The W Muscat lives up to its motto as a luxurious new property that pays homage to the Sultanate it now calls home, says Ashlee Starratt.
Few brands can truly be described as iconic. In fact, it’s a word that’s far too over-used and, oftentimes, inaccurately attributed. But in the world of hospitality, W Hotels can wear that moniker proudly.
Marking its first foray into the Sultanate, the new W Muscat has been a long time coming and, known as disruptors on the scene, finally opened its doors this spring in Shatti Al Qurum to an eagerly-awaiting public.
Pulling up to the hotel on a weekend afternoon we’re greeted by a towering steel sculpture of a frankincense tree, while the striking lobby interior catches our attention with its impeccable attention to cultural aesthetic detail executed with signature W chic.
Floor-to-ceiling black marble pervades, with splashes of colour in vibrant hues coming from the nearby seating area and the sinfully luxe adjacent Living Room lounge, while a glittering chandelier tracks a purple landscape that’s equal parts sound-wave and equal parts an inverted rendering of the Al Hajjar Mountains.
After a breezy check-in we’re escorted down cavernous winding hallways, meant to feel as though you’re in the Al Hoota Caves to our Wonderful King Room. Along the way holographic Arabesque pop-art dots peeks out unexpectedly, while the carpeted floors are mandalas in shades of sea and sand.
With 279 rooms and suites, the hotel is vast, yet all facilities feel easily accessible from our far corner room. Inside the colour palette is gold and teal jewel tones with splashes of pink, and animal prints that lend it a typical W feel of being contemporary and swish yet with a nod to Omani heritage in its design. Looking closely, we notice the bedside lampshades are reminiscent of Omani kuma headdress, while the closet and cupboards areas are leather-bound carriage trunks meant to represent the transient wanderer whose peregrinations aren’t so different from the Bedouin.
The bathroom is floor to ceiling white- and black-streaked marble with mirrored sliding walls and luxurious Bliss bath products. There’s a gold-lacquered camel stool in the massive walk-in shower. Let that sink in.
In fact, we do. Sitting outside on our shaded terrace drinking in the view and the sun off the pool deck, we get the feeling the fun is just getting started.
My favourite place- Poolside at the WET Deck. There’s really no place we’d rather be…all weekend in fact. And that’s saying something as the hotel’s diversity of outlets are all well worth spending time in. But the large courtyard-style pool with its overwater cabanas where you can lounge all day with a good book from sun-up to sundown is bliss. The staff are friendly and the service pretty impeccable considering the number of hungry and thirsty sun-worshippers lounging about. With a focus on wellness – think Detox, Retox, Repeat – across all the hotel’s B&F offerings (that’s Beverage & Food, because, W!), menus are fresh, filling and with a focus on local ingredients that highlight the Omani cuisine. At WET Deck you’ll find fresh platters of crudités alongside, wholesome salads, piquant prawn tacos, and some seriously sizzling sandwiches.
Highlights- As is the case with W hotels, it’s all about the small details that set their properties apart. Taking our breakfast and dinner in their Harvest all-day dining restaurant – a lush bistro decked out in shades of blue – the stellar service we experienced was certainly one of them. Our waiter Javn was our culinary guide for our a la carte dinner experience, offering up insightful recommendations while being conscientious in his service towards our pace of dining, and convincing us to go for dessert – which, on top of an already decadent prawn biriyani and grilled salmon with miso mushrooms, was the proverbial cherry on top. The presentation of Harvest’s Exotic Cheesecake – carefully enrobed to resemble an orange creamsicle dropped amid a tumble of meringues, passionfruit and raspberry purees, with a perfect globe of coconut sorbet. Exquisite. While on this trip we didn’t make it over to their CHAR signature steakhouse and grill, we make a mental note to return and try it out another time.
We’re also marking our calendars for the openings of their two yet-to-come outlets – the Asian-inspired Ba Ban and the hotel’s rooftop jewel, Siddharta Lounge by Buddha Bar which will boast its own infinity pool. Waking up gently the next morning we head for an early morning facial treatment at their AWAY Spa, a tranquil enclave of dimly-lit serenity. Whisked away to a private room with our own walk-in closet and shower, we get settled in as our therapist Maria does a skin assessment for our prescription facials and then proceeds to steam, exfoliate, massage, and plump us into bliss using a hypo-allergenic array of [comfort zone] organic facial products. We’ve indeed found our bliss here at the W Muscat with a whatever, whenever weekend that has us relaxed and refreshed for what lies ahead.
Getting there- The W Muscat is located in the capital’s beachfront Shatti Al Qurum resort area, adjacent to the Royal Opera House. It’s a 20-minute drive from Muscat International Airport and its central location makes it an ideal hub from which to branch out and explore the capital and its surrounding areas.
Contact- Want to book your own funky weekend in paradise? Call (+968) 2212-0000 or visit www.wmuscat.com.
1. Enjoy a sundowner mocktail from the pool-view terrace of their Living Room lounge.
2. Indulge in their Pink Friday promotion on the WET Deck and soak up the sun.
3. Book in for an indulgent massage at their AWAY Spa.
4. See how many Omani-inspired design elements you can spot – and architectural animals too!
5. Tuck into a fresh, healthy spread at their Harvest restaurant breakfast buffet.