TTN had the opportunity to try the new and only five-star luxury boutique hotel in Bahrain: The Merchant House, Bahrain by Gordon Campbell Gray.
From the moment you walk into the lobby of The Merchant House, Bahrain, for this writer any way, the property feels like an English country home with its vibrant floral and striped chairs, sofas and cushions.
The artwork throughout the hotel is one of the hotel's USPs. The art has been curated over the last two years in collaboration with Gordon Campbell Gray himself and are by leading Bahraini and regional Gulf-based artists. Some of the world’s most renowned artists are also featured, including one piece by American artist Andy Warhol, that is hung in one of the top suites.
The artworks are placed throughout the hotel and even on the insides of the awnings that hang outside the hotel, so when you look out from the lobby, you see a piece of art, not just the blank inside of a normal awning. The carpet in the Library, which holds over 1,000 books, was made from a sketch that Gray had done – so again, the uniqueness and attention to detail is truly special.
General manager Justin Kim says: “We are located in the centre of old downtown of Manama and a few steps away from Manama Souq and Bab Al Bahrain, where all Bahrainis have nostalgic memories and sentimental connections from their old days. Having such a unique property with so much connections with local talent, the overall feedback from Bahrainis is that they are so proud of us and so happy to have us.”
About 65 per cent of the hotel’s business is from the region, led by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and the remainder is from the US and UK. “Bahrain Tourism Board has been working very hard to diversify their inbound travellers from new destinations like France, Germany, and Russia.”
Each of the 46 suites ranging from 50 to 60 sq m are well appointed with a dining and sitting area, work desk, separated from the bedroom with a piece of art wrought in iron. The kitchen counter is fully equipped with crockery and cutlery for long-staying guests or even short-stay guests who prefer a quiet night in their room. The fridge produces its own ice, so no need to call room service if you fancy something cold. The ‘bean to cup’ coffee making machine is special as well. The bathrooms include a large walk-in shower and, of course, more artwork covering the walls. There are four types of suites – Urban, Executive (offering a little extra room), Corner Suite providing more windows and therefore, more light, and the largest Signature Suite. My suite made me feel at least, like I was coming home each evening, not to a hotel.
As a boutique hotel, there are only a couple of food and beverage outlets. The Lobby serves coffees and snacks, and you can also have the same in the Library where you can choose a book to read with your meal. The main restaurant Indigo, one of Campbell Gray signature venues, is located on the roof top, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The menu is not extensive, but provides enough choice for meat, chicken, fish eaters and vegan options. I had two amazing dishes recommended by the restaurant manager. The starter, a cherry wood smoked beef rib on endive and match with mixed pepper salad that melted in my mouth followed by hammour in a sesame crust – if you like fish, this is a must try. Breakfast is ala carte, which I prefer to buffets, and serves healthy options as well as your traditional egg dishes, pancakes. My poached egg with avocado was just the ticket to start my day.
Also, on the roof top is the outdoor terrace that resembles an outside garden and continues with the hotels floral and strip fabrics décor. This will be a nice venue for the winter months. The gym and swimming pool are also located on the roof top. The Spa has two treatment rooms, but there are a good choice of treatments including facials and massages.
Attention to detail is evident through this property from the bricks and mortar and design but more importantly through its staff.
Consider The Merchant House for clients visiting Bahrain for business or leisure and to my Bahrain-based colleagues and friends, this is worth a visit next time you are looking for a coffee or a place to dine.
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