Valletta Boutique Hotel
Valletta Boutique Hotel, Casa Ellul, dates back to the Victorian era possibly constructed during the early 19th century.
Although the precise date of Casa Ellul’s construction is not known, it was some time around 1830 when an earlier building dating to Hospitaller times was demolished to make way for this new group of houses in Valletta.
This was a time when Baroque and Rococo opulence was shifting towards a more toned down, but increasingly elegant, fashion characterised by a sense of lightness. Property investors wanted to move away from the ageing cumbersome dark mansions left from the days of chivalry. Increased demand for more affordable real estate also rendered such huge buildings redundant. Early Victorian architects ingeniously maximised very precious and restricted sites without, in any way, forfeiting aesthetics and comfort. Casa Ellul, Valletta boutique hotel is a perfect example of this.
With Old Theatre Street being narrower than six meters, looking at Casa Ellul from the
street requires considerable neck-craning and it is no easy task identifying the extent of its grandeur. In contrast, the central hotel rooms, leading onto the hotel courtyard, present a humbler, introverted experience with their timber-beam ceilings and diffused natural light. Designed as one of a group, the (so far anonymous) architect cleverly gave the entire building a seamless façade which unknowingly can be easily read as a singular palazzo.
Three tiers of regimented balconettes and Maltese galleriji overlie the street-level Valletta shops and doorways. Ornamentation in the form of graceful wrought ironwork, delicately carved mouldings, cornices, subtle panelling, Ionic capitals, floral motifs and angelic masks alludes to an architecture intended to impress penned by the hand of a master who academically embraced Romantic Classicism.
Steeped in history, this Valletta boutique hotel offers its visitors the ultimate cultural experience
The style is best described as Neo-Classical with a prevailing Maltese feel. With so many balconies one cannot but imagine an inspiration drawn from the Manoel Theatre itself, where one could sit and indulge in the ‘world going by’ performance in the street below. On the one side, the church’s dome towers over the viewer boasting its massiveness and contrasting the normal experience of being viewed from a greater distance. On the other side the view comprises Valletta’s unique rooftops dotted with a number of church domes, the recently restored Manoel Island across Marsamxetto harbour and glimpses of Sliema’s seafront development across the creek.
Maltese characteristics such as the exquisitely coved vestibule, the colonnaded fireplace in the sala nobile, the concertina doors and Maltese patterned tiles all add to the finery of the house. Mythology and allegory have also found their place in this hotel. At the climb of the staircase on the piano nobile lives the ‘Tork’, a talisman of sorts, which is a familiar face in many Maltese houses. Casa Ellul’s sits contently on a dolphin whilst showing off a cornucopia overflowing with fruit and flowers. It is, however, in the courtyard where the centerpiece of the whole house can be found.
Upon entering the Valletta Boutique Hotel the visitor is immediately drawn to the prospettiva at the back of the cortile. Here stands a statue of Heracles, the ancient Greek divine hero, sheltered in a finely executed Ionic shrine. This muscular son of the Zeus is portrayed wearily resting on his wooden club and lion skin which he presented to King Eurystheus after being challenged to kill and flay the beast which was terrorising the hills around Nemea. Casa Ellul’s Ġgant (Giant) is a faithful interpretation of the acclaimed Farnese Heracles currently held in the Museo Nazionale in Naples. Exhausted though he may be, he still clutches tightly behind his back the apples of immortality. One can only wonder about whose whim it was to erect this intriguing piece of sculpture which is now the focal point of the restored and rehabilitated Valletta boutique hotel, feeding the imagination of its new occupants.
Whilst retaining most of the original fabric and keeping alterations to a minimum the main intervention when renovating this boutique hotel took place at the upper levels. A louvered screen inspired from the traditional “Persjani” wraps around the extended suites on the rooftop whilst also providing a screen for the services. Steeped in history, this Valletta boutique hotel offers its visitors the ultimate cultural experience of living in an authentic Victorian-period house, where one is invited to unwind, relax, and be inspired by both the internal architectural beauties and the surrounding, awe-inspiring roof-top views.
The ground floor area, apart from serving as the main reception, caters for the breakfast area which can easily be transformed into an intimate environment by night as it sprawls into the exclusive courtyard guarded by Heracles. The dual-experience of a classic yet stylish guesthouse on the lower floors, and contemporary rooftop spaces surrounded by private upper terraces make this Valletta boutique hotel a unique and very alternative experience.
Valletta, today a World Heritage City, is highly sought after by many tourists that visit the Maltese Islands but availability of high quality accommodation is very scarce. Casa Ellul offers everything the discerning traveller needs for a comfortable stay in this wonderful city.