As you guys may know, I’m on this riduclous journey to every country in the world and having spent ten months solid moving throughout Latin America, Antarctica and the Caribbean last year I was looking forward to a travel-break in my adopted home of Bangkok, Thailand.
My journey from the Caribbean to Asia was going to be going via the Middle East so I thought it’d be a perfect time to visit one more of my 193 countries – Bahrain. Bahrain was looking like a great choice, it’s a tiny country so over two or three days I could see the majority of the main sites. However, I was so burned out from almost a whole year of “two nights here, three nights, night bus. Repeat” that if I was going to visit one more country before my return to Thailand then my stay was going to have to tick some serious boxes. Easy access to the aiport, awesome facilities, superfast wifi, a spa, a ridiculously awesome brunch spread and access to some imported wine. I had earned a weekend break, and I was going to indulge. And then I found the Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain – perfect, two nights/two days. Done.
I’ve stayed in a LOT of hotels around the world on this journey, and almost all of them talk about their fantastic location, and most of them are a little flexible with their definition. The Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain however, is spot on. You can literally walk from the airport to the hotel, it’s about six hundred metres, I had planned to do that actually but the Movenpick being the Movenpick naturally they had someone greeting me at the airport with a huge smile and he drove me the three minutes to the hotel instead! The first encounter with the Movenpick staff who I know recognise as literally the best hotel staff I’ve ever come across, and their amazing work is one of the reasons I wanted to write about how awesome my stay was.
After I knew my trip was planned, I had contacted the hotel to explain that I was visiting every country in the world, and could they help me with planning my days in Bahrain, they were so helpful via email too. I never thought anything about it again until I arrived and went straight to my room. They had written a proposed ‘backpacking’ schedule for me, where to go, what to see, what not to miss. Amazing. Then I see a little fruit and snack platter sitting on the table, I had arrived at 3AM so it was hugely welcomed, but on closer expectation I saw a little (edible) blonde guy sitting ontop of a globe – IT WAS ME. The marketing girl, an absolute superstar by the way, had asked the chef to try to prepare me something unique and this was what he did – unbelievable. The best first impression I’ve ever had. And then of course I got to enjoy the room. Wow.
I had flown in from the Caribbean via Ireland. So it went Ireland to Amsterdam, six hours there, on to Istanbul, eight hours there, then onto Manama. So sleepign in that lush room, best night sleep of my entire ten month journey. The beds are huge, and the thread count must be through the roof.
The next two days I followed the itinerary the hotel staff had suggested and had such an amazing time in Bahrain. I checked out the UNESCO world heritage fort, I saw their beautiful skyline, had some amazing local food in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, got interviewed by a lifestyle mag and of course got drunk in an Irishbar, as you do. Bahrain is so different from people’s perceptions, naturally it has it’s fair share of shady history but it’s blossoming right now, and is so much more liberal than I ever expected. The nightlife is pretty decent, booze is available and the Friday brunches are legendary – think free flow champagne, prosciutto ham, lobster, add a mix of crazy expats and you can imagine what goes off every Friday. It’s popular in lots of hotels throughout the region, but the Movenpick has got Bahrain locked in, so if you’re here, don’t miss it. Be warned, it can get a little crazy, in the very best of ways.
The first thing I did though, was visit their spa. I had just flown my fifty fifth flight of my journey so I figured why not. Their spa had recently been entirely renivated and the staff sounded pretty proud of it so I didn’t want to miss out. Apparently it’s one of the biggest hotel spas in all of the Middle East, anyway, their sales pitch worked and there I was. I had a great chat with the Spa owner, from Slovakia, another beautiful country incidentally, and she recommended I had the traditional royal hammam treatment, involving a scrub, then steam, then scrub, then steam, then scrub again then waterfall water shower. Finally finsihed up with a head massage for twenty minutes. AMAZING. Exactly what I need to shake off the horrible triple flight connection to get here – but also completely justifying the money I saved by choosing such a horrible route. I’d choose nice hotel, massage and horrible flight over convenient flight and no massage every day of the week.
This was one of the best hotel and country experiences of my life. The marketing girl took me out for lunch, then the editor of a magazine took me for a drive the next day. I bumped into the GM of the hotel too actually, a great guy from the Netherlands. He even managed to spare thirty minutes and have a drink with me. Chatting to successful people is always so so worthwhile but for every question I’d ask him about business, he’d ask me one back about Somalia, Iceland or Ethiopia! I had a great time
Before long I was out of there. What started off as more of a box ticking exercise to ‘see’ Bahrain as one of my listed countries turned into some so much more. Bahrain was actually fun, beautiful and interesting and I would love to return soon. In fact, I’d be open to living there – it’s really that nice. The Movenpick was without doubt one of my best hotel experiences ever – from the food, to the room, to the location and most importantly the staff, all such friendly people. Bahrain, you surprised me in more ways than one. I hope to see you again, and for you guys – the Middle East is a beautiful region, one I hope you all try to explore. So much culture, so much warmth, and if you venture to Bahrain, push the boat out and stay at the Movenpick – let me know your thoughts. This brand has jumped to the top of my list now. Oh, and just a few pics of my parting lunch in the hotel – trying local food, yum yum.