Discovery Bedu: Bespoke Hideaways
Four Seasons Amman
Located in one of the city’s best residential neighborhoods and near the business district, the Four Seasons Amman has been the top place to stay in Jordan’s capital since it opened. Two security checkpoints greet guests upon arrival, but fear not, this is a standard safety precaution for the region. Once inside the soaring marble lobby, familiar Four Seasons touches like spectacular floral arrangements and an accommodating staff are more welcoming.
The fifteen-story building contains 192 guest rooms and suites as well as grand indoor and outdoor pools, a full-service spa, three restaurants (one Asian, one Italian and one Middle Eastern), two lounges and a ballroom that is popular for weddings. While the hotel will arrange for tennis and other sports at the King Hussein Sport City and for horseback riding at the nearby Arabian Horse Center, the hotel caters more to a business crowd than a leisure one. From breakfast to late-night, you will see groups of men, many in the robes that indicate they are most likely visiting from Saudi Arabia or the Gulf states, gathering to discuss deals. The guest rooms and public spaces are extremely comfortable in that reliable Four Seasons way, but unlike their properties in Bali or Florence, not particularly memorable.
Hayat Zaman Hotel & Resort
Kempinski Hotel Aqaba
The most luxurious hotel in Aqaba is the Kempinski. A sleek modern high-rise on the beach, the hotel features lots of light stone and glass. The 201 guest rooms and three suites all face the Red Sea and the distant lights of Israel and Egypt on the facing shore. The beach is set up with chaise lounges and a water sports desk that will arrange for boat rides and snorkel and scuba trips (the offshore reefs are some of the world’s best). Given that the water seems a bit dirty this near to the city’s port, many opt to lounge up by the pool instead of the beach. There’s a small spa, business center, gift shop and multiple restaurants, including a nightclub and a casual beachfront bistro.
Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea
Among its claims to fame, the Kempinski Hotel Ishtar has the largest private beach in Jordan (A rock beach, not sand) and one of the biggest spas in the Middle East. (It regularly hosts foreign dignitaries looking for R&R on their regional visits.) The main building, which has a glass-fronted lobby with spectacular views across the Dead Sea to Israel, welcomes guests with a major wow factor. There are 269 guest rooms, 76 suites and two royal villas on the seaside property. Guest rooms are extremely comfortable and come with modern bathrooms, amenities and balconies that face the Dead Sea. To get an idea of the scale of the resort, think of Las Vegas hotels. While the beach looks close from the lobby, guests will either need to take a golf cart or walk 10 to 15 minutes downhill. It is easy to get lost at this resort, and though there is signage and property maps, the directions can be confusing. You’ll likely find yourself regularly checking in with hotel staff who can walk you through the posted property maps and point out the locations of the nine pools and eight restaurants.
Highlights of a stay are time spent in the water and in the spa. For centuries, the Dead Sea has been known to have healing properties. It’s best to soak in the water for ten minutes (avoid splashing or getting any water near your eyes) and then with the salt water still on you, slather yourself with black Dead Sea mud; let the mud dry for 15-20 minutes before getting back into the Sea to wash it off. (Those with dry skin should skip it on the face.) A similar treatment with a Dead Sea Salt scrub can be performed in the resort’s sprawling, 107,639 square foot Ishtar Spa by Resense. The Spa has 20 treatment rooms, six outdoor treatment and relaxation areas, Tepidarium heated lounges, the Dead Sea pool and the largest hydro-pool in the Dead Sea. Prices are comparable to those at the best spas in New York and London, but so is the service. Contact us for advice on the best rooms to book.
Located just outside the gates of Petra, the Mövenpick has long been the best place to stay for visitors to Petra (although the accommodations are simple and not very inspired). Run by the Swiss hotel company, the Mövenpick welcomes tourists by the bus-load daily and caters to large groups, so there are multiple restaurant options, a business center, a small gym and gift shops.
The guest rooms have been decorated in a contemporary corporate style and plain and simple, but the hotel is still the best option for proximity to Petra. The hotel also has a courtyard garden area with massive brass chandeliers, an outdoor pool and a bar with a slight Arabian nights atmosphere, where you can order from a light menu of mezzes and pizzas, an appealing alternative to the tossed-together buffet in the main dining room. The rooftop restaurant and bar is only open for cocktails and dinner (unless privatized) and is a great place to enjoy the sunset. They serve a BBQ-style menu, and reservations are required for dinner.
Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea
Until the Kempinski Ishtar arrived on the scene, the Mövenpick was the nicest hotel on the Dead Sea. The massive concrete resort was built to resemble an Arabic village with a maze of smaller buildings housing restaurants and shops in front of the main building. There are 346 guest rooms, ranging from standard doubles in the main building to beach suites, but all are rather sparsely decorated. The 6,000-square-meter spa has extensive facilities including a hydro-pool, steam room, tranquility lounge, juice bar and numerous pools with differing saline concentrations.
Mujib Nature Reserve Chalets
For those who want to get away from the mega resorts and are willing to go to the opposite extreme and try a form of camping, the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature operates a “chalet village” on the shores of the Madash peninsula. The 15 simple double rooms (which are air-conditioned) boast stunning views of the Dead Sea and access to the Mujib Nature Reserve, which is the lowest reserve on earth. Nature and adventure lovers come for the hiking trails and river activities. The area is home to rare cats and ibex so there is also occasional wildlife viewing.