With the new addition to the W Hotels group opening in Oman’s capital earlier this Autumn, it’s the perfect excuse to finally make that visit over to Muscat and explore the culturally rich city while unwinding in the glorious hotel.
A neighbour for UAE dwellers, there’s simply no excuse to not visit the coastal country. There are regular flights that don’t require saving up for or it’s a five-hour drive to Muscat for road-trip enthusiasts, and the beautiful landscape and rich culture is not one to skip.
And with the opening of W Muscat – the beachfront hotel that’s set against the stunning backdrop of the rugged Al Hajar Mountains and which sits at the intersection of the bustling Shatti Al Qurum area – we take it as the perfect opportunity to explore both the newly-opened hotel and long-established city.
And here are five reasons why you need to make the trip, too.
On our drive towards the W Muscat, we already know we’re in store for excellent service, beautiful surroundings and a quirky yet comfortable home for the weekend. But despite our expectations being high, we’re still in awe over the incredible interior design. In fact, it might be the first time ever we haven’t been in a rush to get to our beds upon arrival as there’s much to be mesmerised by on the way from the lobby to our rooms.
The design draws guests in by capturing the explorative nature and the storytelling tradition of the nomadic Bedouin traveller, being likewise a narrative of the nature that surrounds the hotel. Take, for example, the nine-ton frankincense tree sculpture designed by renowned artist Pongsatat Uaiklang that stands out front, welcoming guests upon arrival. The 10 meters tall, stainless steel work of art pays tribute to Omani culture; frankincense was traditionally used to bless and welcome tiresome travellers after long journeys. The mix of local tradition and surrounding nature-inspired decor with the W’s renown style makes for an aesthetically pleasing location both inside the hotel and out.
Of course, this attention to detail carries over into the room – we stay in the king-sized Wonderful Room. Switching it up from the charming chaos that greeted us upon entrance, the décor in the hotel room is calming and soothing – and the ocean view does everything to help that.
Oman is known for its sensational landscape, and whether you want to hike up the mountains or head out on a photography mission, there is plenty of natural beauty to capture.
The landscape of the city is dominated by rocky mountains which are a marvel whether you walk beneath them or climb to take in the view from the top – some popular hiking routes include Riyam-Muttrah, Jebel Shams and Al Wakan Village.
Muscat also lies on the Arabian Sea along the Gulf of Oman, meaning sea views, beaches and fresh sea air is in abundance. And with temperatures still warm but generally lower than the UAE (mostly within the late twenties and thirties) it makes for the perfect climate to actually enjoy a day on the beach.
There are also must-visit wadis such as Wadi Al Arbeieen and Wadi Bani Khalid and blooming natural parks like Qurum Natural Park that cement Muscat as a destination for outdoorsy folk who can’t get enough or stunning natural landscapes.
Muscat is a city filled with cultural gems and is a vastly different image from the likes of Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s town centre. The city is laced with old castles and forts, many of which are open for tourists to explore. In the centre of town is the stunning Muttrah Fort which sits up top a mountain for the city below to see, watching over both the harbour of Muttrah and the road to Old Muscat. The structure dates back to the 16th century, and not only is it beautiful to explore once inside with both a city and sea view from the top, but the stair climb is a noble pursuit in calorie burning too.
Elsewhere, there are historical sites such as Bait Al Maqham Castle and the Mirani Fort. Other noteworthy places to visit include the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Al Alam Palace, The National Museum, Ghalya’s Museum of Modern Art and the Mutrah Souq.
But it’s not all old buildings and Instagram-worthy views – Muscat is home to a budding nightlife scene too. And the great news is, if you stay at the W Muscat, there’s so much happening on your doorstep. In October 2019, the hotel opened a Siddharta Lounge by Buddha-Bar. The rooftop bar is sleek and stylish with weekly live music and regular performances from internationally acclaimed artists along with a series of concept nights. It’s a worthy destination for foods and drinks as well as music.
Elsewhere in the hotel is the Living Room (which sounds like our idea of an evening of fun) which is another social setting to enjoy the interiors of the hotel while trying a delectable mix of beverages. Like in any home, the Living Room plays the heart of the hotel. Brunch lovers, look out for the Candypants brunch that makes a Friday appearance at the WET pool now and again.
Although you’ll have everything you for a great evening when you book in with the W Muscat, if you feel like venturing out of another evening, the night out haunts in town include Al-Ghazal Pub, Copacabana, Left Bank and Piano Lounge.
To us, a holiday mostly about overindulging on food… If you think the way we do, then you’re in luck when you stay here. As well as plenty of restaurants around the city centre, the hotel has a handful of unmissable dining establishments, too.
A vast buffet breakfast and lunch is served daily at Harvest (which we naturally really make the most of) and dinner options are served at CHAR. The latter is set over two floors both in the cool and serene interior and overlooking the luxurious pool below. Expect an extensive mix of global dishes, succulent prime steak and a selection of grilled meats and vegetables along with superb service.
And anything else in between? Food and beverage is served both poolside at the Wet Deck bar, while room service is 24 hours.
For more information on exploring the W Muscat, call +968 22 120000 or visit marriott.com.