Glass experiences the Al Manara Hotel, Jordan

MY easyJet plane has landed in Aqaba, the only coastal city in The Kingdom of Jordan and the gateway to its ‘golden triangle’ of Petra, the famous archeological site dating back to 300BC, Wadi Rum of Lawrence of Arabia fame, and the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea.

I am driven along the pristine palm-fringed King Hussein Street which leads to the recently opened Al Manara Hotel, part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection. It feels as if I have entered a Moorish palace when I walk into the light-filled grand entrance of the hotel, with its huge arched ceilings and an instillation of filigree lanterns looming overhead.

Embroidered red rugs are surrounded by booths of dark wooden furnishings, with hexagonal inlaid tables and the seating areas enhanced with equally vibrant embroidered cushions. 

Lobby of Al Manara Hotel

Poolside of Al Manara Hotel

I sip a small glass of warm hibiscus tea as I check-in, before I’m shown up to my suite by Mohamed, the suave front desk manager. The theme of dark wood and filigree continues into my bedroom and marble bathroom, where I discover my sunken bath, carved wooden mirrors and natural coloured mosaic tiles.

Mohamed beckons me over to the balcony, pointing over the railings: “From here you can see three neighbouring countries. Across Aqaba Bay is the Israeli seaside resort of Eilat, to the far left is Saudi Arabia’s newest city under-construction, Neom, and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsular lies inbetween the two”.

Al Manara, with 207 guest rooms and suites, is the most luxurious property in Aqaba, attracting a glittering clientele from around the globe. My biggest dilemma each day is deciding which of the two large swimming pools to sunbathe beside. There’s an option for guests to indulge in total privacy if they stay at one of the two seafront villas, each of which has its own kitchen and dining area with a butler on hand, a private a pool and direct access to Saraya Aqaba Lagoon. 

Dining at Al Manara Hotel

Exterior of Al Manara Hotel

Exterior of Al Manara Hotel

On my first evening I dine at the buzzy Leventine, a destination in its own right, heading down a statement staircase under a crystal canopy of light, where I am treated to a gestation of middle eastern dishes enhanced with Levant spices and Mediterranean influences The Italian Burata, flown in every week, was the best Italian plate I’ve enjoyed since I was in Puglia last summer. I opt to take desert of baklava with fragrant cardamom ice-cream on the terrace, while admiring the silhouette of the palm trees against the black desert sky.

As the sun starts dipping below the horizon on my final evening, I head over to Al Manara’s Spa, where I am royally spoilt by a massage from Marni, a Balinese therapist, who gives me a deep tissue massage using locally blended oils infused with eucalyptus and rosemary. She magically manages to twist my legs across my body and pummel my hipbones until I can feel my knotted sinew slowly begin to untangle. 

As I sit on my balcony admiring the full moon shining onto Aqaba Bay, I reflect on my time spent at Al Manara and how I have discovered the perfect bolthole from where to explore the wonderous Kingdom that is Jordan. 

By Amanda Bernstein

easyJet flies to Aqaba in Jordan from London Gatwick with fares starting from £122.98 return, per person including taxes. Flights can be booked at

Room rates start from approx £110 for a classic room plus tax. For more information, click here