Oman’s Chedi Muscat was a pioneer in the region, one of the first stylish resorts on this stretch of the Gulf, yet it remains a standard-bearer for quiet luxury and locally-lived minimalism. Walk from the lantern-lined reception through the gently arced hallways and out into the modern Moorish water gardens and you’re reminded of the Alhambra. Recline by one of the pristine pools or repair to the vast spa and you’ll note that the swarming crowds of that particular palace couldn’t be further from your reality.
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On returning home after your stay, you'll be sent a Smith voucher for £25/$40/€30 to use on your next holiday; GoldSmiths also get a bag of frankincense during their stay (GoldSmith room upgrades aren't usually available)
Noon (though late check-out up to 6pm is available for half the room’s nightly rate). Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £107.40 (OMR57), including tax at 13.4 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast; an impressive buffet which offers everything from dim sum to Danish pastries.
There is a minimum stay of five nights between 24 December 2018 and 3 January 2019.
At the hotel
Private beach, spa and health club, tennis courts, boutique, 21 acres of landscaped grounds and free WiFi. In rooms: TV, CD player, iPod dock, minibar with free drinks and snacks, Acqua di Parma bath products.
Our favourite rooms
In all rooms, neutral tones and dark fixtures are the order of the day, with the occasional carved wooden detail. Any room facing seawards offers cinematic views of the Gulf of Oman from the widescreen windows. The Chedi Club Suites have sunken terrazzo baths, private terraces and are close to the regal Club Lounge so you can be the first in the queue for the decadent champagne brunches it hosts.
There are three, including the region’s longest, a 103-metre-long moody marvel lined by palms and black double day beds. The Chedi pool overlooks the beach – perfect for wallowing with a view of the waves and, with a quick scamper across the narrow sands, you can splash among them. On the very hottest days, head for the Serai pool; it’s ample awnings provide welcome shade in and around the water.
In the 13 suites of Muscat’s largest spa you can treat yourself to jet lag-busting restorers, romantic bathing rituals, Himalayan warm stone massages and all manner of rejuvenating facials.
Bikinis, swimming shorts and the usual beachy essentials are fine for the pool. For day trips and evening time, it’s the smarter side of smart casual: trousers and shirts for men; long skirts and dresses for women, and something to cover your shoulders. If you're planning any desert adventures, sturdy shoes are a must.
Pick up a little shiny something from the boutique to accessorise your evening wear – locally-crafted jewellery, ornaments, art and clothes are all available to buy.
The Chedi Club Suite is best for families, as it sleeps two children up to 15 years old (free for under sevens, and OMR40 a child a night for kids aged seven to 15). However, the Serai rooms sleep one child up to six and the Club rooms one two year-old.
Visit in the cooler months (October to April) and you can sit in the tree-lined courtyard where, under starry skies, mezze and kebabs are served to the rhythmic sounds of traditional Omani musicians.
Long, flowing cottons, light linens and neutral-toned chic to match your surrounds
The three pools each have their own cabana serving drinks and food, with Mediterranean fare by the Chedi pool, Asian flavours at the Serai pool and Japanese-cum-Malaysian nourishment to help you reach the other end of the Long Pool. Fine dining is done in the elegantly arched, and simply-titled, Restaurant. Its four open kitchens serve an impressive array of Arabian, Indian, Asian and Western cuisines – from lamb tagine to Wagyu beef. For an al fresco affair, opt for the Beach Restaurant, a romantic waterfront patio where fresh seafood and fine wine are paired with a sea breeze and lapping waves.
It’s not about where you get your drink; it’s where you take it. Poolside is prime cocktail territory, sip fine wines and watch the waves from the patio and retire to the outdoor Shisha Lounge with something stiffer.
The Restaurant is open for breakfast 7am-10.30am (11am on Fridays and Saturdays), lunch from noon to 6pm, and dinner from 7pm to 10.30pm. The three cabanas open at 9am and close at 5pm (Chedi Pool), or 11.30pm (Serai Pool and Long Pool).
Available 24 hours a day and includes breakfast, lunch and dinner options, a dessert and nighttime menu. The seafood grills and mezze plates tend to satisfy mild munchies.
Beachside in Muscat, with the the Gulf of Oman in touching distance and the peaks of the Hajar mountains jutting out just behind you.
