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City Guide: Muscat

Indulge in the opulence of the Omani capital’s finest stays as you traverse the Frankincense Route

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” -Gustav Flaubert

Muscat is Oman's largest metropolitan city and its port capital. Rich with history and charm, it dates back to antiquity. Chic malls merge with a plethora of old historic waterside landmarks like the 16th-century Portuguese forts, Al Jalali and Mirani, which loom over beautiful Muscat Harbour.

Muscat sits on the Gulf of Oman, surrounded by the rocky Western Al Hajar Mountains and desert that dominate the scenic landscape.  Mixing old and new architecture and design, there are a few high-rise blocks and even functional buildings are required to reflect tradition and elegence with a dome or an arabesque window. This leaves the city a fascinating, charming and whimsical place to discover.

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” -Gustav Flaubert

Where to stay

The Chedi Muscat, North Ghubra, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman


A fusion of contemporary Asian-style minimalism and nuanced Omani tradition, The Chedi Muscat evokes a nirvana-like serenity amid the dramatic backdrop of the Hajar mountains. Walking through the hotel’s capacious halls through its arabesque arches, along the white stucco domes and arches, through the Zen-landscaped gardens, along the stretch of private beach as the waves of the adjacent ocean lap against the shoreline, you’re immersed in a moment of splendid escapism. The property is the fruit of renowned designer Jean-Michael Gathy’s creative juices. 


Replete with its own private beach near Al Ghubra, The Chedi Muscat is located on a sprawling 21-acres of land just 20 minutes north of the bustling 5,000-year-old city of the Omani capital. The resort features 158 rooms and suites that offer magnificent views of the surrounding Hajar mountains and the picturesque Gulf of Oman. The suites, which are offered as both single- and double-storied, centre around the water-feature gardens and the Zen landscaped gardens, offering a calm setting. In keeping with the resort’s Eastern influence, The Spa at Chedi — the largest in Muscat — embraces Eastern philosophy with Asian oriental rituals; it offers an extensive variety of beauty rituals based on the holistic principles of aromatherapy, Ayurveda and herbalism. 


Tel: +968 2452 4400

The Chedi Muscat’s serenity is created by the imaginative design of its pristine buildings and manicured grounds. A confluence of elegant touches of traditional Omani architecture and Asian-inspired motif envelopes the property with an aura of elegant simplicity. The symmetry of the gardens and ordered pools provide a peaceful backdrop that fashions an air of restful, sophisticated style. The hotel’s entrance is an enchanting white stucco building of arches and domes resembling a grand Omani palace.

Where to eat

The Beach 

Everything about this fine Arabian dining experience at The Chedi Muscat oozes class. The atmospheric fire pits, low-lighting and rich wood décor, all in a rustic beachside setting. Its flamboyant seafood dishes sourced daily from local fishermen directly from the sea you overlook while eating have seen this fine eatery pick up many an award. The degustation menu comes highly recommended. The hotel features five additional dining outlets offering Arabian, Asian, Indian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Al Angham

Being a neighbor to the imperious Royal Opera House brings expectations with it. And this high-end, authentic Omani restaurant hits the high notes. Stylish and elegant, with its silver and intricately engraved wooden décor, this delectable dining experience puts refined and distinctively Omani cuisine in the spotlight. 


There’s steak. And then there’s an Asado steak. The most succulent cuts from across the world including, of course, Argentina, cooked perfectly to individual preference at the Sheraton Oman, matched to a range of fine wines: a satisfyingly luxurious and fulfilling dining option.

Where to stay

Shangri-La Al Husn Resort & Spa PO Box 644, Muscat 100, Sultanate of Oman


Like the native Steppe Eagle perched atop a mountain espying its prey, the Shangri-La Al Husan Resort and Spa sits, nestled on a cliff top overlooking the sparkling blue waters of the Arabian Sea. Its grand, fortress-like architecture pays homage to the historic architecture of the Sultanate’s plethora of forts that lie scattered across the land, and that speak of its tribal and colonial heritage. Al Husan — meaning “castle” — is a conceptual hybrid of Moorish, Alhambra design, which evokes the Portuguese influence in Oman’s cultural architecture. 


