Looking for the hottest new destination this summer? Bahrain certainly ticks all the right boxes and then some and is fast becoming the must-visit place of the Arabian Gulf. It is small but beautiful, making it an ideal place to explore for a long weekend or longer. Comprised of an archipelago of 33 islands, Bahrain strikes the perfect balance between modern and traditional living.
Here’s why you should book your ticket to the ‘Island of smiles’ right now.
The most incredible hotels
Bahrain is home to countless amazing luxury and boutique hotels, but our favourites have to be the ART Rotana and The Four Seasons.
The ART Rotana is situated on the Amwaj Islands in Bahrain and is without doubt one of the most spectacular five-star hotels that I have ever stayed in. We stayed in a premium king room that had the most stunning views over the hotels private beach and swimming pool with the cityscape of Manama in the background. There are eight different restaurants within the hotel – we chose to eat at Flames Steak and Seafood where we enjoyed a plethora of seafood specialties.
If you are looking for the ultimate luxury hotel experience, you probably don’t need to look any further than The Four Seasons, Bahrain Bay – upon arrival, we marvelled at the striking architecture which can be seen from The Avenues Park across the water. Despite the very contemporary exterior, the interior has been designed in an art-deco style and the elegant lobby has real olive trees and features a live piano recital every afternoon. There are four eateries (including two Wolfgang Puck restaurants) we ate at CUT by Wolfgang Puck which serves the most delicious Japanese Wagyu rib eye.
The rooms at The Four Seasons are exquisite and every fine detail has been carefully thought out. From the Murano glass chandeliers to the elegant marble bathroom with its spa bath, you can’t fail to be wowed.
If relaxing by the pool doesn’t float your boat, then you can partake in a variety of water sports to include kayaking, swimming and paddle boarding.
A need for speed
Without a doubt, Bahrain is the true home of motorsport in the Middle East and the Bahrain Grand Prix is one of the sports absolute highlights. Can’t make it to the Grand Prix to watch the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raïkkönen race? You can pay a visit to the renowned Bahrain International Circuit and take an unforgettable behind-the-scenes tour.
If you want to emulate your driving heroes, then you may have to forsake a Formula 1 car for a go kart, but you can still enjoy driving around a state-of-the-art facility that has been designed to cater for aspiring F1 fans. There are 14 turns in total and you can’t help but embrace the competition when racing against your friends, family and fellow writers.
Do you love ancient civilisations, far-reaching views and epic architecture? Good! Then the Bahrain Fort or as it is more commonly known – the Qal’at al-Bahrain is the place for you. If you are not content with meandering around this beautiful place, why not try it on horseback? You can ride a majestic Arabian horse around the fort down to the nearby beach. One of the best times to do this is as the sun sets which makes for the most magical experience.
Looking to defy gravity? If the prospect of an actual sky dive leaves you a little shaken and not stirred, why not test the water with an indoor skydive? Gravity Skydive is one of the world’s largest indoor wind tunnels and you can experience wind speeds of up to 250kmph. If you are an adrenaline junkie what better way to get your fix than flying high up in the air.
Take a dip in the azure waters and see what treasures that you can find. Visitors to Bahrain can try pearl-diving – Bahrain has traditionally been known as the pearl capital of the world and this forms a significant part of the Island Kingdom’s cultural identity. Bahrain is one of only a handful of places where you can dive for these precious gemstones.
If you are looking for a traditional Bahraini breakfast, then look no further than the charming Saffron by Jena who aims to keep the legacy of delicious Bahraini cuisine alive and stronger than ever by offering diners a unique combination of flavours.
Located in Muharraq’s Souq Al Qaysariya, you can enjoy carefully crafted dishes which will invigorate your taste buds and give you a true sense of traditional Bahraini pastries and dishes like dhal, khubz and balaleet (sweet vermicelli and eggs), The restaurant is based in a renovated traditional Bahraini home and has a glass floor where you can see an original date palm press.
Bahrain is a cultural melting pot and is home to a multitude of different nationalities. Over half of the city’s population are expatriates from all over the world, making Bahrain a wonderful country of multiculturalism. This is reflected in the diversity of the restaurants and cuisine on offer. One of the highlights has to be Attic in Block 338 – a hypnotic and bustling Greek restaurant in the upbeat Adliya district. Expect delectable food, eccentric cocktails and above all – a relaxed yet sophisticated ambience.
If Mexican food is more your thing, head over to the cool cantina that is Calexico (also at Block 338) the name originates from a small town that is on the border of Mexico and California. If you are looking for simple, but perfectly executed Mexican fare, Calexico won’t disappoint.
From mystical dishes that smoulder with smoke to exquisitely-cooked seafood that melts in your mouth, PLAY at the Jumeirah Royal Saray has to make your must-visit list and offers stylish dining with a sophisticated ambience.
Awe-inspiring culture and fabulous fun
The Al-Fateh Mosque is the largest place of worship in Bahrain and is one of the most stunning mosques in the Arabian Gulf. If features a large dome at the top of the mosque which is made entirely out of fibreglass, making it currently the world’s largest fibreglass dome and something truly unique. Inside, you can take a tour and admire the intricate Islamic patterns.
From tradition to street art and everything in-between, take a guided tour of Muharraq UNESCO World Heritage Pearling Trail which is home to old merchants houses and some striking examples of street art. Look out for a colourful mural created by esteemed international artist eL. Seed.
One of the best times to visit Bahrain is in December, this is also the month that the Bahrain Ironman competition takes place. If taking part seems like a little bit too much hard work, then enjoy being a spectator instead. This fun event takes place over a weekend and combine the triathlon with fun-filled activities that cater for every whim.
Who doesn’t love a spa treatment? One of the best places to receive some serious R&R on the island is at the Hotel Sofitel where you can indulge your senses at the seawater pool or enjoy a spa treatment that has been designed to rebalance, revitalise and reinvigorate. Total bliss!
For more info
Bahrain Tourism & Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) – For more information on the Kingdom of Bahrain, events and attractions please visit: www.bahrain.com
Gulf Air – Gulf Air’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner passengers will experience many improvements with the 787 family. Onboard, you can enjoy the largest windows of any jet, air that is cleaner, more humid and at a higher pressure for greater comfort, large overhead bins with room for everyone’s bag, soothing LED lighting and technology that senses and counters turbulence for a smoother ride. Gulf Air’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner offers 26 Falcon Gold Class seats and 256 Economy Class seats with greater pitch, larger IFE screens, enhanced on-board comforts and greater entertainment choices. For further information, fares and reservations contact: (+973) 17373737 or visit: www.gulfair.com
ART Rotana – The ART Rotana is in Amwaj Islands, a group of man-made Islands in the northeast region in Bahrain and only few minutes’ drive from Bahrain International Airport. ART Rotana has 311 luxurious rooms and suites, all ocean front facing and is a haven for families and individuals that appreciate the refined qualities of life. The property provides guests with the cosiness and warmth of a home as well as the splendour of modern luxury. The Hotel boasts a collection of eight international restaurants, ranging from Italian to Asian cuisines. The hotel beach club has five-star facilities and guests can get active with various water sport and fitness activities on offer or simply unwind at the spa.
Prices start at £175 per night.
The Four Seasons – In the Kingdom’s capital city of Manama, Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay is a soaring architectural statement on its own exclusive island. Convenient for business and breath taking for Bahrain holidays, this unique-in-the-world urban resort blends innovation and relaxation. Discover the height of stylish dining at Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay, featuring the Kingdom’s highest bar and restaurant on the 50th floor. Choose from a total of seven restaurants and lounges, including three venues by internationally renowned celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.
Prices start at £325 per night.