Are you looking for a short getaway by the beach with delicious food, stunning sunsets and a serene ambiance? Then look no further. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa could be your answer.
As you approach this stunning property the appearance is that of a citadel, presenting its ornate walls to the outside world but, for guests, all windows face inwards showing fabulous views of the encircled gardens, pool and beach. And the interiors are just as impressive as those protective walls.
It is bright and spacious with a preponderance of marble and light fixtures. The curved sides, open windows and tessellated ceiling all reflect light and vastness to play with the sense of space around you. With its modernist Art Deco influence and consummate dedication to service, the hotel echoes the traditions and style of Middle Eastern culture whilst embracing international flair.
Arriving late-afternoon, we first paid a visit to Narguile Shisha Lounge, a compact circular space situated by the shore. As we entered, we felt the cool breeze coming in from the sea, bringing with it a fresh wave of November mist, and were embraced by the orange of the sunset garnishing this little piece of paradise with a rich golden glow.
Soon after we were seated, the aroma of their Arabic hot and cold mezze danced towards us, already making our mouths water. The platter’s main star was the lamb chops – wellcooked, soft, easy to chew, and offering a spectacular taste experience. Our server also kindly brought us some manaeesh, warm, soft, generously garnished with zaatar and labneh and decorated with ripe and full cherry tomatoes. These typical Middle Eastern dishes were accompanied by freshly-made tabouleh and fatoush, as well as falafel and halloumi sticks, which were perfectly breaded on the outside and flawlessly soft on the inside. A mezze would, however, not be complete without some classic hummus and mutabal, which balanced the ideal amount of smokiness and freshness. We also enjoyed some shisha, which complemented the experience. And left the lounge feeling satisfied yet ever hungry for more.
However, it was time to head to our ‘room’ which had some unique touches. The Gulf Opera Suite is perched on the rooftop of the hotel opening out to a lavish deck accompanied by its own private infinity pool. The room overlooks the pristine beach front, garden and pool area. The sumptuous suite is dominated by decadent embellishments and plush carpets. Spectacular window panels allow for the sun to produce a warm shimmering glow over its features. The linen is crisp and palatable to one that desires luxury. Every inch of these elegantly designed fixtures, built to world-class specifications and stylishly decorated, says luxury. They come complete with living and dining areas, spacious bathrooms and individual work and relaxation areas.
The walls reflect Bahraini iconography, yet the contemporary fixtures and ornate objects are reminiscent of France. The furniture itself is modern yet traditional – a paradox of comfort. A low hanging chandelier with an incredibly intricate pattern hung from the ceiling above the dining table in the living room further alluded to the grandeur of the accommodation. The en-suite bathroom ran adjacent to the bedroom and occupied the same length. The toilet was modestly hidden in its own partition, leaving the twin wash basins, shower and bath all open in a vast continuous space.
The bed cradled your body to allow for an all-encompassing embrace, with the finest quality linens and cushioning for the ultimate voyage to dream land. The suite presents an homage to Bahraini homes of yesteryear amongst the patterns of the panelling and the entwined etched beams throughout the ceilings. The windows filled the far side of the room letting in inspirational views and a panorama of the coastal skyline, pool and luscious foliage that adorns the grounds. There are 262 sea-facing rooms and suites with exclusive access to the beach and pool, all with private balconies.
Once settled we decided to try Rivaaj, Sofitel’s much-admired authentic Indian restaurant. On entering, we were immediately taken by the splendor of the magnificent interiors. Decorated with ruby-red velvet walls and draped with richly embroidered tapestry, it left us awe-struck. The sound of water and traditional Indian music further put our minds at ease.
We were served glasses of Anarkali, a customary pomegranate drink made with rosewater, a dash of lemon, soda and garnished with pomegranate seeds that float on the surface of the rich ruby-red liquid. The hint of rosewater perfectly juxtaposed the drink’s distinct zesty taste, and the beads of pomegranate added a particular rush of flavour.
Then came a plate of pani puri, a classic Indian snack, filled with potato and garnished with some sev, coriander and a few pomegranate seeds. The redolence of the pani matched exquisitely with the spice of the potato and the delicate crunch of the puri, which, when devoured, produced an explosion of flavour in our mouths.
It was difficult to choose mains from the extensive menu. Lamb biryani, dal makhani, with a side of jeera rice was simply to die for: not too greasy, not too heavy, not too spicy and well-seasoned with a host of spices. The dal was equally heavenly, with light hints of cumin, cardamom, bay leaves and tomato, as well as the vivid taste of butter and cream. Flaunting a magnificent orange-brown hue, this delectable dish was served in a traditional copper pot. The jeera rice turned out to be a fine accompaniment to the dal, being soft, steamy and beautifully fragranced with crisp roasted jeera seeds and freshly chopped coriander, not to mention a touch of butter – always a welcome addition!
We followed dinner with a stroll along the beach, where we noticed that the sunbeds are well spaced out for Covid safety. Making our way to the pier, we enjoyed a cool drink as we watched the moon over the waves and just enjoyed the ultimate feeling of relaxation before heading back to our suite for the perfect night’s sleep.
Though reluctant to leave that magnificent bed, we were up and out early in the morning to head back to town but those few hours of utter indulgence were the perfect antidote to workday woes and stress. We’d highly recommend a mid-week break at this stunning property if you get the chance. ✤
GO: CALL 1763 6363 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR TO MAKE A RESERVATION.