about the seasonal, local menu as you like. Our starter of rabbit belly terrine (they’re something of a speciality on the island) was a rich and tangy tranche of joy and the bottle of Marnisi we drank with it had the braun and finish to match its flavours. For those who manage to make it over to Malta’s sister island, Gozo, there is a fish restaurant there not be missed. Once down on the seafront, Ta’Philip is now a short ride from the port and has the space to host sizeable private dinners.



Malta meetings events

Stay

The grand dame of Malta’s hotels must surely be the Corinthia Palace in the upmarket area of San Anton. Once a private villa, this elegant 19th-century property is now a five-star hotel with an impressive spa and serene landscaped gardens. Events of all kinds are well catered to in one of nine rooms, the largest of which accommodates up to 450 people. For something more personal, check out one of the recently opened boutique hotels in the capital Valletta (European Capital of Culture for 2018). One that stands out is Palazzo Consiglia, which is happy to let corporate groups have the run of the place for a few days. Its 13 characterful rooms all come off the open-air atrium of a beautiful stone building. At the top there’s a roof terrace, below a small spa, and said atrium is a notable space for pocket conferencing or special dinners.



Helping hand

Conventions Malta (020 8877 6990) offers free advice and a venue-finding service for event organisers. You can also find out more about the islands from The Malta Tourism Authority for the UK and Ireland. Flights from London Heathrow to Malta International Airport start at £63 one-way with Air Malta. Rooms at the Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa start from £113 per room per night