Travelling is back! If there has ever been a better time to book that long-awaited Europe trip, now is the time. But before you go rushing to the tourist hot spots, why not consider some of Europe’s hidden gems, away from the hustle and bustle of crowds. Say hello to Malta.

The archipelago nestled just below Sicily and to the left of Greece in the heart of the Mediterranean is one of the smallest countries on the planet, with a population of just over half a million people enjoying a climate that hovers north of 30 degrees Celsius for most of the summer and rarely dips below 20 during the winter months.

With 81 per cent of the country fully vaccinated, Malta is leading the race on the global stage. But enough of that information. You didn’t come here for that, although it is worth noting.

What you are here for is escapism. We all need it right now, no matter where we are in the world. The European summer is far from over and, now more than ever, it is worth exploring places you haven’t had the chance to visit before.

Outside the Rosselli in Valletta.

And that’s where Malta fit into the equation. It is a place we always thought we’d get to, but always put off. That was until last week.

With London’s dreary summer rolling on towards spring with little sign of reliable sun, we headed south to the picturesque island just north of Africa, where the heat hits you from the moment you depart the plane and warms you up even late at night. If you like heat, this is a place for you.

All good escapes need a base and that’s what led us to the capital’s first five-star boutique hotel, Rosselli.

Named after renowned goldsmith and philanthropist, Pietro Rosselli, who once lived in the building in the 1600s, this Renaissance-style abode quickly transports you from the hustle and bustle of Valletta into a calm, private and luxurious retreat.

Inside one of the rooms at Rosselli.

With only 20 rooms spread across three different levels – there is a plunge pool and outdoor deck on the roof with 360-degree views of the city – this isn’t the sort of place where you bump into a lot of people. Which is the point. The rooftop is a retreat, of sorts, where you should start and end your day.

The 17th century Valletta palazzo has retained its charm while being provided with a glistening modern makeover. It is a meeting of renaissance and baroque architecture through the clever use of marble, brass, wood, glass and bold wallpaper.

The feature of the hotel is just beyond reception and the restaurant where the contemporary twists come to the fore.

The hotel has removed the roof four levels above and replaced it with a translucent cover that bathes the room in natural sunlight. With plush coaches and space for a quiet coffee or zoom meeting, this area caters for an occasion that requires a martini or a magic.

The view from the roof.

If you are wanting to remain in once the sun has set on another picture-perfect day in the Maltese capital, you’re in luck. Rosselli boasts a restaurant that landed a Michelin Star only four months after opening.

Just like the rest of the hotel, UnderGrain is understated luxury. It is popular, so don’t forget to book before you hop on the plane.

For those in the mood for adventure and must-see bathing destinations, we recommend hiring a Vespa and zigzagging across the country in search of the perfect spot to soak up some Mediterranean sun.

At the southern tip of the country is the stunning St Peter’s Pool, where the crystal clear water in a picturesque inlet is well worth the journey.

If you head in the complete opposite direction, you will find a made for Instagram swimming spot called Popeye Village, which was once a film set for the musical ‘Popeye’ in 1980 and is now one of the more unique beach experiences you will have in Europe.

The time is now to explore something off the beaten path. Now you know where to base yourself when you head down this path.