I stayed at the 4* Solana Hotel & Spa with my fiancee and her parents for 3 nights during our visit to Mellieha in December 2013.
We booked our stay through Expedia and paid £33 per night for each double room with buffet breakfast included.
We paid in full at the time of booking; about 10 weeks before our visit.
The Solana Hotel & Spa is located on Triq Gorg Borg Olivier, the steep main road that runs through Mellieha down to Mellieha Bay and the beach.
We arrived on bus number 222 from St Julian's and disembarked at the "Snajjin" stop which is conveniently located right opposite the hotel – literally a few metres from the hotel's front entrance.
This bus stop is also convenient for catching the bus to Cirkewwa (about 10 minutes away), where the ferries to Gozo depart from.
There are lots of restaurants, souvenir shops, mini-markets and cafes within a few minutes walk of the hotel, particularly up and down Triq Gorg Borg Olivier. You will also find a few banks with ATMs and money changing facilities along this street.
Mellieha's main sights are easily visited on foot from the hotel. For example, the World War II Air Raid Shelter, the Parish Church of Mellieha and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mellieha are all located less than 5 minutes walk downhill from the hotel. It took us around 20-30 minutes to walk downhill (along winding roads) to the beach. Rather than make the steep climb back up, we caught one of the numerous buses that travel back up the hill and through Mellieha.
At the end of our stay, we left Mellieha on bus number 41 to the Maltese capital, Valletta. We caught the bus from "Adenau" bus stop, a 5 minute walk downhill from the hotel, and the journey to Valletta took around 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Our double rooms (# 2103 & 2105) were located in a separate annex building, a few minutes walk from the main building. From reception, we had to take a lift down to level -2, walk along the adjoining "bridge", past the leisure facilities, and then back up (by lift or stairs) to level -1.
Despite being on level -1, our rooms were not underground. We had read reviews prior to our visit of windowless subterranean rooms and feared that we had been allocated two of those rooms. In fact, we had a balcony which looked across a decorated patio area towards the hotel's restaurant and, thanks to the hilly terrain of Mellieha, gave us the sense of being elevated high above the ground and Mellieha Bay.
The double bed was actually two singles pushed together, but was very comfortable.
The room contained a large wardrobe, with mirrored doors, and plenty of room for two people's clothing for several days.
The wardrobe housed a safe. However, it was not complimentary; it cost €10 (as well as a refundable €10 deposit) for us to hire it for 3 days. It was probably the smallest in-room safe that I've ever encountered in a hotel; it was fine for storing our passports and cash, but not large enough to fit my netbook into.
The flat screen TV picked up around 10 channels, including Sky News, BBC Entertainment and Eurosport.
In-room wi-fi was chargeable (€4 for 1 hour / €8 for 6 hours / €12 for 12 hours) – but was free in the hotel's reception/cafe area, so we used it there instead.
There was a small kitchenette in the room, including electric oven hobs, a fridge (with no minibar items taking up space!), a microwave, a toaster, a kettle, pots and pans, cutlery, crockery, wine glasses and a bottle opener. We only used the fridge and the wine glasses during our stay and were able to close the wooden doors on the kitchenette (making it look like a wardrobe) to keep it out of sight.
The room temperature could be set by remote control, but there was little need for us to interfere too much with this in December. We turned the temperature up a couple of degrees at night.
There were plenty of lights in the room as well as ample UK-style electrical sockets conveniently located for charging batteries and devices overnight.
A large TV unit/desk provided four large drawers for storage and there were bedside cabinets on either side of the bed. One of these cabinets housed a radio alarm clock.
A small dining table and three chairs were provided in the room and there was a small plastic table and two plastic chairs on the balcony.
Our en-suite bathroom was clean and reasonably sized. It contained a powerful shower over a full sized bathtub.
No toiletries were provided, but there were liquid soap/shower gel dispensers located next to the washbasin and attached to the wall in the shower.
A hairdryer was provided and the towels were replaced each day.
Breakfast was served daily from 7:30am until 10am in the downstairs Bellini Restaurant. It took the form of a buffet and offered a fairly extensive selection of cold and cooked items.
There were four types of cereal to choose from (including muesli, cornflakes and rice crispies), fresh fruit, fruit salad, various flavoured yoghurts (cherry, peach, natural...) and several yoghurt/mousse/fruit combos served in sundae glasses.
There were bread rolls, sliced bread, cold cuts of meat (ham and beef), cheeses (Edam, spicy Mexican, Maltese goats cheese...) and salad items (olives, capers, tomatoes...).
