Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah - Al Husn, Oman

LOCATION: Close enough – a 15 minutes drive – to the centre of Muscat to make exploring the Omani capital easy and convenient, the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah is nevertheless very much a beach resort, not a city hotel. Sitting in its own private bay, this three-hotel behemoth spans a site of 124 acres, sprawling alongside a pristine, palm-lined beachfront. At the heart of the resort sits Al Bandar (The Town), for business and leisure guests, next to the family-friendly Al Waha (The Oasis). With everything about it designed to give guests a sense of superiority, the exclusive and adults-only Al Husn (The Castle), sits perched on the hill above.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: The look is very much tasteful bling. Gold-turbaned doormen usher you into the cool, air-conditioned calm of the lobby, white and gold vaults soaring above your head. The internal courtyard stretches ahead, culminating in a scallop-edged arch framing the view through to the double helping of blue supplied by the infinity pool and, behind it, the sea.

THE FACTS: There are 180 rooms, found in the pink-walled wings that flank the pool, with substantial balconies. Inside they’re huge, with upholstery in rich colours and carpets so thick it would be a struggle to wheel one’s suitcase from the door to the wardrobe, were that not the responsibility of one of the attentive bellboys.
The two fine dining restaurants make diners feel truly special, with beautifully presented dishes that taste as good as they look. Sultanah, serving international dishes, has wide windows overlooking the bay creating a light and airy atmosphere. In contrast the Moroccan Shahrazad is a cocoon of low-lighting and intricate Arabic design, with intimate tables that allow couples to feel as if they’re dining alone.
For lighter meals there’s a pool bar and a beach bar, the latter at Al Husn’s private beach, just around the headland from the hotel’s main beach, so you can sunbathe out of earshot of the squeals of excited children.

A GOOD BASE FOR: Muscat’s proximity means it’s easy to explore the city, and the hotel can also organize tours to the old capital of Nizwa with its large fort, and out into the desert at Wahiba Sands. But the diversity of the resort’s facilities means there’s plenty to do on site too. There’s a dive centre, a Chi spa so vast it actually warrants its ‘spa village’ tag, an amphitheatre for performances, a retail souk and even a heritage village where you can watch skilled artisans at work on Omani crafts.

WOW: Once you’ve shelled out for an ultra-deluxe hotel it’s nice to feel your custom is valued, and Al Husn has some lovely touches that do just this. Lounging by the pool, a butler materializes silently with a small cool box of free waters and juices. Complimentary afternoon tea is served every day on the terrace overlooking the sea, and the finger sandwiches and miniature cakes have hardly had time to go down before it’s time for complimentary cocktails and canapés in the courtyard.

HOW MUCH: From £395 per room per night including breakfast.

shangri-la.com

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