With Bahrain gaining in popularity as a tourist destination, many tour operators have begun offering package deals with charter flights and hotel stay. Check with your travel agent, there are some real bargains to be had!

Feel at home in
Bahrain's hotels

BAHRAIN has hundreds of years experience in welcoming guests. Located in the heart of the Middle East, Bahrain has always been an important transit point for travellers between East and West in past centuries.

Today Bahrain welcomes nearly five times as many visitors every year as its own population. And these guests are spoilt for choice, with more than 100 hotels to pick from, in every budget and style.

One promise that applies to all hotels in Bahrain: you will be pampered by the famous Middle Eastern hospitality. The climate dictates: every five-star and most other hotels offer an outdoor swimming pool, sun-beds and chilled refreshments. Forget about the rain and snow in your part of the world, rest by the pool and sip on a cocktail. Heavenly!

Even if you stay with family or friends, you will still find yourself being drawn to the hotels. Some of the best restaurants, clubs and pubs are located in the hotels. They also host a variety of special events such as balls, fun nights, cultural events and concerts. Check the local media to find out what is on and where.

Bahrain being the financial centre of the Middle East, business travellers get special attention here. Just make a reservation, provide your flight details and leave the rest to the hotels. Any of the five star hotels (and many of the others too) will pick you up from the airport, usually at no charge.

Many leading hotels have an Executive Floor, designed for the business traveller. Services available on this floor include meeting rooms, office equipment like Internet-enabled computers and fax machines, butler service, extensive amenities, continental breakfast in the morning and free drinks in the evening.

Bahrains top hotels all offer conference facilities, so whether youre entertaining a party of 10 or 1,000, you will find a venue tailor-made for your needs.

Let me take you on a tour of Bahrains best hotels.

Lets start at the top of the island, at the luxurious Le Royal Meridien. This is the only five-star beachfront hotel in Bahrain. With 55 acres of tropical gardens, a private beach and a splendid view of Manamas skyline, its little wonder Le Meridien has become synonymous with luxury in Bahrain. Dont forget to pay a visit to the Royal Spa ­ its a treat that is out of this world.

As we move towards the centre of Manama, we reach the Regency InterContinental. This is the largest hotel on the island in terms of number of guestrooms. The Regency is just steps away from the Manama souk ­ which you will find yourself visiting time and again. Le Versace, Bahrains only five-star French restaurant, is located here.

A few minutes drive down the Corniche is the Sheraton Bahrain Hotel & Towers, located just next to Diplomatic Area - the business district of Manama. The Manama souk is still within walking distance from here, but there are more upscale stores just next to the Sheraton in the form of the Bahrain Commercial Complex (popularly known as the Sheraton Complex).

The hotel is home to two special restaurants ­ Soie, which offers Eurasian fare, and Golestan, the first Iranian fine dining restaurant in Bahrain.

The Sheraton underwent a major renovation recently, offering not only better-equipped rooms but also a state-of-the-art health club and pool.

The Hilton Hotel is a next door neighbour to the Sheraton. The Hilton accommodates popular Japanese restaurant Kei and the Cavalry Club Bar.

If you visit during the Holy Month of Ramadan, make it a point to visit the Ramadan Tent at the hotel.

At the other end of the Diplomatic Area are two more five-star hotels, the Holiday Inn and the Diplomat SAS Radisson.

The Holiday Inn is getting a face-lift this year. Two things you will love about the Holiday Inn are its swimming pool and the Seafood Night at La Music restaurant.

The Diplomat SAS Radisson hosts Scandinavian Week every autumn, and is worth visiting for its mouth-watering delicacies. One thing you should definitely treat yourself to at the Diplomat is the Friday Brunch. The hotel has a spectacular rooftop restaurant with a live band! Also popular at the Diplomat is the Irish pub Fiddlers Green.

The Gulf Hotel is in the southern part of Manama and overlooks the Grand Mosque. This was the first five-star hotel in Bahrain, having opened its doors more than 30 years ago. The Gulf Hotel is a rarity among the five-stars in that it is not part of any international chain. It is one of the most socially active of all hotels, with food festivals, rock concerts and even ballets being staged here. I will also recommend the Sherlock Holmes Pub ­ a place with personality!

For business visitors, the Gulf Hotel offers some of the best conference facilities in Bahrain. Its dedicated conference centre is the largest of its kind on the island and can accommodate functions of up to 1000 participants and also offers 2,500 square metres of exhibition space.

The prices in the five-star category range between BD50 to BD70 ($132 - $185) for a single standard room for a night. If you are on a tighter budget, there are plenty of cheaper options, even as low as BD8 ($21) a night.

No business, only leisure? Why not stay at one of Bahrains resort hotels?

The Al Bandar Hotel & Resort on the south-east coast is only a 25 minute drive from the city centre, but is miles away from the hustle and bustle.

Cosy cabanas and chalets, private beach, swimming pool, a busy marina and a stunning sea view awaits the visitor. Al Bandar is the perfect holiday resort not only for couples but also for families and groups of friends.

Hawar Island has been the pride of Bahrain ever since the International Court of Justice ruled in this countrys favour over a territorial dispute with Qatar. Hawar is perfect for a family vacation, an out-of-the-ordinary business meeting or a company conference. The four-star resort belongs to Baisan International, so you can arrange your reservations there. The boat ride itself is worth it!

The Ramada is a four-star hotel in Manamas Adliya district. The hotel prides itself on its five-star personalised service and focuses primarily on corporate customers. Ramadas best-known restaurant is the award-winning Le Jardin.

Al Safir is a brand new hotel with a difference. Its modern exterior fit well into Manamas Juffair district, but step inside and it is very old-world, very romantic and Oriental. This could very well be a palace for the Maharaja of Jaipur.

If you plan on a long stay in Bahrain, you should pay a visit to Elite Apartments. Elite combines a hotel with an apartment complex ­ offering longer-term stays in a fully-furnished room which is even equipped with a kitchen.

If youd like a reasonably-priced hotel in the heart of Manama, try the Atlas Hotel. For BD30 ($80) a night, two people can stay in a very large cosy room. The service is excellent and the location is close to the city centre.

Bahrain also has a Youth Hostel, a very good one in fact. The Guest House belongs to the Golf College of Hospitality and Tourism. It costs only BD8 ($21) for a single bed and BD15 ($40) for a double for a night. The longer you stay, lower the daily rate.

So welcome to Bahrain, and have a nice stay!





The luxurious Amiri Suite at Le Royal Meridien

By Emoke Hartyani

Bahrain hotels

Gateway to the Gulf

Hungarian born Emoke Hartyani, who has lived in Bahrain since 1996, is well versed with all aspects of the hotel industry. She is currently sales manager at Sheraton Bahrain. Emoke describes herself as a passionate traveller, and especially enjoys visiting unusual destinations like Yemen and Albania. Besides travelling, she loves playing the saxophone. Emoke is a big fan of Bahrain and its people, and loves the weather ­ even in the summer.