Shangri La is a mystical place of peaceful serenity and heartfelt hospitality. The Shangri La brand set out to find unique places and create their own Eden full of peace, beautiful scenery and an abundance of delights.
In Oman not too far from the bustling city of Muscat you’ll find such a place. The Shangri la Barr Al Jissah is, in a word:impressive. It is a massive structure hewn out of the side of a mountain facing a peaceful cove and an expansive beach on the Sea of Oman. The views are breathtaking.
The Shangri La Barr Al Jissah is actually three hotels created to accommodate the different needs of its clients; from business travelers to families. The Al Husn hotel is their five star property with all of the services and amenities that the most demanding clients could desire. The palatial Al Husn is indeed as its name implies: a suitably exclusive castle. You immediately feel that you have walked into a real Arabian palace.
As you enter you’ll pass the valeted Ferraris, Bentley, and Rolls Royces which indicates the type of property this is and the experience you’re about to have. After the doorman smiles and welcomes you, you’ll enter an impressive foyer. Polished marble walkways lead to water fountains and a large Majlis sitting area. Omanis as well as foreigners sit on plush couches talking and taking afternoon tea. Date palms and traditional Dhofari architecture remind you that you are in Arabia.
Beyond the entrance is the expansive courtyard around a fountain pool. Its evening when we arrive and in the courtyard are the 30s, 40s, and 50 somethings enjoying the complimentary happy hour. Every day at dusk the couples congregate with cocktails and canapés while chatting with friends and making new travel acquaintances.
The 180 rooms and suites Al Husn Hotel offers Shangri-La's highest level of service, amenities and privileges to the most discerning of travelers. These are amongst the largest and most luxurious in Oman, with an inviting décor inspired by royal Arabian palaces and accented by authentic Omani artworks. There is a private a 100-metre beach, as well as enjoy complimentary mini-bar, daily complimentary afternoon tea and pre-dinner cocktails and canapés service.
Our accommodations are beyond first rate. Arabian-inspired décor with gorgeous views of the turquoise waters of the sea are complemented by a large room and elegant furnishings. The bathroom is made of Italian marble, has a large walk in closet, dressing area, large bath and separate shower and a dressing area. There are services galore from complimentary shoe shine to WiFi. There is also a complimentary mini bar provided and restocked daily…they’ve thought of it all.
The balcony was also impressive and really an outdoor living space. There was a sitting area along with a table for afternoon room service. It is the perfect place to take in the views of the sea or to relax while sunbathing.
Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, Sultanate of Oman offers a wide choice of restaurants at each of the three hotels. We chose to dine at the Shahrazad restaurant which is the only authentic Moroccan restaurant in Muscat. We were welcomed by the rich fabric and deep colors of Shahrazad’s interiors and the live Moroccan music and were set to embark on our culinary adventure. Having spent time in Morocco and knowing many of the dishes there, I was ready to compare my experience at Sharahzad with my experiences in Morocco. They did not disappoint.
The friendly waiter shared with us his recommendations and the specials of the day. We soon discovered that he was from Morocco as was the chef and many of the staff. We had a chance to speak with their chef. “Moroccans are proud of their cuisine,” says Chef Mohammed Ettaib. He explains, “Each dish has a mythical or religious significance that creates a rich culinary tradition, and every major dish has a story or a festival attached to it. The sharing of meals is regarded as one of the most important pillars of society, indicating a strong sense of togetherness in the family or tribe.”
Two dishes that Morocco is known for is Tangine and Cous Cous. So with that we settled on the Lamb Tajine Tfaya which is a slow-cooked aromatic stew, braised at a very low temperature to achieve the most tender meat. You’ll taste the sweet prunes along with the spices of cinnamon, turmeric, giner and saffron. We also chose the Cous Cous Sbaa Khodar which is a traditional favorite, this cous cous is perfect for vegetarians. The aroma, taste and presentation were excellent and with the setting and service, it was the perfect dining experience.
Their breakfast was also on par with a five star hotel. It had everything you could imagine from pastries, to sushi, to American pancakes and a full English breakfast.
Another really nice touch was the afternoon tea service. Sitting out on the expansive terrace, you’ll receive your canapé tray of various sandwiches and pastries and the selections of teas and drinks. It was complimentary making it another delightful surprise.
The location of the property facing the Sea of Oman is striking, the beach is refreshing with its gentle waves creating a place to frolic like a child. There is also a private beach for Al Husn where nattily dressed beach boys at at the ready to bring a cool drink or fresh towel. As if the ocean wasn’t enough, another refreshing option is the large infinity edge pool. Like everything else at Al Husn, it is huge and amazing.
The hotel offers so much to do, not to mention the art gallery and other services provide at the adjacent hotels in the complex. This is Shangri La so they have their renown Chi spa which allows guests to enjoy the privacy and luxury of the largest spa villas in Muscat. From the calm serenity of the Spa’s welcoming inner sanctum, guests can enjoy the experience of the unique CHI Water Oasis, featuring a vitality hydro pool, a herbal steam room, tundra and tropical showers, an ice fountain and a relaxation area.
Away from the property, there are countless outdoor activities from exploring Muscat, to activities in and on the water, all of which can all be arranged by the concierge.
What brings it all together is the professional and friendly staff. I find Oman to be one of the most genuinely friendly destinations in the Middle East. From the stranger who gives directions to the shopkeeper in the souq, Omani are sincerely friendly people. So when it comes to the staff at the hotel, they are torchbearers of the warmth of Omani hospitality. And it is that warm that really makes the stay at the amazing Al Husn hotel in the Shangri La Barr Al Jissah, an experience to cherish and to easily recommend.
See more photos and review on Arabia Escapes