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A Guide To Muscat, Oman: Stay, Eat, Do

The capital of Oman is a place like no other. Full of history and natural beauty, old city walls border an ancient shipping port and a rugged coast hugs its shoreline. This is your guide to Muscat.

Located in the Gulf – a region usually celebrated for wealth and excess – Muscat will surprise you. Oman’s purple-hued rocky Al Hajar mountain range, visible from multiple spots in the city, adds an unexpected backdrop to everything that surrounds it.


Shangri-La Al Husn

Perched on a craggy cliff top overlooking the Gulf of Oman, Shangri-La Al Husn, much like Muscat, offers guests a few unexpected things: a secluded private beach and a natural rock formation with a hypnotising view – to name just two. With such an arresting landscape, a luxury hotel might be tempted to outdo its surroundings. Not so here. Shangri-La has created a space that simply slides into the scenery without disrupting it; the clean lines and soft terracotta shades of the building blend with the sandstone cliffside. An immense palm-tree lined central courtyard connects the wings of the hotel on all sides – this is a space for guests to gather for afternoon tea and evening cocktails.

Photographer: Marcelo Barbosa

Moorish and Omani architecture frames the outdoor scenery using iconic arches, cornices and mashrabiya screens to devastating effect. The interior, too, is true to the heritage of the location with 180 rooms and suites offering an effortless luxury, boasting either a balcony or terrace that overlooks the bay on one side or pool and gardens on the other. Shangri-La Al Husn is a resort for adults and any children must be over 16 years of age. The adjoining complex, Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah caters for families with smaller children. Immersive experiences such as a classic car museum, turtle hatching, helicopter rides and dolphin watching are open to all guests.



Photographer: Marcelo Barbosa

Shangri-La Al Husn has four restaurants and bars. Mahhara Beach Bar is especially beautiful for al fresco dining as it overlooks the sea and surrounding cliffs. A light menu of salads and grilled seafood makes it ideal for a casual bite between dips in the sea. Don’t miss the chargrilled lobster, nor the endless list of mocktails crafted using local fruit, herbs and infusions which kept us there for a great deal longer than we had intended.


Bait Al Luban

For Omani food served in a traditional setting, Bait Al Luban on Al Amina Street in Muscat’s Old Town is the place to be. Brightly coloured cushions are placed on the floor around a low table, and walls are decorated with carpets of a myriad colours. It’s the perfect place for a meal that is served, shared and enjoyed slowly. Shuwa is the unmissable treat at Bait Al Luban; marinated meats slow-roasted in an underground pit served with rice and lemon garlic sauce.


Aangan by Rohit Ghai

Aangan is Shangri-La Al Husn’s formal dining space by Michelin-starred chef Rohit Ghai. Dinner here is memorable for the exquisite menu of classic Indian dishes – with a twist – served on the terrace where shimmering slivers of moonlight stream in over the balcony. Plates are beautifully presented and all the flavours and textures of Asia and Oman marry together in an incredible experience with faultless service. Masala prawns, Mangalore fish served with baskets of fresh Indian breads and rice will have you staying late into the night.


Walk the Muttrah Corniche

Walkable Muttrah Corniche edges Muscat’s Old Town, and one of the Middle East’s busiest ports sits beyond it. The Corniche stretches for three scenic kilometres between a fish market and Al Riyam Park, from east to west. Along the way, you will spot dhows (traditional Arabian boats) and cruise ships, including those which belong to His Majesty, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq. On land, mosques, Muttrah Souq, the Old Town, two forts, cafes and museums line the way. Pop in and out of any of the attractions as you please or simply enjoy the scenery as you walk.


Muttrah Souq

Muttrah Souq is Muscat’s 200-year-old market place and a great place to experience a traditional Arabian souq. A beamed ceiling covers chaotic and lively alleyways lined with shops selling an infinite amount of souvenirs, jewellery, clothing and spices. Conveniently, most shops accept cards and only a handful insist on cash for small purchases. A guided tour of the souq is possible, although it can be easily self-navigated. Enjoy a short cup of sweet karak chai (Arabic strong tea) at the tea shop, close to the entrance along the Corniche, to end a successful day of shopping.


Architecture Tour

There is a great deal of modern architecture to be enjoyed in this ancient city. An architectural tour will take you to the Royal Opera House Muscat (pictured) in the Shati Al-Qurm district, loved for its contemporary Omani design. The large complex includes an auditorium, theatre and shopping centre. Guided tours of the building must be booked in advance. Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is unmissable: surrounded by the Hajar Mountain range in the distance, the sandstone structure is a place of absolute serenity within the city. Allow at least two hours to appreciate the large prayer room, multiple courtyards and vast gardens. The world’s second largest crystal chandelier hangs inside the mosque and beautiful wooden carvings adorn almost every room.


Luban Spa

Shangri-La Al Husn is home to the first and only Luban Spa in the Sultanate of Oman. This is a bucket list experience to be ticked off while in Muscat. Luban is frankincense, the best of which comes from southern Oman. An extensive spa menu at Luban includes bespoke, hot stone and Thai massages with herb and Luban-blended products inspired by ancient healing techniques. Body therapies offer scrubs using ingredients such as rose and sandalwood. You’ll also find The Spa by Shangri-La in Oman Air’s first and business class lounges at Muscat airport.

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