Muscat, the capital of Oman, is one of our favorite destinations. It provides a safe experience of Arab culture and starkly contrasts with the bling of Dubai. Travelers who have visited the UAE previously may be surprised by the lack of shiny high-rise buildings in Muscat, but Sultan Qaboos’ plan is for slow, steady development.
While it is rare, on visiting the UAE, to meet Emiratis in Oman, the people work in normal jobs, so your taxi driver will likely be a native Omani. He will also likely proudly insist on taking you to see some favorite site in his home country at no extra charge. For the uninitiated, it can be intimidating to be surrounded by the men in their Dishdashahs. There is no need, Oman is a relatively relaxed and liberal country, and the people are the friendliest and warmest we have experienced in the middle east.
Oman offers a fascinating mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. Those who love the Great Outdoors will have plenty to do – from hiking in the mountains of Jabal Akhdar to scuba diving off the Musandam Peninsula, where the turtles are often plentiful. Muttrah Souk in old Muscat provides an outlet for shopping addicts, with saffron, perfumes, silk scarves, and incense making ideal mementos or gifts. The beautiful Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is a peaceful retreat. It does a fantastic job of presenting the authentic face of Islam as distinct from the extreme versions often peddled by the extremists and the Western press. A visit to view the architecture and learn more about Islam is an absolute must on your first visit to Muscat. We go back every time. The coffee and dates are superb. If you love wildlife, Oman offers many opportunities for dolphin watching or seeing nesting turtles – even the Shangri-La has a protected turtle beach. An estimated 20,000 turtles nest in Oman yearly, including the Green, Loggerhead, Hawksbill, and Olive Ridley breeds. Leatherback turtles swim in these waters but don’t nest here.
Wherever you decide to stay, book via our luxury travel concierge. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts, and free perks at hotels, including Four Seasons, Aman, Belmond, Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, InterContinental, and more. You also get your usual Marriott Bonvoy, Hyatt, Hilton, and other loyalty points and status benefits when you book with our concierge.
Style & Character
At the time of our latest trip to Oman, there were only six 5 Star hotels in the capital Muscat, although many are planned for opening over the coming years. We had previously stayed at the Grand Hyatt Muscat and had enjoyed the hotel – we had fond memories of the pool, the lobby, and the Grand Club. As such, it was a natural decision to return to the hotel for a full review especially given the excellent value offered by using points here.
So, to our room, a Grand Suite King on the 4th floor (one floor above the lobby and the Club floor) overlooking the pool. We arrived to find housekeeping just putting the finishing touches to the room, including arranging a vase of beautiful lilies and setting our welcome amenity – a bottle of wine, a fruit bowl, and some yummy dates.
The suite is a good size (84 square meters) with a guest cloakroom, spacious lounge, decent size bedroom and a good bathroom with twin sinks, a very powerful shower (one of the best we’ve ever had), and a separate bath. We like that the room’s decor is not typical of Grand Hyatt, and you feel the Omani influence. However, rooms are due for a refit – there are small areas of wear and tear, and the general feeling is tired. There is currently little competition in Muscat for 5 Star inventory. Still, with several new hotels due to open over the next 3-4 years, including Starwood properties and Jumeirah, the hotel will refurbish before these competitors open (according to The GM Garry Friend). In the meantime, soft refurbishment is a continuous process. Overall though, the rooms are homely and comfortable.
Club Lounge Review
Breakfast in the club lounge at the Grand Hyatt Muscat has a small buffet selection with cold cuts, fresh fruit, and bakery items with eggs available to order. The service is generally good, and the club gets big plus points from Mrs d2t for having Jing branded tea (if you like green tea, try the Jade Sword).
In the evening, a good choice of leaves and vegetables are available to make a hearty salad. A daily selection of cold dishes adds variety, and small deserts are also available. We would have liked to see a few hot dishes available as well, perhaps showing some Omani specialties or tasters from Tuscany, one of the in-house restaurants advertised as the best Italian restaurant in the city. There is a good range of beverages, with top-ups frequently offered. Mrs d2t was very impressed that her room was provided with complimentary Evian water after she requested it in the lounge – that is true personal service.
Service & Facilities
Although the gym isn’t immediately obvious, we were very impressed when we found the fitness facilities – a well-equipped workout room with plenty of different cardio and strength machines is complemented by excellent changing rooms complete with sauna, steam room, and jacuzzi (although unfortunately only segregated facilities). It seems strange that the hotel doesn’t have a treatment spa – perhaps this will come with the refit.
Outside, in a private, sheltered garden, is a large pool, complete with a lazy river, separate jacuzzi (very warn), and a swim-up bar. Gardens and sunbeds surround it. Outside the main hotel, complex is a large sun-bathing lawn with ranks of sunbeds and the hotel’s private beach. With golden sands, warm water, and not another person in sight, this has to be one of the best beaches in the region.
Food & Drink
Despite the hotel having four dining outlets (you can choose a grill house or restaurants offering Italian, Arabic, or Indonesian cuisine), we have always dined in the Grand Club. We did, however, view the lunch buffet set out in Tuscany, which had a huge choice and looked delicious. Tuscany, the best Italian restaurant in Muscat, also offers a la carte dining and fine wine in the evenings, an absolute joy on the warm terrace. During the cooler months, the Safari Rooftop Grill offers a range of options at an all-inclusive price from the Arabian Gulf terrace. Alternatively, lovers of spicier fare can enjoy Marjan Indonesian Restaurant or choose something more local from Mocha Cafe.
The hotel has several options for those who fancy a drink, including the John Barry bar, Copacabana nightclub, and the buzzing three-story Club Safari and Havana Sports Bar. More to Mrs d2t’s taste is the Sirj tea lounge, located in the opulent lobby.
The Grand Hyatt Muscat is a business hotel at the heart of the diplomatic center of Oman, but that shouldn’t put the leisure traveler off. For those with families in tow, we recommend staying in the Shangri-La, as many more activities are available to amuse children. However, for the more sophisticated traveler, the Grand Hyatt has a great gym, a nice swimming pool, and a private beach, so there are enough leisure facilities available. The rooms are a decent size but in need of a refurb – however, they are clean, so they are still pleasant to relax in. We will return to the hotel and look forward to seeing how the property and Oman generally develop over the coming years.
Grand Hyatt Muscat features in our top 5 best luxury beach hotels in Oman.
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