THE BACKGROUND: The Gulf Hotel is an independent Bahrainy-owned property with 357 rooms and 97 apartments. It's literally an original: it was Bahrain’s first five-star hotel.
WHERE IS IT? Originally built on the beach, land reclamation projects around the property mean it is now set opposite the Grand Mosque and adjacent to the Adliya area renowned for its great restaurants.
THE ROOM: A warm welcome and dramatic reception with vast chandeliers and mammoth floral display make a great first impression and the bedrooms don't disappoint. They have been recently refurbished and are stylish and modern. My Platinum room was large and airy with big picture windows looking out over the Grand Mosque and the city. The bed was massive and the luxury bathroom top of the range.
THE RESTAURANT: Not one but no less than 14 restaurants within the hotel, ranging from Italian and Fusion to Japanese, Chinese and Iranian. Choose the Lebanese restaurant for belly-dancing while you eat, or visit the Typhoon Bar for cocktails by the tropical gardens and a lively South African band. For a taste of home check out The Sherlock Holmes bar with pub grub-style food. My favourite was the newest addition, a Mexican restaurant with fab margaritas and guacamole that is handmade at your table.
THE FACILITIES: Although Bahrain is an Islamic country it is relatively liberal and alcohol is served in the majority of the hotel’s bars and restaurants. The pools are set within lush gardens and there is a men-only and women-only gym featuring a sauna and Jacuzzi.
HIGHLIGHT: A memorable moment was my visit to the Grand Mosque dressed in abaya and hijab for a real insight into Islam. Then there was my visit to the Qal at Bahrain fort for an insight into the incredible history of the region. The highlight of the hotel was the restaurants – so much choice and all absolutely top class.
RECOMMEND TO: Anyone looking for a warm, friendly welcome and a top quality base from which to explore Bahrain.
THE COST: Rates start at 85 dinah (£144) for a luxury room and 120 dinah (£204) for a Platinum executive floor room. The Royal Suite comes in at a cool 450 dinah (£765).
THE DETAILS: Reservations via World Hotels Reservations www.worldhotels.com or tel. toll free 00800 77 79 67 53
Great! This is a large hotel but it retains an intimate feel. Staff are wonderful and the reputation of its restaurants means it is popular with locals, which adds to the ambience.
Senior journalist, Selling Long Haul