Last April, I enjoyed a terrific holiday with one of my best friends in one of the world’s most hauntingly beautiful countries, Oman, which offers a true taste of Arabia and an oasis of peace in a turbulent region. You can read my trip reports here:
- Trip report: British Airways B787-9 First Class London to Muscat
- Review: Shangri-La Al Husn
- Review: Alila Jabal Akhdar
- Review: Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton hotel
- Review: The Chedi Muscat (today)
- Review: InterContinental Muscat
- Trip report: Emirates A380 First Class Dubai to Amsterdam
Today (June 15, 2016): Review of The Chedi Muscat, a GHM Hotel (Oman).
- Location: Google Maps
- Adress: Al Bustan Street, Quron Beach, Muscat 114, Oman
- Hotel website: The Chedi Muscat, a GHM hotel
- Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso
Occupying a prime beachfront location, The Chedi Muscat is an ultra-chic and contemporary oceanside retreat set on the edge of Oman’s capital. The clean, minimalist lines of the low-rise white buildings are accentuated by elegantly landscaped gardens of symmetrical simplicity, where water ponds create an implacable Zen calm. Facilities at this exclusive resort are utterly comprehensive, with 158 outstanding rooms & suites, 6 distinct restaurants & bars, a 13-suite Balinese spa, 3 swimming pools, including a spectacular 103-mere (338 ft) long pool, and a gorgeous health club.
In this review (more info below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Comparison with other luxury hotels in Muscat (Shangri-La & Al Bustan Palace)
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The Chedi Muscat enjoys a beachfront location in the heart of Muscat, more precisely in the Al Khuwair neighborhood where many embassies and government buildings have their home. It’s only a 15 minute transfer from the airport, which is a good thing if you are tired after a longhaul flight.
- The minimalist design of this ultra-stylish resort was a revolutionary concept for the Middle East when the hotel opened in 2003, and its timeless decor remains an inspiration for resort architecture around the globe today. Contemporary, white modernism contrasts tastefully with the omnipresent dark tile floors and traditional Arabian architecture. The Chedi Muscat is a product of a countryman of mine, the multiple award-winning Belgian-born designer Jean-Michel Gathy, who clearly approached the resort’s style from a culturally sensitive viewpoint.
- The Chedi Muscat lacks a traditional check-in procedure. Instead, upon arrival, I was greeted by a member of the staff with a refreshing towel and cold drink, who offered me to take a seat in one the colorful, cushioned loungers in the Bedouin-inspired tent lobby. The latter is remarkable space where a range of intricacies greet all travellers with an Omani flair. The staff took care of the administrative check-in process while I indulged myself for the very first time in resort’s unquestionable serene, Zen-like ambience.
- Wandering around the 21 acres of spectacular resort grounds is a visual delight, and somewhat reminiscent of Spain’s Alhambra palace. The white exterior of the hotels pavilions blends perfectly in the lush greenery of the surrounding date palm gardens, and the maze of reflecting pools, falaj-inspired waterway, gorgeous fountains, and Moorish-style courtyards kept me entertained for the duration of my stay. At night, the gardens are enchantingly lit with candles and rope-lights.
- The Chedi Muscat features 158 tasteful, well-appointed guestrooms and suites, which come in five categories and are spread over several interconnecting pavilions. During my visit, I stayed in a Deluxe Room with king sized bed and a cozy seating corner. The moderately sized room was dressed in the hotel’s signature minimalist design, with neutral tones, high ceilings, dark floors, and the occasional carved wooden detail. The open-plan bathroom was located at the entrance of the door, with one sink on each side of the entrance door, as well as a very large and powerful rain shower.
- Room amenities at The Chedi Muscat include Acqua di Parma toiletries, a Nespresso coffee machine, fresh fruit upon arrival, and – highly appreciated – a minibar with complimentary soft drinks and beer.
