Quintessentially Boutique

Discover the perfect blend of modern luxury and creative flair at The Merchant House, where Apple Sharma experienced a dream escape in the heart of the city.

In bustling downtown Manama, where the old Bab Al Bahrain souq tells tales of the past, stands The Merchant House, the Kingdom’s first five-star luxury boutique hotel.

As an avid traveller, I’ve spent a lot of time in hotels and I can trade home comforts for a luxury stay in a heartbeat. So, I was excited at the prospect of enjoying this quaint little gem and experiencing first-hand all that the hotel had to offer.

The Welcome

Upon arrival, my partner and I were warmly welcomed by the friendly reception staff, who ensured our check in was swift and seamless.

The moment we stepped into the lobby, we were immediately struck by the vibrant and eclectic design of the space. I adore boutique hotels, especially when they have a story to tell, and this area alone had a lot to say.

The Art

The Merchant House brings the lively spirit of Manama to life with its mix of concrete columns, bold colours and diverse fabric patterns. The centrepiece of the lobby is a striking graffiti pillar created by local artist Mustafa Al Halwachi, which sets the tone for the hotel’s impressive art collection.

As an art lover, I found myself in paradise here. Throughout the property, the walls and corridors are adorned with more than 300 carefully curated artworks by local and international artists – it’s like walking through a contemporary art museum. Striking works from the likes of British artist Sacha Jafri and Bahrainis Jamal Abdul Rahim and Aysha Almoayyed, are featured alongside iconic pieces by French painter Toulouse-Lautrec and even an original from the legendary Picasso (yes, you heard it right)!

The Décor

The reception area stands out with its blue and white floralpatterned wall, accented with touches of gold. Nearby, the lobby’s alcoves are adorned with elegant blue and white floral sofas, complemented by tasteful table and floor lamps, creating a welcoming and sophisticated atmosphere. There’s also a vintage-looking balance scale – a nod to the hotel’s logo – a thoughtful, creative touch. The adjacent Café Gray, with its inviting charm, adds to the lobby’s vibrant character.

The Suites

With only 46 rooms, The Merchant House offers an intimate and exclusive experience with five types of suites: Urban, Urban Plus, Executive, Corner and Signature Suite. Each one feels residential, complete with a kitchenette, dining and sitting areas, a master bedroom and an en suite bathroom. We stayed in the Signature Suite, which is the largest and has the possibility to interconnect with another to create a two-bedroom space.

Our spacious living area featured a small round dining table and a cosy seating area with a large comfortable white sofa. It was tastefully decorated with a mix of floral and solid-coloured cushions, an orange swivel chair and a blue leather stool, all centred around a stylish glass coffee table. Our room also had a complimentary fruit platter – a thoughtful touch – as well as two TVs, a full mini bar and a coffee machine that grinds fresh beans – we love our brew, so this was a very welcome amenity.

The open-plan living room transitioned into the bedroom, separated by a partial wall and an artistic metal screen, for some added privacy. The bedroom featured a super-king bed with large, European lounge pillows, a small writing desk, wardrobes with a safe and two bedside tables with large lamps. The round windows with slatted shutters, reminiscent of a ship’s portholes, added a nautical charm.

The bathroom, the longest of all the hotel’s suites, featured natural lighting, double sinks and a large rain shower with an underwater fish scene glass panel, an apt addition to the space. We loved the feel of the plush bathrobes and the REN Clean Skincare products, which added another level of luxury to our morning routine.

The Library

Once settled, we ventured to The Library on the mezzanine floor for an English Afternoon Tea. This premium lounge, overlooking the lobby, is a treasure trove of more than 1,000 books curated by The Ultimate Library of Oxford. This cosy sanctuary exuded warmth and featured a mix of vintage-style sofas and printed single seaters, which contrasted perfectly with the open bookshelves and cherry blossom painted walls.

We took our seats in a comfy corner and were presented with the afternoon tea menu, inspired by Bahrain’s historical role as a trading hub connecting East and West. As we flipped through a couple of interesting books, our afternoon tea was beautifully presented on a tiered platter, featuring a delightful selection of sandwiches, scones and sweets, offered with our choice of traditional English Breakfast tea. The highlights for us were the smoked salmon sandwich on rye bread and the carrot galangal and date cake. The Afternoon Tea experience caters to all preferences and includes a fixed set menu with an extensive tea selection, which can be upgraded to include a variety of flowering teas or sparkling grape.

The Facilities

The mezzanine level also houses The Merchant Room, a meeting space ideal for private or VIP board meetings with a 10-seater table setting and a small business centre with computer and printer facilities.

As we wandered around the hotel, we looked in on the other amenities, which included the tranquil PURESPA, as well as a fully equipped gym with the latest Technogym fitness equipment and a serene emerald rooftop pool.

The Dinner

For dinner, we ascended to the rooftop, home to the hotel’s restaurant – Indigo Terrace – our absolute favourite part of the property. This chic eatery offers both indoor and outdoor seating. The terrace, with its British-garden inspired design, provides a stylish downtown entertainment spot, featuring an elegant setting with a beautifully designed bar and more contemporary art adorning the walls.

The menu fuses Mediterranean and Asian flavours, creating a unique culinary experience. We began our meal with a selection of starters, including Roasted Sweet & Sour Eggplant, Seabass Spiced Tacos and Beetroot and Buffalo Mozzarella – all delicious and bursting with flavour. For the mains, we tried the delicious Saffron Risotto, a sure winner, and slow-cooked Corn-fed Chicken with Roasted Cauliflower and cauliflower mousse, a hearty and satisfying dish.

We finished our meal with the decadent Chocolate Fondant served with homemade vanilla ice cream. The beautifully presented dishes, accompanied with exceptional ‘service with a smile’ made for an exquisite dining experience and one that we will most definitely be revisiting.

The Breakfast

The next morning, after a restful night’s sleep in our comfy bed, we returned to Indigo for breakfast. The à la carte menu offered a variety of enticing options and we began with a lovely fruit platter, followed by freshly baked croissants from the pastry basket. From the Healthy section of the menu, we couldn’t resist the Super Spinach Pancake, which came with fried eggs, avocado, spinach, cherry tomato and halloumi. From the Classic Eggs section, we tried the Kashmiri Hash with Miso Hollandaise and the Egg Royale with smoked salmon. Accompanied with a big glass of orange juice and coffee, our breakfast set us up for a perfect start to the day.

The Goodbye

We completed our stay with a visit to Café Gray. Located in the quiet lobby with a clear view of the bustling street, this café is ideal for a casual bite or a quick business meeting. Offering light sandwiches, homemade cakes, fresh coffee and juices, it also serves enticing chocolate delights from its ChocoLAB menu, including chocolate fondues and hot chocolate, all made with speciality AURO chocolate. We indulged in the delicious signature dessert, Coffee Milk Chocolate Tiramisu, ending our experience on a sweet note.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at this exquisite property. Boutique hotels hold a special charm and The Merchant House lived up to its reputation as a luxurious, intimate space with contemporary design and impeccable service to match. So, whether you’re looking for a tranquil escape or a luxurious spot to explore Bahrain, The Merchant House is the perfect choice. ✤