Paceville, St. Julians - the clubbing heart of Malta
Paceville (pronounced 'patchy-vil') is one small part of St. Julians, a very loud part, where the pubs and clubs are concentrated. There is one main street, a steep hill of a pedestrian precinct, and most of the bars and clubs are on that street, and from one end to the other is just 150 yards. When you get to the bottom of the hill, turn around and go back up, because that's it.
Depending on who you talk to, they will either love it or hate it, or avoid it. Paceville is an odd mix of rich and poor, posh and rough, gay and drugs, tattoo parlours and expensive restaurants, all within a very small area.
As you walk down the main street, you will pass posh clubs, posh bars and expensive restaurants, yet in between them or opposite sit clubs and bars that offer a completely different crowd - there is something for everyone. You will not see pensioners here, they hang out in Bugibba, but you will see people aged from 14 up to 45.
If you walk down the main street, you will see a shopping centre opposite when you get to the bottom. There is a cinema on the left. If you go into the shopping centre and up to the second floor, you will find the Hard Rock Café, which is well worth a visit. They do good food, and it's also a bar. On a Friday there is sometimes music and a little dancing, a party atmosphere, people in high spirits. Most people here are over 25, and you will find a quiet and respectful friendly atmosphere.
Club 22 is, according to many, the best (or most posh) little nightclub, or perhaps just the most expensive. But it is not really a nightclub since it has no dance floor (or people dancing), and is quite small inside. It is on the 22nd floor of the tall tower (hence the name) next to the Hilton Hotel. It opens late, after 11pm-12pm, and often hosts private parties.
You will need to dress very smart or you will not get in, and if the doorman don't like the look of you they will tell you that it is 'a private party' to get rid of you. If you do get inside, via a long lift ride up, you may pay 7 euro for half a lager and rub shoulders with people paying 200 euro for a bottle of champagne. There is, however, a fantastic view from the top. Worth one quick visit during your stay.
Without a doubt, Club22 has the best view of any club or bar outside of the Far East.
Teenage drinkers in Malta
On the streets of Paceville you will rub shoulders with kids that are 14 years old, because the Maltese start young, and when dressed-up the girls look much older. The young Maltese girls all dress like hookers, Goths or Miss Whiplash, always in black leather, which (for some odd reason) they think is stylish.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that they are interested in you if you are an older British gent. They may dress like vamp-Goth hookers, but they are not, and they are all school kids. When you see a dark-haired lady in a sensible dress, then she is probably working, and old enough!
You will also find that many of the drinkers in certain bars are 18-20 year old foreign language students from the English schools. Off-season, 80% of the drinkers are such students, or locals. Bars may seem busy, but there are very few tourists in them.
Around Paceville you will find a strange group of off-license type shops that would be totally illegal in the UK. They sell cans of drink, even to underage drinkers, and those kids stand on the pavement or in the road as if it was some sort of open air bar. In the UK this would be stopped straight away, the police wading in, here it is the norm. You will have to walk in the road to get around the crowds.
FIGHTING. If you see a fight, and they are not common, it will probably be a bunch of Maltese 16 year old boys that are drunk. Don't worry, you are not in any danger unless you are four feet tall and very thin. There are always plenty of police around, mostly to deal with drunk kids, sometimes to deal with drunk Brits later on. If you are in Bugibba, you will only be in danger if you can't deal with a drunk 75 year old with a walking stick and a hunched back. Just walk away at a normal pace and he won't be able to keep up with you!
If you are in a suit, with your wife, don't worry. The chances of anyone bothering you are very slim, and a hell of a lot less than the UK or mainland Europe. Walk past the crazy people, through the loud noise, and pick a nice restaurant or club. Inside you will be perfectly safe, and you will have a great time.
The bar staff here are friendly and helpful, they will not rip you off with the bill, and the rest of the guests are mostly friendly, approachable and chatty. Malta is a very friendly place, very little crime, but Paceville attracts a few bad people from around Europe, a real melting pot of all sorts.
