Four Seasons staff greet me at the airport and show me into a black BMW SUV that has Wi-Fi, always most welcome when you’re without roaming. Before we arrive, the driver’s phone rings and he passes it to me: it’s the guest experience manager, who wants to know if there’s anything I need. We’re only 20 minutes away, so I’m good. We pull up in a shallow driveway at the foot of a mid-sized sand-coloured tower, where the doorman greets me by name. I’ve already checked in online through the app, so I’m shown straight to my room. I want to linger in the lobby, though, so I can Instagram the striking modern design. A white sculptural staircase is set against a red wall, matched by a white orchid sculpture by British artist Marc Quinn.
An added enticement just off the lobby is a dimly lit Starbucks Reserve, the brand’s boutique offshoot that serves specially brewed coffee.
On the busy Al Soor Street, the area lacks a neighbourhood feel, but the hotel is a 10-minute walk from Al Shaheed Park, full of local cafes and shops in a beautifully landscaped green space. The Avenues mall is a 15-minute ride away, while the new opera house, the Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre, is a 10-minute drive.
My deluxe room feels like an apartment that’s designed to spend time in, with an oak parquet floor under the carpet, a couch that curves around one corner and a shelf with books I want to read (including one on Kuwaiti architecture). Two lanterns are suspended on either side of a smoky glass headboard, and a floor-to-ceiling window overlooks the cityscape. The bed is exquisite – you get to choose your mattress topper – and the large marble bathroom has a big oval soaker tub. The room’s also equipped with an Illy coffee machine and Bose sound dock. My only quibble is the lighting controls are too fiddly.
The service ranges from forgetful (my shower’s missing soap, which I discover only once in it) to highly attentive (a passing waiter in the buffet restaurant shows up with a spoon after noticing I’m missing one). Mostly it’s highly attentive.
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The Al Soor lobby lounge and poolside shisha terrace on the fourth floor are busy with locals and visitors from the Gulf. Most above-ground areas of the hotel, including the restaurants and infinity pool area, have a sweeping view of the rooftops, minarets and water towers of Kuwait City. The well-equipped gym has a private space for women.
The buffet in Elements is noteworthy for its tandoori oven, homemade granola, juice concoctions and Middle Eastern dips served in little glass pots with lids. At Dai Forni, past a living wall on the 21st floor, chefs turn out pasta and pizzas at an open cooking station that faces booths with round marble tables: the lasagne (10 Kuwaiti dinar/Dh123) is all smoky goodness from being cooked in the wood-fired oven. This hotel really shines when it comes to non-alcoholic beverages, with an award-winning Serbian barista making coffees with special flavours and designs, and the poolside Al Bandar serving creative mocktails. My favourite is Poseidon’s Punch: honeyed mango, cayenne pepper and vanilla soda served in a bag with a straw (4 dinar/Dh49).
The interior design by Yabu Pushelberg – including the indoor infinity pool, a glass rectangle with more than a dozen lanterns suspended over it – brings an extra wow factor when lit up at night. It’s best enjoyed after a massage in the spa, after which you can lounge on a daybed in between the arches of the colonnade that surrounds it.
The location on Al Soor Street means that it’s not very pedestrian-friendly.
Another asset in a city that’s upping its tourist game, the Four Seasons makes for a stylish stay, worth it for the indoor pool alone. It’s now at the top of my list for a short trip involving a spa and shopping.
The bottom line
A standard room at Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait at Burj Alshaya (www.fourseasons.com/kuwait) costs from Dh1,600 including taxes.