The Chedi Muscat offers laid-back seaside luxury in Oman's capital - Hotel Insider

Dive into the sultanate at this sun-kissed retreat that's home to the country's longest swimming pool

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A stalwart in Oman’s luxury travel scene, The Chedi Muscat has been welcoming guests for nearly two decades — and it will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2023.

Renovated in 2019, when new suites and rooms with terraces were added, the hotel promises a stunning seaside stay and has a superb reputation in the sultanate. The National paid a visit to see if the GHM hotel is still worth the hype.

The welcome

In the heart of Muscat, just off 18th November Street, the drive into The Chedi Muscat sets the tone for a distinct change of pace. Leafy palm trees line the driveway and the white-walled resort sits on top of the road like a peaceful sanctuary waiting to whisk us away from the city.

Valet staff quickly take the car, our luggage is carried away and we’re ushered inside the low-rise building where the most divine smelling frankincense wafts towards us from a traditional incense burner. The lobby appears as if it is a tented majlis, with huge white drapes, low Arabian-style seating and Omani dates and coffee on demand.

Within a few minutes, we’re escorted to our room, where our cases have already been delivered, and receive a detailed overview of the hotel’s facilities, restaurants and activities to help us get our bearings in this 21-acre resort.

The neighbourhood

This sprawling property has expansive gardens and a private beachfront, as well as a luxury spa and several dining outlets. If you do want to venture further afield the city is right on your doorstep. The Mall of Oman, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and the Royal Opera House are all around a 10-minute drive away.

The safety measures

Oman has recently dropped all Covid-19 safety measures. On our visit, masks were still mandatory in indoor public places, but guests were not required to wear them in restaurants or when outdoors.

The room

Chedi Club Suites offer views of the ocean or the hotel's myriad water features.

We’re in a Chedi Club Suite that is both understated and impressive. Reached via a set of stone stairs, we enter into a majlis-style living room, complete with traditional Omani wooden features including window shades that help keep out the mid-day heat.

There's a door leading to a private balcony where a sun lounger and al fresco dining area offer views over the water features. Nothing is flashy, instead it's rustic and entirely welcoming.

The bedroom has a Japanese essence to it thanks to low hanging lanterns and a bed that appears to float in the middle of the room. Through another door is a huge darkened bathroom, with his and hers sinks on opposite sides of the room, a rainforest shower, toilet and inviting sunken Jacuzzi-style bathtub.

The scene

This hotel is geared towards high end travel. It's home to Oman's longest swimming pool — an impressive 103 metres — a shaded family pool and a beachfront pool with huge cabana daybeds. Two of the pools are reserved for adults only, so it's great for couples seeking a romantic stay.

The resort is the brainchild of French starchitect Jean-Michel Gathy. And, after almost 20 years, the hotel remains a gorgeous fusion of chic coastal living, Omani architecture and Asian influences.

A 370-metre stretch of private coastline provides direct access to the ocean and while it’s not the most pristine beach we’ve ever strolled on, it captures Oman’s rugged spirits, with crashing waves spilling onto the shore as seagulls call overhead.

The hotel’s spa offers a varied menu of massages, body treatments, restorative baths, facials and beauty services.

We try the Moroccan Rhassoul Envelopment which is based on traditional Middle Eastern treatments.

During the two-hour treatment, we're exfoliated, polished, bathed and massaged with eucalyptus-scented black soap, rose water, Moroccan rhassoul mud and argan oil in what can only be described as the ultimate pamper session while sipping peppermint tea overlooking the ocean below.

Elsewhere, there's a large fitness suite where guests can join complimentary yoga classes, a gift shop with a well-curated selection of souvenirs, handicrafts and essentials and a Club Lounge and courtyard, exclusively for guests staying in club rooms.

The food

All guests can enjoy complimentary daily breakfast at The Restaurant where the buffet is impressive.

There are several places to eat lunch and dinner and we opt for The Beach House; it is located right on the shoreline and offers dining with a side of the sound of waves and a salty sea breeze.

The menu is seafood-focused and makes the most of the treasures from the Gulf of Oman.

We begin with an artistic amuse bouche from the chef consisting of tuna, avocado puree, caviar pearls and more all served on a bed of ice. For starters, we opt for the crusted tuna carpaccio served with mango ($36), an unlikely but harmonious pairing, and the scallops with green pea and leek fondue ($40) which are cooked well and have an enjoyable smoky flavour.

The Beachhouse serves a creative seafood menu accompanied by panoramic views of the Gulf of Oman. Photo: GHM Hotels

We share the seafood platter ($62) as a main course and, with a couple of sides, it's more than enough for two. With tasty tiger prawns, delicate kingfish, perfectly cooked snapper and wild Omani lobster — it is perfection, enhanced beautifully by the seaside setting.

Dessert is a trio of three: creme brulee, knafeh and chocolate cake delivered to our table and it's a delicious end to a very enjoyable meal.

The service

The Chedi Muscat offers laid-back Omani luxury. Photo: GHM Hotels

Friendly, accommodating and efficient when it matters most, although it's quite laid-back Omani-style at other times. Staff keep sun seekers topped up with ice-cold glasses of water and the spa therapists have magic hands.

The waiter at The Beach House clearly knows the menu inside out, and in the Club Lounge, Akon goes out of his way to ensure everyone is well looked after.

Highs and Lows

The bed in our room at The Chedi Muscat was so comfortable we took to naming it 'the cloud'. Photo: GHM Hotels / Victor Romero

The cloud-like bed is one of the most comfortable we've slept in and the turn down service leaves the room cool and dark for your return so you can sink straight into it. There's also something decidedly tranquil about a stay here, and the resort envelops you in its serenity without you even really noticing.

There are two main lows.

Due to its beachfront location, the hotel attracts seagulls and with it, remnants of their lunch. We spot bits of dead fish, rice and other foreign objects floating in the long pool and while it might be natural, it really needs to be removed from the water more often.

Secondly, the sheer number of plastic bottles being used in the rooms is a low — in 2022, five-star hotels need to do better when it comes to options for drinking water.

The insider tip

The Chedi Club Suite Terrace overlooking the beach is the best pick for a stay at The Chedi Muscat.

Book a club suite. It will cost you a bit more but is worth it as you will have return airport transfers, daily afternoon tea and evening cocktails and canape hour, plus a complimentary minibar that's restocked each day.

Request a sea-facing suite to really make the most of the hotel’s beachfront location — the hotel's myriad water features are nice but can't compare with the ocean.

The verdict

A long-time favourite that’s still worth a visit especially after its revamp. While it might command higher rates than some of its neighbours, The Chedi Muscat delivers something that little bit special.

The bottom line

Rooms at The Chedi Muscat start from Omani Riyals 110 ($290), including taxes and breakfast. Check-in is from 2pm and check-out is at noon.

The Chedi Muscat - a GHM hotel; 113 18th November Street Muscat, Oman; ghmhotels.com

Updated: June 03, 2022, 10:14 AM
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