Cooked items included scrambled eggs, gammon (as an alternative to the more commonly found bacon), very nice pork sausages, baked beans and grilled tomatoes. The selection was the same on each of our three mornings. We had hoped that there might be a little variation (mushrooms, hash browns, different styles of eggs), but we weren't really there long enough to get bored of the choices on offer.
There was a good selection of cakes, including a fairly stodgy bread pudding, chocolate chip cake, muffins and jam sponge.
Drinks included orange juice, pineapple juice, water, coffee and tea. The selection of hot beverages was somewhat limited; just standard tea bags and one style of coffee available from the coffee machine.
Overall, it was a very good breakfast, particularly as it was included within the very reasonable room rate.
Our room rate included a complimentary "spa credit". This entitled us to a 45 minute session in the spa's jacuzzi bath.
We made our booking for 9:30am on a Sunday morning and were the first people to use the bath that day. We waited for 15 minutes or so while the bath was filled up and heated up.
The bath is located in its own private room (with no proper changing facilities) and has a nice ambiance with tea lights surrounding the bath. However, it isn't really suitable for 4 people. Not only does it become rather cramped with 4 people in it, but it causes the water level to rise to the extent that it floods the room and causes the jacuzzi jets to stop functioning. We had to take turns sitting out of the bath so that it would operate as intended. In hindsight, we'd have been better booking two sessions for two people rather than one session for all four of us.
As well as the spa (which also offers massages and treatments), the hotel has both indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a gym/fitness centre. The indoor pool is open from 8am until 8pm.
When we first visited the indoor pool (while exploring the hotel, but not actually going in the water) the room that it was located in was lovely and warm like a solarium. We were looking forward to returning later during our stay for a swim and a relaxing soak in the jacuzzi (unlike the spa bath, the jacuzzi was large enough to accommodate maybe 8-10 people at a time). However, when we returned later the room temperature was much cooler and the water was only lukewarm. It wasn't as relaxing as we had hoped. Another guest complained about the temperature to the hotel's staff and it became apparent that the solarium wasn't operating as it should do. We never got chance to go back and experience it as it should have been.
The changing facilities around the indoor pool and gym were woefully inadequate. There was a small shower/wet room next to the pool with a frosted door that didn't really give too much privacy. In addition, no towels were provided, so we had to use the bath towels from our room. We could have hired pool towels for a €5 deposit and a €2.50 cleaning charge.
The gym/fitness centre contained a selection of exercise bikes, running machines, weight benches and other equipment that looked far too complicated for me!
The outdoor pool enjoys a spectacular rooftop location with great views over Mellieha and down towards the coast. It is surrounded by sun loungers and there is a seasonal pool bar. It would be a nice place to relax in the warmer summer months. In December, it was a good spot for some panoramic photographs.
We arrived at the hotel and were welcomed with ice cold glasses of the refreshing Maltese soft drink, "Kinnie". We thought that this was a really nice touch and it was particularly appreciated after a long and uncomfortable bus ride from St Julian's.
Our arrival at the hotel was around midday and we were advised by the very friendly receptionist that check-in was not until 3pm. As the hotel had been full the previous evening there were no rooms available for us to check straight into. She promised to do her best to get us a room before that time, but as we were heading out to sightsee and eat it didn't really matter. We stored our luggage in the locked restaurant area (the luggage storage room downstairs was already full when we checked) and returned around 3pm to find that our rooms were ready for us.
Unique Quality: Adjoining the reception area is Cafe Puccini; an ideal place to sit in an evening and access the hotel's complimentary wi-fi. The cafe serves a huge selection of snacks, desserts, beers, cocktails, hot beverages and soft drinks. I would recommend their giant cookies (just €1.25 each) and the "Maltese Coffee" (€3.50) which contains the local "Bajtra" prickly pear liqueur.
Overall, we were all very impressed with Solana Hotel & Spa and found it to be very good value for money. It enjoys a good location within Mellieha (especially its proximity to both the "Snajjin" and "Adenau" bus stops), offers well-furnished, comfortable rooms and a more than adequate breakfast buffet. Despite a few minor gripes (no free wi-fi in the rooms, an inadequately sized (and chargeable) room safe and malfunctioning leisure facilities), we would be more than happy to stay there again and would recommend the hotel to others.
Directions: Located on Triq Gorg Borg Olivier, the steep main road that runs through Mellieha. Opposite "Snajjin" bus stop.