Review: Westin Bahrain City Centre

Introduction
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Westin Bahrain City Centre
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Hilton Garden Inn Frankfurt Airport
US Airways Business Class A330 Frankfurt To Philadelphia


Bahrain has a surprisingly large SPG portfolio for such a small island — there’s a Sheraton reasonably close to the actual city center, and then there’s a Westin and Le Meridien near the City Centre mall. The Westin and Le Meridien even share amenities, so it’s interesting just how huge their presence is there.

For my two night stay I decided to book the Westin, which cost 90BHD per night (~$240). That’s not cheap at all, but the alternative was paying 12,000-16,000 Starpoints per night (this is a Category 5 SPG property), so it did seem like the better deal.

The taxi from the airport to the hotel took about 15-20 minutes, and traffic wasn’t bad at all.

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Westin Bahrain exterior

The hotel’s lobby is super-impressive, with a lot of glass and high ceilings. Since it was right before Christmas, there were a surprising amount of decorations.

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Westin Bahrain lobby

When I arrived at check-in there was one agent working, and she took forever to help the guy in front of me. She didn’t acknowledge I was waiting, neither with eye contact nor words, so it took about 15 minutes before I was helped.

Once I was actually helped the interaction was friendly. I was informed I had been upgraded to a suite, which was much appreciated. I was also handed a letter explaining the privileges of being a club guest, thanks to being an SPG Platinum member. The letter explained the hours for the club lounge, which were as follows:

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Once checked in I headed towards the elevators. On my way to the elevators I passed the entrance to the City Centre Mall, which the hotel is literally connected to.

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Westin Bahrain lobby

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Westin Bahrain lobby

The mall is gorgeous and really wouldn’t have felt out of place anywhere in the US. There was even a Pinkberry. 😉

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Bahrain City Centre mall

I took the elevator up to the 12th floor, where my suite was located.

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Westin Bahrain hallway

I was assigned room 1224, which was at the far end of the hallway and on the left, past a set of double doors (presumably so that it could be turned into an even larger suite, if desired).

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Westin Bahrain room entrance

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Westin Bahrain floorplan

The suite was gorgeous. It featured a separate living room and bedroom. The living room featured a dining table by the entrance, a living room with couch, chair, and ottoman, all facing a flat screen TV, and then a desk in the corner by the window.

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Westin Bahrain suite living room

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Westin Bahrain suite living room

I really liked the decor of the suite, though it oddly didn’t “feel” like a Westin. Purely from the furnishings it felt like a cross between a W and Le Meridien.

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Westin Bahrain suite living room

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Westin Bahrain suite dining area

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Westin Bahrain suite living room desk

Back near the entrance was the minibar and Nespresso coffee machine.

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Westin Bahrain suite living room coffee machine

The minibar featured soft drinks, liquor, champagne, beer, etc.

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Westin Bahrain suite living room minibar

Immediately to the right of the entrance was the guest bathroom, which featured a toilet with a “hose” and bidet.

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Westin Bahrain suite guest bathroom

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Westin Bahrain suite guest bathroom

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Westin Bahrain suite guest bathroom

The bedroom was spacious as well, with a plush king size bed.

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Westin Bahrain suite bedroom

It faced a flat screen TV. Next to it was a vanity mirror with seat.

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Westin Bahrain suite bedroom

Then by the window was a daybed.

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Westin Bahrain suite bedroom

The master bath featured double sinks, a shower, a soaking tub, and a toilet.

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Westin Bahrain suite bathroom

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Westin Bahrain suite shower

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Westin Bahrain suite bathtub

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Westin Bahrain suite toilet

Next to the bathroom was a large walk-in closet.

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Westin Bahrain suite closet

The suite faced, well, Bahrain. Which almost entirely seems to look like this:

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Westin Bahrain suite view

Anyway, the suite was absolutely gorgeous, and I didn’t even have to ask for the upgrade. My one complaint was that the wifi only consistently worked from the living room. I couldn’t get the wifi to work from bed, which is really unfortunate, because that’s my favorite place to work from.

Anyway, the Westin Executive Club was located on the 10th floor, and was a large space. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a lounge so creepily empty (probably partly a function of the fact that I was traveling over Christmas). It featured a ton of tables, and except on one occasion I was the only person there.

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge seating

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge seating

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge seating

The lounge even had a small business center with a couple of computers.

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge business center

It featured similar views to what I had from my room, except the Gulf could be seen in the background.

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge view

The evening spread was available from 6:30PM until 8:30PM. Interestingly the information sheet I was given at check-in marketed the happy hour as follows: “enjoy canapes and non-alcoholic beverages, the perfect start to any evening.”

Clearly we have slightly different definitions of what constitutes the “perfect start to any evening.” 😉 But interestingly they actually did have alcohol available in the lounge, and a good selection at that!

As I said above there was only one other occasion where there was another guest in the lounge, and I only remember that because of how thirsty he was. The attendant asked if he wanted anything to drink and he said “how about a beer… no, whiskey… no, wine… how about wine and whiskey?!” The thirst in the Middle East is real!

