1/10 Shangri-la Barr Al Jissah Resort
Muscat has two main family-orientated hotels. The vast (640 room) Shangri-La Barr al Jissah Resort, which is really three hotels rolled into one mega-resort, rests along a 600 metre private beach. For families the best choice is the unfussy Al Waha section with its complex of interconnecting shallow pools and a popular lazy river where kids can let off steam to their hearts content without upsetting anyone, when not busy participating in the kids club or dive club activities.
Price: Rates from OR75 / £115 per night
More info: Shangri-La or call +968 24 776666
2/10 Al Bustan Palace Hotel
The second is the iconic Al Bustan Palace Hotel. Sitting in an oasis between the beach and mountains like a knight’s sanctuary from marauding Orcs in a Lord of the Rings film-set, its opalescent dome, turrets and archways shimmer at night as searchlights criss-cross starry skies. The cavernous lobby could easily host a conference of Ents or giant Trolls. Its friendly service and fine selection of restaurants, including Muscat’s best Chinese which is particularly good, is amazingly well set up for children. Tennis and Scuba lessons are superb options for active teenagers.
Price: Rates from OR119 / £180 per night
More info: Ritz Carlton or call +968 24 799666
3/10 The Chedi
The Chedi is Muscat’s answer to boutique beauty. If you’re a pool lizard rather than a beach babe then this aesthete’s hang out with its cool symmetry is the one for you, especially if you’re a family that prefers creating your own activities and entertainment to a kids club programme. It’s also great for foodies with nine differently themed dining venues from Mediterranean and Middle East to Southeast Asia and India – casual bare foot in the sand to formal European chandeliers. Three pools, Muscat’s largest health club, and a menu of Balinese spa therapies, Indian Ayurveda and indigenous rituals are amongst the temptations.
Price: Rates from OR 110/£165 per night
More info: GHM Hotels or call +968 24 524400
4/10 Alila Hotel
The brand new Alila Hotel up in cool mountain air of Jebel Al Akhdar is a sanctuary of peace and space. The stillness of the surrounding area infiltrates every inch of the hotel where camouflaged accommodations crafted from local stone look out to spectacular views across the infinity pool down the canyon. All the more amazing then that it’s thrown open its arms to families who flock here by the dozen to chill out both mentally and physically as the temperature is at least 10°C cooler than along the coast.
Price: Rates from OR125 / £190 per night
More info: Alila Hotel or call +44 (0)20 7792 8884
5/10 Hud Hud
When British born Sean Nelson left the army he found he couldn’t bring himself to leave the country he’d fallen in love with during his posting. The result was Hud Hud, a roaming safari camp run with all the military perfection and precision of a British royal marine commando. Hud Hud luxury glamping is second to none. Totally bespoke in every way, Sean will tailor your adventure to beach, mountain, wadi, desert or village. You can be completely alone or mix with the hubbub of the souks and Bedouin culture – you choose.
Price: Rates on request
More infos: Hud Hud or call +968 99 802922
6/10 Desert Nights Camp
If roaming the land Bedouin style seems a little too adventurous or energetic there are other options for a static glamping experience in the wilderness of Wahiba Sands (just two hours from Muscat) and an excellent alternative to Hud Hud is the Desert Nights Camp. Tents come with air-con, mini-bar, plug sockets, hot and cold running water and views across the dunes. It’s a magical location in desert silence where kids can live out their Arabian Nights and Aladdin fantasies around camp fires under a galaxy of stars.
Price: Rates from OR 45 / £69 per night
More info: Oman Hotels or call +968 24 702311
7/10 The View
With Jabal Shams as a backdrop, The View is Oman’s first of its kind eco luxe retreat, complete with 30 rectangular pod styled eco canvas tents with ensuite bathrooms (those with the best views are the seven facing over the vertiginous valley). It’s nestled in the lap of nature across a wide stretch of valley located high above the town Al Hamra, some 4,600ft above sea level. You can have a relaxed time by the pool or use it as a base to explore the souk at Nizwa, Al-Hoota cave, Jabal Sham’s grand canyon, Jabreen Fort and Wadi Gul.
Price: Rates on request
More info: The View Oman or call +968 24 400873
8/10 Oman Charter
If accommodation at sea for a night or two floats your boat why not sail away with Sea Oman on their eight person catamaran. It’s definitely more for teens than tots unless you like counting your flock continually. It was our teenagers’ favourite experience in Oman and the friendly captain and skipper kept us all amused with card games and paddle board races at sunset in the stunning Damaniyat Islands nature reserve where we had the bay to ourselves apart from the local hawksbill turtles and abundant birdlife.
Price: rates from OR900 / £1,370 for two days and one night on the 44’’ Orana for up to eight guests.
More info: Visit Sea Oman or call +968 24 181400
9/10 Zighy Bay
The Musandam Peninsula is Oman’s northern state and often thought of as the Norway of Arabia because of its fjord-like inlets and bays. Zighy Bay’s mile long sandy beach couldn’t be less Norwegian. Parents and teens might like the option of paragliding into the hotel but littlies can drive straight to the front door. Set out like an indigenous village with a private marina and spa it’s an ideal spot for mums and dads to de-frazzle while kids explore the Chaica’s Club watersports and activities. The Teens’ Club offers adventure hikes, wadi swimming, canyoning, archery, raft building, abseiling and movies on the beach.
Price: Rates from $648 / £380 per night
More info: Zighy Bay Six Senses or call +968 26 735555
10/10 Salalah Marriott Hotel
At the other end of the country lies the land of sacred frankincense in the region of Dhofar. TheSalalah Marriott Hotel, in the heart of Dhofar’s main town, has the country’s largest swimming pool – a 2,000sq metre expanse of water that feels more like a lake. The hotel has a typical low rise Omani style main building with super spacious, super private family-sized chalets with balcony views across the sea. Head inland to try some dune bashing, visit the Lost City of Ubar unearthed by adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, or the alleged home of Queen of Sheeba’s palace in Khor Rori.
Price: Rates from OR47 / £70