PACEVILLE IS NOT MALTA
NOTE. Paceville is not Malta, and it is not representative of the rest of Malta, and most Maltese people avoid Paceville. Paceville is a very concentrated and intense area of loud discos, often full of drunk Brits or Maltese teenagers. To judge Malta by what you see in Paceville would be like judging Britain by what you see in Soho in London. But despite the noise and the bustle, trouble is rare.
Paceville looks a lot worse than it really is!
Strip clubs, gentlemen's clubs, touts
You cannot walk around Paceville without passing a strip club, and without being offered a ticket from a young Romanian or Bulgarian girl. There are as many strip clubs as there are bars in Paceville. Inside, you will pay up to 50 euro to see a girl dance naked.
Warning! They are not brothels, nor are the girls escorts. The girls mostly have boyfriends, and if you try it on you may get thumped and thrown out.
But you will not hear of people being drugged, mugged or ripped off in these strip clubs. You may waste your money, but you will do so very safely for the most part.
NOTE! If a girl invites you back to an apartment then she is breaking the law, breaking the club's rules, and it is probably an east-European sting - you may be mugged. They never ask a punter out, so be worried if they do, it's not your good looks they are after.
You will not see prostitutes on the streets in Paceville. If a woman stops you and offers you something, be very worried. Such things are rare, and will probably be a drug addict trying to rob someone.
There is a small drug scene in Malta, as there is everywhere, and there are a small number of addicts and drunks, and you will see some odd characters staggering down the street in Paceville. Being attacked by one is rare, and you generally don't hear about it. When there is trouble reported then it may be late at night and two addicts or alcoholics fighting amongst themselves. Tourists being attacked is very rare. If you ask around you will eventually find someone willing to sell you drugs, if that is what you are after, but if you get caught, the police will not be very polite about it.
The police are friendly and helpful, and if you are a tourist in distress then they are very helpful. But, if your things are stolen from your hotel room, don't expect them back, or compensation, or the thieves to be caught and prosecuted. The police will take a statement, and you'll fly home. The chances of catching someone are small, as it is in the UK.
The police are fair with speeding motorists, and you won't hear of the police beating anyone or asking for money. If you are in scuffle with a Maltese citizen who is a bit drunk, they are more likely to take your side. The drunk will get a warning, and little else.
A drinking holiday
The worst thing about Malta, is Brits on holiday, as it is most everywhere else. See a fight, then they are usually Brits that are drunk. Many groups of Brits, especially Irish and Scottish, head to Malta for a drinking holiday, and most never leave their 'all inclusive' hotels. They drink from noon till 4am, then sleep. And as they go to bed they do, of course, scream loudly to wake everyone up. At 4am in Paceville you will see Brits staggering around, being sick, causing trouble.
The booze is cheap, and in some hotels the booze is all inclusive, so you'll see Brits having vodka at 11am. They ruin the hotels in some areas. There are a few cheap hotels in Paceville, such as the St. George and La Valette, and if you are not a full-blown alcoholic you will have a terrible time there.
These hotels sit right on the main street, and if you are lucky enough, then from your balcony you can touch the heads of revellers on the street outside. Your room will shake till 4am, not least because the main disco's are actually underneath the hotels. If you are normal, and not an alcoholic, these hotels are not for you.
Image having young kids in a room that shakes till 4am, the music so loud that you insides vibrate. Be very careful when booking a hotel. Most Maltese hotels are great, cheap, the staff friendly and very helpful, but there are some that cater for alcoholics and youngsters, and the travel agents often say 'this hotel is close to the bars and clubs'. No, the hotel is not close, the hotel is 12 inches directly above the loudest disco you will ever visit. From 7pm to 4am your insides will vibrate, no need for a vibrating bed!
In winter, you can get a room for a week, half-board, for £65. Where in the world can you live for that kind of money? Such prices attract drunks from the UK, the one good thing being that you never see them on the beaches or out walking. If it's daylight and pleasant, they are hiding away inside.
If you pay £125+ for a room for a week, then your hotel is unlikely to be full of drunk Brits.
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