We've got February 14th sorted for you. Follow our lead...
Time Out Bahrain staff
Shopping is the national pastime of Bahrain so you shouldn’t have any problems on the gift front.
If money is no object, head to Moda Mall on the ground floor of the World Trade Centre for all your saucy undies, bling and brand name needs: Agent Provocateur, Gucci, Hermes, D&G, Louis Vuitton etc. 17 535 140 or visit www.modabwtc.com.
Your best bet for jewellery is Gold City, the indoor gold souq on Government Avenue, just along from Bab Al Bahrain. Trawl its 152 jewellery shops for a much better deal than you’ll get in any of the malls. Open 10am–10pm. 17 210 404 or visit www.bahraingoldcity.com.
Buy make-over vouchers for BD25 which will also entitle your lady to a 20% discount on any product she buys on the day. Ground Floor City Centre, 17 582 757.
Flowers and gifts for Valentine’s Day, they also do wedding flowers. next door to Le Chocolat in Seef, Call 17 587 701 to arrange a consultation with Oscar, the senior florist, or pop in at any time.
Chocolates, gifts and flowers, they also do wedding flowers. Saar, off Budaiya Highway, 17 694 544.
If you fancy making your loved one a home-made card, Celebrations is your place. More memorable than the usual soppiness or cartoon camels with big lips on offer in Hallmark. Saar, Budaiya Highway, 17 595 791.
Another thing Bahrain does well is dining out. Treat your true love to a romantic evening at one of these restaurants, but be sure to book early.
Basha Lounge, Mercure Grand, Seef District: One of Bahrain’s most authentically Arabic hotels, Basha Lounge in the Mercure Grand is putting on a romantic dinner with unlimited bubbly and special giveaways for couples, at just BD30 for a table for two. Should you not want the night to end once the restaurant closes, a special package allows you to book a room. 17 548 400.
La Mosaique, Crowne Plaza, Diplomatic Area: All of the restaurants in the Crowne Plaza are putting on a spread for Valentine’s Day (Spices is doing a special four-course meal, while in Waves dinner includes a bottle of bubbly). Cupid’s Buffet in La Mosaiq includes a rose and photograph against a Valentine’s backdrop. 17 531 122.
Signature Grill, The Capital Club, Bahrain Financial Harbour: Those looking to add a splash of class to the evening could do far worse than book a table at Bahrain’s exclusive Capital Club, where the menu is second to none and the view out of this world. It’s not cheap at BD 38++ per person, but you definitely get what you pay for. Since the Capital Club is a members only affair, those looking to make a reservation will need to join. 17 100 100.
Tamarind and Saffron, Banyan Tree Al Areen: One of the most romantic hotels in Bahrain, the Banyan Tree Al Areen’s restaurants are perfectly positioned to make the most of the night. Tamarind is offering a four-course meal of some of the best Thai food in town, while Saffron boasts a specially designed five-courses. The spa here is offering a special Valentine’s Day pampering package, and those looking to splash can take advantage of a special package for BD288, which includes dinner under the stars and a pool villa for the night. 17 845 000.
Skyw@lk Cafe: One of Juffair’s best casual restaurants, Skyw@lk Cafe is celebrating with a special Valentine’s Day menu that costs BD15 per head and includes soft drinks and a gift. If you are looking for secluded romance, book out one of their sea-view suites and get served dinner and breakfast in the comfort of the Marriott Executive Apartments. 17 363 999.
Monsoon, Adliya: Gorgeous Balinese-style pagoda with serene water features surrounding the raised central dining area. Delicious, beautifully-presented Asian food. Outside seating is also available, just make sure they have the patio heaters going. 17 749 222.
Plums, Ritz-Carlton, Seef DistrictL: All of the Ritz-Carlton’s restaurants have laid on a special Valentine’s Day menu but Plums gets five stars for its mouth-watering steaks and stylish modern art-deco décor. Every meal comes with a welcome drink and a chocolate heart. The Gourmet Shop in the lobby is the place to order a Valentine’s Day cake. 17 580 000.
