Nick’s review of the Hilton Salalah Resort in Oman

Last year I wrote about the Hilton Salalah Resort in Oman which is an astonishing 5,000 Hilton HHonors points per night (Hilton Park Lane is 80,000 points.)  Reader Nick saw my article, was intrigued, and booked it!  Here is his review:

I’ve been following HfP for a while now and accumulated over 800,000 Avios, not to mention various hotel status and points.  With my finances maxed out due to my recent house move, new car and forthcoming wedding I decided a ‘budget trip’ to somewhere sunny was in order for February 2015.

I’d followed with interest the redemption opportunities for Hilton and spotted that there was an interesting opportunity to redeem Hilton HHonors points for a bargain break to the Hilton Salalah Resort in Oman.  This is my review.

Being a Category 1 hotel, but boasting 4 star status, the Hilton Salalah Resort seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.  Back in July I booked a redemption stay for February 2015 for 8 nights at a cost of 34,800 points.  This was even lower than the headline cost of 5,000 points per night due to the discount I received due to my Hilton status.  The trip was prompted by a Qatar Airways sale which offered return fligths from LON-SLL (via Doha) in economy for £355 each.

At the time I booked I still had Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Gold status from my Amex Platinum, which allowed me to book our seats.  In the economy cabin of a Qatar A340-600 you are fairly limited on choice – it was about avoiding the really rubbish seats as opposed to booking the best ones.  Unfortunately as my status expired three weeks before I travelled I was not able to use the lounge.

The IFE was much better than expected; I certainly wasn’t expecting multi channel IFE, which took the edge off the length of the flight and the fact that the IFE ‘box’ took up about 15% of the seat width in front!  Certainly one to be aware of next time when booking seats! The legroom under the window seat was particularly bad due to the curvature of the fuselage.

Once at Doha I was blown away by the size, cleanliness of the airport and was looking forward to relaxing in the Oryx lounge for a couple of hours with my Priority Pass. Unfortunately when I got to the lounge they declined access (they wouldn’t say why) which was a real disappointment since when I checked (admitedly a few months prior) they had been part of the programme! I whipped out the Amex Platinum and they said they would only give access for Platinums issued in the Middle East.  Feeling a bit tight I decided not to part with $45 each for a 2 hour wait; instead I went exploring. If I had my Marco Polo Gold I could have accessed the Al Mourjan lounge complete with Krug; I’m so gutted I didn’t refer my other half to Amex Platinum to keep our benefit ‘alive’.

The airport was big enough with enough facilities to checkout to keep us from being bored, and before we knew it we were at the gate waiting to board the flight to SLL on QR1143 (Airbus A321). Although a smaller plane the control boxes for the IFE seemed to be tucked away, and the screens smaller so there wasn’t quite so much a problem with the legroom. This plane was full to capacity with the exception of 4 empty business class seats… I was really missing business class now!

Arrival at SLL was not quite straightforward.  Our steward missed out distributing the landing cards to us, so we queued to get to the desk only to be sent to the back of the queue again! 2 hours after landing we were finally able to collect our bags.

Hilton Salalah Oman review 3

The Hilton driver had other thoughts than waiting which left us to catch a cab to the hotel … this was about 15 minutes away and a fare of about 4OMR (half of what the Hilton was charging). When we arrived we were greeted as Gold members and shown to our room. We booked a standard room but were upgraded to a huge Seaview Deluxe Room. First impressions were of a large room, little dated decor, but perfectly comfortable – the extended amenities sets were very much welcome as I’d forgotten my razor!

Hilton Salalah Oman review 2

The table in the room was set out with a fresh fruit welcome; a large bottle of sparkling water and a nicely decorated valentine’s cake and some Omani sweets (all complimentary and very well received after a long journey!)

The bed was great, about 50% bigger than the UK super king beds and very comfortable; the room included mini-bar a good selection of TV channels and a good sized bathroom with bidet, bath and shower, aircon and heating ; all of which worked!

Hilton Salalah Oman review 1

The hotel itself was a little bit dated, but the staff were brilliant, nothing was too much trouble for them. The gym was well equipped but underused and the pool was heated with a waterslide for the kids. The hotel has its own beach which is supposed to be private, but that didn’t stop a heard of camels trooping past and the occassional 4×4 driver exploring the beach area!

Hilton Salalah Oman review 4

The hotel was well equipped with bars and restaurants (I think four in total) and is one of a handful of places to serve alcohol in the city. Breakfast was served buffet style (being Hilton Gold this was free) with a decent selection of fruits, cold cuts, hot food, porridge and curry! The waiting staff were good and always on hand to top up coffee’s or teas. The chef at the omlette station was kept busy with waffles/ omlettes and eggs any way you’d like them.

The dining options are here.  Lunch was served at all of the restaurants and dependent on the spot there were different dishes on offer including a fixed price buffet.  For dinner there were themed nights on different days; if you go I’d recommend the Barbecue Night; they spent ages setting it up and there was a huge array of food from fish to meats, many different vegetarian options, rice, sushi, curry, salads, humous, dates, cheese, cold meats and a choice of at least 10 desserts that I counted!

