There are two luxury hotel options in the Jabal Akhdar Mountains; the Alila and the Anantara and they are both regarded as two of the best luxury hotels in Oman. I dithered for a bit trying to decide which one to stay at, the spreadsheet came out, pros list was huge for both hotels, cons were minimal…we went with the Alila Jabal Akhdar.
A couple of weeks later, I watched BBC’s Amazing Hotels featuring the Anantara and thought I’d made a bit of an error, nothing could possibly beat it with its decadent luxury and jaw dropping views.
I had therefore regulated my expectations for the Alila and having seen the views for myself from the Anantara earlier in my journey, didn’t see how any hotel could compete.
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An Omani Welcome
A warm welcome was waiting for us as we pulled up at the Alila; we were ushered inside to sit down and plied with Omani coffee and dates while we were checked in.
Opposite the entrance is a huge fire pit which I wandered over to have a look at. I glanced over at the floor to ceiling windows and couldn’t believe what I saw. A huge ravine fell away from the side of the cliff in front of the patio with the most dramatic mountain backdrop and the added drama of the sun beginning to set on the horizon; the view was just unbelievable.
My earlier worries had subsided, the Alila can easily go head to head with the Anantara and is well justified as being one of the top hotels in Oman.
Alila Jabal Akhdar Hotel Design
Set 2,000 metres above sea level, this hotel’s design was very different; rustic stone designed to blend in with mountain, everything at a very low level and from a distance it can be a challenge to work out where the mountain stops and the hotel begins.
There is a very cosy element to the décor, it makes you want to snuggle up on one of the plush sofas by the fire pits with a blanket and a red wine and watch the sun set and the darkness fall.
For those that think I have lost the plot wanting to be anywhere near a fire in Oman, the weather in Jabal Akhdar is around 15°C cooler than in Muscat or other lower levels of Oman. It was shoulder season when we visited in October and you definitely need a sweater in the evenings.
I’ve spotted about a million things I want to do before I’ve even left reception; there is a library just off to the side with an ornate chess set as well as the Rose Lounge inviting me to sit in the leather chairs sipping a cocktail and gaze at the lanterns hanging from the ceiling (almost as good as a chandelier).
Star gazing is taking place on the deck that evening (a sign by the reception desk tells me) and there is sunrise yoga on that same deck in the morning. Danny looks ever so slightly worried, we are only here for around 36 hours!
Alila Jabal Akhdar Review
Jabal Akhdar means “The Green Mountain” in Arabic and is part of the Al Hajar mountain range. The Alila hotel group brand is based on luxury experiences and innovative design in unique locations, but has predominantly been based in South East Asia. This hotel was actually their first venture out of this area back in 2014.
This Oman boutique hotel has eighty six rooms including two villas that are well spread out across the cliff. A Balinese spa with seven treatment rooms, a steam room and jacuzzi sits in the main building along with an indoor pool and small gym.
The exercise machines are predominantly facing spectacular views of the gorge and mountain range, even I might exercise on my holiday with that view….(no I won’t).
Outside there is an infinity pool that seems to dramatically fall away down the mountain and two large whirlpool tubs. There is also a boutique on site selling locally made souvenirs. Drinks and lunch are taken in the Rose Lounge and dinner and breakfast in the Juniper Restaurant.
A Beautiful Mountainside Room
We are swiftly shown to our room to which our luggage had already been delivered; an entry level Mountain View Suite (there are an additional five classes of room) which we are given a brief tour of. Unfortunately I didn’t listen to a word of it as the view out of our French doors was unbelievably incredible.
About ten feet from the edge of the terrace there was another huge ravine that then rose up into the mountain range; I had to sit down on the outdoor sofa and just stare for a bit.
When I eventually pulled away from the view, we realised our room was actually pretty amazing, the space was very generous at 52 square metres and the decor was all dark woods and light walls with cozy accents such as the plush sofa and warm hued, rug style curtains separating the dressing room area from the bedroom.
A Juniper tree painted by local artists was above the bed and a selection of chocolate truffles, fruit basket and a hand written note from the General Manager on the coffee table. There was also a Nespresso machine and well stocked mini bar (not complimentary as it was at The Chedi though).
The bathroom was almost as big as the bedroom; the toilet and rain shower are in separate areas off to the side, double sinks with an array of complimentary Alila toiletries. The showstopper is a large, egg shaped marble bath by the window so you can soak and stare at the amazing views outside.
If you really want to treat yourself at this Oman mountain hotel, opt for one of the private pool villas for an even more elevated view of the stunning scenery.
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Drinks at the Rose Lounge
We wandered back for the main building to catch the last of the sunset and sat on the terrace of the Rose Lounge, the more casual restaurant and bar that serves drinks and light snacks and meals from 11:00am.
Happy Hour runs from 5:00pm to 7:00pm here, with a selection of beers, wines and cocktails two for one. The coziness vibe extends to the outdoor areas of the hotel as well, there are heaters and fire pits to keep us warm as the temperature starts to drop; blankets are available on request if you are feeling chilly.
Danny and I continue to not talk a lot, I know I keep banging on about it, but the views are the most spectacular I’ve ever seen. We had gone to Las Vegas a few years earlier and not managed to visit the Grand Canyon, but he has been on a previous trip and assures me the ravines in front of us top anything he saw there.
Dinner at the Juniper Restaurant
We move onto the Juniper Restaurant, named after the Juniper trees that are common at high altitudes in Oman. The restaurant feels distinctly busier, however it is the only option for dinner unless you want a light snack in the Rose Lounge.
We manage to get the last table outside though and do a bit more staring. Most of the rates at the hotel include half board as there are no easy alternatives for dinner, I think the last restaurant we passed was about 20km before our arrival and I wouldn’t fancy trying to navigate the mountains in the dark!
