Seven stays full of mystery and enchantment fit for a sultan
With all eyes on the big screen this spring for the live-action remake of magical Arabian adventures involving sorcerers, street rats, genies and flying carpets, many travellers will be inspired to spend one of their three wishes on an unforgettable trip away. Booking.com, the global leader in connecting travellers with the widest choice of incredible places to stay, has curated a list of seven dazzling places and shining, shimmering, splendid accommodation to match. Take a magic carpet ride and experience a whole new world by staying at one of these beautiful destinations fit for a sultan.
Agra, which makes up one corner of the Golden Triangle circuited by travellers alongside Delhi and Jaipur, is home to both the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort and is the perfect destination to feel like royalty. Translating to “Crown of the Palaces”, the Taj Mahal is a must-see for any aspiring Sultan. Found on the bank of the Yamuna River, this ivory marble mausoleum was built for the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan’s wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Its intricate architecture and reflecting pool have become an iconic image, making it a top destination for a sultan selfie. The nearby Agra Fort was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty until 1638. Visitors can lose themselves in these regal surroundings to truly picture what the life of a sultan would look like.
Where to stay: The Oberoi Amarvilas Agra is a short walk from the Taj Mahal and boasts sumptuously sultan-worthy 5-star accommodation. This lavish hotel combines modern interiors with large windows that truly capitalize on the beauty that surrounds the building. Visitors to The Oberoi Amarvilas Agra can also feast like royalty, with four dining options offering a range of international and local specialties. To indulge in royal treatments, guests can visit the Oberoi Spa for a body massage or treat themselves to a swim or exercise session at the gym.
Oman’s capital Muscat is home to a real-life sultan, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, who is the longest serving Arab leader, having held the office since 1970. As part of a visit to Muscat, you can bask in the opulent beauty of a landmark that also shares his name, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. An active place of worship, the mosque is the fifth largest mosque in the world and was designed as part of a competition that Sultan Qaboos hosted. The impressive structure glistens in the Oman sunshine, boasting a 50-metre-high gold dome and white marble flooring. The men’s prayer hall, which can actually be visited by both genders, is especially captivating, with huge Persian carpets and chandeliers dominating the space.
Where to stay: Surrounded by the glimmering waters of the Gulf of Oman in the Bay of Barr Al Jissah, Shangri-La Al Husn Resort & Spa is the perfect destination to continue following the sultan- like experiences in the city. A short drive from Muscat’s city centre and the Sultan Qaboos’ Grand Mosque, the hotel’s décor is inspired by Arabian palaces and accented by authentic Omani artworks. Sun-worshipers can take advantage of the hotel’s private beach, which is set against a dramatic mountainous backdrop, making it a truly unbelievable sight.
If the Agra corner of India’s Golden Triangle doesn’t appeal to you, then Jaipur too has a regal draw for travellers. The capital of India’s Rajasthan state is founded by and named after Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amer in 1727. Today, this bustling city is popular with tourists for its pink hued buildings that have secured it the nickname “the pink city”. One of these beautiful buildings is the Hawa Mahal, a palace of red and pink sandstone, also known as the Palace of Wind. This regal residence is best experienced after sunset as the lights illuminate and the building appears to glow. If pink isn’t your colour, Jaipur is also home to the hillside attraction Amber Palace at Amer Fort.
Where to stay: Relax after a busy day of sightseeing just two miles away from the centre at the palatial Taj Rambagh Palace, known as the “Jewel of Jaipur”. Boasting immaculately manicured gardens and beautiful Indian architecture, this hotel is almost as photogenic as Jaipur’s own palaces. Guests will be treated like royalty with palace butlers who can help guests arrange vintage horse-drawn carriage rides under an endless diamond sky every evening and experienced gurus who host yoga sessions to help guests unwind after a long day of exploration. These hospitable touches will make the difference for 65% of Canadian travellers who report their stay has been improved by the person managing their accommodation going above and beyond.