Immersing you in the abounding natural spring of the Gulf coastline, all of the 180 luxury rooms face the sea. The 12 one-bedroom suites and the four ultra-high-end Speciality and Royal Suites offer that extra special panache and grandeur befitting the regal milieu of the resort. Besides the dazzle of its mesmerising infinity pool that creates the illusion that you’re directly connected with the ocean, falls and the serenity of the resort’s private beach, the on-site Omani Heritage Village gives this fortified haven a cultural poignancy. Preserved local culture and architectural heritage blend into the remarkable landscape. The first of its kind, the Heritage Village provides a first-hand glimpse of a traditional Omani lifestyle.  


Tel: +968 2477 6388

Where to drink

Piano Lounge

Fresh on the eye as toothpaste on the tongue, this swanky setting at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort’s white and aquamarine colour scheme offers a relaxed quaff in a classy environment with live music and a beach view. Live music every night from the namesake’s black and white keys offers you a civilised relaxing spot in the Omani capital.

John Barry

A chic and stylish venue, John Barry is popular among residents for both after-work drinks and quick bites. The lounge boasts a relaxed atmosphere, and is known for its mixologist creations and tapas. The view from the private terrace takes in the hotel’s landscaped gardens, the Hajar Mountains and the Arabian Sea. 

On the Rocks 

Strangely, it does feel like you’re swimming in a tumbler of ice, as though you yourself are on the rocks in this chilled repository of drinks and good nibbles. Occupying a middle ground between restaurant, bar and lounge, On the Rocks goes from chilled vibes to rocking nightclub. Live music from DJs adds an extra bounce to nights here.

Where to stay

Grand Hyatt Muscat, Shatti Al Qurm, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman


It lives up to its name in every sense: Grand. The golden exterior, and even more gold extravagance inside, glimmering and shimmering from every angle, owes much to an Arabian Nights-style aesthetic, with its tales of palaces oozing sumptuous luxury. And that’s precisely what you get with the art-deco stained glass and golden sparkle, especially its spectacular façade. Reportedly designed by an Arabian Prince, luxury echoes from each footstep you take in this enormous Bedouin citadel of a resort.


With its emphasis on lavish relaxation, the Hyatt’s six 350-sqft two- and three-bedroom Crown suites and the Ubar Royal Suite offer balconied rooms that are capacious and extravagant in equal measure, with unimpeded views of the rugged Hajar Mountains and Gulf waters. The resort offers a range of treatments at its on-site beauty and wellness centre. And the Safari Rooftop Grill House offers divine seafood and grilled fare while overlooking the Gulf of Oman.


Tel: +968 2464 1234

Where to explore

Royal Opera House Muscat 

Black ties and red carpets. Pliés and booming tenors. Hushed, sophisticated conversation permeating the room: a night at the opera is a traditional opulence that echoes through the years. And ROHM’s range of performance arts from Tchaikovsky’s immortal ballet Swan Lake to Britain’s national treasure Cliff Richard, to the latest in native Arabic operatic art offers the cultured traveller a lot to get excited about. This is also where the country’s own acclaimed philharmonic orchestra is based. 

Nature watch

With its unspoiled coastline and surrounding bays, many resorts offer boating enthusiasts, anglers and divers a chance to explore the waters of the Gulf at the city’s marina and dive centre. Take out a privately chartered boat to dolphin and whale watch, and delight in the setting sun as it disappears beneath the Arabian horizon each evening. There’s also the Ras Al Jinz nature reserve where you can witness the nesting of the endangered green turtle. It’s touted as one of the most important sites worldwide. 

Get into the swing

Little known to many, Muscat has a burgeoning golf tourism industry. And what pristine courses they are. You could practically eat your dinner off the greens. Muscat Hills, Almouj and Ghala Golf clubs offer luscious greens amid the peaceful desert hush.

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