Even the most die-hard Bahrain-lovers would have to admit that the Kingdom is somewhat lacking in beauty spots. But if you’re looking for an alternative to a restaurant for popping that all-important question, try one of these for a more authentic Arabian feel.
Shaikh Isa Bin Ali House, Muharraq: Built in 1800, this is a surprisingly large structure with three internal courtyards and a maze of small rooms, archways, stairs, woodwork and stained glass presided over by an impressive wind tower. Propose as the sun goes down over the rooftops of old Murharraq. A steal at only 200 fils for a ticket (which obviously does not include the ring). 17 334 945.
Al Dar Island, off the coast of Sitra: A tiny man-made island resort reachable by sea taxi (a 10 minute journey, approximately BD2.5) from the Sitra Fisherman Port. Go dolphin spotting, fishing, pearl collecting, or relax on its sandy beach. It has a real ‘island getaway’ feel to it, just be sure to position your sun lounger facing away from the tankers and construction cranes. 17 704 600 or visit www.al-darislands.com.
Arad Fort, Arad: Dating from the late 15th century and restored using traditional materials, this national monument is best visited after dark when it’s dramatically illuminated. In quite a picturesque setting overlooking the bay near the airport. Open from 8am–2pm during the week, 9am–6pm Thur and Sat, and 3pm–6pm on Fri.
Private boat trip: Why not hire a private boat and pop the question on the open seas? Island Tours operate out of the Marina Club and charge BD20 per hour (17 291 527 or visit www.marinaclub.info; Island Tours 36 690 355). Ski boat hire from Coral Beach Club (17 312 700 or visit www.coralbeachbahrain.com) is BD50 per hour. Both are just off the Al Fateh Highway in Hoora.
Camping in the desert: While there are no official campsites in Bahrain, camping in the desert is very popular from December to February. The best place is near Sakhir, in the middle of the island. Hire a tent for two, find a spot away from the other campers and propose under the stars. For camping equipment, contact the EMK Group on 17 730 558.
Getting married in Bahrain
If you aren’t planning on staging your nuptials back home (or it’s more of a shotgun-style affair – remember, it is illegal in Bahrain to have a baby out of wedlock), Bahrain offers the gamut of wedding services.
Technicalities (the non-romantic bit): You need to post your marriage banns at your embassy. The British embassy requires a residency period of 21 days, your birth certificate and passport (and original divorce papers, if applicable). The banns will be posted on the Consular noticeboard for 21 days, after which they will issue a No Impediment certificate. For a civil wedding, the embassy will also provide a Letter of No Objection. If you have obtained your banns from the UK, this letter will be issued straight away. The fee for banns of marriage is BD41, and the no impediment certificate will cost you the same again. British Embassy 17 574 100 or visit www.ukinbahrain.fco.gov.uk.
Australian, New Zealand and Canadian nationals will need to contact their embassies in Riyadh: Australia +966 14 887 788, New Zealand +966 14 887 988, Canada +966 14 882 288
For a civil wedding, your embassy will put you in touch with the decidedly unromantic-sounding Ministry of Justice, the website of which helpfully contains no information at all on this subject. They require the No Objection letter from your embassy and a letter from your employer/sponsor stating no objection. Your ceremony will be held at the Ministry’s court in the Diplomatic Area.
Religious services can be held at the Sacred Heart Church in Shaikh Isa Al Khabeer Avenue in Manama (17 253 598 or visit www.sacredheartchurchbahrain.org) for Roman Catholics, or St. Christopher’s Cathedral in Salmaniya (17 253 866 or visit www.stchcathedral.org.bh) for Anglicans.
Planning your wedding
Gloriosa Weddings & Events, Mahooz, near Al Jazeera: Complete wedding planner services. Call Ghadi Boumjahed, Design Director, to arrange a consultation. 17 749 621 or visit www.gloriosaweddings.biz.
Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel & Spa, Seef: Wedding planning services, plus hosting your ceremony and reception. Rowena the wedding planner is amazingly difficult to get hold of but the venue promises to be worth the chase. Ask about preferred room rates for guests and arranging your honeymoon in other Ritz-Carlton hotels worldwide. 17 580 000 or visit www.ritzcarlton.com.
