A driver from The Regency picks me up in a black limousine that has Wi-Fi, a welcome touch for travellers without roaming plans. After a 15-minute drive, we pull up to a somewhat imposing neoclassical facade that is the hotel’s conference centre, reminiscent of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Once past that, I’m guided through a metal detector into the grand, marble-arched lobby with a glass atrium, lightly scented by bukhoor and with a towering fresh-flower arrangement. Seated at a desk, I’m checked in with friendly efficiency.
Located off a busy road in Salmiya, about a 20-minute drive from the Kuwait Towers and The Avenues mall, you probably won’t walk anywhere, unless you want to visit the neighbouring Mövenpick’s mix of retail and restaurants. The hotel’s better side faces the Gulf, with a pool terrace and a stretch of lawn overlooking its beach.
My deluxe room with a sea view is nothing short of First Lady-like, with pale-yellow walls, antique-style furnishings and windows draped with gold and burgundy silk curtains. The bathroom, well-stocked with Asprey products, is a suite in itself, a talking point even by this region’s standards: it’s lined entirely in black-and-white marble, including the rainshower room with its own floor-to-ceiling mirror and marble bench.
Being Sharia-compliant, The Regency is popular with travellers from around the region, with a mix of men on business and families at the weekends. The main pool area, which requires “conservative” swimwear, isn’t nearly as busy as the fenced-in ladies-only pool, with its own lounge and small private beach.
As the only Kuwaiti-owned five-star property here, The Regency has a family-run feel about it, in that its staff seem keen to provide out-of-the-way service with a personal touch. The servers in the main restaurant greet me by name after my first breakfast and, when I ask about where to buy postcards, the concierge offers me a choice (with scenes of Kuwait; not the usual hotel-branded ones) and mailed one to Canada for me free of charge.
The main Silk Road restaurant puts on a top-notch buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner (prices range from 8 Kuwaiti dinars (Dh104) for breakfast to 18 dinars (Dh234) for Friday brunch or dinner). It has a large range of Middle Eastern, Indian and European food, including a cooking station, with special attention paid to desserts by the French pastry chef. The recently opened Balsamico restaurant features higher-end Italian food for dinner every night except Sunday. A favourite is the homemade ravioli with spinach and ricotta cheese in a Gorgonzola sauce (5.50 dinars [Dh72]).
The bed is so comfortable that I’m reluctant to get out of it. The secret? Feather pillows from Germany and 650-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets.
Although coffee is available in the executive lounge down the hall, my room lacks a Nespresso machine, which seems to have become a standard at many hotels of this calibre.
This is a hotel for people who like their luxury unique. The Regency is a historic Kuwaiti landmark with old-school charm (the hotel opened in 1981 and, after being damaged in the Gulf War, it was reopened after an extensive renovation in 2008); plus its ladies-only pool and lounge make it perfect for a women’s shopping weekend.
The bottom line
Rates start from 86 dinars (Dh1,119) per night, including tax and breakfast for two; Al Bida'a, Al Tawoon Street, Salmiya; www.theregencykuwait.com; 00965 2576 6666.
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