With a fresh new facelift and that same breathtaking view, the Crowne Plaza Muscat continues to top the list of our staycation faves!
One of the city’s most iconic beachfront addresses, the five-star Crowne Plaza Muscat, hugging the cliffside in the heart of Qurum, has long remained a stalwart on Muscat’s hospitality scene. With 200 rooms, a spectacular recent renovation saw the remodelling of a lobby/foyer, an elegant outdoor terrace, two lush new infinity pools, and the launch of a cliffside eatery aptly named ‘The Edge’, you’d be hard-pressed to find a weekend vacancy after its recent re-opening.
It’s late on a sunny Thursday afternoon when we arrive and as we check in we’re struck by the elegance of its new lobby and tea lounge – first impressions, after all, being everything. Awash in light tones and adorned with splashes of colour from the artwork, sculptures, and encased jewellery displays that dot the foyer; the refurb has focused on maximising as much natural light to brighten the space as possible. And, as rays of golden light illuminate the glass bank windows leading out to the hotel’s newly-reconstructed outdoor terrace, there’s a sense of the exquisite as the natural beauty of the locale is ever-present from all vantage points.
After a quick check-in (and an upgrade to a sea-view room), we head upstairs to drop our bags before grabbing a pre-dinner drink on the terrace at Duke’s – the hotel’s time-honoured watering hole. While the room is quite cozy and compact, it’s well-appointed with all amenities. We especially love the little touches such as the Elemis scented pillow spray to help you relax into sleep, lush Ecokind toiletries, and the hotel’s active participation in the IHG Green Engage sustainability programme, which aims to gauge the impact of a property’s environmental footprint.
After pausing to drink in the sunset view from our window of the beachfront Muscat coastline and imposing mountain ridges standing sentinel in the background, we head downstairs to beat the sundowner crowd clamouring for a table at Duke’s. It is traditional dark-wood British pub-cum-US sports-bar on the inside – but since the hotel’s outdoor renovations, the place to be is, without a doubt, on one of the al fresco banquette tables.
Grabbing one of the last available spots, we put our feet up, unwind and watch the fiery yolk of the sun sink lower into the Gulf of Oman. As we sip our drinks, and nibble on some crispy prawns tossed in a zingy sauce off the appetiser menu, there’s no place we’d rather be.
My favourite place– Feet up, poolside, at any of the hotel’s two gorgeous new infinity pools. Open from 7:00 a.m. till 9:00 p.m., they offer maximum relaxation with unparalleled cliffside views of the beach, mountains, and shoreline – plus the property’s lush gardens and tennis courts.
Sip a refreshing mocktail from your sun-lounger and take in the ambience of the Friday brunch crowd as the DJ plays the most mellow set you’ve ever heard. Or, make the trek down the cliffside to the hotel’s private beach and feel the sand between your toes as you indulge in an afternoon of watersports.
And, if you’re feeling peckish by the pool, you can order refreshments and nibbles direct to your sun-lounger from the adjacent The Edge restaurant. Bring your shades and a good book – sheer bliss!
Highlights– Dinner with a view at Come Primo, the property’s premier Italian fine-dining restaurant. With incredible vistas out over the water, sea meets sky at this romantic terrace venue – and the cuisine? ‘Tutto bene’, we say! Not a table in the house is empty as we dine, and with the weather finally cooperating, there is a gorgeous evening breeze to carry us along all three courses.
We start with two portions of the Cream of Pimento Soup with Red Mullet – a rich red pepper broth overlaying a melt-in-your-mouth fillet of mullet and topped with sweetly-sautéed cuttlefish and a side of garlic toast. It’s a winner of a dish that sets the tone for the rest of the evening’s meal.
With the restaurant having a veal promotion this November, I opt for the Slow-Cooked Veal Belly atop a bed of pureéd pumpkin, butter-tossed grilled mushrooms and veggies. Silky and slick, it’s drizzled in a fragrant veal jus that brings a complexity and depth of flavour to the dish that’s utterly more-ish. My companion orders the Roasted Rack of Lamb with a pistachio crust, smoked eggplant purée, and confit tomatoes. Perfectly pink, it’s fall-off-the-bone tender and packed
with flavour. We top off what has been a standout dinner with two orders of creamy, espresso-soaked tiramisu to round off the evening.
How to get there– Located in the heart of Muscat’s Qurum city centre area, the hotel is just a short drive from prime attractions such as the Royal Opera House Muscat, the Grand Mosque, and the Qurum City Centre Mall, and is a 20-minute drive from the Muscat International Airport. Fronting on a stretch of beach that runs for several kilometres down the coastline it’s also a great location for leisurely walks for those who prefer to be outdoors and in nature. For more information call (+968) 2466-0660, or visit www.ihg.com/crowneplaza.
1. Watch the sun set on the terrace of Shiraz Restaurant
2. Indulge in a massage at the Cliff Club wellness centre
3. Go jet-skiing from the hotel’s private beach
4. Play a round of tennis on their five-star courts
5. Grab lunch with a view at The Edge