The 68-storey hotel, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, is a startling structure. It takes my driver, who doesn’t work for the hotel, more than an hour to reach it from the King Faisal Highway opposite, thanks to traffic, the under-construction nature of the area and poor signage. Yet the entrance to the hotel is spectacular, as the hotel transitions from its ultra-modern neo-Brutalist exterior into what resembles an art deco cruise liner. The lobby is cavernous and filled with eight mature olive trees, 1920s-style plaster reliefs, original artworks and a piano-and-violin duo. I’m staying in a one-bedroom suite, so check-in takes place there.
The hotel is situated somewhat surreally on its own 12-acre private island in the middle of the newly constructed Bahrain Bay. Most of the plots surrounding the island are still being developed. It takes about 10 minutes to walk around the island, and the manicured gardens and pools are a pleasure to be in. It’s about 15 minutes’ drive to the airport and 10 minutes to downtown Manama.
The hotel has 273 rooms, including 57 suites, and all rooms are situated between floors 11 and 28. At 47 square metres, standard rooms are spacious. There are no balconies and none of the huge windows open. Thick carpets in the bedrooms, Murano glass chandeliers and lacquered panelling create a feel that’s both luxurious and practical. Bathrooms are a whirl of marble and mirrors. My room is a 94-square-metre deluxe suite, featuring a reception area, gorgeous marble-floored hallway and dressing area and a separate living room. It’s one of the few hotel rooms I missed when I returned home.
Telephone requests are dealt with professionally and quickly, and service in the two Wolfgang Puck restaurants is excellent. Things are less assured at the buffet breakfast in the Bahrain Bay Kitchen, an all-day dining restaurant, where not all staff are on the button.
Most of the hotel guests are from Saudi Arabia; other diners in the restaurants are mainly Bahrain residents or businesspeople, yet the hotel has a very sophisticated, international feel.
The breakfast is disappointing and not quite up to the usual Four Seasons standards. At Re Asian Cuisine on the 50th floor, the menu is exciting and tempting – the Assam seafood curry with rice costs 17 Bahraini dinars (Dh166), but is delicious and enough for two to share. At Cut by Wolfgang Puck, on the lobby level and first floor but still enjoying a view over Manama, think slick and tasty: steaks from 17 dinars (Dh166) for a New York sirloin to 68 dinars (Dh662) for a Japanese Wagyu rib-eye.
My room and the spa, where I have a 90-minute “invigorating oud” treatment (79 dinars [Dh770]): a massage with oud oil, distilled from agarwood, and a thermal algae mask for the spine. It’s subtle but supremely relaxing and energising.
I wake up at 3am on the first night to a high-pitched whistling, which I’m later told is wind hitting the building.
A new landmark for Bahrain and a luxury retreat well worth a splurge for the rest of us.
The bottom line
Double rooms at the Four Seasons Bahrain Bay, Manama, Bahrain (www.fourseasons.com/bahrain; 00973 1711 5000) cost from 145 dinars (Dh1,413) per night, including taxes and Wi-Fi, but excluding breakfast.
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