I was getting lost around Sliema’s windy, whitewashed streets. The sea was on all sides – I didn’t know what was back and what was front anymore. Suddenly, I happened upon Hostel Jones. A round plaque outside a period building revealed the entrance. Inside, I found a whimsical world of butterflies and dragons, with fish floating lazily in an aquarium and a hypnotic owl staring from above.
Hostel Jones is the brainchild of two Maltese friends, Keith and Trev. After traveling around the world, they decided to open their very own home for travelers in their home island. The décor of the hostel reveals the two owners’ passions; recycled and street art. And when I say ‘hostel’, I don’t mean a dingy affair where you’ll be sharing your bunk with bedbugs. Hostel Jones is part of that new breed of hostels, offering a budget stay in style. The common spaces of the hostel are spray painted by local street artists – on the stairs, you’ll see a fire-breathing dragon and dozens of hanging butterflies, and on the roof terrace you can watch the sun setting over Malta under the watchful eye of a black and white owl.
We stayed in the ‘Lovers’ room at Hostel Jones, a double room with ensuite where all furniture was made with recycled materials. Two driftwood branches supported the purple canopy over our bed, and on the opposite side of the room the wall was covered in shelves made from salvaged wood. Even the bed itself was made with wood pallets. The result was wonderfully cozy and comfortable – we felt surrounded by art, or better still, environmentally friendly art. Another touch we appreciated at Hostel Jones was the ‘quiet room’. Even though it’s not a ‘party’ kind of hostel, the idea of having a quiet room to relax, work or just swing on a hammock in silence really appealed to us.
There’s no restaurant in Hostel Jones, but you can choose to have a healthy breakfast for an extra €5, if you order the night before. Otherwise, you can have tea or coffee for free. A quick walk or bus ride down the seafront will take you to St Julian (on the north) and the Sliema promenade (on the south), with lots of good restaurant options. We had a lovely alfresco lunch from Gululu on the St Julian’s seafront, serving traditional Maltese cuisine from rabbit spaghetti to peppered goats’ cheese.
After hearing that we’re Game of Thrones enthusiasts, Trev suggested we did the ‘Game of Thrones circle’, a mini-tour of the island’s GoT filming locations, including Mdina, Birgu and the Azure Window in Gozo. Fort Manoel, a fortress island just off the Sliema bay, is another GoT-related right, location of the Sept of Baelor where Ned Stark was beheaded. Sadly, it’s closed for restoration.