Romantic Muscat: Putting the 'Oman' in Romance

Sunday, 17 May 2015

You might remember that not so long ago, I surprised Mr Sunshine-to-be with a special 30th birthday trip to Oman where we stayed in the Shangri-La, Muscat. As we were only there for the weekend, I thought it was important that we eke out as much as we could from our short stay, and went about creating a rather packed itinerary for us to enjoy.

I don't know whether it was the dramatic landscape, the tranquil nature of the city or the exquisite service and attention to detail that came along with everything we saw, but all of the activities that I organised ended up being incredibly romantic. Here are the things we got up to, and why I think they are unmissable experiences if you're visiting Muscat with your other half.

A day at The Chedi



The five star Chedi hotel sits in a quiet part of the city, not far from the airport. The battered looking streets and uninspiring drive up to the entrance do nothing to prepare you for what's beyond that big front door.

For as soon as you walk through the bright and breezy corridors of the hotel, and out into the grounds, you are confronted with an oasis of calm in the desert.



The outside space is cleverly divided into discreet areas by serene pools which are fringed by neat flower beds and set against architecture which screams traditional minimalism.



There are not one, not two, but three outdoor heated swimming pools, each with their own unique character.




But the three pools share one important affinity: they all carry an air of complete serenity. As we sat back to wile away the hours, I felt the stress that had parked itself firmly on my shoulders after weeks of work-related worry and wedding planning woe slowly begin to seep away. I tried to think of a time I had felt more relaxed, and failed.

We both agreed that if we hadn't already booked our honeymoon in Italy, then this would be the place to have it.

After a while, we wandered back through the pretty manicured lawns and past the picture perfect beach...



Through the shady indoor-outdoor corridors...



And back into the vaulted space of the hotel's lobby.


It was time for lunch in the hotel's signature restaurant.

A meal at The Restaurant


'The Restaurant' is appropriately named, because if you are only in Muscat for 48 hours, this is THE restaurant you must head to. Its beautifully romantic space follows the architectural style of the rest of the hotel, with high ceilings, pillars and archways.


The lunch menu is eclectic (if slightly confused) with everything from pasta to sushi, burgers and chips to Arabic and Lebanese fare.

Being the indecisive greedy people that we are, we went for a bit of everything.


The tuna avocado maki was fresh and clean tasting, with a little wasabi kick.



The burgers were tantalisingly large and juicy, housed in the softest brioche roll with crisp salad and oodles of cheese.


The spaghetti was perfectly al dente, with a touch too much chilli for my liking.


And the fresh juices were divine.

It was about 2.30pm by the time we sat down, and we were surrounded by men talking business, but alone in our little corner of this gorgeous resturant, we had one of the most romantic lunches of my life.


A wander around the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque



It would be a travesty to come to Muscat without making a visit to the architectural wonder that is the Grand Mosque.

The Mosque, which is the principal place of worship for Muslims in Muscat took six years to build and is constructed of 300,000 tonnes of Indian sandstone. It is a huge space, which can hold over 20,000 worshippers at capacity.

And it is simply beautiful.




We walked the length and breadth of this stunning building in the late afternoon, without bumping into a single other soul.


The most romantic of views, set against the backdrop of a setting sun.

A few hours on the open ocean


The real selling point of this stunning city is the easy access to the big blue. The long city is built along the rocky, volcanic coastline which borders the Gulf of Oman, which feeds out into the Arabian Sea.

At an hour which was far too unsociable for the first full day of a holiday, we were picked up by a friendly driver from Sidab Sea Tours who drove us out to a waiting boat in the pretty Marina Bander Al Rowdha.


We passed forts that were steeped in history and brimming with secrets perched on the beautiful cliffs.



We sailed past interesting geographical features, including a stump that was affectionately known as 'Elephant Rock'.


But the only thing I really wanted to see was a dolphin.

Revving the engine, our captain took us far out to sea, skimming over waves for what seemed like miles. Then suddenly someone pointed. We'd found them.




Rich and I eagerly rushed to the front of the boat to get a better look, just as one of them flipped out of the sea right in front of us!


I gasped, and held on tight as we took chase.





I wasn't prepared for just how emotional I felt after seeing this school skipping and jumping through the sea in front of us, playing amongst the waves and daring one another to jump a little higher, and somersault a little more.

Dolphins are so intelligent that some Scientists believe that they are able to make immediate, and often complicated judgements that are well beyond the scope of human ability. And they're really fun to watch.


As we turned around and headed for dry land, I held Rich's hand all the way back to shore, salty tears running down my face (it was the wind, honest).

Have you ever visited the romantic city of Muscat? What would you recommend to see and do?

31 comments:

  1. I don't comment on here nearly enough but I just love all your posts! This one was especially gorgeous...you make me want to visit all these destinations!

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    1. Thank you so much Jordan, that's a lovely thing to say! You really should come out to the Middle East at some point if you can - it is a really interesting and surprisingly beautiful place :-)

      Polly xx

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    1. Thanks Emma. It was blissful!

