by Ayesha Shaikh
  • 2 minute read
  • July 25, 2019
Review: Mercantile, Mysterious And Magical, Al Bait Sharjah Is All This And More

AS I Pass by the fabled souqs and streets in the Heart of Sharjah’s Al Mareija area, the minaret of the nearby mosque broadcasting the call to prayer, I’m consumed by a sense of peace.

I’m here to visit Al Bait by GHM hotels, a historic gem with a distinctively local sense of glamour that echoes the Sharjah of the 1950s. The neighborhood was a crossroads for travelers and traders in the 20th century, with its coral stone houses most notably home to the family of Ibrahim Bin Mohammed Al Midfa, in whose memory the 53-key boutique resort now stands.

A doorway with intricate Arabic design
An exterior view of the wind tower at Al Bait Sharjah

“Welcome home,” the team says, offering me a lavender mocktail dusted with pearl powder, and Al Bait’s signature magic chocolate with its tingling sensation, reminiscent of the pop candy I’d have a child.

I’m given a map to navigate the sprawling 10,000-square-meter resort, an enchanting maze of narrow streets, open courtyards and secluded entrance-ways.

“The primary aim of the development was to recreate the intimacy and character of the historic village,” says Keith Gavin, partner and design director at Godwin Austen Johnson (GAJ), the UK-based design firm that has restored the heritage site. Al Bait houses five restored historical buildings, each named after the family that lived there, and five new village blocks. Inside, the UAE’s rich cultural repository abounds—the last remaining round wind-tower stands in one corner of The Café, whose courtyard leads into Souq Al Arsah, the country’s oldest marketplace. The resort has its own museum to the Al Midfa family and The Library, which is rich with archives and exquisite leather and wooden furniture.

An interior view of the grand suite

I stayed at the expansive grand suite, bedecked with a cozy four-poster bed and discreet lighting. The walls feature intricate plasterwork, concrete floors replicate those made with traditional clay in the past, and hand-carved furniture sheathed in traditional Emirati fabrics dresses the space. A highlight of the suite experience is the traditional Arabic bathing ritual, prepared with camel milk and rose petals in the restroom, which is replete with Acqua di Parma amenities.

Outside seating area
Spice showcase at The Café

Breakfast and lunch are at The Restaurant, where Head Chef Ashish Deva’s delectable cuisine prioritizes each guest’s distinct palate. For dinner, I feast on traditional favourites like manakeesh and a mixed grill at The Arabic Restaurant, adorned with Persian carpets, carved timber beams and cornices with Moroccan zellige tile skirting. During Ramadan, on offer is an Iftar menu that mixes Levantine and international flavours.

A view of the open courtyard at The Café

A fitting finale is the traditional hammam treatment at The Spa—90 minutes of bliss, thanks to Hanaa, my therapist, and a mix of Ila soaps and scrubs, packed with Argan oil, mineral clay, cleansing milk and rose water. Leaving Al Bait feels like leaving home, and its team merits a special mention for this—their personalized service and knowledge about the project made my stay one I’ll remember forever. Of course, I’ll be returning ‘home’ soon.

Prices of suites at Al Bait Sharjah start from Dhs5, 780. Visit Al Bait Sharjah for more.

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