Review: Sifawy boutique hotel, Muscat, Oman
What’s the one thing missing from a holiday that features desert, mountains, historic forts, city sights, dolphins, camels and turtles? A chance to chill out by the pool or beach at the end, of course.
Although we’d had downtime dotted throughout our week in Oman, I wanted to finish our fabulous experience with some relaxation, especially to give my pool-loving daughter a break before our flight home and return to school.
The only question was, where? There are several resorts on the coast just outside Muscat, the perfect location if it’s the last stop before the airport – and while the Shangri La Barr al Jissah is perhaps better known, we decided to check in to Sifawy boutique hotel. Smaller (and cheaper) it’s much newer than the sprawling Shangri La, stylish but still family-friendly.
Set on the marina at Jebel Sifah, the hotel has been open for around five years with 67 guest rooms including 29 suites and 13 larger residences. All have their own balcony, while there’s a pool, restaurant and bar – the rest of the marina includes a few shops, bike hire and apartments.
Around 45 minutes from Muscat itself, it’s just over an hour from the airport: bear in mind the last stretch between the main road and marina is a very twisty route through the mountains. We were upgraded to a marina suite and given one complimentary dinner (although paid for the rest of our stay).
The room – with its huge bed, large living space, big balcony overlooking the pool, great bathroom plus various cupboards to stash odds and ends, we had space to spare and a distinctly luxurious finish to our trip. Ours was decorated in cool blues and whites: combined with the air con, it made the perfect midday retreat from the sun.
There are a few added bonuses as well including a Nespresso machine (although I couldn’t get ours to work on the one occasion I tried).
The pool – several pools in one, to be accurate. A longer main pool had two smaller pools attached (one with jacuzzi jets), along with a separate shallow kids’ splash pool on one side, which meant plenty of options whether my five-year-old wanted to practise her swimming, mess around with her water toys, or squeal with laughter at the bubbles.
And while there were almost always people in the pool, it never seemed to be overly busy when we visited over a weekend in late October, plus there were always loungers or day beds with umbrellas so we could set up a base in the shade and stay there for hours.
The bar – after a dry week exploring (virgin mojitos and alcohol-free beer simply aren’t quite the same), having wine and cocktails – and huge frosty glasses of fruit juice for Minnie – felt like an enormous treat. Even better, given the captive audience and the fact alcohol is restricted in Oman, it didn’t come with a gigantic price tag either.
The setting – the marina is yards from the sea, ringed by mountains; elegant white buildings gleam in the sun and an unobtrusive bevy of gardeners keep everything neat and flourishing. The boats moored up add to the stylish feel but the atmosphere is entirely laid-back so you never feel a five-year-old is encroaching onto grown-up territory.
The staff – the famously good Middle Eastern service is no myth, but a couple of members of staff in the restaurant really went out of their way to make sure my daughter had a fantastic time (most importantly for her, whipping up a pancake bigger than her head).
The food – varied buffets, live cooking stations, a changing mix of western and Middle Eastern food, curries and fresh fish, plus a special barbecue one night (accompanied by some live jazz). As the sun set, there was the option of sitting outside at tables looking onto the yachts in the marina along with air conditioned tables inside which suited us better in the heat of the day.
Even my picky daughter found plenty to enjoy. Perhaps the only downside was the pricetag: when a five-year-old doesn’t eat a huge amount, buffets aren’t the cheapest option although on one occasion they offered to let her eat for free. There is an a la carte option but with a similar pricetag. There are also some great pizzas at the pool bar as a cheaper snack option – the largest size did us both for lunch.
The beach – in the end, we only got a quick look at the beach rather than fulfilling our sandcastle-building plans (partly lack of time, partly the fact the pool was so lovely we tended to settle on a lounger and not shift). But there are palm umbrellas, loungers and an almost empty stretch of sand if you do fancy a dig or a paddle.
The not so good
The variety – it’s a problem common to a lot of resorts: if you want an alternative outside the gates, you might find there isn’t… And that was definitely the case here. Despite being in a growing marina, you’re limited for food especially – if you fancied eating out one night, there’s currently nothing else nearby. For our short stay, I was more than happy to spend it all in the lovely hotel but if you’re there for longer, you might start to feel more limited.
The information – the hotel has a games room for kids, but the door seemed locked when we checked during our stay. There’s also an inflatable waterpark in the marina… but again, no-one was to be seen nearby and no evident information about using it. To be fair, we didn’t investigate in much detail as my daughter wasn’t fussed about either but I was a little surprised that that no-one mentioned it at all.
The same goes for the other excursions and activities on offer, including tennis and boat trips; the website even mentions a private island picnic. We were there to enjoy doing nothing so didn’t enquire, but nothing was volunteered.
Sifawy boutique hotel review: Verdict
Short answer? We had a fantastic couple of days to finish our trip – peaceful and relaxing with all the facilities we needed, a lavish helping of style, and a very family-friendly atmosphere for a boutique hotel. The perfect mix of luxury touches for me and pool for her, and the ideal way to chill out before we flew home.
PIN FOR LATER
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links – any purchases you make are unaffected, but I may receive a few pennies to offset that Omani buffet pricetag… All opinions, including the disadvantages of alcohol-free beer, remain my own. Our trip was arranged (and paid for) with Stubborn Mule.LIKED THIS? FOLLOW ME ON BLOGLOVIN