BACKGROUND: The Al Husn is one of three properties that comprise Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, Muscat. The resort, which opened in February 2006, is set in 124 acres on the coast against a backdrop of rugged mountains, overlooking the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Oman.
The Al Husn (‘the Castle’), which opened in September 2006, is pitched as Oman’s “most luxurious hotel” by Shangri-La and features 170 sea-facing guestrooms and suites, each with a balcony or terrace. The hotel is located on a headland above the rest of the resort, and designed with Moorish architecture in mind.
At resort-level are two more hotels — Al Bandar (‘the Town’) with 198 rooms and extensive meetings facilities and the family-orientated Al Waha (‘the Oasis’) with 262 rooms.
Al Husn guests have access to the facilities of the entire resort, but most of Al Husn, with the exception of its F&B outlets, is for the use of in-house guests only, ensuring the experience is private, intimate and exclusive.
THE ARRIVAL: The drive from Dubai to Muscat itself takes around three to four hours, depending on the traffic, the amount of time required to clear immigration at the Omani border and of course, the speed at which you choose to travel (note there are speed cameras all the way to Muscat!) Once you arrive at Seeb International Airport in Muscat, it takes another 30-40 minutes to drive through the city and out to the Shangri-La.
The new road leading to the resort winds through the mountains and wouldn’t look out of place as a test track for Top Gear with its peaks, troughs, twists and turns — with glimpses of the Gulf of Oman in between — making for a dramatic final approach.
We were greeted immediately on arrival and valet-parked the car before walking into the impressive lobby with tasteful water features.
As you enter through the doors the eye is directed straight through the lobby space, past the courtyard and out to the horizon and the glimmering waters of the Gulf — all framed by an elegant modern take on an Arabesque archway at the hotel entrance.
After taking in this breathtaking view, we were escorted to the Al Husn Lounge for check-in. We were offered much-appreciated cold towels and refreshments and luckily, our Thursday afternoon arrival coincided with pre-dinner drinks and canapés.
THE ACCOMMODATION: The deluxe guestroom in which we stayed was suitably Arabesque in style, with deep rich wood finishings and sumptuous gold, blue, red and green silk furnishings.
A standout feature was the bathroom with its large walk-in rain shower, separate toilet, dressing area and the pièce de résistance — a bath with sea views (sliding panels run alongside the bath so the bather can choose whether or not to look through the bedroom and out across the Gulf).