Fly direct to Muscat International Airport from across the Uk, Europe and America; our Smith24 team of travel experts are on hand round the clock to book your flights and arrange the swift 15-minute transfer to the hotel (free for guests staying in a suite). Taxis regularly shuttle between the airport and the hotel’s driveway entrance.
You won't need a car is Muscat, but if you want your own set of wheel, Smith24 will happily arrange a rental for you to pick up at the airport. You’ll see the Chedi signposted regularly on the road into central Muscat. If you’re feeling decadent, a private car with a driver can be hired through the hotel’s concierge service, otherwise taxis are plentiful.
Worth getting out of bed for
With its cultural riches, wondrous waters and adventurous surrounds, Muscat has a broad appeal. If you need to ease yourself in, head to the spa for an uplifting Himalayan crystal body polish and you’ll be raring to go.
A walk along nearby Shati Al Qurum beach at sunset is a Muscat highlight (if you can dodge the locals’ footballs). A 90-minute drive east brings you to Wadi Shab, a deep, palm-flecked sandstone gorge lined with blue-green pools that adventurous types will find irresistible for cliff-diving (don’t worry – locals are on hand to point out the safe spots). The road back takes you past the Hawiyat Najm Park, home to the Bimmah Sinkhole which was supposedly formed by a meteor and is well worth a swim in. Off the coast of Muscat you’ll find exceptional snorkelling and diving in the warm sea, where turtles, rays and the occasional whale are likely companions. The Chedi’s concierge will be happy to arrange special dolphin-watching trips, too.
In the city, browse a treasure trove of Omani art and cultural curios at private museum Bait Al Zubair, home to one wealthy family’s impressive historical collection. Or settle in for some lung-busting operatics at the Royal Opera House Muscat. If you’re a fragrance fanatic, follow your nose to the headquarters of Amouage, the world’s most expensive perfumery. It’s been hand-crafting its range in Muscat for generations, using more than 120 natural ingredients, and coffee-aided tours are available throughout the week (Sunday to Thursday).
Just 20 minutes away, the Muttrah Souk is alive with traders and patient browsers can unearth all kinds of good-value gold and silver gifts. Nizwa Souk – a 90-minute drive away – hosts a livestock auction each Friday morning, where the stubborn animals provide plenty of amusement.
The oven-fresh bread and just-caught seafood draws expats and locals alike to Turkish House (+968 244 88071), a 15-minute drive away. A few minutes further towards Qurum beach is Mumtaz Mahal, an award-winning dress-up-and-dine North Indian restaurant, also with seafood aplenty. If it’s a romantic dinner à deux you’re after, Al Angham, in the grounds of the Royal Opera House, does modern Omani cuisine in lavish surrounds. Try one of their private dining rooms for a memorable meal. For something a little more laid-back, Kargeen Caffe is a Muscat favourite. Expect a mix of Omani dishes, Arabic grills and western snacks along with coffee, shisha and limonana, the ubiquitous lemon-mint drink. If you’re in need of stronger refreshment, Left Bank is a western-style bar with chrome fittings, an extensive cocktail list and regular DJ nights.
Mr & Mr Smith have just returned from a stay at this Omani luxury hotel, and as soon as they've unpacked their souk souvenirs and Amouage perfume, a full account of their Gulf-side break will be with you. In the meantime, just to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick postcard from the Chedi Muscat
There’s a relaxed cocktail bar at one end and a private beach, lapped at by the Gulf of Oman, at the other. In between, elegant arches are decorated with smatterings of Balinese pottery. And that’s just the pool.
But don’t mistake its double-Olympic-length splendour for the kind of brash bling offered in Oman’s gulf-side neighbours, because the Chedi is very much a sanctuary of serene minimalism, inspired by its heritage-rich surrounds. From the material-draped indoor courtyard to the trickling fountains in the quiet quads, this is a place to seek peace.
The rooms are high of ceiling and large of window, accented with light linens and dark decor. The grounds are carefully coiffed and simple scenes of Omani life decorate hallways. Even the gym is calmer than your average spa space. We’d call it an oasis if that weren’t the stalest of clichés.
It’s a place to dine and to recline, to save your energy for the adventures for which you are so perfectly placed; moseying in Muscat, sauntering round a souk, driving through the desert, snorkelling in the sea…