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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Hotel insider: Kempinski Muscat, Oman

A luxury property in a new residential precinct, just 10 minutes from the airport

The ballroom is a statement welcome to the hotel. Kempinski Hotel Muscat
The ballroom is a statement welcome to the hotel. Kempinski Hotel Muscat

The welcome

For a property whose brand is synonymous with luxury, it’s not quite the seamless check-in I’m expecting upon arrival. The porter is efficient enough, but when I get to the desk it’s slow going, and vital details about things like Wi-Fi and what is where within the confines of the hotel is left to me to figure out. The entrance provides the expected wow-factor, and when it’s time, I’m glad to be guided to my room on the fourth floor as the lay of the land is a bit confusing depending on which lift you take.

The neighbourhood

Courtyard at Kempinski Hotel Muscat. Courtesy Kempinski Hotel Muscat
The courtyard leads to the infinity pool and the lengthy beachfront. Courtesy Kempinski Hotel Muscat

The hotel sits within Al Mouj – the city’s exclusive new

residential precint – a 10-minute drive from the international airport. The beach resort boasts access to six kilometres of coastline, and there’s two swimming pools and a kids’ splash pool, a tennis court along with plenty of restaurants and bars. The nearby marina, which is home to various eateries and coffee shops, is a 10-minute stroll away.

The room

Deluxe Sea View Room at Kempinski Hotel Muscat. Courtesy Kempinski Hotel Muscat
The deluxe sea view rooms have their own terraces. Kempinski Hotel Muscat. Courtesy Kempinski Hotel Muscat

The grand deluxe sea view room I’m staying in is spacious and nicely furnished. There’s a large walk-in wardrobe at the entrance and a reasonably sized bathroom with separate shower, toilet and statement tub. There’s a sitting area in the bedroom towards the end of the bed and a good-sized balcony that offers views of the grounds, pool and the sea. It’s comfortable enough, but ­getting locked out of the wardrobe area without access to clothing on my first morning at the property because of a faulty lock is not ideal, and I’m forced to call maintenance and wait instead of heading to breakfast.

The service

Lobby at Kempinski Hotel Muscat. Courtesy Kempinski Hotel Muscat
The statement lobby and reception area. Kempinski Hotel Muscat

Interactions with the hotel staff are mostly pleasant, but on more than one occasion words are exchanged when it comes to marrying up what the menus say against what is in fact available with regard to gluten free options at a couple of the ­restaurants. At times, it is hard to get the attention of staff when required, but overall their knowledge of hotel offerings and the surrounding area is good.

The scene

Infinity Pool and Lobby at Kempinski Hotel Muscat. Courtesy Kempinski Hotel Muscat
The beachfront resort is expansive and modern in its design. Kempinski Hotel Muscat

Best described as coastal chic with laid-back appeal. It’s relatively busy occupancy-wise when I stay, with the beach bar Zale the place to be late into the evening for in-house guests and Omanis. The beach and pool areas are ­family-friendly, but impressively enough this doesn’t mean loud and obnoxious, more inclusive and happy.

The food

Soi Soi is the hotel's Thai restaurant. Courtesy Melinda Healy
Soi Soi is the hotel's Thai restaurant. Courtesy Melinda Healy

The F&B offerings here are diverse enough to provide a different dining experience over a couple of days. Whether it’s Indian, Thai, Levantine or European cuisine you’re after, or simply want a pastry and a specialist tea, there are plenty of options. Zale Beach Club and Lounge is the pick of the outlets for a casual drink, tapas-style lunch or late-night catch-up, with prices starting from 3 Omani rials (Dh28). I can vouch for the king crab tacos and the wok-fried beef tenderloin. There’s live music and plenty of areas to sit and chat with friends. My dinner in Soi Soi, the Thai restaurant, is tasty and authentic. The space is modern and I like that this eatery’s staff, just like the hotel’s Indian restaurant Bukhara, are all representative of the cuisine they’re serving. Appetisers at Soi Soi start from 3.5 rials (Dh33), as do those at Bukhara. Breakfast (15 rials; Dh143 if not included in the room rate) is served at The Kitchen, which has indoor and outdoor seating areas. It offers a decent spread with a good selection of bakery items, fruits and ­salads, along with dedicated stations for waffles and eggs, a healthy corner and international options including Middle Eastern and Indian dishes.

Loved

The in-house ten-pin bowling alley. It’s not often you find something like this on the hotel facilities rundown.

Hated

Having to call on maintenance in my pyjamas to get access to my clothes.

The verdict

On a par with the other luxury hotels in Muscat – the Shangri-La and the Chedi.

The bottom line

Rooms at Kempinski Hotel Muscat start from 95 rials (Dh907) a night, including taxes and Wi-Fi.

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