The evening food spread was great, though I couldn’t help but feel a bit wasteful given that it mostly remained untouched.

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge evening snacks

It featured everything from chips to veggies to sushi to cheese to several hot dishes to a great dessert spread. It really was a dinner substitute.

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge evening snacks

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge evening snacks

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge evening snacks

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge evening snacks

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge evening snacks

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge evening snacks

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge evening snacks

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge evening snacks

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge evening snacks

The breakfast spread was available from 6:30AM until 11AM, and was equally good, with all kinds of fresh pastries, fruit, cereal, yogurt, eggs, meat, etc.

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge breakfast buffet

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Westin Bahrain executive lounge breakfast buffet

The staff in the club lounge were attentive. In particular Samsul, who couldn’t have been nicer and more professional.

The hotel has a nice pool, spa, and gym on the third floor. I never actually saw anyone use any of the facilities, but they looked nice enough.

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Westin Bahrain Heavenly Spa

I used the gym a couple of times, which was “brand standard” for a Westin.

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Westin Bahrain fitness center

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Westin Bahrain fitness center

The hotel also has a nice pool which is shared with the attached Le Meridien. While I don’t think I’ve previously ever said this before in the Middle East, it was actually sort of too cool to swim the one time I figured I’d give it a shot.

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Westin Bahrain pool

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Westin Bahrain pool

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Westin Bahrain pool

In terms of the service in the hotel, the club lounge staff were friendly, though the other staff just seemed confused. For example, the first full day of my stay I tried to arrange a tour of Bahrain at the concierge desk.

As I usually do when first arriving in a city I said “I just got here and would love to get an overview of the island. Could you maybe arrange a private tour?”

The guy looked at me like I had two heads, since I guess no one has ever come to Bahrain to sightsee before.

“What do you want to see?”
“I don’t know, what can’t I miss?”
“In Bahrain…?! Well it’s only a short flight to Dubai.”

Hah!

Eventually I did manage to arrange a guy to drive me around for a few hours, and I quickly understood why the concierge was so confused. Bahrain makes Doha look exciting by comparison. And that’s saying a lot.

Highlights of Bahrain include the Bahrain World Trade Center:

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The tree of life:

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The souq:

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And my personal favorite, the lovely Bahrain Airport Macaroni Grill, which is next to the Bahraini Productive Families kiosk (whatever that is):

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Westin Bahrain bottom line

The Westin Bahrain was great for the most part. It’s a gorgeous hotel with a nice club lounge and good SPG Platinum treatment. If only it weren’t in Bahrain. 😉

In all honesty, I’m happy to have ticked Bahrain off my list. Been there, done that!

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Comments

  1. Am I the only one who doesn’t have a city bucket list because there’s no city I don’t want to visit?

  2. I’m surprised the room rate was so high given how empty the hotel seemed to be. You would think the rates would be half what you paid w/ the low occupancy rate.

  3. Hello Ben

    As with all of your reviews this one is good too with extensive pix and write up highlighting all the important aspects of the hotel.

    Though many of the pictures are wrongly captioned like for eg. Executive Lounge Seating has been captioned under a toilet pod picture 😉

  4. A little part of me dies every time you write something like “That’s not cheap at all, but THE alternative was paying 12,000-16,000 Starpoints per night.” Certainly there are more alternatives in a large urban center than a single Starwood property. And then I die a bit more when you eat breakfast and dinner in the hotel lounge.

    Not a novel complaint, but I wanted you to know that you are making me die.

  5. @ Chris S. — I’m terribly sorry you’re dying. Clearly you don’t have, nor value hotel elite status. Get well soon!

    JRL

  6. FYI, the upper-end hotels in Bahrain (e.g., all of the western brands) are part of a pricing cartel, which means that the minimum room rates are about the same everywhere, regardless of the occupancy rates. They can offer different soft benefits (e.g., associated with status or corporate contracts), but you’ll almost never find a room at any of these properties lower than 85-90 BHD.

  7. Bahrain is basically a weekend getaway for people living in the Eastern part of Saudi Arabia (especially in Al Khobar/Dammam) to party by bar and club hop. The only other time to really visit is for Formula One weekend.

    Glad the lounge had good food and service, but the decor? Still in the 80s.

  8. Did you have access to complimentary breakfast in the hotel restaurant in addition to the lounge? If so, did you try it to compare the differences?

  9. Tiny Bahrain is home to 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy and Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun

  10. My best friend was stationed in Bahrain for a couple of years, so I went to visit him once. Best thing to do in Bahrain is to charter a boat from the Yacht Club. Amazing to get out on the Persian Gulf. You can go fishing too. It was a blast.

    In terms of the island, Bahrain has a much larger (percentage-wise) native population than Qatar or the UAE. There have been ongoing protests (that have petered out somewhat) against the regime, so it’s not completely safe to travel around the whole of the country.

    Someone referred to Bahrain as the Atlantic City to Dubai’s Vegas. I think that’s accurate.

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