Whilst braving the somewhat tumultuous and precautionary winds of travelling through lockdown, (for essential work purposes of course) I spent the first few months of 2021 in the sunny Middle East, however with flight diversions, lockdown severity and hotel quarantines, my route home changed.
Enter, The Kingdom of Bahrain.
Ah that wonderful green list, far flung areas of the globe that previously had little interaction to the outside world are now brimming full of international tourists abundant with PCR paperwork. In transit from Dubai to London I stayed in Bahrain for 11 days to avoid the ubiquitous ‘Holiday Inn’ quarantine, to my surprise, what a gold mine, a country with a compact population of only 1.6million, surroundings of the crystal blue Persian Gulf and some of the best hospitality I have ever come across.
Once coined the up and coming financial hub of the world, Bahrain is progressive in its attitudes to culture, has a clear affiliation with modernisation and is laden with cosy yet serene dining options.
Known widely for its association to the Formula 1 Grand Prix and most recently on the hotlist of the Formula E calendar, as well as hosting its wealthy neighbour Saudi Arabia for weekend getaways connected via the King Fahd Causeway. The 16-mile link from west to east was constructed between 1981 and 1986, and carries about 25,000 vehicles per day.
With its futuristic skyline of some of the most explorative building techniques and construction talents ever seen, it also plays host to a whole Dilmun civilisation, abundant with historical glories, such as the Al-Khamis Mosque, Bahrain Fort and the Dilmun burial grounds.
With a more laidback and less luxurious approach to lifestyle, opposing its close counterparts, Bahrain nevertheless is home to some of the world’s greatest chef’s, with cuisines fit for royalty, charming cafes full of charter overlooking the bohemian district in the heart of Manama, Adliya.
Here are some of my favourite recommendations:
The finest retro-chic authentic Greek restaurant in Manama, gilded with traditional Hellenic colour schemes both inside and out, surrounded by an enclosed terrace oxygenated by plentiful plant life. It’s bold and extremely generous portion sizes deliver a mouth-watering feast not to be missed.
MUST TRY: GREEK FETA CHEESE SAGANAKI – don’t ask questions, thank me later.
Peru on a plate minus Machu Picchu, Clay is a truly exceptional culinary experience, right from the outset it entices you in with an amazon come Japanese diaspora interior finishing. Symbolic with its name, clay food pots and ash fragrance make up Clay’s brand alongside fresh ingredients delivered via intricate techniques and nuanced flavour.
MUST TRY: EDAMAME AHUMADO – simple yet mind blowing.
A masterful chain, know widely Asha’s is a hotspot for die hard Indian fans so holt the elaborate outfit and opt for the elastic waistline. With a vibrant and familiar atmosphere, Asha’s combines traditional North Western cuisine, Indian home style cooking and new age fusion selections to choose from.
MUST TRY: SAMOSA SELECTION – Cheese, curried lamb and spicy potato, say no more.
Feeling somewhat reminiscent, Bahrain has a lively and contagiously relaxed lifestyle, and to rest your head at night there is nowhere more superior than the Four Seasons Hotel located in Bahrain Bay, in the centre of its own cosmopolitan oasis.
Whether you are looking for an urban getaway or beach holiday bliss, this ticks all the boxes, it’s welcoming reception is a jaw dropping delight, scattered with an eclectic mix of a Steinway Piano, Bonsai trees and a fanciful dessert trolley. Each room has a 180-degree view of the Arabian Gulf and promises a most generous walk in wardrobe, accompanying its interior, the beach, private pool and amenities are synonymous with pure luxury and the finest hospitality there is.
Alternatively, the more hedonistic option is the Ritz Carlton. Set along a private lagoon, the Ritz hotel is a secluded slice of paradise, perfect for family’s and beach fiends – a one stop shop for a luxurious quarantine. It is a diner delight with 11 restaurants within the complex, offering cuisines from Mexican to a multinational steak house, before I forget, they also have their own flamingo’s living there best lives. However, the only downfall is the dated room design, traditional and cultural in its approach, yet misses the modern amenities some desire.
Covid has certainly transformed all our lives, so adjusting to life’s new normal has certainly been a challenge, travelling during these tough times is a headache in itself, however my silver lining has been the exploration of Bahrain, I hope this blog entices those adventure seekers to explore its palatial offering in months to come.