Need a break? Take a vacation without leaving the island
Time Out Bahrain staff
Not managed a break yet this year, or just suffering the post-holiday blues? Check out our pick of the best places for a staycation and take a vacation without leaving Bahrain.
Al Areen Palace & Spa Located out in the desert near the BIC, it’s easy to forget Bahrain is home to one of the region’s biggest, and still best, spas. But Al Areen is so much more than that.
This is the place to go if you’re looking for quiet seclusion, peace and privacy. There are 78 walled villas each with its own open-air jet pool. Fittings are the last word in luxury with some of the softest beds and thickest towels we’ve come across.
The spa really is something else, sprawling over 10,000 sq m, it features, 12 pavilions, each one with twin rainmist shower beds, infinity bathtubs and a private garden. There’s also a hydrothermal garden, garden hammam, ladies’ beauty garden, men’s salon and extensive fitness and wellness facilities. In other words, make sure you bring your bathers.
Al Areen has a range of restaurants with Rimal offering very good Asian food. Our favourite, Vertigo, in the rooftop of the impressive twin-tower gateway is currently under renovation but should be open again soon, the view’s impressive.
It’s gorgeous indeed but certainly not cheap with prices ranging from around BD229 per night for a one-bedroom desert pool villa to BD350 for the Royal pool villa which has two king beds. Al Areen Palace & Spa. Take the road past Bahrain International Circuit, take the next left at Al Areen nature reserve and follow the road round past the Lost Paradise of Dilmun to the resort (17 845 000).
Al Bander Resort With a range of beach-side, sea-facing chalets and cabanas, each with its own balcony, don’t let the Sitra address bother you, Al Bander is well away from any trouble spots down beside the Yacht Club. There’s a huge range of water sports from kayaking and scuba diving to wind surfing and knee boarding. Book a captain and try deep-sea fishing or, if you’re there with the family, there are banana rides and pedaloes.
Inside you’ll find a bowling centre, games room and squash courts as well as a The Sanctuary health club and a range of restaurants including the excellent Fish Market, which is regularly shortlisted in our Restaurant of the Year Awards.
Rates from - cabana with queen bed BD54++ per night, twin BD72++ up to the super-luxurious Royal cabana which includes its own swimming pool with Jacuzzi, one king and two single beds for BD390++. Al Bander Resort, Sitra. Head past the coast guard station and it’s straight ahead with colonial-looking guards keeping watch on the gate (17 701 201).
Al Dar We all know Al Dar has the fab Full Moon parties but did you know that nestled to the far north of the island is a small cluster of exclusive chalets? You can still take part in all the water sports, fishing and dolphin watching trips but when everyone departs for the day, settle down for an evening barbecue in one of the beach chalets. All are fully air-conditioned and equipped with flat-screen TV, iPod speakers, a mini fridge, kettle and WiFi. The most impressive three-bedroom chalet is even equipped with its own seven-seater spa and gazebo.
Al Dar does have its own small snack bar but you are encouraged to bring your own food and drinks and the prices are really reasonable starting at BD50++ a night for a one-bedroom up to BD110++ for the three-bed. Capacity is given at six for the one-bed and ten for the three-bed with extra mattresses charged at BD10 per adult and BD5 for kids. Corkage for bringing your own food and drinks is BD3 and boat transport from the Sitra Coastguard station is BD5 – make sure to bring CPR or passport. Al Dar North Beach Boutique Bahrain (17 704 600).
Bahrain Wellness Resort If a short-stay regeneration is what you need after a hectic summer, Bahrain Wellness Resort is the Gulf’s first and largest centre for internationally accepted alternative medicine systems such as ayurveda, naturopathy and yoga.
It’s set in a large very green garden with ponds and waterfalls and has a varied range of accommodation units from single rooms to three-bedroom apartments.
There’s all manner of treatments from massage to acupuncture as well as a fully-equipped gym, tennis court, swimming pool and vegetarian restaurant offering Arabic, Chinese and Western dishes.
Prices start at BD35 per night for a single room up to BD95 for a three-bed apartment. Treatment packages can be booked together with the accommodation and these start at BD8 for nasyam, the ayurvedic nasal treatment for sinusitis. Bahrain Wellness Centre, Avenue 35, Janabiya. Take the Janabiya Highway heading towards the Saudi Causeway and turn right onto Avenue 35 near the Kumon Centre (17 795 961).
