There are some hotel brands I love so much that they make the destination entirely more appealing to me. GHM, which owns Chedi is one of those brands – I stayed at The Chedi Chiang Mai some years ago (now an Alila), which was so glorious and relaxing that I could hardly bear to leave, only lured out by the promise of the spiced yellow curry noodle soup, khao soi, one of my favourite foods and a speciality of the region. So, when planning a trip to not-entirely-top-of-my-list Muscat (review of Muscat here), there was only one place I wanted to stay.
The Chedi Muscat has the type of minimalist chic décor that still manages to be comfortable, rather than the type that has you sliding off a high gloss plastic chair with no cushion. Everything is designed to soothe and calm, from the tented reception area to the perfectly manicured gardens, with vast ornamental pools. I’d been having a busy, stressful time at work and 2016 was already showing signs of being a difficult year (even though these were the halcyon pre-Brexit days), so the prospect of immersing myself serenity and sunshine was pretty appealing.
Deluxe Club Rooms come with an impressive array of freebies, including car service to and from the airport, free in room mini bar and access to the Club Lounge, with afternoon tea and a generous 2 hour drinks and canapes session every evening. Tip – if you’re going to drink more than a glass of wine in an evening, then you’ll probably cover the cost of your club room, as the cost of booze here is likely to make you need a stiff drink.
The Club Lounge Courtyard, pale and calm, except for HUGE yellow warning sign
Club rooms aren’t enormous, but are well designed with decent amounts of storage, luxurious bathrooms with Acqua di Parma toiletries, a Nespresso machine and the all-important mini bar, stocked with a decent range of miniature spirits, including (and I’m ashamed to admit I screeched with delight when I saw it) Campari. I’d fortuitously purchased a bottle of Red Vermouth at Duty Free, so I immediately set about making a Negroni. The one disappointment was the lack of outside space – I’d have loved a little terrace on which to sit, drinking my nightly Negroni. Having said that, you do have access to the nearby Club Lounge terrace, but there’s something decadent and slow about sitting on your own private terrace in your bathrobe, having a pre-dinner drink.
For the last 3 nights we upgraded to a Club Suite, which had not only a terrace, but also a bath. I’d spent the preceding few days bemoaning the lack of bath in our room. Ironically, I failed to actually use the bath in the Club Suite, but it was a thing of glory. Huge and deep – perfect for spending an hour with a glass of wine and a book, and big enough that someone else can join you.
The beach at the Chedi lacks charm, but the hotel makes up for it with 3 equally beautiful pools, which you will post on Instagram with #nofilter. The Long Pool, which is, erm, very long is surrounded by enormous couch-beds. Unfortunately, with no umbrellas we were unable to use it until 3ish, when the sun meant one side of the pool was shaded. In the evening glittering lanterns turn the area into a cocktail bar, perfect for sunset gazing. The Beach Pool is great for those who want to have close access to a pool for swimming (we were advised against swimming in the sea due to strong currents), and the Serai Pool, partially tented by huge white sails is the only one that permits children. It’s also the only pool that has umbrellas by the sun loungers, so we were forced to spend mornings there seeking shade, whilst listening to children dive bomb each other and wail at sibling injustices.
All the pools are well tended by staff who’ll bring you water and menus containing food which has the claim to fame of being the most highly priced poolside fare I’ve ever encountered. Not even in hotels in the middle of the Indian Ocean, thousands of miles from anywhere, who have to import almost everything, have I ever witnessed somewhere charging £27 for a pad Thai. Bring a millionaire, an empty credit card and a sense of humour about this. Or perhaps come here for a weight loss retreat. Although even with the odd skipped lunch, I still piled on a few holiday pounds thanks to the skill of the pastry chef who created beautiful treats for afternoon tea, and the incredibly generous canapes in the Club Lounge every evening. There is a well equipped gym if you feel the need to burn off some of the excess, also featuring reformer Pilates equipment and free yoga classes.
Service at the hotel is wonderful – the one problem we had was dealt with gracefully. The hotel is a short cab ride away from the major attractions of Muscat, and taxis are plentiful and reliable. It’s certainly worth venturing out for dinner, as whilst the restaurants at The Chedi are excellent, they’re fiercely expensive, and don’t serve much in the way of traditional Omani cuisine. Be warned though, once you’re installed here, it’s unsurprisingly hard to drag yourself away.
Slow Rating – 10/10
Rooms – 10/10
Design – 10/10
Service – 9/10
Food – 8/10