Travel writer Aruna Rathod discovers that Bahrain offers the right pace, absolute luxury and amazing experiences for a holiday to the Middle East.
As we flew over the Arabian Gulf, I looked for Bahrain from the sky. There was no sign of land, and little did I know that Bahrain is an archipelago with 33 islands, but the announcement from the captain said we would be landing in a few minutes. Bahrain comes as a pleasant surprise, it has just the right pace. Not too fast nor too slow, it has plenty to offer every age group.
Modern times – racing and adrenaline rush sports
Located in the heart of the Sakhir desert, Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) is a unique and contemporary facility that is synonymous with the highest levels of global motorsport. Featuring five different track layouts, it is the first-ever track in the Middle East to host the Formula 1 World Championship. BIC is a quick 20-minute drive from Manama.
You can choose from various activities, one of the them being a Land Rover ride. Strap yourself up for churning your insides with off-road exploring on different terrains such as sand, rock, hill, and water landscapes, and a steep fall that was like a roller coaster ride – in all there are 32 natural and man-made obstacles!
If you want to try your hand at Karting, the BIC karting Circuit allows you to test your speed and driving skills. Or just book yourself for the Formula 1 racing season. Gravity is another huge attraction for indoor sky diving, located close to the BIC.
Try your luck at finding pearls
One of the most unique offering that Bahrain has is the pearl snorkelling activity. Famous for it’s pearls, even Jacques Cartier explored Bahrain’s waters for pearls in 1911. Currently, the activity is offered to tourists to try their luck at finding pearls.
History and culture
A visit to the Bahrain fort is testimony to the history of the country and it’s various rulers. The Dilmun (old name for Bahrain) civilisation played a predominant role in Bahrain’s history. The Bab-Al Bahrain is the historical gate that was the border between the sea and land in the past. While driving on the highway, make sure to have a look at the ancient burial mounds – a testimony to the Dilmun civilisation who were buried along with their belongings.
Muharraq is an interesting area, where the old quarters are being restored to showcase Bahraini culture. The Bahrain National Museum too is a modern architectural wonder that houses plenty of artefacts and information about the past.
The Al Fateh Grand Mosque is the largest place of worship in Bahrain and has in-house guides who relate the history of the mosque. With a capacity of 7000, the mosque is truly beautiful in beige and gold colours. Our guide tells us that the carpet in the prayer halls is from Scotland; the marble flooring from Italy; the crystal chandelier in the huge main hall is from Austria; and the 952 hand-blown glass lamps inside the mosque are from France.
Indulge at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay, Manama
Lunch at the Bahrain Bay Kitchen is a total delight. As we step into the lobby adorned by real olive trees that stand tall, the grandeur of the hotel is visible and the skyline beyond the large panoramic windows adds to the glamour. Some of the highlights are the highest bar and restaurant on the 50th floor. For a meal, choose from a total of seven Manama restaurants and lounges, including three venues by internationally renowned celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.
A floor below is the Bahrain Bay Kitchen that offers an ambience that’s rich and the buffet spread is an absolute delight – with an Oriental, Indian, Bahraini and Continental spread. Live counters that cook up seafood with sauce of your choice, sushi, meats – roasted and in curries, it’s a buffet that deserves at least four rounds. The seating is well spaced out and one of the walls has a backdrop of rose gold leaves adding a feeling of grandeur.
The mezze sampler includes vine leaves, hummus, moutabal, mohamara and Arabic bread; coupled with cuisine from all over the world. Desserts are typically Arabic with Umm ali – a pudding, Kunafeh, Baklava and rice pudding.
Stay at Four Seasons – rooms with a view
Suspended from the 11th to 28th floors, every one of the 273 hotel guest rooms – including 57 suites – features an elevated, unobstructed view from oversized windows, facing either north to the Arabian Gulf or south to the Manama skyline.
The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay encompasses four interconnected buildings woven together with pathways and gardens with modern design filled with natural light, reflecting modern Moroccan and Turkish influences.
Must eat at
Saffron by Jena for the most amazing breakfast, a District called 338 for World Gourmet Cuisine, Villa Mamas for lunch, Rasoi at the five-star Gulf Hotel – a fantastic fine dine experience by Michelin Chef Vineet Bhatia and stay at InterContinental Regency Bahrain for it’s great location next to the Manama Souk.
For more details of the Four Seasons Hotel visit fourseasons.com/bahrain.
For details of attractions and events in Bahrain visit Bahrain Tourism & Exhibitions Authority at btea.nh.