Al Bander Hotel & Resort: A great sea-front location for your ceremony and reception. Call for details of their Gold and Silver Wedding Packages. 17 701 201.
La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art, Hoora Avenue, Manama: Hosting ceremonies and receptions for which they provide the food and ambience – bride and groom have to source all other suppliers themselves. 17 230 123.
La Fontaine also houses the Al Othman Bridal Boutique, where you can drool over dresses by Monique L’huillier, Oscar de la Renta and Giambattista Valli and shoes by Christian Louboutin. 17 280 282.
Bobbi Brown, Ground Floor City Centre: Bridal and bridesmaid make-up for BD150 and BD50 respectively, and hen party make-up for BD25. 17 178 323.
Ruzan, older part of Moda Mall, World Trade Centre: Bridal gowns by Eddy K, Ian Stuart Bride and Radiosa, they also stock tiaras, veils and other bridal accessories. 17 535 009.
Tulle, older part of Moda Mall, World Trade Centre: Wedding dresses by Pronovias and Manuel Mota for Pronovias, 2009 and 2010 collections. Be warned, though, these beauties don’t come cheap. 17 531 450.
Lady Moon, BurgerLand roundabout: Ladies’ tailoring for a cheaper and more Bahraini-style wedding dress (read: dripping with sequins and glitter). 17 595 474.
Grooms-to-be will be quite hard-pressed to find the traditional top hat and tails out here, but the malls are chock-full of suit shops stocking stylish suits, waistcoats, cravats and cufflinks, and will have you looking your best on your big day.
OK, as much as we all love Bahrain there’s no point pretending you’re going to want to honeymoon here. But one of its beauties is its proximity to places you do want to go to.
The Leela Kempinski Goa, India On Mobor beach, the resort has its own 12-hole golf course and 185 rooms, suites and villas in 75 acres of lush gardens. Tel: +91 832 662 1234 www.theleela.com.
The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India Styled on a traditional Indian palace and set in verdant gardens. The rooms all have terraces and semi-private pools, while the suites all have private pools. Tel: +91 294 2433300 www.oberoihotels.com.
Sasaab Lodge, Samburu, Kenya One of the most luxurious and stylish game lodges in Northern Kenya, each detached room has its own pool and open veranda. Set in the Buffalo Springs and Samburu National Game reserves, overlooking the Ewaso Nyiro river. Only for the super-rich, this one. Tel: +254 20 251 3166 www.sasaab.com.
Fly to Nairobi with Gulf Air and Emirates, change in Dubai, approximately 8 hours. www.gulfair.com, www.emirates.com.
The Saujana, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia The hotel is set in 160 acres of tropical gardens and has two world championship golf courses. All room rates are inclusive of evening cocktails. Happy days. Tel: +603 7843 1234, www.thesaujana-kualalumpur.com.
The One & Only Reethi Rah, Male, Maldives On one of the largest islands in the North Male atoll, all the villas have gorgeous ocean views and direct access to the lagoon. Transfer from the airport is by luxury yacht. Nice. Tel: +960 664 8800 www.oneandonlyresorts.com.
Fly Qatar Airways, approximately 5 hours from Doha but with a lengthy connection time www.qatarairways.com.
Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissam Resort & Spa, Muscat, Oman A resort village housing 3 luxury hotels and 12 treatment spas, surrounded by bay, mountains and desert. Tel: +968 2477 6666 www.shangri-la.com.
The Elephant Corridor Hotel, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka A luxury boutique hotel set in thousands of acres of jungle, on a lake overlooking the Kandalama Hills. All suites have a private terrace, garden, plunge pool and en suite bar. Visit the Om Wellness spa, for relaxation. Tel: +94 6622 869 5051 www.elephantcorridorhotel-sigiriya.com.
Fly with Etihad, changing in Dubai www.etihadairways.com, approximately 7 hours.
Karma Samui Villa Resort, Koh Samui, Thailand 36 luxurious, contemporary pool villas and spa in a serene cove overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. Tel: +66 77 234 500 www.karmasamui.com.