The Valletta Vintage vacation apartments combine retro and contemporary elements. They are the perfect accommodation for the architecture- and design-conscious traveler.
My favourite piece is the wardrobe, an open pièce de résistance. Of course it would be totally impractical in a home, it’s designed for short adventures.
This property offers easy COVID-19 cancellation terms:
Guests who are forced to cancel a booking due to foreign travel advice from their country of origin or due to a ban on travel from the guests' departure country can postpone to a later date.
Decadent and captivating aesthetics await you and your love, perfect for a romantic trip to Malta.
The beautiful green-roof terrace is perfect for breakfast or to decompress after a long day out.
You’ll be in close reach to the old town with its main sights and also great restaurants and bars.
Indulgence Divine is an adult vacation villa and is not suitable for anyone younger than 21 years.
How would you describe Indulgence Divine in a nutshell?
Indulgence Divine is a 16th century house in this historic maritime town of Vittoriosa, Malta. We fell in love with the property when we found it and from the beginning, we intended to rent it out. You know, when my partner and I travel, we always look for properties that somehow enhance the way we experience a place. We wanted to create an accommodation that would do the same for others, starting with what we look for in a property. For example, the location we chose was one in the hub of local life, what one would call a popular area. Not popular with tourists, that is, but with the locals. Not an upmarket part of town where everything is uniform and tediously co-ordinated, but a place with colour and character.
What is the history of the house?
As with many of the houses in historic villages like this one, it would have been much larger. Originally both our neighbour's house and the shop beneath would have been one and the same with Indulgence Divine. In fact, Indulgence's bedroom was once the property's private chapel and, if you look closely at the stone walls you'll notice old maritime graffiti, sails and all.
I haven’t yet researched the original owners of the house, but what is for sure is that it dates back to the time of the Knights of St. John. The size of its hand cut stones indicates that it was built in the 1500s.
Indulgence Divine is located in the restricted Collacchio area within the walls of the original town, right on a natural harbour. The Order of St. John was a maritime organization. It was vital for them to be close to their ships. I doubt the original owner was a Knight, I rather fancy it would have been a wealthy merchant.
When you bought Indulgence Divine, did you have to refurbish it or was it in quite an original state?
The house had gone through a few unsympathetic changes already. It would appear that there had been a large family living in the house, in what must have been a rather cramped space as it had already been divided. Prior to the purchase, work had started to remodel the house as a café. Unfortunately some of the restoration that took place wasn’t up to standard – the supervision of an architect was missing. So we had to undo the poor restoration harming both the character and the actual fabric of the place and try and bring it back as much as possible to its original state, using traditional materials and skills.
Our architect is a specialist in restoration and has worked on projects far more substantial than Indulgence Divine. So we had the expertise on hand for all that the building works threw at us. It wasn't just a question of restoration. We designed Indulgence Divine with holiday living in mind; introducing more light and making sure that the space both inspired and intrigued.
I really like the bathroom as well. The tiles look beautiful.
Yes, the glass mosaic glistens in the morning sun and as it follows the curves of the shower. The double shower was a bit of a fetish of mine because the whole rational behind the property is that it’s a romantic place to stay, a place for a couple to indulge. It’s very important for their experience to be... well, romantic. That’s the whole thing.
What you can’t see in the pictures is the texture on the tiles. It's like leather, very subtle, but it feels soft to the touch when you’re in the bathroom.
How did you come up with the name Indulgence Divine?
It’s the fact that the house is so close to the Inquisitor’s Palace — because back in 1575 in Malta, a tribunal was set up by the medieval Catholic Church to eradicate heresy. The word Indulgence brings to mind gratification through one's holiday, fulfilment through something beautiful, satisfaction in comfort, all ideas we want associated with our accommodation. But, for those familiar with the Church's history, ‘Indulgence’ is also a grant of remission that the Church sold to the faithful. In a way that's the way we'd like to see Indulgence Divine - dispensing a slice of heaven.
Tell me a bit about Malta.
Malta has a very interesting history because geographically, it’s situated in the middle of the Mediterranean and between Africa and Europe. It was important politically but also in terms of commerce as ships would always stop here when crossing the Med.
