If you’ve been following the blog, you might have read some of my Muscat trip posts. If not, here’s an introduction in the first post. As I mentioned in that post, the trip wasn’t sponsored by any third party. I wasn’t paid to write the review on the hotel or anything else from that trip. I didn’t stay at the hotel for free in return for these posts. I paid the regular full rates as any regular tourist would. That’s why, the posts are truly genuine and honest. I reviewed the hotel from with all fairness, impartiality and accuracy.
Oman is a country worth a visit if you live in the Middle East. Mainly, because it’s different than the rest of the GCC countries. I’m originally from Saudi Arabia, but I have lived in Bahrain while doing my first degree there. I’ve also visited Kuwait once, and I now live in Dubai, in the UAE. I must admit that Oman’s landscape of beach, green spaces and mountains is truly unique for this region. It has a certain magical spell about it. Being surrounded by true nature feels so blissful and relaxing. When I first arrived to the hotel, all I wanted to do was sit and take in the view from outside the hotel room window. If you missed that view, you can check it here.
I spent most of my time lounging by the beach, as I desperately needed a break from Dubai’s fast-paced and busy lifestyle. Here are some shots from the beach at Crowne Plaza Muscat.
That’s it for my Muscat trip posts. For the rest of the posts, just do a simple search on the blog’s homepage for the word “Muscat” and you should get all the posts in the search results.
Another thing that I would like to add is that all the clothes that I wear in all my posts are from my own wardrobe. They are from my personal collection and were not given to me by any third party.
I hope that you enjoyed my recent travel posts, and that they inspired you in some way to visit that lovely city, or to simply travel somewhere. I am personally looking forward to my next trip – once I’m done with my University course.
That’s another thing that I look forward to! getting my journalism degree!
Here’s a photo of my suitcase at the end of the trip – as I was getting ready to leave majestic Muscat…
I don’t know why I traveled all the way to Hong Kong to escape busy, fast-paced and crowded Dubai! But, you can read all about my trip to Hong Kong in my earlier posts here.
Then, I decide to visit Muscat to relax by the beach and do some man hunting! (as in finding a partner basically). Of course I was only confronted with the fact that the nightlife in Muscat is struggling to survive.
I found out from residents of the enchanting city that all types of live entertainment have been banned recently in all hotels and establishments. Apparently, the new rules were enforced by the new tourism minister. This left only a few options for a night out in town. Half of them were chains that had branches in Dubai.
The stage for the live band at Pavo Real – a cool Mexican restaurant and bar – was still there. As if it was waiting for the live band to come back and play their regular tunes one day soon. Everything was still in place – as it was left by members of the band on the last day they were allowed to perform.
Since I now have less time for blogging – busy with University and other things – I decided to write this post in the form of a photo essay. It saves me time and makes it easier/faster to you readers to go through the post. So let’s look at the photos from my Muscat nightlife exploration attempt 🙂
Here’s a sum up of my Muscat night spots:
Pavo Real officially has the best long island iced tea in town.
The Left Bank had a strange crowd of expats, locals and pretentious people from Dubai. I felt like I was flown back to a pretentious Dubai bar when I was there. I truly hated my experience there.
Trader Vic’s at the Intercontinental hotel is quite spacious with a big outdoor dining area. It had a very upbeat and lively atmosphere. Everyone who was there seemed to be having a good time, dancing to Latin beats. No live band here either – just a DJ or playback music.
O’Malley’s at the Radisson Blu Hotel was by far my favourite place to hang out. It’s a casual pub with an Irish theme, and friendly staff. The food was great, the DJ played commercial tracks from different decades, and I met some nice people there. The funny thing is that no one told me about this place! I found out about it by doing some research online. I’m so glad that I ended up going there on my last night in Muscat. At least I managed to have some sort of fun eventually 🙂
Zouk night club: Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to check out Zouk on this trip. It was located right outside of my hotel, but I just didn’t get the time to visit.
I hope that this post was somewhat useful or interesting. Have you visited any of the places that I’ve mentioned in this post? If so, how was your experience?
You can view my previous post on the Muscat trip here.
Crowne Plaza Muscat offers its guests a complimentary shuttle bus service to a couple of tourist attractions. These include the “Grand Mosque”, the “Grand Mall”, and a traditional street market called “Muttrah Souq“.
Since I grew up in this region, visiting a mosque wasn’t exactly something that I would choose to do while on vacation. I think that type of excursion is more suitable for Western tourists who want to learn more about the region and visiting a mosque can be a good introduction. Especially in the Gulf region. At the same time, coming from Dubai – a city famous for its endless glitzy and shiny malls – going to another mall during my trip wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Luckily, I can visit the grand malls of Dubai anytime that I wish.
“Muttrah Souq” sounded interesting. The concept of a traditional street market selling all sorts of souvenirs and local goods was something that I could do on one of my days in this enchanting and original city.
