Shangri-La Al Husn review: Muscat adults-only hotel offers a resort escape

Shangri-La Al Husn in Muscat in Oman

As cities across the Middle East compete against each other to rapidly modernise, peppering their skylines with ever-taller high rises, Oman offers a welcome alternative.

Rather than joining the rat race, the Sultanate is focussing on preserving its traditional culture, with regulations to prevent the construction of skyscrapers that would be out of place with its current architecture — and block those jaw-dropping mountain views.

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Thanks to this, Muscat retains its rustic charm, and has long been a top destination for those living in the region looking for a quick getaway. Life here is slow-paced, and nowhere better embodies this stop-and-smell-the-roses (or, more accurately, the frankincense) approach than the Shangri-La Al Husn.

Close enough to downtown for those looking to explore the sights, but tucked away in Muscat Bay with enough activities to fill a quick getaway, the Shangri-La Al Husn offers a city escape with just enough seclusion.

Middle East Traveller checked in to Shangri-La Al Husn’s One-Bedroom Suite for a tranquil getaway with spectacular mountain and sea views.

Shangri-La Al Husn in Muscat in Oman

The Hotel

Nestled within a cove, the adults-only Shangri-La Al Husn is one of two hotels within the Barr Al Jissah complex. The second, Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah, is split into wings – Al Waha and Al Bandar – the former of which is aimed at families, while the latter caters to both business and leisure travellers.

As a guest at Al Husn, facilities across all of the hotels are open to you, but to maintain an air of exclusivity and tranquillity, guests of Al Waha and Al Bandar are allowed access to Al Husn’s restaurants at dinner time. This means Al Husn, meaning ‘castle’ in Arabic, feels both a part of the wider Barr Al Jissah complex, and separate from it. There are just 180 rooms and suites for guests aged 16 and above, so public spaces on the Al Husn side are never overly busy.

The sprawling resort (you will undoubtedly make use of the map handed over at check in) covers 500 metres of coastline, with six swimming pools at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah to choose from. But for those looking for a quieter dip, Al Husn has its own 100-metre private beach overlooking the area’s iconic rocky arch, as well as a clifftop infinity pool.

Shangri-La Al Husn is reminiscent of an Omani fort, with Moorish architectural elements throughout. You’ll find mashrabiya in both the rooms and throughout the corridors, with the hotel centred around a main courtyard — another feature typical of Islamic architecture. The courtyard leads to the infinity pool, before which you’ll pass through the hotel’s most photographed feature — its pointed archway.

Having first opened in 2006, those who prefer a sleek, modern aesthetic may not appreciate Shangri-La Al Husn’s décor, but it’s a minor quibble in most people’s (and our) books.

The Arrival

The 45-minute drive from Muscat International Airport passes sights like the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque before a (slight) ascent into the mountains, and finally through the entranceway to the resort.

Check-in is completed to the side of the main lobby area, where friendly concierge staff await to assist you with anything you should need. It’s a suitably grand welcome, with plush, intricate carpets beneath golden ceilings, and the smell of frankincense wafting through the air.

We arrive in the early hours of the morning, and check-in is thankfully swift, with a brief pitstop at a signboard showing the resort map before heading to the room.

The Room

The One-Bedroom Suite instantly impresses thanks to its size, with a spacious living area and walk-in wardrobe. Much like the rest of the hotel, the design has Islamic architectural influences, with mashrabiya on the panels behind the headboard and on the door leading to the bathroom. Guests shouldn’t expect the black, white and grey colour schemes preferred by hotels opened over the past decade, but instead the deep woods and golden hues found in many slightly older properties.

Aside from the décor, there are plenty of other elements that root the hotel in Omani heritage. There are a number of coffee table books in each room giving insight into the rich history of the country, as well as binoculars for guests to use to spot mynahs, terns and other birds, or for night-time stargazing.

It is the balcony that is the star of the show, with views out to the clifftop and Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah’s beach area. You’ll spend most of your time here, or in the bathtub, making use of the frankincense-scented toiletries. At Al Husn, your stay also includes use of the mini-bar, which is refilled once a day, as well as a daily afternoon high tea at Sultanah and pre-dinner drinks in the courtyard.

The Service

Oman is known for its hospitality, so it’s little wonder that the service at Shangri-La Al Husn is what sets it apart from the competition.

Staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and constantly surprised us during our stay by remembering our preferences or dietary requirements. You’ll often see Hotel Manager Nick Flynn or Executive Chef Eric Fettke chatting with guests throughout the properties’ restaurants and facilities.

The Shangri-La Al Husn is the kind of resort that you’ll want to return to as a result — and many guests do. In fact, there are half a dozen guests that have visited so often that their room numbers are now switched out in favour of a named plaque whenever they are in residence.

The Restaurants and Bars

While the Shangri-La Al Husn is close enough to town for a dinner excursion, the resort has more than enough dining options for every taste.

Within Al Husn itself, all-day dining restaurant Sultanah will be your port of call for breakfast, with a buffet of fresh fruits, salads and pastries, plus the option to order à la carte dishes such as eggs or pancakes.

The restaurant takes its name, and look, from the Sultanah, the first ship to ever sail from Oman to the US back in 1833. Expect subtle nautical interiors, and an à la carte dinner menu of Mediterranean plates such as oven-baked sea bass and chicken roulade.

Just opposite Sultanah is Aangan by Rohit Ghai, a contemporary Indian restaurant from the acclaimed chef. Outside, a gorgeous terrace overlooking the beach awaits, while inside the interiors are chic and modern.

Perfect for date night, or a meal with family, the menu is filled with dishes that are meant to be shared. On our visit, the kali dal and the fish mangalore both proved popular.

On the more relaxed side of things, Al Husn has two more restaurants to choose from — Mahhara Beach Bar, above Al Husn’s private beach, and the Al Muheet Pool Bar, adjacent to the infinity pool. Both menus focus on lighter bites, with options like Japanese waffle fries and poke bowls at Al Muheet, and burrata and salads at Al Mahhara.

Over at Barr Al Jissah, the signature restaurant Bait Al Bahr is a must visit. Overlooking the beachfront (and just above the lazy river), the menu focuses on Omani plates, and in particular, seafood. Here, you’ll be able to choose your seafood from the fish market and have it prepared as you like it, or order plates like the Omani paplou soup or the mixed seafood.

On our visit, we also had the chance to try Capri Court, the Italian restaurant at Al Bandar, where you’ll be able to dig into freshly made pasta or risotto. For those with an anniversary or special occasion coming up, Dine by Design is a spectacular option for sunset. Set up on the Barr Al Jissah clifftop, you’ll enjoy a private dining experience overlooking the beach and the iconic natural arch. In a stay filled with pinch-me moments, this one takes the cake.

The Activities

With all the restaurants to dine at, and photo spots to snap, you’ll have plenty of things to fill up your time with. But every corner of the Shangri-La Al Husn offers something different to do.

Visit the hotel’s garden where you can chat to Khalid Al Amri, an Omani frankincense expert who will be able to tell you more about the history of the incense, and techniques for its collection. There’s also a car museum within the complex, featuring vintage vehicles collected by the hotel’s owner.

Prefer to keep active on your holidays? There are tennis courts, an aerial yoga pavilion, and all kinds of water sports for you to choose from, or you can just practice your putting on the mini golf course.

If relaxing is at the top of your priority list, then book in for a treatment at Luban Spa in Al Husn, or the Shangri-La’s signature Chi the Spa, where you’ll be able to use products infused with frankincense.

The hotel’s beach is one of the top five for turtle nesting in Oman, with more than 100 returning to its shores each year. There is a dedicated turtle ranger on site, who moves eggs to a more suitable location before the beginninghatching season between May and September. Chances are good if you stay during these months you’ll be able to catch a hatching, which take place in the early morning or just before sunset. Shangri-La staff can also organise dolphin watching tours, complete with snorkelling excursions with sea turtles.

Our favourite activity, however, is the falaj-inspired lazy river. Running between Al Waha and Al Bandar, there are inflatable tubes for you to ride along the route. Partially shaded with palm trees, it will take your reading (or phone scrolling) to the next level.

Why Stay?

As the only hotel in Muscat catering exclusively to those above the age of 16, Shangri-La Al Husn is as tranquil a stay as you’ll find in the capital.

Just 25 minutes from downtown, it’s equally perfect as a base for exploring, or for those who would prefer to simply meander along the lazy river all day.

The Essentials

  • Rates: Rooms start from Dhs975 per night, with GCC residents enjoying a special rate from Dhs915 per night
  • Phone number: +968 2477 6388
  • Website:
  • Address: Shangri-La Al Husn, Muscat, Bandar Jissah 644, Oman