A dusty two-hour drive brought our road trip to an end. We reached the Kempinski Hotel Aqaba, a luxurious hotel in a lesser-known Red Sea resort whose location and popularity as a laidback diving mecca made it a great winding down point ahead of our departure from this magical country.
Of all the hotels in Aqaba, the most impressive by far is the Kempinski Hotel Aqaba. Its arc-shaped architecture could be interpreted favourably as a mini Guggenheim or then again as a large suburban American department store. Take your pick.
Though palatial in scale, the design inside is understated and modern, with clean lines and masses of glass, steel and marble throughout its communal areas. Its enormous proportions and 200 rooms are a clear nod to its intended use as a small convention centre.
The in-room design, however, tells a different story. Rather than bland and European in style, the decor is contemporary, with the kind of fresh, white-and-blue palette you’d expect in a Mediterranean boutique hotel. But the generous sea view and sprawling balcony reminded us exactly where we were – with Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia all in sight and oil tankers and sailing boats bobbing around on the horizon.
Downstairs at the Kempinksi Hotel Aqaba, we drank in the same vista at the expansive oceanfront pool area. The slightly chilly temperatures and rough sea conditions at the time of our visit in spring ruled out both sea and pool bathing – must-do activities in warmer months – but we were able to appreciate the gorgeous sunset from the large outdoor Jacuzzi.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
Frankly, there’s not a lot to do in Aqaba (especially if you visit out of season, as we did) which is, for the most part, a package holiday destination with malls and fast food. There are some local eateries concentrated around As-Saadeh Street that are worth a browse if you want to break out of the hotel.