If you’re after an island escape but like your holidays to be about more than lying by a pool and sunning yourself then Bahrain might be the place for you. Here you have history and culture by the bucket load but also the chance to kick back and relax. In Arabic, “Bahr-ayn” means “two seas”, which refers to the Arabian Gulf and the fresh water springs that exist under the ocean. The country consists of an archipelago of 33 islands, the two main ones being Bahrain itself and Muharraq.
As an island, strangely there are few beaches on offer, but it’s possible to try various water sports from diving to kitesurfing as well as relaxing leisure activities such as dolphin watching and pearl diving.
Where we stayed…
The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain – A sprawling resort that is as luxurious as it gets on the island, if not the GCC. With gardens and beaches, restaurants and bars, sporting facilities, a spa and gym, there’s everything you could want right here. We mentioned above that there aren’t many beaches on the island, well, one of the biggest and best is here. Despite the hotel being around for years, the décor and rooms are modern and bright, with plenty of modern touches. Bathrooms are spacious, with deep baths (and separate showers in Club Rooms). Views are pretty special, whether you’re looking out onto the sea or the city from the floor-to-ceiling windows. There are LCD TVs, complimentary wifi and the ability to plug in your iPod or iPhone to the sound system. The three levels of suites dial up the luxury even more with Jacuzzis, unique artwork and more. And if that’s still not enough for you, check out the villas that have direct beach access, personal swimming pools and loads of space inside them.
A double room will set you back around Dhs1,050 per night, but check out the hotel's website for more information and offers.
Where we ate…
There are enough outlets in the hotel itself to keep you going for around a week and all are with visiting.
Cantina Kahlo – The hotel’s newest venue is a modern Mexican kitchen. The colourful interior is inspired by the artist is takes its name from. It’s a fun spot, with a terrific terrace outside, too. Dishes are packed with vibrant flavours and drinks are fun and authentic.
Kahlo Club – Sitting over the hotel’s waterways is this sister venue to Cantina Kahlo. The bar has live music, plenty of Mexican drinks and a very cool vibe.
Plums – A plush steakhouse with a sense of drama, Plums does everything you’d expect of a steakhouse and then some. Food here is far from straightforward, as the restaurant’s chef plates up his dishes with panache.
Primavera – An Italian venue that fuses fine dining with a sense of fun, Primavera is great for a casual night out with friends or a more sophisticated evening. Make sure you check out the regular 80s night and aperitivo deal.
Nirvana – This Indian restaurant transports you to the subcontinent within the compact and elegant dining room. It feels cosy, the top-class cooking puts a smile on your face and the overall vibe makes you feel a million miles away from the sunny beaches outside, in a good way.
Asia De Cuba – If you do fancy leaving the hotel then this Chino-Latino hotspot is a great place to try. It opened in early 2016 and has bags of style and substance. The fusion dishes are judged perfectly and the atmosphere is terrific.
Where we relaxed…
At the hotel, basically. There are plenty of places to chill out without leaving the grounds.
Your first port of call should probably be The Spa. The calming venue has steam rooms, saunas and rainforest showers as well as treatment rooms for a proper pampering. Her Secret Sanctuary is a great way for ladies to experience traditional Arabian therapies to cleanse, exfoliate and nourish the body. The Secrets of Argan facial uses warmed argan oil for a deep cleanse and the Lomi Lomi massage uses Hawaiian methods for a relaxing rubdown.
There are indoor and outdoor pools if you want to go for a dip and there are ladies’ and men’s hair salons if you fancy a good grooming.
What we did…
There’s loads to do in the hotel and outside of it. The fitness centre has top-of-the-range machines and weights and a full schedule of classes. We tried the HIT session, which was a serious workout. If sports are more your thing there are squash courts and tennis courts, too.
The hotel can also arrange boat trips for you, we chose the two-and-a-half-hour Sandbar Beach excursion, which (for Dhs400 each) includes a journey to the picturesque island of Jarada, some 14km from the hotel. There you can relax in seclusion with drinks and snacks.
A visit to Bahrain National Museum is filled with loads of interesting artefacts and dioramas depicting traditional Bahraini life. The Al-Fateh Mosque welcomes visitors and offers guided tours, Bahrain Fort is a brilliant way to step back in time to see ruins going back thousands of years. The hotel can arrange a day trip with a guide to see all these and more.
How To Get There…
Emirates, Flydubai, Cathay Pacific and the Kingdom’s own carrier Gulf Air all offer direct flights to Bahrain International Airport from Dubai International and Al Maktoum International. The flight time is just 50 minutes and flights start from around Dhs600.
– Bahrainis are wonderfully hospitable people, if you are invited to someone’s home for dinner, we’d urge you to check it out.
– Before you get to the immigration desk at Bahrain airport you should fill out a landing card with your details on. If it’s your first time in the Kingdom they may disappear with your passport for a while but it’s perfectly normal.