And the island's always been under some rule or other. There’s been the Romans, Normans, French and the British, you name it. Each country or power that ruled Malta left something- architecture, elements of their culture and language, etc.
You’ll also find some of the oldest temples. There’s the Hypogeum for example - a fascinating subterranean temple with ‘architecture in the negative’ - looks like it’s been built with the familiar Menhirs holding up the Dolmens, but it’s actually laboriously sculpted into the rock. This temple is older than Stonehenge in Britain. What’s interesting about Malta is the concentration of history.
My perception is that Malta is moving a little bit away from the mass tourism. Is that completely wrong?
I would say the boutiquey side of it is still in its infancy. So I wouldn’t say it was particularly popular for boutique accommodation as yet; it’s certainly a start. For a long time it had been advertised... well, it had its British navy links, so therefore the biggest part of Malta’s tourism came from British pensioners and their families.
The Malta Tourist Authority started to concentrate less on sun and sea – which is an important part of the holiday experience, don’t get me wrong – and refocus on the rich history, which is a differentiating factor. Visitors who have a more holistic fascination with a site or country would be looking for something more particular than just your average hotel.
You now live in the UK. Is there a particular place you go to once you are back in Malta, a place that is special to you?
By the sea. It’s the combination of rocks and the water. The Maltese limestone — which is very soft — as the sea eats at it, it creates amazing natural sculptures. It’s smooth and curvy, caressed by the might of the sea. The contrast between its whiteness in the bright sun and the deep blue of the Med is something that remains ingrained in your memory.
We pursued a contemporary design as I wanted to breath new life into the house, whilst respecting its rich history. The neutral limestone walls are like a blank canvas to the colourful fabrics and a backdrop to the statement pieces. We employed excellent local craftsmen for bespoke furniture such as the table with its curvy legs and Carrara marble top, but also for the apertures and spiral staircase.
The design is unfettered from the muted colours of considered 'style' but large areas of white consolidate the wild colour scheme. There are few ‘found pieces’ such as the French Liberty bed, but most of the furniture is bespoke or altered in some way. My favourite piece is the wardrobe. It stands there like a monumental niche, waiting to display our guests' favourite ensemble, an open pièce de résistance, unlike other wardrobes, which tend to be closed and taciturn. Of course it would be totally impractical in a home, it’s designed for short adventures.
It is a very spacious, air-conditioned 16th-century townhouse. Besides the bedroom there is also a dining room with a Murano chandelier and a Carrara marble table. The kitchen is fully-equipped, thereby great if you want to cook up your own meals. The bathroom has a luxurious double shower and in the lounge you will find a TV, a good selection of books and bluetooth speakers. The green-roof terrace is perfect for breakfast or a glass of wine in the evenings.
I give you two suggestions of things to do: one specifically in Vittoriosa, and one outside the town. The Inquisitor’s Palace is your first place to visit within Vittoriosa, a place that tells you a lot about the history and culture of this island. Then a 10 minute bus journey from Vittoriosa, in Paola, there is the Hypogeum, which is the temple mentioned before.
I just cannot omit to mention my favourite, Palazzo Falson, a Norman house in Mdina. It’s indicative of the way Maltese nobility lived, and the surroundings are wonderfully sumptuous.
Indulgence Divine is located in the city of Vittoriosa, but it’s actually more like a town and a very small one at that. People know each other. In a sense there’s a village atmosphere. There's always some sort of a celebration. The people here love ritual - painting the town red with banners and other street decorations. Although it’s not a particularly affluent town, locals have pride in their town's heritage. They put out plants in the street and nurture them. It’s that sort of spirit.
And although it’s constantly being visited by tourists, they usually come for just a day. For some reason, there are very few places that are available for rent. You can count them on one hand. Apparently there is going to be a boutique hotel, which will be opening at a later stage, but up to now it was a niche that basically nobody had tapped into. As I said, village life is something that is very important and is authentic.
I would say the best time to visit Indulgence Divine would be in autumn and spring, any time. It’s greener during winter. There’s so much sun in winter anyway, so I find that it can be such a relief coming from the UK where it’s always overcast. When the rain has just washed everything clean and the sun emerges in all its splendour, all colours come to life.
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