For a country with such a rich history and that was once one of the most powerful in the world, Oman is a relatively under-the-radar destination. While its GCC neighbours like the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar opt for hotels and developments on the flashier side, Oman can offer a more authentic experience, largely in part to its stunning topography of rugged mountain ranges, secluded beaches, tropical plantations and waters rich with marine life. The capital Muscat is an enchanting mix between old and new, fast and slow, while Salalah offers summer respite with its cool, tropical microclimate. This spectacular topography makes its hotel scene exciting and diverse, with some of the most unique stays in the region available in Oman. From the mountains and fjords to the deserts and coast, here are seven unique hotels and stays in Oman.
The most unique hotels in Oman
Six Senses Zighy Bay
The Musandam – a wild enclave on the tip of the UAE that’s officially part of Oman – is one of the most spectacular spots in the region. Its majestic fjords and rugged mountain ranges make it a hotspot for adventure travellers, but the area is also home to one of the most unique (and luxurious) hotels in Oman – and the only Six Senses hotel in the GCC (for the moment, as one is set to debut in Saudi this autumn). Descending the winding mountain road to Zighy Bay, a secluded cove sandwiched between the mountain and crashing sea in Musandam, is nothing short of breathtaking. You can drive, but also paraglide or arrive by speedboat. People come from all over the world to switch off in this rugged yet ultra-luxury take on a traditional Omani village. The 82 stone villas, with their dusty walls and flickering lamps, are set among pomegranate trees and date palms, and all come with a private cerulean plunge pool and sandy garden. For a truly unique experience, ascend to Senses on the Edge – the hotel’s star restaurant perched on the edge of a mountain. Wellbeing is Six Senses’ key ethos, and the Six Senses Spa offers wellness checks, personalised wellbeing programmes, and the likes of ‘rocket fuel’ shots at breakfast.
Villas from about AED 3,635; sixsenses.com
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort
The Al Hajar mountains are somewhere every traveller to the Middle East should visit in their time. The lofty peaks cover an area including the Arabian peninsula’s most beautiful canyon, and the wilderness is relaxing and invigorating in equal measure. Set in these mountains two hours from the capital is Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, perched on the edge of a wildlife-filled canyon with mesmerising views over the peaks and come spring, the blanket of Damask roses (used to make the famous rosewater) that cover the area. The 115-room hotel, however, is anything but wild. There are mountain-facing private pool villas, a tennis court, cliff-edge infinity swimming pools, an impeccable spa that uses fragrant frankincense oils and many a private perch for stargazing. Venture to a neighbouring local village to make this stay even more special or learn how to make Turkish coffee or rose water with local artisans.
Doubles from about AED1,580; anantara.com
Desert Nights Camp
While travellers have ample pick of luxury desert camps in the UAE, this is not the case in the Sultanate. Nights Camp is one of a handful of luxury desert escapes in the country making it one of the most unique hotels in Oman for those wanting to immerse themselves in the scenery. A two-hour drive from Muscat, Desert Night Camps lies in a burnt-orange wadi with craggy mountain peaks visible in the distance. The camp itself is spread across 10 acres of peaceful, isolated sands and houses 55 luxurious, air-conditioned, Bedouin-style tents, including six one-bedroom private pool villas for those looking to crank it up a notch. Guests spend their nights enjoying time around a flickering campfire, days unwinding in Omani-style majlis and exploring the surrounding desert on hikes and 4×4 rides.
Doubles from about AED835; omanhotels.com/desertnightscamp
The Suwgra (The Cliff Guest House)
The Suwgra (also known as The Cliff Guest House) is a gem of a retreat, offering the authentic Omani mountain experience for a fraction of the cost of its luxury counterparts (of course, without all the frills). This charming and premium guest house is set in the Hajar mountains near the historical village of Al-Sugra – a semi-ruined village of yesteryear and an eye into Oman’s pasty. The guest house itself is more than 500 years old but has been tastefully refurbished and modernised to attract international travellers. Rooms and suites cascade down the mountainside linked by steep, narrow walkways and each comes with a balcony offering panoramic views. Inside they’re contemporary and tasteful while respecting the area’s heritage and traditional designs – such as majlis seating. Guests are provided with dinner and breakfast and can book excursions like hiking and exploring the nearby historical villages.
Doubles from about AED645; booking.com
Alila Jabal Akhdar
Another dreamy, unique escape in Oman’s Al Hajar mountains is Alila Jabal Akhdar, located 6,562 feet above sea level and only accessed by 4×4 drives. Built on the edge of a steep precipice, the luxurious hotel blends in with the horizon – all stony greys and sandy browns with the odd gleam from floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Each of the 78 suites offers views of the spectacular mountain range and the interiors pay are inspired by Omani village life with traditional Bahla pottery, juniper tree motifs and Omani chests. There’s a spa focusing on ancient Asian healing techniques and an infinity pool that looks over the mountain gorge – swathed in pink from blossoming Damask roses from March to May. Look closely and you might spot the sheep, goats and donkeys that roam the mountainside.
Doubles from about AED 1,290; alilahotels.com/jabalakhdar
Dunes By Al Nahda Luxury Resort
Dunes by Al Nahda is a luxury tented desert resort located in the South Batinah region of the Sultanate, the closest desert resort to the capital at just 50 minutes southwest of Muscat. The hotel sits on the golden sands of the Wadi Al Abyad – each of its 50 octagonal tented villas boasting air conditioning, private en-suite bathrooms and private outdoor seating areas for gazing over the seemingly endless dunes. The unique experience begins on arrival, where guests are treated to a welcome ceremony with staff donning local dress and banging Omani drums before they’re whisked away to their tented accommodation – the latter filled with traditional touches like hanging lanterns, deep armchairs, writing desks and teak furnishings. Guests can book onto desert activities like dune bashing and camel safaris or make the most of the small gym, swimming pool and Uru Spa (with treatments including being partially buried in sun-baked sand). One restaurant serves a mix of cuisine, Arabic breakfasts and hosts regular barbecue nights in the sands.
From about AED840; dunesbyalnahda.com
Alila Hinu Bay
The typical topography of Oman changes dramatically in the Dhofar region – located in the southern reaches of the Sultanate. The area is known for its tropical climate and is home to banana plantations, lush green landscapes and waterfalls, an ecosystem made possible by The Khareef – an annual monsoon which transforms the desert into a leafy wonderful with seasonal waterfalls. Alila Hinu Bay is the most luxurious spot to explore this region from – a unique, eco-focused hotel stretched across the coastline with 112 suites and pool villas. Each villa makes the most of the natural surroundings with outdoor showers, plunge pools and terraces with direct beach access, making barefoot luxury a reality. Temperatures here during Khareef (June to September) are significantly lower than the rest of the region, which bakes in over 40-degree heat, making it the perfect summer escape and one of the most unique hotels in Oman.
Doubles from AED860; alilahotels.com/hinubay