- The Chedi Muscat features no less than 3 separate, magnificent pool areas. The Serai pool, which is located in the gardens in front of the hotel’s main restaurant, is shaded by overhanging awnings which provide a welcome relief during the hottest moments of the day (especially in Arabian summer). The gorgeous Chedi pool – a modern take on a Greek temple – is located along the narrow beach, and provides a lovely setting for a day of lazy lounging with premium view of the often spectacular waves. The Chedi Muscat’s most marvelous pool is the 103-metre (338 ft) Long Pool, the region’s longest by far, which is located in front of the spa and features a dramatic dark tiled floor.
- Whilst occupancy at The Chedi Muscat was very high during my visit, the hotel’s communal areas did not feel crowded at all, and there was always a choice of lounger if you wanted to move between pools.
- The property attracts a stylish international clientele and clearly caters to couples and adult friends, more than to families with young children. Those looking for absolute tranquility will not be disappointed as The Chedi Muscat features two adults only areas where you will not be disturbed by playing children: only guest aged 16 years and above are allowed at the Chedi pool and the Long Pool.
- Food is exquisite (the best I had at any of Oman’s top hotels) and served at no less than five restaurants. The three pools each have their own so-called cabana serving food and drinks, with Asian inspired dishes served at the Serai pool, Mediterranean fare by the Chedi pool, while the Long Pool Cabana allows guest to fuel up on authentic Japanese and Middle Eastern cuisine after a serious swim. The Chedi’s fine dining venue, simply-titled the Restaurant, features four open kitchens, serving an impressive array of Western, Asian, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. For a truly inspiring al fresco experience, guests can dine at the Beach Restaurant (open from mid-September to the end of May), a romantic beachfront patio where the creative seafood menu is accompanied by a sublime panorama of the Gulf of Oman. I did try the latter as it has a reputation of being one of Muscat’s most exclusive restaurants, and although very expensive, the food and setting was superb!
- Each morning, breakfast is served at The Restaurant, where you can either sit in the indoor dining room adorned with Omani arches or outside in the Arabian inspired courtyard. The breakfast is truly outstanding and of very high quality. A lavish breakfast buffet is spread out along the 4 open kitchens, while you can also order hot items such as pancakes and eggs from a menu.
- The Chedi Muscat is managed by the ultra luxe GHM brand. Established in 1992, GHM has created some of the world’s most highly regarded intimate luxury resorts and hotels. The brand is known for its signature Asian inspired cutting edge design, realised in each new location according to that region’s history and traditions, with great respect for the local environment. In the coming years, a lot of GHM properties are opening in exciting destinations (such as Japan and the Maldives), and after my excellent memories from my stay at The Chedi, I cannot wait to try them out.
- The Chedi Muscat features one of the largest spa facilities in Muscat. Balinese therapies, Indian Ayurveda and indigenous rituals are amongst the highlights on the spa’s comprehensive menu, delivered in 13 meditative spa suites that combine dramatic Omani architecture with calming Asian interiors.
- This hotel ticks every box in terms of friendliness, efficiency and service. The staff (of mainly Indian nationality) provides impeccable service as you would except from a hotel of this standing.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
The Chedi Muscat is currently Oman’s most stylish resort and will delight even the most discerning guests. It’s not perfect though and you need to know the following when you consider a stay here:
- While all accommodations are undeniable stylish, none of the rooms have outside space or balconies, nor do they feature a sunken bathtub except for the more expensive Club Suites. In addition, the smallest rooms (category ‘serai’) come with a queen-sized bed and not a kind-sized bed.
- Rooms are advertised on the hotel’s official website as offering “views of the sparkling waters, vibrant gardens and dramatic mountains”. However, while some rooms probably have great views, my Deluxe Room looked out onto a dull, small, walled garden next to the parking lot. However, I would not take the room view too much into consideration when booking a room at The Chedi as you will not spend that much time in your room anyway. Nevertheless, a more adequate description of the view from the room on the hotel’s website would have been appreciated (to set the expectation right).
- Although The Chedi enjoys a very central location in the Omani capital, that doesn’t mean you can start exploring the city by foot. There is very little of interest in the area immediately surrounding the hotel. When you want to visit Muscat’s main tourist attractions or venture out of the resort for dinner, you will need to take a cab. However, taxis are reasonably priced, and I quite liked being away from the hustle of the town.
