Gozo is the island home of Calypso in Homer‘s Odyssey. In love with Odysseus, she holds him captive for years using her supernatural powers, before finally releasing him to continue his journey home.
It was however soon very clear that we were in no need of mythical nymphs to hold us entranced. Once we had made the surprisingly easy journey across from Malta, it was just a few minutes drive from the ferry terminal up to the ancient hilltop heart of sleepy Nadur and home to one of the Quaint Boutique Hotels.
Literally in the shadow of a spectacular 16th century church it lies within a historic stone building that actually once was a hotel in the early 1900s – probably one of the first in Gozo. Inside there is little sign of the building’s age with a pared back design that is slick, bright and very modern – with the exception of a wonderful and historic film projector rescued from a local cinema that fills one of the hallways.
Each of the twelve rooms are different and mostly quite spacious. We stayed in one of the three penthouses that each enjoy sunny balconies with stunning views over the church dome and to the sea (bring earplugs if night time chimes bother you!).
The rooms feature wood floors and pale colours offset by frequent splashes of bright colour on the wall or on feature furnishings. The beds are very comfortable and bathrooms slick with chrome, glass and lots of hot water.
The Quaint Nadur lies only a stone’s throw away from all amenities, including cafes, restaurants and a few old traditional bakeries. Literally in the same building you will find the local restaurant: the Fat Rabbit – where you can take a modest buffet breakfast on the tables overlooking the small square or enjoy a straightforward local-style dinner, as well as a newly opened pizza restaurant.
Nadur is a true traditional Gozitan village located on a high hill to the east of Gozo with belvedere vantage points providing some great vistas over the island. As with most of local settlements, life revolves around the baroque Parish Church which dominates the Nadur skyline.
The Quaint Hotel Xewkija is remarkably similar, lying in the historic heart of Xewkija village, the oldest in Gozo, and also adjacent to the church. The small stone building’s interior and rooms are endowed with the same ultramodern decor/facilities and provide the same great value accommodation.
Each Quaint hotel is a perfect location from which to explore the island, with everything within an easy fifteen minute drive. A remarkably diverse history is imprinted upon the island, and inhabited for thousands of years shows evidence of the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Sicilians and of course British. Going back even farther back the Ggantija neolithic temples are, along with the other Megalithic Temples of Malta, amongst the world’s oldest free-standing structures.
Since all of this is crammed into a scenic and rocky island just a handful of miles across, it is hard to drive more than a few hundred yards without finding a spectacular church, a stony temple, a watchtower or historic row of buildings. Beaches are however few and far between – the sandy Ramla was far the best and handily located just a five minutes drive away from Nadur.
Gozo also has a remarkable recent history as a film location. Ray Harryhausen’s stop-action Titans clashed over the coastal cliffs at the Azure Window – a remarkable natural stone arch. Game of Thrones was also filmed here, and Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s film, By The Sea, took advantage of the rocky inlet at Mgarr ix Xini (below – our review of the Ta Cenc Hotel near here coming soon) and filmed its motoring scenes on the local roads.
We also discovered that the meaning of Gozo is “joy” and this reflects our whole stay, which was a delight. Gozo’s rural way of life – much more tranquil than Malta – will draw you in, firmly held under Calypso’s magic spell.
For more information visit Quaint Boutique Hotels
CELLOPHANELAND were guests of Quaint Boutique Hotels.