Al Bustan Palace Hotel – Muscat, Oman

Newest of Destinations in the Oldest of Nations

Consistently voted one of the best hotels in the Middle East, the Al Bustan Palace is as favored by oil tycoons used to sheiklike pampering as by Western travelers merely hoping for such.

The Sultanate of Oman has a rich heritage of hospitality, and the Middle East-meets-West marriage of Arab romance and snap-to efficiency is seamless in this country only recently opened to outside influ­ence. It is a fascinating harmony not easily achieved in a nation enamored of its ancient traditions as well as its nascent oil-based wealth. Bustan means “garden,” and there are 200 acres of them here – an oasis created by royalty for royalty.

Built in 1985 as the venue for a Gulf summit meeting, Al Bustan was the dream of the nation’s leader, Sultan Qaboos bin Said. The hotel’s natural setting includes a dramatic mountain backdrop and its own cove on the Gulf of Oman. Indoors, the awe­some lobby soars with the Islamic lines and graceful opulence of Omani architecture at its most regal. At the very least, stay for high tea. Those with deep pockets should check into the Arabic Suite to experience life as an emir.

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