Muscat is really spread out, so we didn’t consider how important choosing a hotel would be. Although, I suppose it depends on your agenda and plans, I can advise you on what I would and wouldn’t do next time.
The goal was of course to use all points to pay for the hotels. It wasn’t until I saw the prices of hotels on Kayak before I realized just how important hotel points would be, as the hotels we stayed at were going from $200 to $500 a night. So I’ll explain how we got the hotel points, and which hotels were awesome and which weren’t.
“Meh hotels” – The Radisson Muscat and Park Inn Muscat
The hotels of course were fine hotels by my standard, and they were a good deal. Since I’m a gold member (from the credit card and status matching), I could have booked the 2-4-1 paid rate.
During the week, rates are over $300 for both Club Carlson hotels. But on the weekends they are around $200 a night, so with the 2-4-1 rate that’s $100 a night. However, I needed more than just weekend stays, and my goal was to not pay money so… there’s always that.
How I got the free nights
Pretty simple, it was my turn to get the Club Carlson card which gives 85,000 points. But the best part is that it gives me the ability to book free nights for any award booking with two or more nights.
Both hotels were 44,000 Club Carlson points. And while I like the Radisson better, we tried out both and this way we also paid for 2 nights on points and got two nights free.
- 2 nights @ Park Inn Muscat = 44,000 Club Carlson points
- 2 nights @ Radisson Blu Muscat = 44,000 Club Carlson points
85,000 points (from the credit card) – 88,000 points used – 1,000 points left over.
Now in all fairness the Club Carlson card doesn’t waive the annual fee for the first year, so the 4 nights essentially cost us $75.
Radisson Blu Muscat
This hotel is on an “island” in between roads without crosswalks. Although, there’s nothing to go see around there, so I don’t see any need to go walking around the area (although we did a bit), except for restaurants.
The inside was fine, and there’s just nothing notable about it. I’m not a fan of marble, as it’s not homey to me, but it was much better than the Park Inn in this way.
Ultimately my complaint is that it’s a bit far from the sites I wanted to see.
Park Inn Muscat
This is really in the middle of nowhere except a block away from a grocery store and mall. The grocery store is legit, but that would be the only benefit of this location. Too much marble for me, but otherwise it’s similar to the Radisson but maybe slightly plainer rooms.
The location has less in walking distance but it’s next to the main road where the basai buses go by.
The great hotels – The Grand Hyatt Muscat
How I got the free night
A little before my trip I realized that I kept my Hyatt card for too long and paid the annual fee and got the free night certificate. This is an annual bonus of the Hyatt card, a free night at a Hyatt hotel category 1 – 4. However, I just don’t like paying tons of annual fees, so I called and canceled the card and they were generous enough to refund the fee. I guess it’s a win win because the fee was waived and I got the free night.
I also couldn’t help but notice when planning the trip that the Grand Hyatt Muscat was a category 4, and rooms were also going for over $600 a night! Turns out there was a conference but I was lucky enough to get an award night when it ended up sold out.
Reviewing the Grand Hyatt Muscat
This hotel lives up to the Grand Hyatt name with a phenomenal lobby. It’s in the district of all the embasies and I imagine they get some big wigs.
Yet, it’s also on the beach and is laid out like a resort. When you enter and are in the lobby you really feel how grand the hotel is, worthy of $600 a night. And when you’re in the room and looking out at the ocean it really feels like a normal beach Hyatt hotel. Which, isn’t a complaint, it’s just true.
In terms of quality of rooms, this is by far the best hotel we stayed at, as the rooms were huge and pretty nice.
The one draw back is the lack of restuarants and a plethera of embasies. There’s not much to see in the area except for the beach, which it’s pretty awesome to be right on the beach, and stroll down their giant boardwalk.
The InterContinental Muscat
Take all the grandness of the Grand Hyatt and scale it back a little, and then throw in a much better location. This is why I ultimately prefer the InterContinental Muscat. Just look at the view.
The rooms were normal but after coming from the Hyatt, they felt tiny. If you want to tell the quality difference of the hotel, go to the fun pool (not the lap pool). The paint all over the pool is pealing or faded, and the sidewalk needs pressure washed… badly.
But I still prefer the hotel, as I’m a big fan of lap pools. On the rare occasion that a hotel has a pool long enough to do laps in, I take advantage of it.
But again, it’s the location, access to the board walk, which immediately heads out next to the long bridge. The views on the bridge or walking on the beach below it were great. This is the only hotel I can think of where I think the hotel is actually great. It’s near places to eat, it’s on and near a beautiful section of the Muscat beaches, and it’s not that far by taxi to Corniche.
The problem if you were willing to fork up the dough to visit the Shangri-La is that you’re stuck in that area. At least that’s how the Ritz Carlton was. Although if you’re considering the hotel, you can probably afford the food, and the beach looks incredible enough to make it a decent option.
I recognize that the IC may not be as nice as the Shangri-La, and the beach isn’t as private… but that’s the plus side of it. It’s near things and has great views. A compromise.
How we got it for almost free.
If you followed me on IHG’s Into The Nights promo, you know I have a few free nights. Although it’s hard to calculate the cost of those, I also have two free nights from the credit.
The IHG card is one of the few cards I find worthy of keeping. This is both because the annual fee is only $49 and the annual gift is a free night at any hotel. Therefore, you could say I paid $49 for the InterContinental Muscat… which is a killer deal.
But another reason to book the IC, is because I have Ambassador status, which gave me a 4pm check out, on a night where my flight wasn’t until 10pm. We checked out at 4pm and then went on a walk.
My ideal location is the InterContinental. Interestingly enough, where we were walking to is the cliffs where the other IHG property is – the Crowne Plaza Muscat. We didn’t go up to visit because it was on top of the cliff. I’m not sure if there is an easy way to walk around and up to the hotel, but if not then I would defintely prefer the IC for the easy beach access. (Although they may have a little private beach?)
If you have the budget to be out on the most beautiful beaches in way east Muscat, then go ahead and enjoy it. You’ll likely be taking taxis to the things to do in Muscat anyways. In terms of points hotels, I felt like the Grand Hyatt was an obvious use of Cat 4 certificate.