So, I decided to take one day off of my strict tanning and beach lounging schedule to check out “Muttrah Souq”. I actually gave up one full day of going to the beach to visit this old traditional souq. So I hope that you will like the photos that I took as it was mainly for the blog 🙂
Here’s the shuttle bus that takes the hotel guests to the various touristic spots:
Here are some random photos that were taken at Muttrah Souq:
I thought that it was ironic that there was a store titled “Dubai” shopping center in the street behind “Muttrah Souq”!
Muttrah Souq is a true and authentic street market with its branched out and narrow alleys. While walking around this super cool and traditional market, I decided to make my market experience even more rich by sampling some street food. I snacked on two samosas (one with a vegetable filling and the other with potatoes) and one piece of falafel. Now I have to give you guys a valuable piece of advise: stick to the falafel and avoid the samosas! The samosas are way too greasy and you can barely notice any flavor other than the taste of oil used to fry those samosas. Although the falafel was very dry, it had a nice flavor to it and I regretted not getting three falafels instead of one falafel and two samosas!
For someone who is from the Gulf region and has grown up in it, I can frankly tell you that Muttrah Souq is severely authentic and is a true representation of the culture, traditions and icons of the region. Almost every item that is sold at that souq resonates with me in one way or another. The antique boxes for example, are used to decorate corners in houses in the Gulf region. At our house, we used them to store old newspapers and magazines! Yeah I know what you’re thinking, we’re a weird bunch 🙂
I will be posting the rest of the photos from my Muscat trip on the Facebook Page soon. So that you won’t miss a thing from my trip.
If you didn’t get a chance to check the previous post from my trip, you can find it here.
Time for me to go to bed, as I have been out all day doing something quite adventurous…you’ll hear all about it soon. Simply watch this space.
You might have read my introductory post about my recent trip to Muscat, and how I got most of my friends and family worried about me. How come? well, I decided to disappear from Dubai for a short break without informing many people that I was leaving 🙂 My dad knew that I was going to Muscat, but since he’s always been a forgetful person, he completely forgot about it. And I ended up being the center of attention – even to my building’s security guards! If you missed that post, you can still find it here.
Because I like to have music as a background to my life – be it radio, music TV channels, or Youtube music videos, I decided to share with you this uber cool playlist that I discovered recently. The best part? it’s mainly old-school R&B – my favorite music genre! You can keep this playlist playing in the background as you go through my second Muscat trip post – if you wish of course:
Now, if you are visiting Muscat for the first time, you must understand one thing: Most tourist areas, green mountains, wadis, hot water spots, nature, whatever it is – is located at least two hours or an hour and a half away from Muscat downtown. You could take a tour day trip, hire a taxi driver, or rent a car and drive there yourself. However, for a Diva like me, I decided to just lounge by the beach all day and leave all the sightseeing for another trip! Yes, I was really exhausted from the super fast-paced Dubai life and I wanted to take a break to just breathe…
On the bright side, I did meet some nice people during my trip who offered to take me sightseeing on my next visit to Oman.
So my suggestion for you would be to make friends as soon as you land in Muscat (provided that you don’t have ones already) and ask them to take you around the city and the beautiful green landscapes (which I didn’t get a chance to see really!).
However, I did manage to check out the Barr Al Jissah area. Which is basically a mountainous landscaped area – beautiful at sunset time. I even stopped at the highway to take some pictures for you guys to see! How brave is that? 🙂
The road through Barr Al Jissah can only take you to the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa. And that’s where I went to check out Long Bar, after seeing it listed in the first edition of Conde Nast Traveller Middle East. I had always dreamed of visiting Oman, so I kept that copy of the magazine’s first edition…and it sure came in handy! It does take time to realize your dreams, but it’s never impossible. So whatever those dreams are – whether you dream of visiting an exotic beach destination or becoming a well-known artist – you will get there if you have a strong will and a bit of patience 🙂
The beach width at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa is quite big. But I must admit, I had higher expectations for this resort. Coming from glamorous and shiny Dubai, I honestly wasn’t impressed with this hotel to say the least. This property didn’t match the standard of this renowned five-star hotel group, nor did the ambiance or food at Long Bar. I felt that the hotel was kind of shabby – I know it’s Oman and not Dubai. So it’s meant to be kind of old and rich in heritage. But I still didn’t feel like I was at the Shangri-La! I had heard a lot about this specific resort prior to visiting. But sadly, I was disappointed with my experience there.
As for Long Bar, it did have an outdoor seating overlooking the bay. However, there were no coolers in the outdoor area (unlike outdoor spaces in Dubai). Plus, there was no music playing in the outside area – apart from the Oud player serenading us with “Om Kulthoum” classics in the next door venue. Now if I wanted to listen to Oud and some classical Arabic tunes, would I be heading to the Shangri-La Resort & Spa for my night out? Hmm…maybe not. It’s true that it was a quiet and serene spot for a chilled night out. But I would say it was too quiet for my liking. Quiet at Long Bar translated into “haunted”. And that’s not what you expect at a five-star beach resort bar.
