After Russia I headed to the warmer climes of the Middle East. My first stop was Bahrain, most famous for it’s hosting of the Formula 1. A small island country with a population of about 1.2m, Bahrain is nestled between Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the Persian Gulf. Few Westerners head to Bahrain as a tourist stop – when they think Middle East, they think Dubai. But Bahrain shouldn’t necessarily be overlooked when on a tour of the Middle East for it is not without its charms. The country is easy to navigate and taxis are affordable. The architecture is modern, and sights include the likes of the ancient Bahrain Fort that dates back 5,000 years and Manama Souq. Attitudes are very liberal for a Middle Eastern country and prices are somewhat cheaper than Dubai.
In Bahrain I stayed at the Kempinski Grand & Ixir Hotel. It is linked with the City Centre Shopping Mall, the largest mall in Bahrain with hundreds of of outlets. It is also home to Wahoo, the Middle East’s first ever indoor-outdoor waterpark. Covering an area of 15,000 square-metres you can be assured of a plentiful number of fun rides and water slides.
The Kempinski is a city hotel with two buildings, the Grand and the Ixir which are each individually decorated in modern European and traditional Arabic styles. The hotel only opened about two years ago so the finishings are dazzlingly new. The hotel houses five restaurants, a bar and a nightclub, and facilities include a well-kitted fitness centre, an outdoor pool and a luxury spa. Nestled alongside the pool is Nasmat, a restaurant that serves Mediterranean cuisine. There is also a bar that offers an opportunity to tuck into some refreshing cocktails while you chill out in the hotel’s infinity pool.