      Polly xx

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  3. Just a beautiful post. This sounds like the absolute perfect weekend. I am absolutely going to book a trip here and I suppose I'll bring my husband too ;-)

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    1. Thank you Michelle! Hahaha, he's a lucky man :-)

      Polly xx

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  4. I really need to get myself to Oman. We've been living here for 7 years and we still haven't been. Your photos are lovely x

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    1. Thanks Sarah. You doooo! It's so close that you have no excuse. It's not just for couples either, it's the kind of holiday that I think Sadie would love too - there's so much to do for the entire family.

      Polly xx

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  5. What an amazing 30th he is one lucky man. Oman is somewhere I want to visit and reading this makes me want to go there all the more Lucy x

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    1. I tell him this regularly ;-) It's only started to become popular as a tourist destination recently but I still think it's really underrated. I'm sure you'd love it!

      Polly xx

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  6. One of my favourite hotels - ever! Next time stay - but make sure you get a club room... happy hours elsewhere will never meet up! Nor infact will pools after the 100metre one! Love that you got on the water - there aren't enough boats - we sailed out to the Daymaniat with some friends - the coast is just stunning!

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    1. Club room at the Chedi now firmly on my bucket list!! It was such a beautiful place. Those pools were just dreamy, and I loved the food and whole ambience of the place too. Thanks for bringing this hotel to my attention in the first place!! How lovely that you managed to go sailing! The coast is so interesting - next time I think we'll actually get out of the boat and go snorkelling.

      Polly xx

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  7. Wow that place is beyond beautiful and you look more than stunning! Awesome pics!
    xx
    cvetybaby.com

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    1. Ahh, Cvetina, you are too kind! Thank you :-) I do think the Chedi makes any picture look great!!

      Polly xx

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  8. Oh my goodness, this looked positively HEAVENLY! The architecture is just stunning, as are you, Ms. Model!!! Definitely a place I'd love to visit. The hotel's grounds look incredible. So glad you had a wonderful time, as you deserve! xx

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    1. Ohhhh it was!! The architecture was beaut (much more beaut than me but thanks for the compliment lovely Jaime!!). You would definitely love this place. Thank you so much lady!

      Polly xx

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  9. Polly, this looks incredible! It sounds like you had such a beautiful, and very romantic weekend! I'll be adding this one to my to travel list!

    Lauren xx The Lifestyle Diaries

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    1. It was so lovely Lauren. Definitely one to consider taking the Mr to!!

      Polly xx

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  10. How lovely that you saw the dolphins! The Chedi looks fantastic, I was impressed with the Chedi Andermatt. As for the Restaurant, wonder if it is confusing for taxi drivers, saying I want to go to the restaurant ;-)

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

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    1. Hahaha, I knooow, I can just imagine the conversation going something like: "can I go to The Restaurant please?" "Which restaurant?" "THE restaurant!" etc... I just looked up the Chedi Andermatt and it looks absolutely stunning! I love the traditional Swiss alpine feel!! Beautiful.

      Polly xx

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  11. Ah it looks absolutely stunning! Such a beautiful place! And now I really want one of those burgers.

    C x | Lux Life

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    1. Haha, the burger was DIVINE! And made extra special because we were eating it with a view of the beautiful grounds. Perfection.

      Polly xx

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  12. Oh Polly, how lovely! Makes me feel a bit guilty that I only took my other half to the Cotswolds for his 30th (though we had only known each other a few months!) So exciting that you saw the dolphins - i felt very emotional when I saw dolphins jumping and playing together in the wild in Iceland too ☺

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    1. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Cotswolds! :-) WOW to dolphin watching in Iceland - that is truly once in a lifetime!!

      Polly xx

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  13. I'll be honest and say that I have always overlooked the Middle East as a destination as I felt that it was overly developed. However, looking at these pictures it seems I am missing out. Sounds like such a great experience and the colour of the rock, sand and water is amazing. Very jealous!

    Ben | www.twentyfirstcenturygent.com

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    1. I don't think you're alone Ben - so many people have fixed ideas about this part of the world that are true for some bits and not for others. Oman is completely underdeveloped and one of the quietest and friendliest places I've ever visited. I would thoroughly recommend it as a holiday destination!! Get yourself out here :-)

      Polly xx

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  14. I've never been anywhere in the Middle East but it's looking more and more appealing lately. And now Muscat has just gone way up high on my list of places to visit!

    It looks so beautiful Polly! What a fantastic 30th birthday gift. Hmm it's Mr Ayla's 30th birthday next year and even though Oman is just a little bit further for us to get to, this has definitely gone onto the list of possible gifts :)

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    1. Ahhh I'm so honoured that it has inspired you!! Seriously, it is up there amongst some of my favourite places to visit in the world now. I was so surprised by it - food, culture, landscape and people-wise! I don't think you'd be disappointed if you decided to go! If by any chance you do then give me a shout and I'll ping you over some more recommendations :-)

      Polly xx

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  15. On wedding day, I had a complimentary attendant, who was helpful in getting my husband and myself champagne, and she also made sure that we were eating. I gave my heartfelt appreciation to the staff at Malibu wedding venue for their tremendous effort in making our day the most special day of our lives.

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