If my memory serves me well and my childhood visits to see family in India are anything to go by, then we, as a family, always had a tendency to try and avoid booking indirect flight options where feasible. After all, if a direct route is affordable, available and price comparable for a long haul adventure, then surely there can be no good reason to prolong an already stretchy journey.
Or can there?
A couple of years ago, when we stopped off in Abu Dhabi en route to the Seychelles, my perspective on stopovers changed. It lent an opportunity to see a new destination without any extra effort and allowed me to reacquaint myself with the Middle East; it eased the jet-lag trajectory, added a contrasting dimension to our otherwise water-predominant holiday and showed us one of the most gleaming mosques we have ever seen, our number one Abu Dhabi highlight.
This year, therefore, after a hectic five days of Indian wedding debauchery, we used the stopover plan as the handiest excuse going to indulge in another luxurious Arabian adventure – Hello Oman!
When I put out some tweets for Oman hotel recommendations, raving reviews arose time and again for the Shangri-la, Ritz Carlton (we had loved Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi) and the Chedi. After much deliberation, we chose Shangri-la, having previously had wonderful experiences at their Myanmar and Borneo hotels but that wasn’t the end of the hotel decision-making. With 3 entirely separate Shangri-la resorts all within one gigantic area of land and all falling under the one umbrella of Shangri-la Barr al Jissah in Oman, the next step was selecting which one most aptly suited our travel style.
Al Waha seemed the cheapest of the three resorts and the price difference was more than marginal so where cost is the primary focus, Al Waha is the one to go for. Al Husn swings the other, calling out to the luxury lovers and offering an impressive range of exclusive additional touches but thereby charging a hefty price tag in the process. And that leaves Al Bandar, the sandwich filling that lies somewhere diplomatically between the two. You could call it the Swiss cheese (spot the political joke?!) It’s that hour of the day, where silliness beckons, as I write this blog post.
A little tip to make the Shangri-la Al Husn stay more affordable is that if you are in Oman on a stopover and flying with Oman Air, then look at booking your hotel through Oman Air Holidays, as they frequently throw in a complimentary night’s stay.
With two of my school friends bellowing praises about their time at Al Husn, our minds were made up. Was the Al Husn resort worth the splurge though? Here are 10 reasons why it absolutely was:
The Shangri-la Al Husn, Oman
Who knows whether the lazy river at the Shangri-la is pitched at big people or little people but I doubt anyone at the resort was more excited by it than I was. Not a single day of the trip passed without us grabbing an available inflatable donut and floating around the elliptical lazy loop in a languorous lull, cajoled along by the currents (eventually cajoled anyway, as it somehow took me 15 minutes each time to actually get moving, by which time Pumpkin had long given up waiting for me and was barely a figment of a human contour in the distance.) Somehow or the other, on a lazy river that even 6-year-old children seemed to be mastering, I managed to find myself in a pickle with how to initiate the whole drifting process?!
Whichever one of the Shangri-la hotels you choose to stay in, the good news is that the lazy river is free to be enjoyed by all.
Private Infinity Pool
The lazy river might not be exclusive to Al Husn guests but you will not even remotely begrudge that when you see the dreamy infinity pool that is.
With a pool of such magnitude offering up a sanctuary of relief from the Arabian sun, there is no excuse not to get some laps in and stay fit (although I still found one); but if your lethargic legs start to pay the price from all the hiking between sun lounger and beach, then feel free to rest and recuperate in the hot tub immediately adjacent to the pool, smug in the knowledge that this particular pool vantage point is for you and your newfound Al Husn friends only.
Private Beach and Cove
The more robust sea-creatures among you, who prefer submerging your semi-clad selves into Earth’s natural waters rather than man’s chlorinated ones, will be pleased to learn that Al Husn guests have a private little stretch of the beach exclusively for themselves, partially lined by sweeping, pastel yellow rock formations, which are strangely reminiscent of the recently fallen (sob sob) Azure window in Gozo.
The beachside loungers are like gold dust in peak season (metaphorically and literally since the Omani beach sands do look freakishly like gold dust) so if you want a prime location beachside bed for the day, leapfrog out of bed early and mark your territory in that way we all know and hate with your fluffy beach towel and an almost-empty bottle of sun lotion chucked on top. It was all too reminiscent of trying to find a parking space at Sainsbury’s in Christmas week but the staff are always more than happy to try and accommodate you somewhere
Complimentary Afternoon Tea
You already know I have a penchant for afternoon tea (and if you don’t, a cursory glimpse at my tea and cake page will leave you with no doubts) but over at Al Husn, they serve you up a full, 3 tiered afternoon tea EVERY DAY. Yes, you’re not in the midst of a sordid cake fantasy – I did in fact say every day.