I only had breakfast that day, so when I saw that they had Spanish tapas on their menu at Long Bar, I got excited! I ordered the classic Spanish omelet starter – only to be even more disappointed with this sports bar. The omelet tasted like something that you would get at a breakfast place that doesn’t serve decent breakfast. In Dubai, ordering International dishes means that the restaurant will try to make them in a way that is highly similar to the original recipe. It will taste very close to the real thing too! Not at Long Bar unfortunately. They might as well remove the Spanish tapas from the menu if they can’t make them properly. This is what I had at Long Bar:
In the above photo, I’m wearing “Resort Fling” nail polish shade by the famous Essie brand.
I think that’s about all I had to say about this part of my Muscat trip. But stay tuned to hear about more places to see in Muscat…
I chose Muscat as my summer holiday destination because I wanted to get away to a nearby peaceful and quiet place. And I’m glad to say that I couldn’t have made a better decision. Luckily, as a GCC national, I don’t require a visit visa for Oman. This fact is considered a great privilege, since an advance application for a visit visa is required for most countries with my Saudi passport.
Browsing through the mainly positive reviews of the Crowne Plaza Muscat on Trip Advisor will make anyone looking for a mid-range hotel choose to stay there. And as a note to all my readers and followers, I assure you that I paid the regular room charges for my stay at the Crowne Plaza Muscat. So this is by no means a sponsored post. It is a genuine review of my experience at the hotel and in Muscat in general.
The unique element about this hotel is its location. It’s situated on top of a hill in the “Al Qurum” area. The area is around 25 minutes away by car from Muscat International airport. It’s a well-reputed residential upscale area, that is home to many of the country’s ministers, PDO (Oman’s leading oil and gas company), and the residential compounds of PDO’s employees and other company facilities.
Crowne Plaza Muscat is a four-star property:
After my Hong Kong hotel room view, I decided to choose a sea-view room this time around 🙂 Here’s my breathtaking view from my room at Crowne Plaza Muscat:
Another view from my room window:
A view of the swimming pool from the same window 🙂
While at my peaceful sea-view room, I could hear the sound of the waves and the birds chirping throughout the day. Just being in the room felt so relaxing and serene. It resembled living in the outdoors or in a forest for my whole stay there. I even decided to keep my mobile phone switched off throughout my vacation – which caused a lot of family and friends to get worried about me. This meant that I came back to my apartment building’s reception in Dubai to a security guard requesting me to call my worried father, and looking at me as if I’m a crazy woman! not to mention a sweet note slipped under my door from my besties in Dubai, wondering where I have disappeared! Of course all of that commotion can only prove one thing: that none of my close friends in Dubai take the time to read my blog posts! Sigh…oh well, I hope that I will gain loyal readers from across the world who are genuinely interested in reading my blog posts! I will post a picture of that note later on my Facebook Page. So stay tuned for that 🙂
Here’s a look at my home for a total of 8 days….
On my first day, I needed to get a few things from a grocery store, so I headed to Al Qurum City Center. It’s basically a local mall for the lovely Qurum area. It’s part of the popular City Center shopping mall chain that has a number of malls around the GCC. The taxis is Oman do not have meters like the ones in Dubai. So you can find the fixed rates on a sign board at the hotel, airport and at malls. The taxi fare from Crowne Plaza Muscat to Qurum City Center is 4 OMR. There’s a Carrefour hypermarket in the shopping mall. But it’s not nearly as busy as the one in Dubai! I was there on a Thursday afternoon (around 3:30 pm) and the halls of the supermarket were haunted! It was a shocking scene for someone who frequents Dubai’s MOE Carrefour to say the least! Apparently, the residents have other more popular options for their grocery shopping aside from the UAE-renowned Carrefour.
I was glad to see a Borders bookstore at Qurum City Center! I managed to get a copy of a travel magazine and two notebooks for my University September semester (which started yesterday b.t.w.). Here’s a photo of Borders at Qurum City Center.
It takes around 5 minutes to get to the mall from Crowne Plaza Muscat. It’s a small-sized mall with only one floor including a number of high-street retail shops, a Starbucks, a food court, a Chili’s restaurant, a cinema and the Carrefour. I would say it’s a nice quiet place to go to when you need to kill some time, want to get some groceries, or do some people watching at the Starbucks 🙂
I’ll be posting the remaining photos on my Facebook Page at the end of these series of travel posts. So stay tuned to find out more about the beautiful and captivating city of Muscat…
Note: Airport taxis are located outside the arrival hall in Muscat airport. The cost from the airport to Crowne Plaza Muscat is 10 OMR per way. It’s a fixed rate that you must pay at the airport taxi station, which is located outside the arrival hall at Muscat airport. Muscat airport can be quite busy and overwhelming, so don’t let that put you off a highly peaceful and beautiful city 🙂