Dragon Resort Sea Loft Think of the Dragon and, like us, you probably envision the parties or brunches at Muju and ladies’ nights at Corners. However, directly across the water from the main building, and under the same resort management, are the Sea Loft chalet/villas. Ranging from one to four bedrooms, they have private Jacuzzis, a pool and sea access as well as use of all the Dragon facilities which include the restaurants, infinity pool, hairdressing salon and beach. They’re all built over three floors with funky designer furnishings and great for small parties.
Rental starts at BD180++per night for a one-bed (actually a three-bed with rooms blocked) up to BD320++ for a four-bed and includes breakfast. The Dragon Resort Hotel, Amwaj Islands (16 033 833).
Hamala Beach Resort This one is a bit of a hidden gem and most of the people we spoke to didn’t even know about it, which has helped it remain quite quiet and really pleasant. Hamala Beach Resort is a privately owned resort set in five acres of lush gardens with direct access to a beach and marina.
Facilities include a private beach, tennis court, gym, marina, walking circuit, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, kids’ playground, coffee shop, restaurant serving reasonably-priced continental, Arabic and Asian cuisine and free internet access.
Accommodation ranges from studios to three-bed villas, as well as beach house suites overlooking the water. Prices start at BD40 per night for a double room up to a three-bedroom villa for six people at BD90. To get there follow the main highway towards the Saudi Causeway and take the last turnoff before the causeway. At the traffic lights go right towards Jasra and follow the road past the Jasra Handicrafts Centre, the resort is on the right (17 608 222).
Hawar islands Yes, we know the hotel on the main Hawar island is closed but major redevelopment plans have just been announced and, in the meantime, you can still rent a small chalet for a real desert island experience.
There’s really not much there at the moment but if you like birds, this is the place for you as there are huge populations of residents and visitors plus small herds of Arabian oryx and sand gazelle.
You might want to take a bicycle to take a tour of the island though do take note there are military installations from which you will need to stay well away.
And, though a supermarket is expected to open in the coming months, you’d be well advised to take your own food and drinks to enjoy a weekend away from it all.
One-bed basic chalets start at just BD20 per night up to BD50 per night for a three-bed deluxe which can accommodate six. Book Hawar Islands through the Southern Tourism Company. Take the boat trip, BD10, from Ad Dur (near the refinery past Isa Town) so make sure to bring CPR or passport (17 311 770).
Pankooshi’s Feeling a little chubby after the summer’s indulgences? Maybe you just feel the need for a bit of a cleanse from the inside out. Think juice fast and lots of beach walks at Pankooshi’s the relatively new venue down at Durrat Al Bahrain. You can also book tailored packages such massage, art therapy, Latin dance and yoga. The venue is set over three villas, one of which is a gym and treatment room with the other two providing accommodation. There are separate women’s and men’s timings and you can stay anything from three days to a couple of weeks. Prices start at BD78 per person per day and a minimum of three days is recommended. Pankooshi’s, Durrat Al Bahrain. Take the road past the refinery at Isa Town and keep driving south (39 996 690).
Ritz-Carlton Yep, it’s Bahrain’s ultimate beach club where you can chill in a gorgeous private villa, stroll on one of the island’s best beaches past a marina with some very plush yachts, head out to the private island for dinner or simply relax by the pool.
The Ritz-Carlton pretty much has anything you could want in a short break - designer shops, a rather delicious pattiserie and first-class restaurants plus the superb spa. It’s certainly not cheap but if you fancy spoiling yourself, this is the one.
On the ‘Treat You’ package you can stay for three nights and pay for two, with a minimum three-night stay from BD1,000++ per villa per night or BD300++ for a suite. Stay in a deluxe room on the ‘Comfort You’ package at BD143++ per person per night. Each package includes various extras. Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, Seef (17 580 000).
Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa There’s a distinct touch of French savoir faire about the Sofitel but with plenty of Arabic touches to mark the setting, right on the royal coast where you might spot some very upmarket residents.
Built to resemble an old fashioned citadel, all the Sofitel’s rooms look over the pool and beach and there are a few seriously impressive suites taking up much of the top floor of the building.
The hotel’s also home to the Middle East’s first Thalassa spa offering lots of unique seawater-based treatments for both men and women and it’s the space to find one of Time Out Bahrain’s very favourite restaurants, La Mer, where the seafood is simply divine.
Prices start at around BD100++ per room per night over the weekend and there are frequent deals and offers to be found. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, Zallaq. Head towards the BIC but instead of taking the left hand turn at the traffic lights before the MacDonalds, keep going to the end of the road (17 636 363).