The Grand Hyatt in Muscat is nestled in the dipolomatic district fringe of the city on a beach, and was a beautiful modern build with its architectural design in glorious tradtional form. A friendly and comfortable place, charming staff. Ours was a large and very nicely decorated room with view and balcony - good sized comfortable bathroom -everything sparkled. (Though to nit-pick a moment, still do not know why there is only ever one comfortable chair in a double room when there is also space for two?) That gripe aside, the reason we enjoyed our break was mainly about the hotel. The pool was large and interesting with bridges across a "lazy river" so you could potter idly and just let the current take you, or get a really good work out using the counter-current flow just outside the river's "mouth".
All the restaurants were reasonable and the food interesting, particularly the pool/beach restaurant which was Indonesian with both near, middle and far east ingredients.
No Spa is currently advertised on the Hyatt's website but there was one was just off the main Hotel apron about a 3 minute walk from front door and seems to be affiliated as some sort of concession. Treatments were also good value compared to competing offerings we had seen from uk on line. Given the proximity this also saved a lot of time too. The spa environment was perhaps a tad clinical (again very modern) however, if you want some serious Hamman, this is the place. They called this a Moroccan bath. Felt great and skin positively glowed for days we also each had a pedicure in a massage chair and for both treatments the bill was OR35 + service so about £70 (including service) each and took 2 .5 hours: there was no skimping, staff were simply lovely.
Muscat, the city, turns out not to be that historically or culturally rich. It is ultra modern. While this is all very impressive, especially the Grand Mosque, (which was amazing from inside out) little of any typical Arabian medinat heritage remains. It became obvious on our city tour, that apart from around the old port with the strategically placed Portuguese forts near the old Souk an area called the Corniche, is about all that is left apart from a very old Roman road, still used part way into foot hills of the nearby mountains. (Even the sultan's palace is new. Our city guide took us to the (soon to be defunct) fish market. He told us they are rehousing this in modern premises and that became obvious - as they were not moving far, really wondered why they thought that was interesting or important, could have lived without the combination of the dust, fumes and noise of building works, plus the fish smells and the joy of walking through fish blood floods. Only on reflection, was this in any way memorable! The museum though small, was very interesting and very informative on the tribal and cultural regional customs and costumes in a very well presented series of exhibits in a lovely building.
Special things to do in Oman are, however, really about getting out of Muscat. Waddi tours or a visit to the old capital plus even more spectacular forts and a real Oasis are apparently each available on a standard one day tour but these are not available every day, so book ahead. We booked at Mark Tours via hotel which alos involved a fee to the hotel, so would be cheaper to do this on line in advance but not sure if the tour prices were cheaper on line.
Other Travel Tips:
Try and prebook your visa - seemed to be a separate process. Not sure possible from UK but there was a separate queue for pre-booked visas. Without pre-booking, it took us 90 minutes to get through this two stage process. First was the issuance but that was also a currency kiosk. Why it took so long for, was unclear, as when it was our turn it took the lady 30 secs each to process us (although we had no need of the currency - which only took cash for cash by the way and at OR20 each was about twice the cost we had read about on the UK Foreign office site.) To then get visa validated, you start again in a continuation queue and this took another 30 mins, so seemed to us that pre-booking allowed people to jump the issuance queue but make sure you take currency with you or you will need to go to same kiosk queue anyway!
Good news: taxis seemed relatively cheap and were fixed price on both ends of the airport transfer. Hotel destinations are listed with their price on a dispatch board outside airport, and you take a form from a dispatcher, no messing. Cost about GBP15 (OR7 or 8) to hotel and was about 25 minutes from airport, so not bad. Same price returning from hotel.
The Souk in Muscat at the Corniche was good value, and a rare vestige of the old and traditional. Some haggling possible but only for quantity as goods very reasonable and the people there were generally less agressive than we have experienced elsewhere.
Lastly, there are a lot of hotels in the city, and they are not cheap so look for the deals with breakfast - that made a big difference to the bill. The Hyatt is 5 star, looks like 5 star and felt to me like 5 star, but seems not all reviewers agree on this one. However, since it was priced at a sound and more than fair level for a balcony room, great view and included breakfast. Our final bill only came to £200 ppper night which, considering also included all food and service: 2 dinners, two lunches and two breakfasts, 2 pool side drinks and one pot of afternoon tea in the lobby area (very sumptuous) and the half day city tour cost (including commission) this was not exactly a rip off. (Consider a 3 star Paris hotel charges £30pp, for breakfast and you would not want to eat in same restaurant at every meal ) seemed to us a pretty good deal for a broad selection of venues and fare and good quality. I was very satisfied with the value offering and did I mention the pool? For me a real treat and a lot of fun alone or with friends had a swim-up bar too! Not too many 5 star hotels have these outside of resorts. BA flight was also good value, booked well ahead.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Grand Hyatt Muscat is a 5 star hotel situated on a pristine stretch of beach in the capital of the Sultanate of Oman and is a striking illustration of Arabian architecture. Located in the heart of the diplomatic district of the city in Shatti Al Qurm, majestic surroundings and traditional Omani hospitality combine for a truly unforgettable stay. Grand Hyatt Muscat is perfect for both business and leisure pursuits, and is one of the largest and most opulent luxury hotels Muscat has to offer, with 280 stylishly appointed rooms & suites. The property has exceptional recreational facilities and numerous meeting and banquet spaces which cater to a wide range of events and business requirements. Guests can choose from a variety of award winning restaurants, bars and lounges including Grand Hyatt Muscat’s signature restaurant, Tuscany Italian restaurant, the Rooftop Grill House and Muscat’s premier night club Copacabana. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Hyatt Muscat Hotel Muscat
- Muscat Grand Hyatt
- Hyatt Muscat
- Muscat Hyatt