- The 370 m (1200 ft) long beach is not Muscat’s best and not particularly attractive as it’s composed of rather grubby-looking sand, with a junk yard and dirty waste land on one side and a large factory on the other side. The good news though is that the beach is completely private and walled (so you don’t get to see the neighboring areas). In addition, the sun-beds are well-spaced, offering great views of the waves.
- While The Chedi justly ranks as Muscat’s most elegant and exclusive resort, its setting is not nearly as dramatic as that of its only competitors in town, the Shangri-La Al Husn and Al Bustan Palace hotels, which are both nestled between the sea and rugged mountains (reflecting the breathtaking scenery that Oman is famous for).
- Children are welcome but there are no special facilities or activities for the little VIP guests, and families may use the Serai pool only.
- Location: 7/10
- Design: 10/10
- Rooms: 8/10
- Food: 9/10
- Service: 10/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8,8/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like The Chedi Muscat (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, free breakfast, a 50-minute massage for up to two guests per stay, early check-in, late check-out, and roundtrip airport transfers).
- If you want to have a room with a terrace and/or bathtub, you will need to book one of the more expenisive Club Suites, which represent the hotel’s highest room category.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
COMPARISON WITH OTHER LUXURY HOTELS IN MUSCAT
While Oman’s most impressive hotels – Six Senses Zighy Bay and Alila Jabal Akhdar – are located far away from the Omani capital, most travelers will spend at least a few days in Muscat. If you like to stay in luxury in Muscat, you only have 3 choices (so far):
- The Chedi Muscat is definitely the most elegant and stylish resort in the greater Muscat area (with prices to match). One of the great things about The Chedi is that the resort has 3 magnificent pools, two of them being adults only, making it a great choice for a couples gateway. In addition, The Chedi has some of the best fine dining venues of all resorts in Oman. However, The Chedi’s location is not nearly as dramatic as the one of the Al Bustan Palace and Shangri-La Al Husn, and its beach is rather unattractive. Nevertheless, if resort esthetics and exquisite food are of upmost importance to you (and chances are they are since you are following my blog), then you should not think further and book a stay here.
- Al Bustan Palace, currently managed by the Ritz-Carlton group, impresses its guests with a phenomenal lobby and spectacular resort grounds. It’s located on the most beautiful stretch of beach in and around Muscat (and far beyond), and that beach is for private use of its guests only which makes it even better. Last year, a spectacular Six Senses spa was added to the resort. However, Al Bustan Palace’s communal facilities are older, the accommodations are a bit worn, and the resort has not a separate adults only area. Still, if you are looking for a holiday in a unique setting along one of Oman’s most beautiful beaches, then Al Bustan Palace is your best choice. Read my review of Al Bustan Palace here.
- Shangri-La Al Husn somewhat combines the best elements of the The Chedi and Al Bustan Palace (although without outclassing The Chedi’s design or Al Bustan Palace’s beach setting). It enjoys a lovely coastal cliff setting, has a nice and private beach, only caters to adults (tranquility guaranteed!), has many good restaurant on site, offers nice free amenties (such as afternoon tea and predinner coctails) and features a contemporary resort design influenced by Arabian elements. Having said that, while it a definitely a 5-star resort, it still feels a tad less exclusive as compared to The Chedi. Read my review of Shangri-La Al Husn here.
BEST TIME TO VISIT MUSCAT
The best time to visit Muscat is during the winter months (October to March). The average temperature during the day is about 30 degree Celsius while the nights are cooler with the temperature dropping down to an average of 15 degree Celsius. Days are sunny most of the time (although recent years have seen an increase of the number of overcast or rainy days). Summer season (April to September) is extremely hot and humid and very unsuitable for travel. The average temperature during this season peaks up to an average of 40 degree Celsius. Sometimes the temperature can go as high as 50 degree Celsius during the day.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Chedi Muscat is located a 20 min drive from Muscat International Airport. Check the Wikipedia page of Muscat International Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Muscat.