Palazzo Bifora

Mdina, Malta
Book from GBP Book from £172 per night

Palazzo Bifora

Mdina, Malta

An elegant, boutique hotel with rooftop pool in a medieval palazzo, set in the heart of Mdina’s ancient citadel

An elegant, boutique hotel with rooftop pool in a medieval palazzo, set in the heart of Mdina’s ancient citadel

Our chauffeur noses the car over a stone bridge, across a moat and through the city gates of Mdina. It’s as though time stopped in 1530 when the seafaring Knights of St. John arrived and side-lined Mdina as capital in favour of Grand Harbour. A short walk down a narrow lane brings us to Palazzo Bifora’s austere limestone façade. We step into a sanctuary of calm, and spiral up ancient stairs to a rooftop pool deck and cocktail bar where all Mdina is spread out before us like a storybook fantasy.

This a stylish, classically decorated boutique hotel, ideal for romantic breaks. Each of its 6 luxury suites is decorated to a theme, and extra insulation guarantees absolute silence in this ‘Silent City’ – so named because of its car-free streets. The palazzo’s meticulous renovation by husband-and-wife team Omar and Sandra was geared towards comfort and elegance, with temperature-controlled interiors and friendly staff always on hand. The rooftop restaurant and heated pool offer a bird’s eye view of the city, high above the tourists thronging the medieval streets below.

Highs

  • A spectacular roof deck to escape Mdina’s crowds, with the only swimming pool in the city – ideal for hot summer days, and heated in winter
  • Omar, Sandra and the rest of the team are friendly hosts and are full of recommendations about what to see and where to go
  • A fine rooftop restaurant serving local and Mediterranean dishes
  • Beds come with an à la carte sleeping menu offering five types of pillow and three kinds of mattress
  • The rooms are elegant, silent and serene; the décor in calming tones, the bathrooms with classical Burlington fittings

Lows

  • The hotel is rather small and compact with limited outdoor space
  • You can’t park in the city, so either use the palazzo’s chauffeur service, or park outside the walls (2-3 mins’ walk)
  • The rooms don’t have much of a view, but this is compensated by the lovely rooftop terrace
  • No kids under 12

Best time to go

The best time to visit Malta is in the spring (May-Jun) and autumn (Sept-Oct) when the weather is at its most temperate. Midsummer can be crowded and hot in Mdina, but the palazzo’s rooftop pool is a lifesaver, as are its temperature-controlled interiors. Winters can get cold, but the heated pool and underfloor heating throughout make Palazzo Bifora a good year-round option.

Our top tips

Visit the terrace of Xara Palace atop the city walls. When Malta was besieged during World War II, RAF pilots were billeted in this palazzo and relaxed on the terrace when off duty. It had a great view of their aerodrome, Ta’ Qali, and Valletta in the distance, regularly pounded by Italian and German bombers. If your interest is piqued (as ours was), visit Ta’ Qali’s Aviation Museum and see its collection of aircraft, including a Spitfire and a Hurricane.

Great for...

City Style
Foodie
Romantic
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 6 rooms
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • Over 12s only
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car not necessary
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Justin Fox

Rooms

The 6 rooms are modern-classical in style, beautifully decorated with subtle colours, damask patterning and wallpaper that tells a story. For instance, Murina (a Superior Room) has a bird pattern and colours that celebrate a robin that visits each year. Two rooms are relatively small (Maria and Mesquita - both Deluxes), while the other four are large. All are soundproofed, and beds come with a sleeping menu offering five types of pillow and three types of mattress. Bathrooms are stylish, boasting travertine tiles and Burlington fittings.

We stayed in Aragona (Duplex Suite), the largest and most handsome room, which has a mezzanine study complete with writing desk, sofa and bookshelves filled with Maltese literature. It also has a second television above the (enormous) bath for endless wallowing, with entertainment on tap.

Other spoiling extras include Nuxe products and toiletries, welcome delicacies and homemade chocolates with your turn-down.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The palazzo offers excellent Mediterranean-fusion dining (small menus that change with the season). Seating at the rooftop Lumière Restaurant is either in the glassed-in bar/dining area or outdoors beside the pool.

Breakfast features all the usual suspects, including delicious homemade bread, but save space for the à la carte component featuring sumptuous Full English, as well as Eggs Royale, Benedict or Florentine. The lunch and dinner menus include the likes of lemon-marinated sardines, rabbit terrine and bouillabaisse (plenty of good vegetarian options too). We gorged on lobster tail in a caramel miso, steak with a mushroom tartlet, and finished off with a selection of Maltese goats’ cheeses – all of it scrumptious!

The palazzo’s glassed-in courtyard offers a tranquil space with all-day confectionaries, including petit fours and banana walnut cake. The in-house pastry chef is a maestro!

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee maker
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian options
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Palazzo Bifora arranges bicycle hire, horse-riding excursions and yoga
  • Enjoy a leisurely stroll around the city walls taking in the moats and gates of the medieval citadel, or tour the ancient streets in a horse and carriage
  • Taste the best local pastizzi – traditional savoury pastry filled with ricotta or curried peas – at Crystal Palace Bar
  • Visit the imposing Baroque Cathedral of St. Paul, topped by an elegant dome. Its austere museum exhibits a series of fine Dürer woodcuts
  • Explore the adjacent town of Rabat, a stone’s throw from Mdina’s ramparts. This time-capsule warren is home to museums, palaces and important religious sites, including the cave where St. Paul is said to have resided and early Christian catacombs
  • Malta is so small that you can day trip everywhere with ease. You’re a short drive from the beaches on the northwest coast, the lovely Dingli cliffs, the Blue Grotto sea caves, and the mesmerising maritime cityscape of Valletta, the Grand Harbour and the Three Cities

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Caves
  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Swimming
  • Yoga

Kids

Only children aged 12 years and over can stay at Palazzo Bifora. Mdina is a romantic sort of place, but teenagers with an interest in history would appreciate the medieval citadel. The walled centre is pedestrianised, which makes exploring easy, and the pool will be a refreshing treat to return to.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Duplex Suite Aragona can fit a sofabed on request, otherwise you'll need to book two rooms.

Kid Friendly: Justin Fox

Location

Palazzo Bifora lies in the heart of Mdina, a fortified city 25 minutes west of Valletta. Only local cars with permits are allowed within Mdina's city walls.

By Air:
Fly into Malta International Airport (12km).

From the Airport:
The hotel is a 20-minute drive from the airport. You will have to leave your car outside the city walls, unless you opt for the palazzo’s Executive Chauffeur service, which drops you at the door.

By Car:
If you'd like a car to explore the island, pick one up at the airport – see our recommendations here. Park just outside the city walls, there's a free public parking area at the Greek Gate, which is just 2 minutes' walking distance from the Palazzo.

Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Malta International Airport 11.5 km MLA

Other:

  • Beach 10.0 km
  • Shops 0.7 km
  • Restaurant 0.2 km

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