The island nation of Bahrain’s capital of Manama has a long and fascinating history dating well back into classical antiquity – today, the city is proud to showcase its millennia of historical legacy alongside the cutting-edge structures of huge skyscrapers and luxury shopping malls. For many centuries a busy port town that attracted merchants and travellers from across the world, Manama has a long-held heritage as a cultural melting pot bubbling with diverse influences. This is immediately visible in the jam-packed treasures of the city’s bustling souks, and also in its proud foodie offering.
Close to Manama’s famous Bab al Bahrain souk is The Merchant House – a five-star luxury hotel that epitomises the city’s flair for combining heritage with ultra-sleek modern styling. Part of the Campbell Gray network, it has a thoughtful and elegant mien that reflects the attitude and mood of the city itself. Interiors are streamlined and welcoming, hung with a variety of contemporary artworks made by celebrated international and Bahraini artists. Home to 46 immaculate suites, the hotel lies within the city’s fast-generating downtown area – an exciting and cosmopolitan location that is well-suited to exploring.
The rooftop is a key stopping-off point for visitors to The Merchant House – a Campbell Gray signature, it features the hotel’s Indigo restaurant and bar, an outdoor garden terrace, and an emerald-toned open-air pool. This is the ideal spot to sample some of the best local dishes, to take a dip and soak up the sun, or simply to watch the world go by on the historic streets below. The hotel’s library is another must-visit – located on a mezzanine floor overlooking the lobby, it is a peaceful sanctuary of over 1,000 books that have been carefully curated by the The Ultimate Library of Oxford for guests’ enjoyment and leisure. A charming spot for afternoon tea and cakes, it is also the perfect refuge in which to stop and recharge after a morning’s adventures around the city.
Friendly and helpful staff can advise you on the best places to soak up the sights and sounds of the city. One highlight lying just outside the hotel’s doors is the famous Manama souk – located in a maze of narrow streets, this atmospheric market has everything from shisha pipes and traditional clothing to electronics. The colourful nightlife of Block 338 is just a 15-minute taxi ride away, as are the priceless artefacts and artworks of the Bahrain National Museum. The hotel offers a variety of wildlife tours too – guests can visit the ancient Tree of Life in the Arabian Desert, or marvel at the local flora and fauna at the Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve.
After a day’s sightseeing, your afternoon port of call should be The Merchant House’s on-site spa. Working with natural and sustainable products wherever possible, the PureGray Spa uses local Bahraini company Green Bar as well as Spanish luxury skincare mavens Natura Bissé to create a holistically soothing and engaging space for beauty and wellness treatments.