Travel: visit the Kingdom of Bahrain
Words Rebecca Underwood. Pictures Courtesy Of The Bahrain Tourism & Exhibitions Authority And The Hotels
- Credit: Archant
To experience the warmest Arabian hospitality, visit the beguiling Kingdom of Bahrain
Soaring above the clouds with Bahrain’s national carrier, my mother and I were cocooned in true comfort and style reclining in Gulf Air’s Falcon Gold seats.
We placed our dining order with the on-board chef and were enchanted with our first experience of Arabian hospitality. And in just over six hours, we touched down in the captivating Kingdom of Bahrain.
Today, the Bahraini Dinar is the second most valuable currency in the world and Bahrain continues to invest heavily in tourism. Its profile continues to grow too due to the Bahrain International Formula 1 Circuit and UNESCO World Heritage status awarded to the Qal’at Al Bahrain fort in 2005.
The site, located on the northern shore, is recognised as the capital of the ancient civilization of Dilmun, with evidence of an almost continuous human presence from around 2300 BC to the 16th century AD.
To experience a taste of Bahrain’s rich trading history we visited the bustling Manama Souq, which is marked by the Bab Al Bahrain, a striking gateway designed in 1945 by Sir Charles Belgrave, the British advisor to the Emir of Bahrain.
For those who enjoy the art of haggling, this is the place to practice those skills. The meandering alleyways are crammed with a vibrant jumble of stalls and shops overflowing with sparkling jewels, glittering gold and silver, colourful carpets, exotic perfumes and all manner of trinkets and treats.
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Another popular attraction is the Royal Camel Farm located at Janabiya, a 30-minute drive from Manama. Known as the ‘ships of the desert’, camels are simply fascinating animals able to drink 13 gallons of water in 13 minutes with ease.
Divided into age groups, the farm houses a herd of hundreds and the spirited younger ones exude a charming inquisitive and gentle nature. We visited during the afternoon and took part in feeding time and of course, as expected, the camels anticipate this opportunity and all are lacking in any patience!
Be sure to visit the home of Sheikh Isa, a wealthy and influential pearl merchant. The property was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the ‘Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy’ award and dates from the 1920s.
There is much to admire, including the recessed stone fretwork, which covers most of the upper levels of the exterior walls, and elaborate ceilings highlight the opulent interior design.
For those keen to reside in similarly lavish surroundings, the Art Rotana hotel, located on Amwaj Islands, a man-made waterside development, is the place to be.
We luxuriated in a premium suite, measuring 165sqm, and relaxed in the comfortable, contemporary living area. Our spacious bathroom featured a revitalising, stand-alone rain-forest shower and the private terrace with Jacuzzi was the ideal spot for an afternoon tipple.
Guests on floors seven to 10 are invited to use the complimentary Club Rotana Lounge, which presents an elaborate international breakfast buffet, cool refreshments and tempting afternoon canapés. It’s the perfect place to unwind and appreciate the view of the hotel’s gorgeous private beach and lagoon surrounded by swaying palm trees.
For those attracted to the idea of even more space and the freedom that apartment-style living offers, the Majestic Arjaan by Rotana property is located in Muharraq; only two kilometres away from Bahrain airport.
Accommodation includes studios and one, two and three-bedroom duplexes with contemporary and comfortable furnishings and open-plan living/dining/kitchen areas. Apartment amenities include a washer/dryer, dishwasher, oven and hob and every appliance you could wish for.
Hotel facilities include a temperature-controlled outside swimming pool with ultra-comfy sun loungers, providing the ideal spot for an afternoon snooze in the sunshine.
Gulf Air, the national carrier for the Kingdom of Bahrain offers reliable and punctual daily direct flights from London Heathrow to Bahrain and provides an efficient check-in service, a generous baggage allowance, and the highest levels of comfort and on-board service. Relax in style in the Falcon Gold Lounge prior to departure from London and Bahrain. For more information visit gulfair.com
Avoid airport queues and traffic and book your Heathrow airport transfers on line with Blacklane for a reliable, punctual, first-class service. Visit blacklane.com for more information.
For more information on Art Rotana and the Majestic Arjaan by Rotana, visit Rotana.com.