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Bahrain’s beauty lies in the shallow waters that lap its coastline. The word ‘Bahrain’ is derived from the Arabic for ‘Two Seas’ and historically its wealth came from the trade in the pearls that grew in the many offshore springs. The island interior is a little underdeveloped, which is why the best places to stay in Bahrain are on the coastline or in the cosmopolitan capital Manama. They are mainly luxury destinations with state of the art spas, palatial suites, and enormous lagoon-style swimming pools that emulate its crystal shores.
The hub of Bahrain's activity is centralised in Manama, where business visitors from around the world congregate and most of the best places to stay in Bahrain are centred here too. Manama has a skyscraper-spiked skyline, World Trade Centre, a wealth of night clubs, white sand beaches and reclaimed land being built on to cater for the very wealthy. Like Dubai and Abu Dabi, Bahrain has its share of glitz and glamour, though Bahrain has a much more liberal social climate; women can dress as they please and alcohol is completely legal.
Culturally too, there is plenty to keep you busy from Bahrain's National Museum and the UNESCO listed Fort to the traditional houses in Muharraq and the A'Ali burial mounds at Sar.
Outside the capital are some real gems worth exploring. There’s the coastline for its unique diving on the Coral Reef and then the Al Areen Nature reserve for wildlife enthusiasts. Also, the 4000-year old archaeological sites that pepper the island give an insight into the country’s rich history.
Then there’s Sakhir, very close by, famous for its annual hosting of the Bahrain Grand Prix, which attracts people from around the world.
On the West coast is Sitra, an island covered in date palm groves and fresh water springs. A focal point for its Coral Reef, it offers world-class diving and water sports. It’s an ideal spot for sportier beach enthusiasts.
Shopping is a must do if you're planning a visit here: check out the Bab el Bahrain souk or pick up some pearls for which the islands are so famous.
There is plenty for families to enjoy too including the Wahoo Water Park in Manama.
Best time to go: November to March. Summer temperatures rocket to 50 degrees between May and September.
Best to avoid: Muslim holidays. Eid and Ramadan; there’s an influx of Saudi tourists who take up every room.
Since the 2011-2012 protests the country is safe to visit and there are no government warnings not to travel there.
The Hotel Guru's selection of the best places to stay in Bahrain are mainly Five Star resorts located in Manama, Sitra, or Sakhir. Like Dubai, Bahrain lives up to its wealthy reputation. However, not all of it is surface deep, and the historical and sporting attractions around the island are its modern day pearls.
For the luxury traveller:
- The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel & Spa - fabulous spa, beautiful suites, lagoon-style swimming pool, and direct access to the beach.
- Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa - chic suites with four poster beds, sea water spa, an award-winning Italian seafood restaurant.
- Kempinski Grand & Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre - romantic private dining pods, a choice of Italian or Arabian cuisine, and the Royal Suite is a stunning penthouse apartment.
- Al Areen Palace & Spa - Bahrain’s first villa-style hotel with an excellent spa and next to the Al Areen Nature Reserve.
- Majestic Arjaan by Rotana – Manama - the newly built suites have 1, 2, or 3 bedrooms, and only just 2km from the International Airport.
- Al Bander Hotel and Resort - luxury cabanas on a peninsula, a pristine white sand beach, enormous lagoon-style swimming pool, plenty of diving, sailing, waterskiing.
- The Gulf Hotel Bahrain - this predominantly business traveller hotel also caters to leisure travellers with its enormous lagoon-style swimming pool, tennis and squash courts. Also a 15 minute drive from the main shopping areas and famous restaurant area Adliya.
For hip travellers:
- The Domain - a hip hotel with emphasis on socialising, describes itself as a ‘socially charged members club’. Fine dining restaurants serve Italian, Lebanese, French cuisine and lively bars host social events.
