Where to stay: Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar
Two-thousand metres above sea level and two hours south of Muscat, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar is the highest five-star retreat in the Middle East. The hotel’s location is what sets it apart from others. On the edge of a canyon looking across the magnificent Hajar Mountains, the hotel is only accessible by 4WD vehicles and is home to ‘Diana’s Point’ where the Princess once helicoptered to admire the canyon back in the Eighties.
All 82 rooms come with balconies offering jaw-dropping canyon views, while the 32 one- and two-bedroom villas and two-story Royal Villa each have a private pool and dedicated host to make your trip truly memorable. We stayed in one of the Cliff Pool Villas where the canyon views seem to go on for eternity, thanks to the sliding glass windows, and you have a private infinity pool where you will often find the resident mountain goats walking past.
There is a wide range of experiences, including hiking, mountain biking, sunrise yoga, landscape painting and an amazing climbing trip on the canyon offering breathtaking views and thrills. Cultural tours include the Three Village hike trail through the surrounding hills and rose-water distillery, high up in the western Hajar Mountains. We were lucky enough to be joined on our guided walk by the artist Alan Reed (alanreed.com) who had been invited out by the Oman government to capture the beauty of the surroundings. As with all Anantara hotels, there is a sublime spa; this one has a hammam, indoor pools, thermal suites and signature treatments using local ingredients such as rose and pomegranate.
Food & Drink
There are four restaurants at Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar, plus a café and shisha lounge. Helmed by a Sicilian chef, the poolside Bella Vista serves authentic Italian cuisine and overlooks the canyon. Al Maisan, the all-day dining restaurant, has an international menu and a tasty breakfast buffet where you can dine each morning. There’s also a casual Moroccan tapas lounge and signature Arabic restaurant housed in a fort-like building giving something for every type of taste bud. You can also Dine by Design on the romantic Diana’s point which comes highly recommended.
The views and impeccable service – although the resort was nearly full, it felt as though you could cut off from everything and truly relax in the uniqueness of the surroundings.
Rates start from £203 (OMR177), including tax at 12 per cent (anantara.com).