A former imperial city, Marrakech is home to a large variety of breathtaking mosques, palaces and gardens, which are bound to make travellers feel like a sultan. As part of your travels, consider taking a walk-through Bahia Palace, which means “the Palace of the beautiful, the brilliant”. This nineteenth-century palace was once built for Si Moussa, chamberlain of Sultan Hassan I, is a cultural hotspot for tourism in Marrakech and one of the city’s architectural masterpieces. The beautiful structure covers almost eight hectares and features the first stained glass windows of the Maghreb, captivating visitors as soon as they set their eyes upon it.
Where to stay: Feel like royalty by booking a stay at the Riad le Clos des Arts surrounded by astonishing interior designs, with every room decorated with a typical Moroccan tile art form. Guests can embrace the peaceful surroundings in the inner courtyard and relax like a sultan out on the roof terrace, featuring a small plunge pool. Centred in the heart of Marrakech, Riad le Clos des Arts is also just a short walk from the Bahia Palace, so visitors can parade through the streets on their way to the palace.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai is known as an opulent destination for travellers with its luxury shopping opportunities and outstanding architecture. Visitors to Dubai can further indulge in relaxing treatments fit for a sultan by embracing a luxurious pastime, the traditional Arabian Hammam treatment, also known as a Turkish bath. The treatments consist of travellers being soaked with water before applying black soap to the skin and exfoliating it with a kessa glove.
Where to stay: If you prefer to experience an Arabian-style spa in the area of your accommodation, then visitors are bound to be in for a treat at Palace Downtown. Located in the heart of a traditional Arabian Village, this luxurious hotel has everything you need on its doorstep, including Hammam monsoon showers, a hot tub and steam rooms. If visitors want to not only spoil themselves in the spa treatments, but also give their eyes a treat, then they will truly enjoy the fantastic point of view that Palace Downtown provides, of the Dubai Fountain, as well as the beautiful lake surrounding Burj Khalifa.
Istanbul was once a city full of royalty in the Sultanahmet district, where chariot races used to take place and, to this day, Egyptian obelisks remain. Istanbul is also home to the historical and architecturally beautiful Blue Mosque, built by Sultan Ahmet I. The Mosque has a large prayer hall under a main dome and boasts six minarets and eight more domes. The mosque also features over 20,000 exquisite handmade Iznik ceramic style tiles in a variety of tulip designs. From the outset to the interior, every aspect of the Blue Mosque is bound to make travellers embrace the grand experience as soon as they set foot in the mosque.
Where to stay: Soho House Istanbul is a wondrous place to stay for the modern traveller looking for new horizons to pursue. Featuring three unique buildings including the Chancery and the Annex, a brand-new glass building and a luxurious members club, the Soho House Istanbul definitely has a lot more to offer towards traveller’s sultan-like experience, especially for 26% of Canadians who prefer unique accommodations. Located a short drive from the Blue Mosque, travellers are bound to feel like royalty after a long day of exploring, when they arrive at the hotel to relax and sink into a super king-size bed which includes fantastic Egyptian Cotton sheets. Soho House Istanbul also provides guests time to wind-down with a spa that offers numerous treatments, including facials, massages and body therapies.
Luxury is the norm in this historic town boasting lush boulevard gardens, immaculately kept Victorian-style mansions, award-winning estate wineries and first-class waterfront dining. Spend the afternoon strolling through the charming Heritage District poking in and out of antique shops and specialty boutiques while admiring picturesque surroundings. Tourists can visit Queen’s Royal Park known for its old statues, beautiful buildings and enchanting views of Lake Ontario, but more notably for its iconic gazebo overlooking the water.
Where to stay: Combine glamour and adventure by spending the night in luxe summer vineyard bliss in an exquisitely decorated bubble tent at the elegant Two Sisters Vineyards. In celebration of National Rosé Day, two lucky guests will be treated like royalty with an exclusive wine tour and tasting, a rosé cocktail creation class, a private 3-course dinner at Two Sisters Vineyards’ Kitchen 76, private breakfast served within the vineyard and other fine offerings for an extravagant stay. This unique one-night-only getaway nestled within the beauty of nature offers a lavish glamping experience like no other. Stay tuned for more rare and unique getaways in Canada from Booking.com.