Not only can you stuff your face with an array of sandwiches, savoury snacks, scones and patisserie offerings every afternoon but it just so happens that it’s all included in your room rate so make space in your bellies as there are no additional indentations on the wallet for this.
The setting for afternoon tea is quite unlike anywhere I have ever seen in the UK – on an outdoor terrace overlooking the beach and ocean so my tip is to arrive early if you want to bag yourselves a table with the best views.
This is the second time that I have come across a hotel offering this tradition (the first being Kayumanis, Bali) and I have to say, I could get used to it!
Even better news is the fact that the complimentary food and drink fun doesn’t stop there. Allow me to tempt you by the complimentary minibar, in which all food and drinks (alcoholic and soft) are restocked every day and with no extra charge. Let’s just say that Pumpkin ensured no Ferrero Rocher went neglected and that a few tins of Pringles and nuts are sitting cosily in our larder here in London…
If you’ve seen the hotel room scene with Ross on Friends, then you will know why I was cringing but then if you read about the Ferrero Rocher event I attended, then you will know why I will happily cringe for a free Ferrero Rocher.
Beachside Service ( & Coolboxes)
I didn’t really judge my Mister too much for nabbing the crisps and nuts from the minibar but I did raise a baffled eyebrow when I was unpacking in London and found two mini Evian facial mist sprays in our cases and what is Evian facial mist I hear you ask? Every day, as we headed towards a sun lounger, an astute and extremely hard-working member of poolside staff approached us, laid out our towels, opened up a parasol for us and handed us a cool box topped to the brim with cold drinks, water and Evian face mist.
The face mist may well be the ultimate in superfluous products on the market but boy oh boy, will you yearn for it when the sun leaves you more baked than a potato at school dinners.
And that was only the start of the surprise treats that came our way unexpectedly as we read our books poolside, doing absolutely nothing to deserve them. Other temptations that kept us glued down included the tray of individual sorbet portions hovering in the distance and the poolside watermelon slices, which were quite clearly made for the Instagram generation…
Adult Only Peace and Quiet
The key thing to be aware of if you are heading to Shangri-la Oman with children is that Al Bandar and Al Waha are family friendly resorts and were full of young families when we went. Al Husn is the only one of the three that is adults only.
Now, don’t get me wrong– some of my favourite people in the world happen to be toddlers but not a single day of my working life goes by when I’m not interacting with tiny people. Many are angelic, sitting quietly by Mummy, engaged in their Ipads, forgiving me when I run out of stickers to give them and one of them even once declared that she loved me, slightly catching both myself and her Mother off guard as she did.
But then there is another cohort – these are the ones who can scream out a waiting room, run around the office grabbing (costly and essential) equipment, mistaking the weighing scales for trampolines and mistaking my belly for a football when I try to look at their tonsils. Perhaps you can see why, during my annual leave, I prefer more serene surroundings. 😀
If you drive a hard bargain and still aren’t pleased enough with your complimentary minibar and complimentary afternoon tea, then perhaps the offering of the daily, pre-dinner canapes and drinks might finally win you over.
The drinks are limited to long drinks and soft drinks so no free cocktails, sorry folks, but they were offering bottomless bubbles, although it did make me giggle how the only people taking them up on this were the Brits whilst the French tourists sat elegantly sipping from their one glass of wine for a full hour! 😀
The setting for the reception is, in itself, a class act of romance with a seductive golden glow infiltrating the room whilst live musicians (my favourite being the harpist) provide a soft, entrancing but courteously un-intrusive backdrop.
There is something so mystifying and passionate about a balmy Arabian night and a fiery Arabian dusk and yet, the full six years that I lived in the Arab world, I genuinely cannot recall even a single sunset. I suspect the sun probably did set at least on one occasion whilst I was there so I can only put it down to the fact perhaps sunsets fail to captivate the imaginations of young children.
In Oman, I made up for lost time, as we watched those intense hues engulf us, whilst listening to the sound of the brazen waves, (which I must admit were a little choppy for my swimming desires).
Service & Amenities
You might wondering about the food- was that not swoon-worthy enough to make the post?
