‘No decline’ in Valletta market for boutique hotels, architect says

Newest project on Merchants’ Street prospects no slowdown in demand for luxury Valletta accommodation

Valletta’s attraction for tourists seeking quality accommodation “does not show a decline”, claims an architect pitching for a proposed new hotel set above the Delia factory workshop on Merchants’ Street.

The project, which will add two additional floors, is located at the corner of the paved Merchants’ Street and St Lucy Street.

The application foresees a 30-room hotel, presented by Nicolas Bianchi.

The existing building consists of a two-storey building with internal courtyard and shops belonging to third parties at ground floor level.

Architect Ray De Micoli claims that the additional floors will “enhance the architectural value of the hotel” while “compensating… for the heavy financial investment required for the rehabilitation for reuse of the existing building.”

In a project description statement submitted to the Planning Authority, De Micoli claims that with the number of tourists visiting Malta increasing from year to year “there is a constant growing demand for accommodation”. Moreover “despite the large number of boutique hotels in the city, the market does not show a decline”.

De Micoli’s objective “is to restore the building and alter it in a sympathetic, honest and dignified manner”, following contemporary conservation philosophy principles, avoiding the creation of  “a historic fake.”

The restored courtyard will serve as the “hub and heart of the hotel” and the extension will be carefully designed according to unique Valletta aesthetics.

The boutique hotel will consist of luxury accommodation to target business travellers.

The shops at the ground floor and part of the mezzanine are third party properties which will not be impacted by the application.

Over the past years Valletta has seen a dramatic increase in the number of new boutique hotels. 20 applications to construct or develop boutique hotels were approved between 2014 and 2017. While this has contributed to the regeneration of the city, residents have expressed concern about gentrification.

Valletta residents who spoke to the anthropologists who carried out research on behalf of the V18 Foundation, complained that the city had “lost its soul” after its European accolade, and that they could not afford to live there anymore. “What’s happening in Valletta is that it is getting depopulated while boutique hotels and other commercial enterprises are opening. You need commerce but you also need residents to keep a city alive. A city is made of its people – we are not talking about a necropolis, a tourist resort or an industrial estate,” one resident told the researchers.

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