Hilton Salalah Oman review

The clientelle of the hotel varied; I would say 60% German, 15% Scandinavian, 15% French and the rest either British, Russian or American. Most of the Americans and Brits there were Merchant Navy on the way to the port of Salalah which could be seen from the hotel. It wasn’t intrusive, but it did make for an ‘interesting’ view. There were some people there who were on all inclusive packages, but they weren’t the beer swigging types that you’d expect to see in the Costa’s and due to the residents being mainly over 50 the whole place was quiet from about 10pm.

For the return journey we were back on a much less crowded A321 (departed at 5am) and then the short (3 hours) back to Doha. We only had 1 hour between flights on the way back so we made our way straight to the gate and got ready to board the A380 back to Heathrow.  Again, we’d booked our seats ahead using the status I had and made my way to seat 62E and settled in for a great flight home.

Would I recommend it?  YES. As a bargain redemption it couldn’t be beaten – however there is a hotel being built next door so be wary of building noise if you book!  Salalah is not an easy place to get to; with no direct flights from the UK it makes senses to change either at Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait or Hamad (Doha).

Even though our Qatar tickets were non flexible economy we managed to pick up 90 tier points and 1922 Avios for just £355 – plus eight nights accommodation for free!

You can find out more about the hotel, and book, on this page of the Hilton website.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  To see our complete list of promotions from the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. James67 says:

    The IFE boxes under the seats in economy seems to be a major problem on both aisle and window seats on the 787s across all operators. I didn’t know it applied to a340s also. You never missed anything much in lounge to be honest, it is so large that the ambiance resembles the rest of the terminal as opposed to a lounge. Last night I redeemed 40k hhonors points for 5 nights Doubletree KL, a category 2 hotel. That’s almost £400 of value from points mostly earned from erewards a couple of years back. I sat on yhose points specifically for my next stay in KL.

    • Have you stayed there before James, I had a reward stay there last year for the F1 weekend?

      • James67 says:

        No, will be first time. Is there any reason we shouldn’t? I checked reviews on TA and they seem very positive. Previous trips I stayed in a renaisance or IHG propery next to a transit station, cannot recall which it was

        • Family members have just been staying there and were very happy with the stay. They said it is a very high quality Doubletree Hotel and they were treated very well as Diamond.

  2. Fairplay to you Nick. Nice report.

  3. Frankie says:

    Great report Nick. Very enjoyable read and a great use of points.

  4. Very nice, though I can’t say I would feel totally safe going to that part of the world, otherwise it’s a steal.

    • I have to agree Mike. I visited about 11 years ago and it was great. It is a little too close to Yemen for me at the moment. I would still visit Muscat however.

  5. Paul Irving says:

    An awesome review. This has me thinking of s visit as I have 160,000 Hilton points. Thank you for theorisers write this.
    Are there anymore of these 5k or 20k gems about?

    • Think Square says:

      Take your pick

      Batang Ai Longhouse looks an interesting choice. “located 275 km from the city of Kuching. It takes a 4-hour drive and a 20-minute boat ride to get to the resort.”

      • A few in the Sharm-el Sheikh region in Egypt are also 5,000 points.

        I stayed in one of these a few years back as a gold, got given a suite which was basically two rooms knocked together with a terrace overlooking one of the pools, and breakfast on a private ‘vip’ terrace each morning, and a free pickup from the airport to the hotel (plus a complimentary lift to another non Hilton hotel to carry on on our 2 week break). All for 20,000 points for 5 nights – was perfect for some cheap sun.

        Also had the opportunity to ‘upgrade’ to all inclusive for about £20 per person per day which we took up on after the first day – which gave us all the all inclusive benefits including drinks, but what we noticed after a few days was that our wristbands were a different colour to everybody else in the hotel, this meant faster service, better branded drinks, great service round the pool, and options to eat in each of the a la carte restaurants once per stay (there were 3, so over 5 days we did all).

        trying to do the same this year at some point – especially now BA have started flights sept15.

        • Which Hilton did you stay.


          • Mrtibbs1999 says:

            Which of the sharm hotels Simmo?

            • Sorry, this was Sharm dreams.

              Also forgot to mention over the 5 day with promos and charging the All inclusive to the room i somehow managed to get around 10,000 hilton points back! (20,000 for 5 days actually cost 10,000)

        • I stayed here at sharks bay in sharm at the hilton and we booked a suite. It was about £120 all inclusive if I remember correctly, due to stacking a few promos with HHonors I think we managed to bag nearly 30,000 points! It was ok, but only just ‘ok’ staff were brilliant but there were a lot of guests who’d been there like 10 years on the trot who said it was going downhill!

          It was perfect for us for some winter sun in November 2014!

        • Simmo, is Hilton publishing their All Inclusive fees?

          I’m looking at BA + HH redemption. You can buy a week fot two for £1014 at BA Holidays, with all inclusive option. Flights only are around £740, so the value of cheapest room with all inclusive is £276. If All inslusive bought at Hilton is £20 per person, than it’s the same price as room with all inclusive from BA. The only difference is you’re not burning HHonors points and not getting any and no extra nights to add to status.