Best Hotels in Bahrain
Al Bander Hotel and Resort 80 roomsSitra, Bahrain
A fantastic resort on the beach front. Cabana-style rooms, suites, and family suites situated on a private marina. Direct access to the beach and many water sports, kids club, many pools, spa, and multiple restaurants. Ideal for families and sports enthusiasts.Beach LifeFamiliesSights nearby - Riffa Fort, University of Bahrain and Bahrain National Museum.Swimming Pool - Outdoor and Indoor Pools
Majestic Arjaan by Rotana 128 rooms from $94Manama, Bahrain
A good four star apartment hotel ideal for families or long term visitors. Contemporary classic suites have up to three bedrooms, kitchens, and dining rooms. Swimming pool and health club. Good value too.Business Hotel - Close to both the World Trade Centre and Bahrain Financial HarbourFamilies - Luxury apartments sleep up to 6.Sights nearby - Bahrain National Theater, Bahrain National Museum, and Al Muharraq Stadium.Spa
The Gulf Hotel 357 rooms from $125Manama, Bahrain
Bahrain's original Five Star hotel with rooms, suites, and serviced apartments. Enormous lagoon-style swimming pool, excellent business facilities, spa, and multiple restaurants. A great choice for families, groups of friends, and business visitors. Great value for money.Families - Three bedroom serviced apartments.City Style5* Luxury - Very high service standards.Sights nearby - Overlooks the Grand Mosque and the Royal Palace
The Palace Boutique Hotel 20 rooms from $143Manama, Bahrain
A great hotel with simple contemporary rooms in Manama. Contemporary classic interiors are filled with clean lines and creamy furnishings. Lovely pool, garden, health club and restaurant. Excellent value, understated, refreshingly simple.Value chicSights nearby - Al Fateh Mosque, Bahrain National Theater, and Khamis Mosque.Swimming Pool - Indoor/outdoorSailing - Can be booked nearby.
Kempinski Grand & Ixir Hotel 460 rooms from $156Manama, Bahrain
A large Five Star hotel with all the facilities in central Manama. Huge modern rooms and suites with chic furnishings and state of the art technology. Excellent choice of restaurants, extensive spa, and close to lots of attractions. Ideal for business or leisure and very family friendly.5* Luxury - Very high service standards.City StyleSpa breaksSpa - Pure Spa offers holistic treatments with organic ingredients.
The Domain 131 rooms from $165Manama, Bahrain
A stunning Five Star hotel members only club/boutique hotel. Stunning contemporary rooms and suites with unrivalled views and all the mod cons. Fine dining restaurants, state of the art spa, and designer chic living spaces. A grown-up spot for the luxury traveller.Foodies - Three fine dining restaurants.Views - Superb city viewsSpa breaks5* Luxury - Very high service standards.
Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa 262 rooms from $195Manama, Bahrain
Luxury resort hotel overlooking the Arabian Gulf with the only Thalassa spa in the region. Romantic bedrooms combine french style with Arabic influences. Huge swimming pool, tennis courts and water sports galore. Ideal for an active beach break or a spot of spa pampering.Foodies - Award winning Italian seafood restaurantSpa breaks - The only Thalassa Spa in the region5* Luxury - Very high service standards.Beach Life
The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel & Spa 245 rooms from $352Manama, Bahrain
A Five Star hotel in the central Manama but on its own private island. Tranquil gardens, day loungers, outdoor restaurants. Romantic rooms and suites & villas in contemporary classic style have private balconies and all the mod cons. Excellent spa and multiple cuisines. Completely luxurious.Foodies - Italian, Indian, Far Eastern, and Continental5* Luxury - Very high service standards.Spa breaksCity Style
Al Areen Palace & Spa 78 rooms from $430Sakhir, Bahrain
An Arabian villa-style Five Star hotel close to the Al Areen Nature Reserve. Romantic rooms and suites have delicate furnishings, marble floors, high ceilings, and all the mod cons. Fantastic restaurants, state of the art spa, and enormous swimming pools. A luxury spot for couples and families.5* Luxury - Very high service standards.FamiliesSpa breaksRomantic Break