Thanks to its breadth of beautiful landscapes and penchant for luxury, visitors to Oman are spoiled for choice when it comes to impressive hotels that showcase the country’s natural splendour, as well as its culture.
From one-of-a-kind 5-star hotels such as Alila Jabal Akdhar, which sits high up in the Al Hajar Mountains with superlative canyon views, to beach resorts with plenty of family-friendly activities and all-inclusive packages such as Barcelo Mussanah Resort, we round up five of the best hotels to stay in on your trip to Oman in the Middle East.
For majestic mountain panoramas: Alila Jabal Akhdar
Set 2,000 metres (6,562 feet) above sea level in the tranquillity and fresh air of Oman’s beautiful Al Hajar Mountains, this luxury hotel sits on the edge of a ravine, allowing for dazzling canyon views from pretty much wherever you are in the hotel.
From the outside, the hotel’s dark, cube-like buildings seem to hide against the backdrop of the mountains, letting the setting sing. Inside, a lofty, frankincense-scented reception beckons, where staff in traditional clothing serve cardamom-laced coffee alongside sticky toffee-like dates, against a cinematic mountain backdrop.
Each of the vast 84 villas and suites (the smallest are 560 sq ft/52 sq m) are incredibly stylish and celebrate Omani culture through decorative details such as traditional rugs, mahogany cabinets and handwoven baskets, as well as murals of the olive trees which dot this region. Most suites have balconies featuring impressive views of the canyon below.
The resort was awarded EarthCheck Silver Certification in the Accommodation – Vacation Hotel category for its sustainability efforts, which include a plastic-free policy, onsite herb garden, bee hives and solar panelling that heats up to 70% of the hot water supply.
A rotating roster of daily activities celebrate Omani culture and the hotel’s incredible location, from outdoor yoga classes to awe-inspiring stargazing sessions, plus walks around the hotel’s butterfly trail. The hotel also runs excursions that take in the beauty of the mountains, from guided hikes to visits to remote traditional villages – some of which lie abandoned or are being converted into charming guest houses in breathtaking ravine locations.
The hotel’s standout activity – for those brave enough to try it – is a guided Via Ferrata hike, a section of which sits just below the hotel. Step out onto a 20-metre-high (66 ft) rope suspended over the valley below and tightrope across to the secret cave on the other side.
Prices start from £685 per night. The mountain drive to the hotel requires guests to arrive by 4x4.
For affordability and activities: Barcelo Mussanah Resort
In luxury-loving Oman, 4-star resorts are hard to come by, so Barcelo Mussanah Resort is a great option for visitors who want a more affordable trip, plus thanks to its wide range of activities, facilities and an all-inclusive option, it’s great for family stays too.
The resort is around 45 minutes away from Muscat by car, so is a great base for visitors who want to explore the Omani capital and its many draws, from the majestic Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque with its spectacular giant chandelier and hand-woven carpet, to the colourful Mutrah Souq, where you can buy everything from tourist trinkets to jewellery, mandoos (traditional dowry wedding chests) to sweet halva: a jelly-like sweet stuffed with honey or nuts.
The resort’s 234 rooms and 74 apartments are comfortable and large, with most looking out across its private beach.
There are heaps of fun facilities, including a zip line, four pools, mini golf and tennis. There are also plans to open a water park (it’ll be the only resort in Oman to have one), as well as to introduce adult-focused activities such as DJ nights and foam parties.
You can also learn to dive or sail here, or book onto a snorkelling excursion to the UNESCO-protected Dimaniyat Islands to see tropical fish and Maldives-hued water. Visit between July and September and you might be lucky enough to spot a whale shark on your way to the islands, or even swim with one.
Back at the hotel, guests have a good choice of restaurants and bars, with the Mydan Restaurant and Azure Restaurant serving traditional dishes as well as international options such as pasta and pizza, and the Compass Bar serving cocktails with beachside views. There’s also an excellent spa.
Prices start from £170 per night on full board.
For desert culture and adventure: Arabian Nights Resort & Spa
This luxury eco retreat is located on a sand dune in the village of Bidiyah in the Wahiba Sands Desert, and is all about soaking in the sight, sounds and serenity of the location. Accommodation is currently made up of a range of villas, some of which have private terraces that look out across the rust-hued sands.
The resort, which opened in 2021, will also add glamping tents in 2023 – kitted out with comfy beds and with a nearby cosy communal area complete with a firepit, where guests can play board games, dine alfresco and gaze up at the star-splashed night sky.
By day, there are heaps of desert-based activities to get stuck into and toys to try, from fat biking, sand boarding, camel rides and dune bashing in a 4x4, to more sedate activities such as desert treks and drives, or a visit to a Bedouin house. The resort’s proximity to the waterfalls of Wadi Bani Khalid and the Wadi Tiwi river mean excursions to both are also popular. Or if you’re more inclined to lounge around while on holiday, spend the day hanging out by the resort’s swimming pool and poolside bar.
Rooms start at £225 per night for two in a premier dune villa. The desert drive requires guests to arrive by 4x4.
For zen near the city: Jumeirah Muscat Bay
This waterfront, family-friendly hotel is tucked into the pretty natural cove of Bandar Jissah at the foot of the Al Hajar Mountains and is the perfect spot for blissful beach days – while day trips to the culture-rich capital are simple since Muscat is only 15 minutes away by car, and Seeb International Airport only 40 minutes away.
The hotel’s 195 rooms, suites and villas all have ocean views, while its upscale summer houses and Sanctuary Villa have their own private pools, butler service and location right on the beach. Chill on the beach, swim in one of three pools or ramp up the exhilaration factor with activities including snorkelling with turtles, sailing along the coast or hiring bikes to explore the mountains.
There’s also a kids’ club, while adults can wind down in the Talise Spa, which offers a range of tailored treatments such as an Arabian Oud face and body exfoliation and hamman options.
After a day spent exploring the sights and sounds of Muscat – including the ornate Royal Opera House, which recently launched a permanent, interactive exhibition on musical arts that kids will love – come back to the hotel and refuel in one of the restaurants. They include the Tarini lounge, which serves an indulgent afternoon tea; Mediterranean-inspired rooftop restaurant Brezza; laidback fish restaurant Zuka and all-day restaurant Peridot, which also does a great Friday brunch. Or for signature cocktails and Asian bites, head to Anzo bar.
Rooms start at £450 per night for two in a deluxe ocean view room.
For a twin-centre luxury break: Six Senses Zighy Bay
This award-winning luxury hotel is actually closer to Dubai than Oman – the journey takes two hours from Dubai Airport, making it a good option for guests who want to combine the two destinations in one trip. Laid out in the style of a traditional Omani village, the resort is made up of 82 stone villas and suites, each with their own plunge pool and dotted with pomegranate and fig trees.
The location, set between the rugged Hajar mountains and the powdery sand beach in Musandam, is beautifully secluded, and the drive down into the resort from the hilltop is mesmerising. As well as arriving by 4x4, guests can up the glamour factor by opting for a more dramatic entrance by speedboat, or a tandem paraglide.
The beach has a dive and watersports centre, while there are also tennis courts onsite and a gym with a sauna. This being a Six Senses, the spa and wellness facilities are impeccable, with two Arabic-style hammams, an ice cave, a range of treatments, as well as sunrise yoga.
For a luxurious, relaxing and scenic escape, Six Senses Zighy Bay should be top of the list.
Rooms start at £1,441 per night in a Pool Villa.
Main image: Alila Jabal Akhdar
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