Oman is a country with a rich and fascinating history. Once a great maritime empire, Oman is the oldest Arab state in the world, and there’s no better place to experience this history and culture than in the Omani capital of Muscat. Located between the mountains and the sea, Muscat can offer a city, beach and nature break, and is also one of the most peaceful and laid-back capitals in the Gulf – a sea of white-washed low-rise buildings where skyscrapers are, in fact, banned by royal decree. Muscat’s hotel scene is just as diverse, from city-centre nightlife spots to beachy resorts which feel a million miles away from civilisation, but are just a 15-minute drive from the centre. Here are the best hotels in Muscat for a beautiful stay in the Omani capital.
The Chedi Muscat
Architect Jean-Michel Gathy masterminded Oman’s first modern, minimalist hotel in 2003, and thus gave travellers another reason to visit this culturally rich and scenic Gulf country. To this day it’s one of the best hotels in Muscat. Located just 15 minutes from Muscat airport yet sandwiched between the Hajar mountains and Arabian Gulf, this ultra-romantic resort blends understated elegance and modernity with touches of traditional Omani architecture. Reflecting pools, fountain courtyards and low-rise buildings with clean white lines reminiscent of a traditional Omani village form the complex, which sits alongside 21 acres of beach just 20 minutes north of the capital. The 158 rooms have wood-louvred windows, black stone floors and are swathed in organic beiges and whites to create a zen-inspired atmosphere and all have views over either the ocean, gardens or toward the mountains. A tennis court and spa keep guests entertained while The Restaurant, the hotel’s fusion dining spot, is popular with guests and locals alike serving Middle Eastern, Indian, Pan-Asian and European cuisine.
Doubles from AED910 per night; ghmhotels.com
Al Bustan Palace
Something the best hotels in Muscat manage to do is give guests the feeling of being truly remote, yet be just a short drive from the capital. Few embody this like Al Bustan Palace – located in the mountains and peaceful beach but just a 10-minute drive from the National Museum of Oman and 15 minutes from the shops of Mutrah Souk. Al Bustan was originally built as a palace for Oman’s Sultan Qaboos, and the decadence still lives on. There’s a golden dome covering the grand entrance, a marble-clad lobby soaring to 38- metres tall, turrets peppering the sandstone palace and dozens of crystal chandeliers and mingling with the fragrant oud. As a Ritz-Carlton property, all the modern amenities can be found: the three-level Al Bustan Palace Spa is inspired by an Arabian fort, rooms and suites are traditional in cream with walnut touches, the bathrooms are stocked with Asprey London toiletries and there are six dining options to choose from, including a Twenties-inspired Jazz bar and sophisticated Atrium Tea lounge beneath the lobby’s 125 ft.-high domed ceiling.
Doubles from AED860 per night; ritzcarlton.com
Shangri-La Al Husn
Pale-pink, palm-strewn and arabesque Shangri-La Al Husn is the perfect spot for those exploring Oman for the first time – being so close to the city, yet truly immersed in the country’s spectacular scenery. The gorgeous, 180-key hotel lies just 30 minutes outside of the capital, perched on a cliff top of the rugged Hajar Mountains and overlooking the Gulf of Oman. Al Husn means castle in Arabic, which gives you an idea of what to expect: a palatial resort with stately facade and elegant, highly decorative interiors. Being adults only and in such a beautiful, yet well-connected location, this is the resort for honeymooners and those in search of romance, culture and adventure – the site houses an Omani heritage village, a classic car museum and guests have full access to the neighbouring Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah, a short walk away with 100 metres of private beach, a family-friendly pool, lazy river and resident camels.
Doubles from AED1,030 per night; shangri-la.com
Muscat isn’t a city known for its social scene or its thriving nightlife, but one place you can go to guarantee a vibe is the W Muscat. The Omani iteration of Marriott’s cool lifestyle chain W, the W Muscat feels right in the heart of it – located in the upbeat Shatti Al Qurum Beach area with plenty of bars, restaurants and city sights just a short stroll away. The beachfront property has 279 luxury rooms and suites which marry Omani heritage with W’s signature contemporary design – all of them with balconies overlooking the turquoise Gulf of Oman – and six restaurants and bars that bring the vibe. There’s the trendy rooftop Siddhartha Lounge by Buddha-Bar (of Dubai and Monaco fame), Chinese Ba Ban, steakhouse CHAR and W’s signature WET Deck where poolside parties turn wild on Fridays with international DJs. The pool itself is the hub of the hotel and is lined by cabanas. A youthful and fun-loving vibe with sea views and city-slicker feels.
Doubles from AED800 per night; marriott.com
Jumeirah Muscat Bay
In summer 2022, luxury UAE hotel group Jumeirah opened its first property in Oman, bedding down in a peaceful bay just outside of the city between the mountains and the sea. The 206-room hotel is in the secluded cove of Bandar Jissah between the Al Hajar Mountains and the Gulf of Oman, around 15 minutes south of the city centre and 40 minutes from the airport. There’s a feeling of peace and isolation, without being too isolated – nearby there are remains of ancient villages and old seaports, alongside modern souks and the Muscat Royal Opera Hose. Rooms are modern and beachy, all earthy hues with touches of oceanic tones, and there are five dining venues including all-day multi-cuisine Peridot, poolside Zuka, seafood restaurant Brezze and the Anzo bar and terrace. Adventure lovers will relish in extensive tracks for bike rides, hikes and scene rums, along with water sports options and the chance to take a boat trip along the coast in search of dolphins and historic villages. A kids’ club means adults can sneak away to the Jumeriah Talise Spa and Bastien Gonzalez’ Pedi:Mani:Cure Studio.
Doubles from AED1,220 per night; jumeirah.com
Kempinski Hotel Muscat
For a quick weekend break, Kempinski is one of the best hotels in Muscat. The property is just a 10-minute drive from Muscat International Airport yet feels like a private and secluded beach resort. The exterior is modern yet traditional, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors, horse-shoe arches, alabaster pillars and arabesque details. Two swimming pools overlook the ocean and there is direct access to the golden sandy beach with its beautiful mountain views. There are 310 rooms, suites, villas and apartments on offer across 17 categories from superior and sea-view double to royal suites, three-bedroom apartments and duplex villas – offering some of the widest variety in choice and price points. Opposite is an oceanfront 18-course links golf course and families will love the kids’ club, children’s pool, outdoor play areas, on-site bowling alley and five dining outlets.
Doubles from AED 970; kempinski.com