You’ll want to spend 1,001 nights at Alila Hinu Bay, an Arabian palace (complete with fretwork panels, archways and a desert backdrop) in southern Oman. Dolphins and dhows call in at these shores, which have a whole lot of desert in the other direction. Everything is on the large side, since there’s just so much space, especially down at the bumper-size beach. Along with an (also big) spa, the hotel has its own lagoon, two restaurants and two saltwater pools that are most certainly not a mirage.
Get this when you book through us:
A free set-menu lunch during your stay (not including drinks). GoldSmiths will also be upgraded (based on availability) and those staying two nights or longer will receive one 45-minute massage as well
Double rooms from £321.51 (OMR155), including tax at 23.27 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, kids’ club, yoga, tennis courts, gym. In rooms: free bottled water, Bluetooth speaker, minibar, tea and coffee kit.
Our favourite rooms
Make the most of all that space by booking a Deluxe Pool Villa, specifically one on the sunrise side of the resort for obvious reasons. You’ll also be able to stargaze from your outdoor seating and take an alfresco bath.
There are two outdoor saltwater pools, open for umami swims between 8am and 7pm. The one next to the Seasalt restaurant has a view of the lagoon and sea.
The spa building has the most serene setting you could hope for: mountains on one side, the Arabian Sea in the other. Sign up for yoga and meditation classes, and treatments in a room with its own Jacuzzi.
Bring dust-proof, desert-friendly clothing that can handle the (frequently 30º-plus) heat.
All communal areas are accessible for wheelchair users and there are adapted rooms available.
Families can book rooms with twin beds and rooms that sleep up to three children. The kids’ club is open from 10am to 8pm. Babysitting can be arranged with 12 hours’ notice for OMR20 an hour.
The hotel is committed to using renewable energy sources, local supply chains (with some produce coming straight from the garden) and minimal plastic. There are solar panels, LED light bulbs and timers and sensors to conserve energy, and the team re- and upcycles wherever possible.
There are private decks elevated above the pool and lagoon for dinners with a view – or the team can set up tables wherever you’d like (within reason).
There are two: Seasalt and the Orchard. At the latter, huge spaces and high windows are the backdrop for Arabic and Mediterranean meals, which include seafood mixed grills and produce from the gardens cooked in an open kitchen minutes after harvesting. You’ll also be able to order food to your cabana outside. Seasalt will transport you to Asia with the help of Singaporean black pepper prawns, papaya salads and Thai-style stir-fries (authentic clanging-wok soundtrack included).
The pool bar dispenses snacks, salads and drinks between 9am and 7pm.
Breakfast hours are 7am to 10.30am. Lunch is 12.30pm to 3pm and you’ll be able to order afternoon tea between 4pm and 6pm. Dinner service at both restaurants is from 7pm to 11pm.
You’ll be able to order from the room-service menu between 7am and 11pm.
The hotel is close to the Dhofar-governate town of Mirbat, near Salalah, in the south-west of Oman.
Salalah has an international airport, with arrivals from across the Middle East, including Dubai and Sharjah – but most visitors will have to connect to a domestic service in Muscat. The hotel can arrange transfers for up to five guests for OMR55 each way.
A regular car will get you to most places in Salalah, but if you’re planning a desert adventure into the Empty Quarter, heading up the westerly mountains or just fancy going off-road, a 4WD is wise. The hotel has free parking.
Arrivals by helicopter are possible.
Worth getting out of bed for
Christmas will come early with a trip to Salalah’s frankincense museum – you can learn all about the gift-worthy resin, while also exploring the neighbouring Al-Baleed Unesco World Heritage Site. Days out include trips to Wadi Darbat for hikes or camel rides, swims in waterfalls and picnics. The chef can accompany you to Mirbat’s fish market to pick out seafood that he’ll kindly cook for you back at the ranch. You’ll be able to take small catamarans and stand-up paddleboards out on the lagoon, and visit the Jabal Samhan nature reserve to look for wildlife that includes wolves, desert hedgehogs and the last remaining wild Arabian leopards. The hotel has an improbably huge beach, the waters of which are more likely to be frequented by dolphins than humans. More empty expanses of sand await in the Empty Quarter – there’s 250,000 square miles of nothing heading north, but you’ll be able to see its southern stretches on a dusty day trip.
Chances are you’ll be spending most mealtimes at Seasalt and the Orchard, but if you have made the hour-or-so trip west to Salalah, hang around for Indian food at Art of Spices, Turkish treats at Marmara and Lebanese dishes at Baalbek on 23rd July Street.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this resort hotel in Oman and unpacked their sunhats and sandals, a full account of their sandy break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Alila Hinu Bay near Salalah…
If Alila Hinu Bay can offer you one thing, it’s space. Huge, wide open, endless acreage of space – from the frankly enormous stretch of beach (that’s not quite private, but it doesn’t have to be, since you’ll still have more than enough sand to yourself due to a general lack of humans) to the vast restaurants and the spa, beneath its own (sizeable) fretwork signpost, where the treatment areas have room for their own bathrooms, and even Jacuzzi.
Desert dwellers just love coming to this part of the Middle East during Khareef, when relief-giving monsoon rains turn everything green (between June and early September). And who needs a Magi when you can harvest your own frankincense from one of the many resin-giving trees nearby? The start of the extremely empty Empty Quarter is an hour’s drive north; to the south is the Arabian Sea, for dolphin-spotting and dhow-sailing. It’s a whole new world.