Truth be told, the food I sampled did have me swooning in the kind of shrill blogger way that my poor Instagram husband still struggles to cope with but my food swooning-abilities were somewhat impaired by the fact that (as per always), I somehow picked up a bit of a tummy bug in India so whilst I could certainly still eat, I couldn’t eat to the best of my holiday capabilities. Bit of a first world problem wouldn’t you say and possibly not a bad thing given the degree of over-indulgence that tends to go down on a beach holiday and the rather extortionate restaurant prices at the hotel.
Still, with a breakfast where we were treated to both a la carte and buffet options and a room service set up that definitely took my mind off my queasiness, the staff at the Shangri-la went above and beyond at every single opportunity we encountered them.
I was there as a paying guest and no one had any clue I blog yet this level of attentive service seemed to pervade throughout Al Husn.
Then there was the little birthday surprise that the hotel threw my way (birth-DAY shamelessly became birth-MONTH this year) and the extremely sweet exercise instructor from Sri Lanka who clearly took pity on me and showed leniency as I huffed and puffed my way through an 8am *gentle* stretches, still encouraging me to return despite my useless performance!
43 thoughts on “10 Reasons to Swoon Over Shangri-la Al Husn, Oman”
I am definitely a fan of the stopover, especially to break up those hideous long haul flights. They also put more holiday into your holiday, so what’s not to love?
I’m totally sold on them now – like you say Frankie, it’s like a but one get one free offer on holidays so it’s a no brainer right?!
I’m hearing so many great things about Oman at the moment. I think you definitely had us all with lazy river and daily afternoon tea!
It had a totally different feel & scenery to the UAE which I wrongly assumed would have been quite similar being so close by so it’s quite interesting comparing and contrasting the two. Lazy river was more than just a bit addictive Angie!
Ooooh, I’d be in that lazy river all day, every day…
You’ve pretty much summed up my r days there in that one statement Nano! 😀😀
This sounds like a heavenly stopover. I’m desperately now trying to think of somewhere I can go long-haul just to stopover in Oman!
Haha, the Oman air Holidays discount deal makes such a saving on the standard price that I’ve been doing the same myself Suzanne, in looking at what long haul routes I can take in the future that will allow me to stop back here! 😀
The stay sounds incredible, I’m hearing more and more about Oman every day! I do need to get planning I think!
It’s a really picturesque country Raj with no shortage of fabulous hotels to choose from!
Everything looks so amazing! Visiting an infinity pool is definitely on my top 5 things to do list and that one looks absolutely gorgeous ❤ One day..!
Laura // Middle of Adventure
I really enjoyed the infinity pool Laura but the lazy river was so addictive! 😊
Wow! I love the idea of adding a stopover on your way traveling somewhere. I am in New York right nwo and am completely jet lagged from the 10 hour flight and 6 time zone changes and it’s taken me about a week feel like myself again. I am totally swooning over these pictures! Adding to my bucket list.
Oh that sounds exhausting Carolann but I bet you were so excited & glad to be back in New York! I had never really considered adding in stopovers & prolonging the journey deliberately but it’s actually a great way to get a glimpse into another country for a few days & to ease those long journeys & jet lag so I think I’ll be doing it again in the future!
WOW this looks incredible… what a splurge!! I’ve never stayed somewhere so nice, and I don’t actually know I can part with so much money for just a couple of nights. But this looks so nice for a special occassion… you totally had me at complimentary afternoon tea and lazy river! And the beach sand and the rock really do look like gold dust!
I don’t think we’d have been able to justify it at full cost either Anna, as it is a colossal amount of money but with the Oman Air stopover deal which included a free night, it put it into realms of just about ok on my conscience for a one off splurge! 😊 You get a lot of bang for your buck once you’ve paid though so I made sure I took advantage of everything on offer!
I’m all about the stopover – especially during the dreaded flights to/from NZ! Oman seems to be trending on my travelblogger radar at the moment… I might have to consider this for my next stopover destination! Plus… I need to try this lazy river business, and afternoon tea every day?! YES!
Oh my gosh honestly Connie, with breakfast including both la carte & buffet choices and then this free afternoon tea, we didn’t manage to eat lunch on even one of our days so it kind of pays for itself! I think, of the Middle Eastern countries that I’ve visited so far, Oman seems the most beautiful but Abu Dhabi was great for excellent value!
Love a good city stopover on big beach holidays, def the way to go! I keep hearing more and more about Oman at the mo, seems to be the place to visit…
It’s a really nice way to break up 2 completely contrasting bits of holiday isn’t it Keri?! We’ve done it a few times now & it also means you’re far less exhausted when you end up at the faraway destination!