      • Remind me how to use the search tool to find by category? I have done it before but it doesn’t seem to be easy now. ie a list of all the category 2 hotels would be handy

  6. Think Square says:

    Good review, Nick. Can I ask what the food and drink prices are like, and are there any options outside the hotel?

  7. Waribai says:

    Good review but IIRC the Al Mourjan lounge is strictly for Business or First class travellers on Qatar Airways. Maybe because I was there at Xmas but I thought the lounge was overrated and slightly soulless! A bit like the airport in general.

    • It may be that you could – in the old airport – use a Priority Pass but they changed it when Hamad opened? Only a guess.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Apparently so, according to the Oneworld website, but they let me and my OH in a few weeks ago while in transit from HKG – we were both travelling in Y on QR. I have AA Platinum, but my new card hadn’t arrived (it turned up, ironically, while I was away!) so all I had for proof was the expired card and the iPhone app! I was crediting the flights to BA, which I have no status with, so my OWS wasn’t even on the boarding pass! A lucky mistake perhaps. It’s a fantastic lounge though.

      • Waribai says:

        Yes, you might have lucked out. When we were there, someone was checking boarding passes even before they’d let you up the escalator to the lounge entrance!

  8. I’ve had similar experiences of considerable savings in other Middle East countries with Marriott Rewards when traveling on business.

    Several of their top Middle East properties (including J W Marriott) have only a category 2-3 Rewards points rating (the top category in Marriott is 9) and the savings can be substantial by using points, rather than cash. I’ve made savings of at least 30-40, even on the advance purchase cash rate by simply buying the points and paying that way.

  9. Good enjoyable read . It really validates this point and miles craze we all are breathing

  10. We stayed at this hotel for two weeks over Christmas and New Year. Booked two rooms (and specified they needed to be adjacent w/ connecting door), unfortunately they screwed this up … after brief (polite) discussion about how I wasn’t going to stick my kids in a room half way down the corridor they upgraded us to a suite *and refunded all the points for the second room*. Result.

    Would agree with Nick’s report, it’s a lovely place. It’s got the friendliest staff my wife and I have ever encountered (and we’ve each stayed in many (allegedly) premium hotels over the years).

    Felt slightly isolated, there’s almost nothing around the hotel, you’re a fair way out of the city. We like to explore, so ended up renting a car.

    Felt perfectly safe, even when driving along the road towards Yemen in our hired Land Cruiser, with our 5- and 1-year old sitting the back seat spotting camels :)

    We’d go back in a heartbeat.

  11. The_Real_A says:

    I often find the lounges change with Priority Pass. Always best to check “find your lounge” before travel

  12. Hi guys,

    Thanks for the comments about the review, I thought it was only right to spend a little time to do something of a decent enough quality to give something back to the HfP community after receiving so much 😀

    Just to answer a few Questions.

    The dinng options are quite varied in the Hotel; see the link below with the latest menus too!

    Being a largely dry state the drinks prices weren’t what you’d call ‘cheap’, wine starts at the equivalent of about £25 a bottle and beers from about £4 for a can of imported lager.

    There are places nearby (10 minute taxi) to the ‘oasis club’ in the port of Salalah where you can get bottles of wine for less than the hotel and a decent meal (huge menu and great sunsets) but will have to factor in c. £10 each way taxi costs! There are some apparently good restaurants in salalah which have had good reviews on tripadvisor, but we were a bit scuppered since we didn’t hire a car!

    In terms of safety – Sure its’ close proximity to some ‘not so nice’ neighbours, however the Omani’s have been supported and are supporters of the West; with it being a strategically important location. There is a growing ex-pat community in salalah with a mix of UK and USA; I never at anytime felt unsafe. The only time my other half had to cover her head and shoulders was when we visited a holy tomb of one of the descendants of the prophet Mohammed.

    I’ve booked up to go back next year, but are just keeping an eye on the flight prices via Qatar Airways +/- toying up redeeming on BA to either AUH/DOH/MUSCAT then doing the last leg on internal flights!

    If we went back we’d definitely hire a car (we hired a guide for the day with 4×4 and this cost us nearly £400), now I know its ‘safe’ I’d be happy driving over there!

  13. I should have added, on the way back from DOH to LHR I managed to get seat 62E on the A380. On that aircraft due to their being a ‘maintenance hatch’ that required access there was no seat in front. The guy behind sarcastically commented that I’d “Lucked out” with my seat choice!

    Still it made up for the IFE boxes on the way out being in the way!!

  14. Brilliant review. Thanks so much for sharing so much detail…. More like this please Rob.

  15. Great review. Is the beach usable for swim & kids play, or are u mostly relying on the pool area?

    • The beach is huge, but with no shade at all. There’s a kids’ play area set up on the beach right by the boundary to the hotel, but with no shade we found it was too hot there between about 11am and 4pm.

      There is plenty of shade round the pool.

  16. As a resident of Muscat and with a large stage of HH points I will certainly be visiting this hotel.

    Thank you for the great review!