Al Bustan Palace
A Ritz Carlton Hotel, Muscat
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