Disclaimer: This post is brought to you in part by Shangri-La Al Husn Resort & Spa. This post contains affiliate links which means YBC® will earn a small commission if you happen to make a purchase. Thanks for your support.
If you've been following the YBC® and Namaslay® Yoga Teacher Training journey on Instagram, you know that this summer has been busy. We started out in Koh Samui, then went to northern Thailand for our three week long yoga teacher training, and from there we had a week break between going to Santorini for our final event of the summer - a yoga retreat. In between that break, I decided to visit Muscat, Oman. It was exactly halfway between Thailand and Santorini, and being the offseason this time of year due to extreme heat, it was an ideal spot to hit. Shangri-La Al Husn Resort & Spa graciously agreed to work with us, and so here we are.
I want to preface this by saying that I've been to the Middle East a handful of times, to Dubai, which I would argue isn't the "real" Middle East, because Dubai is prominently comprised of expats. Oman, it appears, is my first "real" trip to the Middle East.
Before 1970, there wasn't much in Oman. But then Qaboos bin Said ousted his father in a coup, and has been the Sultan ever since. His first orders of business were to address the poverty and illiteracy that plagued his people, and to abolish slavery. In talking with the locals, it seems like they have a great love and respect for the Sultan, and credit him to completely turning the country around.
I was super jet lagged and exhausted when I arrived from Thailand after a twenty hour travel day, so for the first few days I stayed at the hotel, which was an ideal place to recuperate. After a few days, Dan, our Strength and Conditioning coach for our Namaslay® Yoga Teacher Training Program, and I ventured out to check out the souk, the Grand Mosque, and have a few meals out - at Bait Al Luban, the restaurant featured on Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown, and Mumtaz Mahal. Both of the meals I had there were incredible. Check out the video below!
Highlights of my Oman Trip
The food at Bail Al Luban and the Mumtaz Mahal. For Mumtaz Mahal, we asked the chef to just choose for us, and let me tell you, that strategy never fails!
The doorman at Al Husn. He was so kind, and offered to lend me a headscarf when I wanted to go to the Grand Mosque.
The general kindness of the Omani people I met. Our taxi driver was unbelievable. He offered to come into the Grand Mosque and it was an incredible experience. He explained so many different details I would've missed, were he not there.
The bed at Al Husn! It was unbelievably comfortable, and exactly what I needed after a long day of travel.
Chatting with the female volunteer at the Grand Mosque. She was an older woman, maybe in her 70s, and she was just the funniest, most lovely woman. I wrote a post about her here.
The gym at Al Husn! The equipment is state of the art, and although the room could use a daily tidying up (the stretching room was often in disarray with mats and boscu balls scattered about), the size of the gym, especially given that it's a hotel gym, was just mind-blowing. I love the fact that they stock a fridge of cold towels in the gym - so refreshing after a workout!
An Honest Review - Shangri-La Al Husn Resort and Spa
For this trip, I collaborated with Shangri-La Al Husn Resort and Spa, which is an absolutely gorgeous hotel. The drive up felt almost other worldly. The architecture is unlike anything we have back home, and it's just a magical location.
Also magical is the standard room they generously put me up in. The bed was large and comfortable, the (free) mini-bar was restocked daily, and the bathroom was spacious, complete with a tub, separate shower area, and large closet space so you could completely unpack and feel at home. Little touches were sweet, too, like the box of dates you get upon arrival, and the fresh flowers in the room.
While so much of my stay was lovely, there were a few things I would be remiss not to mention. I want to preface the next two paragraphs with one glaringly obvious point: None of these are real, actual problems. These are little grievances, nothing else, and certainly nothing that would prevent me from actually staying at the hotel again. However, I feel it's important to share my experiences - the good and the not so good - because it's important to be honest and transparent.
I felt there was a slightly inconsistency with the food. One day, I was invited to lunch and met with the chef and general manager, which was really nice. I ordered what was quite possibly the best salad I've ever had (it's in the vlog, check it out) - it had grapefruit, edible flowers, and the most delicious tomatoes, and, ugh, just thinking about it right now makes my mouth water. I went back the following day to order the same salad (it was that good!), and it didn't even seem like the same thing - the grapefruit was dried up and rock solid, and I wound up sending it back.
I felt like there was inconsistency in the quality of service, as well. While most of the staff was warm and welcoming, I felt like I was a burden to some. For example, I wanted to go to the spa to get my nails done, lash extensions, and get my eyebrows threaded (don't judge! I'd been in the jungle for the previous three weeks!). I went to the front desk to make an appointment, and I asked the front desk if they wouldn't mind asking what brand of product the spa used for lash extensions before I made any appointment. The attendant wordlessly picked up the phone, called the spa and then handed me the receiver, saying, "Here, you ask what you need, I don't know anything about eye lashes." It just felt like I was a huge burden, and how hard is it to ask the brand name of the product? (It didn't end up mattering, because despite lash extensions being on the spa menu, I was told they haven't offered them in months, and they don't do them anymore). No matter, I didn't need extensions that badly, and I proceeded to go to the spa to get my eyebrows threaded. Despite three chairs being available and two threaders free, I was asked to wait for the one chair that was occupied by Dan, YBC's® Strength and Conditioning coach, who was getting a haircut. After about twenty minutes, they asked me to move into one of the aforementioned free chairs without any explanation as to why I'd been asked to wait in the first place.
One day, I checked out the pool (it was a saltwater pool, and it was fantastic!), and ordered a drink. I'd had the same delicious mocktail the day before, but when it arrived, fifty minutes later no less, it didn't taste anything like the one I'd ordered the day prior.
None of these things were a huge deal to me, but it just didn't feel like the high quality service you'd expect at a five star hotel. In other ways, however, they were incredible.
The daily high tea was a really nice touch. Everything I ate at the high tea was fantastic from the Arabic sweets to the mini sandwiches. The coffee was fantastic as well.
Following that, there is also a daily cocktail hour in the courtyard. It's a pretty cool experience because they invite a local Omani musician to play a guitar, and with the acoustics of the courtyard, it sounds so beautiful. It's such a nice way to start the evening.
Overall, my trip to Muscat was nice. It was the perfect place to recharge after three long weeks in Thailand at our Yoga Teacher Training, and a beautiful place to relax.