Al Bus­tan Palace

A Ritz Carl­ton Ho­tel, Mus­cat

Friday - - Travel -

Nes­tled in the beau­ti­fully ragged Ha­j­jar Moun­tains, the Ritz Carl­ton Al Bus­tan Ho­tel is a ma­jes­tic tes­ti­mony to lux­ury. Step­ping into the lobby, with its 38-me­tre high ceil­ing adorned with a Swarovski crys­tal chan­de­lier and stun­ning stained­glass atrium, the bustling city I left was in­stantly for­got­ten. A mul­ti­award-win­ning hide­away cre­ated by the Sul­tanate of Oman, the ho­tel was built to host the Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil sum­mit in 1985, and is still the ho­tel of choice for the big­wigs of lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional so­ci­ety.

The ho­tel boasts 200 rooms and 50 suites di­vided into sep­a­rate sec­tions with a choice of moun­tain, sea and gar­den views. The four La­goon rooms, found in the slightly older part of the ho­tel, open out on to a pri­vate ground-floor bal­cony with a small gate that leads straight into a crisp, clear swim­ming pool within 200 acres of lush green grounds. These rooms are dec­o­rated in blues and white with a touch of Vic­to­rian de­tail in the bed­rooms with an­tique taps and footed bath­tubs.

Newer rooms in the ho­tel, built since it was taken over by Ritz Carl­ton in 2011, have a slightly more art deco feel with replica pe­riod mir­rors and fur­ni­ture and fabrics in soft browns and neu­tral beige hues.

A la­goon room was avail­able for my stay and with a few snaps of the beau­ti­ful bal­cony view up­loaded to In­sta­gram and two shots of Ne­spresso knocked back (thanks to Ge­orge Clooney no more fid­dly sa­chets to deal with) it was time to ex­plore the rest of the ho­tel.

The cen­tral in­fin­ity swim­ming pool soon be­came the sec­ond stand­out fea­ture af­ter the lobby. Yes, I had my own la­goon, but this pool is 50 me­tres long, lined by palm trees and drops into the azure ocean (well

Mut­trah souq is well worth a visit. I en­joyed am­bling from stall to stall, hag­gling for trin­kets

al­most). It is po­si­tioned be­tween a pri­vate beach run­ning down one side, and im­pec­ca­bly man­i­cured gar­dens on the other, over­looked by those craggy moun­tains.

Ev­ery­thing about this ho­tel is five star. The ser­vice, decor, clean­li­ness, even the nat­u­ral scenery lends it­self to a lux­ury over­load. So, of course, din­ner was a can­dlelit af­fair at the Beach Pavil­ion with ta­bles perched on the sand.

As a seafood restau­rant, oys­ters and Omani lob­ster are a must ac­cord­ing to my waiter, but as a meat lover I couldn’t re­sist or­der­ing a rare beef ten­der­loin, which I en­joyed as waves lapped the rocks nearby.

I woke the next morn­ing feel­ing per­fectly rested af­ter a night curled up in the king-size bed and headed to the Al Khi­ran Ter­race restau­rant for a buf­fet break­fast over­look­ing the Sea of Oman.

This in­for­mal eatery of­fers sev­eral live cook­ing sta­tions in­clud­ing Mid­dle East­ern and in­ter­na­tional choices, rang­ing from eggs Bene­dict to a Le­banese mezze washed down with fresh co­conut juice served straight from its shell.

With a stomach fit to burst I took a trip to Mus­cat’s nearby old town, just a 10-minute jour­ney via shut­tle bus down a wind­ing coastal road.

The Mut­trah souq is well worth a visit. I en­joyed am­bling from stall to stall, hag­gling for trin­kets and gor­geous pash­mi­nas (if only to work off all that food!).

Af­ter my hit of hus­tle and bus­tle it was time to re­treat to the peace­ful set­ting of the Al Bus­tan Palace – a gate­way to feel­ing re-en­er­gised, re­freshed and re­laxed.

TRAVEL Stun­ning views set the scene for re­lax­ation

The rooms are el­e­gant and com­fort­able

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