Oman looks gorgeous. I love the architecture and that each looks fantastic. I didn’t know the Azure Window had fallen down! What a shame. 😦
Such a sad loss to Malta isn’t it Katie?! Oman has such a different geological picture & scenery to the other Middle Eastern countries I’ve been to.
Beautiful photographs, I am craving a sunny holiday that’s for sure. Service goes a long way and always good when you have a free mini bar too!
I think it’s the one and only time I’ve ever been to a hotel where the entire minibar was free Laura (food & drink) & where they restock it daily no matter how much you take out of it! Such an indulgent little treat!
Ooh I love a good lazy river and the private beach sounds amazing. My parents have been to Oman and found everyone so friendly
Yes that seemed to be everyone’s verdict when I was researching before I went to Oman – friendly was the word that came up time and again! Was my first time ever in a lazy river Suze & I loved it! 😊
It looks beautiful, Shikha! And I LOVE that they hand out Evian face mists!!! Every hotel in a hot/tropical climate should do that!
I know right?! I think that was one of the products that felt most luxurious Jaime as I literally didn’t even know things like that exist?! Guess I should be grateful Pumpkin shoved the unused ones into our cases!😁
I’m in love with everything about this post Shikha! Oman is top of my wish list and the Shangri-la looks unreal!! I can’t believe they hand out face mist.. so luxurious!
Ash | Liakada
Yeh I’ve got to say, I almost felt unworthy of that face mist Ash, lol! 😁 Lots of the hotels in Oman looked amazing & it has such a different feel to the other Middle Eastern destinations I’ve visited thus far. Highly recommend it!
Oman is so high on my travel wishlist Shikha! I have it on my 2017 planner and I’m trying to convince the hubbie to squeeze a 4 day break over to Oman. How long was your stopover for and what duration of time would you recommend? Maggie xx
4 days is perfect Maggie – that’s exactly what we did! It would give you one day to explore Muscat or go out on an excursion like whale watching or into the desert (unfortunately, I wasn’t too well so we stayed at the hotel) but if you’re planning more than one day trip, then maybe add on another day as the hotels out there (or certainly this one anyway!)was so dreamy that you’re going to want some dedicated days to enjoy it there! I’ll stay tuned to see if you get to Oman this year Maggie – fingers crossed! ☺
I think you’ve convinced me, I am definitely going to visit!!!!
It was honestly one of the loveliest places I’ve stayed – it’s not the cheapest but then there’s lots of lovely little touches thrown into the price & we loved it! ☺
Exactly, I think its definitely worth it!
Oman seems like a great destination, Shikha! I especially loved the Shangri-la Al Husn beach!
The beach was a beauty Agness with the rock formations & especially as it was private for Al Husn guests only so much less crowded!
Thank you for this great insight! I was getting confused by all the different ‘Shangri La’ resorts…now I get it…theres 3 in the one huge setting!! Lol! Wow the private beach & added (free) offerings makes the Husn oh so tempting! Is there a peak season in Oman? Having only been to Qatar on my Mum’s dime (!) I’m not privy to the pricing/seasons etc. Especially being Australian, Oman is still very much a mysterious location…I know literally no one who has been. The first time I really took notice of Oman was flying from Zanzibar to Qatar …the Zanzibar airport is pretty tiny yet there were 3 Oman air service desks! We flew Qatar and they only had one; clearly Zan-Oman is a popular route!
Anyhow, I’d appreciate any info you can give me re seasons & tips for best pricing. Also, if possible, the best business class flights from Oman to Europe (open to Italy, France, UK) . Best value? As you can see my planning is still very preliminary, however I would love to travel in the next 4-5 months 🙂
Thank you once again…I’ll be sure to send you my review from …hopefully (!) Husn! 🙂
Aimee, Australian citizen, global trekker! (Trying to be!!)
Hi Aimee, so exciting that you’re thinking of visiting Oman soon & I’m so glad the post helped to make things a bit clearer about the hotel. I don’t know what they officially classify as peak season but in my own experience, the Middle Eastern countries are usually nost popular with tourists during the Western/European winter months eg Nov-March and the month or two just before & after as temperatures can be soaring & scorching at other times. I didn’t travel business class and usually go economy so not sure on that one unfortunately. It’s funny, I went to Zanzibar on honeymoon but had no idea it was a popular route from there to Oman!
Another tip though that made us a good saving for the hotel was the fact that we flew Oman air & this was a stopover en route to Seychelles so if you are visiting there as a stopover like we did for 3 nights for example & if you fly Oman Air & book the hotel through them, then they often do great deals where you can get one night free with the booking.