REVIEW: The Chedi, Muscat

Mentioning The Chedi Muscat to anyone who’s ever visited seems to invoke a stream of positive feedback. “Oh, it’s incredible,” is a common one. “Amazing”, “exquisite” and “I love it!” are others.

In fact, I’d heard so many good things about the place I was ready to arrive and see it through “It can’t be that good” eyes. But walking into the gorgeous, cavernous lobby I was sold on the spot. And that was before I wandered out into the hotel’s 85,000 square metres of garden-like grounds.

Edging on to crystal clear serene waters of the Gulf of Oman and parked in front of the majestic Al Hajar Mountains, the Chedi stands in all its bright white glory, a palace that is home to 158 Omani influenced guestrooms and villas.

Stepping carefully over the gaps between each thick white slab of stone that formed the path from the reception to the suite I was staying in, I felt myself slow right down. I had to take longer strides, and think about each step, as though I was gently navigating lily pads across a pond. I heard later from an interior designer that this is actually a deliberate design detail to make you consciously slow down. It worked!

Arriving at my ground-floor-sea-view suite, the entrance room was a super chic living space equipped with a huge TV, a wrap-around sofa and bundles of treats – decanted mini-bar, jars of dried fruits, roasted nuts and neon macaroons in one corner, a stack of magazines (I assume to take to the pool) in another. The bedroom was a calming haven of muted tones, dark wood and pristine white sheets gleaming in the natural light that spilled through the large, sea-facing windows.

The bathroom is always the last thing you see in a hotel room, isn’t it? Here, they deliberately make it a saved-until-last feature positioned at the other end of the bedroom behind shutter doors. Inside, there’s a large shower room, two sinks, two wardrobes and a generous stock of Acqua Di Parma products. But the big reveal was a colossal marble tub. Deeper than the foundations of Dubai’s latest skyscraper, it might well take all weekend to fill up.

Outside the room, there is a 13-suite Balinese spa, three swimming pools (one of which is the well-known 103-metre-long pool), a 400-square metre health club, plus six restaurants, two lounges and a gorgeous boutique to explore.

I started with lunch – a hearty Caesar salad and iced tea – at the beachside restaurant, before rolling onto a massive Bali bed by the infinity pool over-looking the sea. This is where I stayed until I felt suitably sun-tinged and relaxed.

At night, the hotel glows thanks to strategic floor lights, sprinkling of candles and bursts of open fire that enhance the night sky and open sea view, rather than envelop it. The whole scene is enchanting.

The next morning, I finished my stay by hopping over more stone slabs to the 1,500-square-metre spa for a relaxing four-handed massage. My stay was short and sweet, but leaving I felt like I’d joined the Chedi club – a body of people singing the hotel’s praises for all to hear until the next time.

One activity that’s recommended is dolphin watching in the Gulf of Oman, where you might even catch a whale or two. Reef and wreck diving and snorkelling among the Gulf’s colourful coral and marine life is also on offer. You can even book a private sail boat for the day.

The hotel’s main restaurant, called simply The Restaurant, is the culinary highlight and serves up a menu of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian and Indian cuisine from a transparent kitchen in its centre. The international mix of dishes is complimented by the Asian and Omani design touches crafted by Japanese interior designer, Yasuhiro Koichi of Spin design studio.

I opted for the selection of sashimi to start, followed by a delicious pistachio-crusted tuna steak. The restaurant attracts locals as well as guests and it feels very relaxed for a fine-dining experience.

When it comes to breakfast room service is encouraged. Order eggs, mushrooms, beef bacon, a fruit platter, coffee and juices to your own terrace – all tasting better scoffed in a dressing gown.

What we liked: The relaxing, homely ambience and the incredible attention to detail.
What we didn’t: There wasn’t enough time to run the bath.

Price: OMR192 per night for a Serai Room
To book: +968 24 52 44 01

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