A Brief History
The land which now houses the Imperial was first acquired by Pietru Pawlu Galea in a temporary emphyteusis for 99 years which was later extended to 149 years.
The Maltese businessman built three properties for his children which were eventually turned into a hunting and shooting lodge, with the shooting lodge eventually passed down to Mary Borg Cardona Née Galea on the 24th of April 1889 as her dowry. In 1874, the Sliema Shooting Club with its large gardens was transformed into a grand hotel christened The Modern Imperial Hotel by hotelier Mr. Gioacchino Ellul who extended the recreational grounds of the property by acquiring two additional acres of land adjacent to the property.
After acquiring the land in 1869, the hotel first opened in December 1875. Several newspapers describing the newly opened hotel as “one of the chief hotels in Europe”.
The Imperial immediately welcomed prestigious guests such as the Royal family of Bavaria, Cardinal Lavigerie, as well as Princess Louise (daughter of Queen Victoria) who lived in the hotel from January to April 1888.
The hotel welcomed Sir Lord Gerald Strickland, Cardinal Bourne and several other Lords and Ladies from all over the British Empire. It was praised for having electricity, running water and sanitary facilities throughout. Guests commented on its well-ventilated walls and the fresh air from the sea, especially with its location on a hill in one of the healthiest parts of the locality, as the area was known for then. Several members of the exiled Russian Imperial Family resided at the Imperial Hotel following the Russian revolution in the early 20th century, whilst soldiers were housed in the hotel during the Second World War. The Imperial also served as backdrop to several local and foreign movie productions. Most notably a Peter R. Hunt film titled Shout at the Devil which starred Sir Roger Moore and Lee Marvin.