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The menu changes daily and the hotel put an emphasis on getting as much of the ingredients they can from local producers. Included in the half board package we have opted for is either an Omani tasting menu or a three course meal from the à la carte, plus a side to go with the main.
I am rarely able to finish a three course meal at the best of times and know I won’t be able to this time when they bring out the bread. Fresh out the oven and light as air, the goat cheese and honey dip it’s served with is just delicious and although the portion is very generous, Danny and I finish the lot.
Á La Carte Menu
The à la carte menu which we opt for (no way can I do a whole tasting menu!) is a mix of Western, Asian and Omani dishes. The service is rapid and the food generally very tasty, with the exception of my risotto that was just a bit heavy and overdone.
The side dish of watermelon, mint and feta though was divine so I polished that off. To be honest, even if the risotto had been delicious, I don’t think I could have finished it, I was so full! Desserts were a definite no.
We decided to skip star gazing as the cloud cover had only increased since we arrived and curled up in our comfy bed instead.
Sunrise Yoga With A View
I rose early for sunrise yoga on the deck, it was peaceful, exhilarating and calming all at the same time. I usually get about 35 minutes into a yoga class and get a bit impatient for it to end (I love the savasana!). Not quite the idea, I know, but lying down and chilling out is definitely something to look forward to.
Somehow, this session seems to go by in a heartbeat though and it’s only when I’m eating some of the fruit provided at the end that I realise we’ve done an hour and a half; you could while your entire life away staring down into the valley… the location is definitely better than my yoga studio at home.
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In the corner is also an outdoor area curtained off for having massages at the edge of the cliff for those that don’t mind heights!
Breakfast at the Juniper Restaurant
I call for some fresh milk for my Nespresso on my return to the room and take the duvet outside and snuggle up on the sofa, this is one of favourite ways to relax on holiday, the addition of the duvet temperature permitting!
The milk never arrives but we find some creamer in the fridge and make do with that. It’s an effort to move but eventually hunger gets the better of me, breakfast time!
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The breakfast spread at the Alila is generous and complemented by a to-order menu including French toast, waffles, Arabic breakfasts and even my favourite, poached eggs, avocado and tomato, which I add smoked salmon to from the buffet. Danny’s given up with the full English breakfasts after his experience at our previous hotel, The Chedi in Muscat, and has pancakes, I pinch one, light as air.
Activities at the Alila
The Alila offers a range of activities that are detailed in the information books in the rooms, such as hikes (both guided and unguided), climbing and an additional daily list is put up on a board in reception that included movies under the stars and cooking demonstrations, as well as the aforementioned yoga and star gazing (which unfortunately due to the cloud cover, we didn’t get to do).
The best part, the vast majority of these activities are complimentary. They also have a kids activity board as well, they seemed to be quite well geared up from expecting little ones.
With all of this choice I bet your wondering how we selected our plan for the day! It was a very difficult decision, but eventually we opted to do nothing and lie down on one of the day beds by the infinity pool.
I was a bit worried on arrival that the availability of sun loungers may be challenging as I couldn’t spot many, but they are just actually all dotted around and well hidden by the landscape.
It gives the pool area a bit of a hidden garden feel and the two sunken whirlpool baths are hard to spot. The pool amenities were excellent; a help yourself water station and piles of towels dotted around with complimentary sun screen, after sun and insect repellant. The pool butler also came round with a buzzer should we need anything else and couldn’t be bothered to get up. Stressful day ahead!
We had lunch at the Rose Lounge, service was unfortunately very slow, I ended up having to find someone to take our order and then waited 15 minutes for our drinks to arrive, disappointing as there was only one other table occupied there. The food was excellent though and beautifully presented; I had some lovely Asian style tapas and Danny went for the usual, a massive burger.
More lying down ensued with a bit of swimming in the heated infinity pool. Complimentary afternoon tea is served in the Rose Lounge at 4:00pm on a daily basis; a selection of help yourself canapés and iced tea which you can keep going back for more of. I did as they were delicious, now you can see why I can’t finish a three course meal at dinner!
Final Thoughts: Alila Jabal Akhdar Review
I’m sure this won’t come as a surprise, but the views! Honestly the best I have ever seen from a hotel anywhere I have stayed in the world.
The rooms and hotel amenities were generous and decadent and I loved the overall design and feel of the hotel; luxurious yet cozy, my favourite combination for the climate and location.
The food was also generally excellent quality and I really enjoyed the variety of activities that are on offer, I could have stayed here for a week and not got bored.
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While the staff were unfailing pleasant and friendly, the service could be a bit hit and miss, particularly in the Rose Lounge and with room service.
It was much better in the Juniper Restaurant, but the courses were out virtually straight after each other on both nights, I like a bit more of a slower pace. It wasn’t a disaster by any stretch though and if you are looking for a luxury hotel in Oman, I would highly recommend the Alila Jabal Akhdar.
You need a 4×4 to get here and there is a check point at the bottom of the mountains to ensure this happens. Some people self drive, but we opted for a driver as we wanted to stop at some of the sights on the way. Some of the roads we used to get here I would not have wanted to drive on; very steep, big drops at the side of the road and a dirt tracks in places. Honestly, unless you are a stellar and confident driver, I would get one.
You will be eating in the hotel, there is nowhere to go out nearby and taxis are non existent.
Address: Al Roose, Jabal Al Akhdar, Al Jabal Al Akhdar 621, Oman
Phone: +968 2534 4200
– You can book the Alila Jabal Akhdar through Mr & Mrs Smith, a website of beautifully curated boutique hotels.
– Alternatively, you can view and book the this beautiful hotel with Booking.com, Agoda and Hotels.com.
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There are currently no direct flights from the USA, but there are lots of connection options; Muscat is only an hour’s flight from Dubai.
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