Having seen it all when it comes to hospitality – the luxurious, the budget, the extravagant villas, the clean and practical city accommodation, it now takes something really special to hold our attention. Wowing us from the first moment we stepped into its quaint and colourful lobby, The Merchant House is one of Bahrain’s hidden gems, and Ohlals is ready to let you in on this little secret…
There is an old-world charm steeped in the very walls of The Merchant House; you only need to admire the exposed pillars kept from the original building’s framework to notice that a lot of thought has gone into preserving the past and bringing it into an urban, sophisticated space so flawlessly. Colour is the name of the game here as edgy, pretty and statement-making artworks adorn the walls of the boutique hotel. In fact, there are 196 pieces in total, with many created by well-established and upcoming Bahraini and Gulf artists. Alongside these, you’ll find international talents including the likes of Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, who have also taken up residence through their art at The Merchant House (it’s a treasure hunt in itself to walk around the hotel in search of the coolest art, and definitely something worthy of the ‘gram).
The brainchild of luxury hotel giant Campbell Gray, much like the brand’s many other hotels, The Merchant House’s unique design and dedication to its location, really epitomise the Campbell Gray philosophy. Here, the lobby alone is enough to blow you away – there’s nothing else like it in Bahrain – even the plush furnishings are an invite to sink into a comfy chair or sofa and take a minute to breathe and appreciate your surroundings. This is the beauty of The Merchant House; located right next door to the bustle of lively Bab al Bahrain, the gateway to Manama souk, the hotel is one of the most unique spots to remind you of how prominent this area is to Bahrain’s history, heritage and tourism. We can’t think of a better place to coop up this summer…
With only 46 beautifully appointed suites, The Merchant House features a unique collection of contemporary decor and bursts with exciting details. We walk into a Corner Suite only to be met with a generous dining and sitting area, kitchen counter equipped with bean-to-cup coffee machine, tea making facilities, minibar, freezer and ice dispenser, living and bedroom flat screen TVs, work desk and multi-plug charging station, a safe, bedside lighting and A/C controls, lush bathrobes, slippers and a hairdryer, plus natural, chemical free bathroom products.
As far as space goes, the design and layout of the suite is spot on. There’s a very classy city apartment meets kitsch countryside home vibes – we want the same interior in our own home, it’s beautiful and airy, and, surprisingly, very quiet. At a generous size of 60sqm, the suite is filled with natural light, which is one of the best aspects – you never feel like you’re in the middle of the busiest area. To top that off, the king size beds are in a whole different realm of comfort as we experience the most peaceful night’s sleep. We can imagine this being a total sanctuary after a day walking through the alleyways of Manama souq. Where The Merchant House excels is in the details – the mini bar and snacks are stocked with the most delicious treats – we’re talking Häagen-Dazs ice cream, Cadbury chocolate and Tyrrells’ crisps. The suite life doesn’t get better and more stylish than this.
The rooftop, another Campbell Gray speciality, is where you will find the hotel’s restaurant and bar and its outdoor garden terrace. Indigo is what we imagine exists in faraway Mediterranean homes where orange trees grow and the prettiest flowers bloom. Inspired by the travel experiences of Executive Chef Robert Shipman, the restaurant’s new summer menu incorporates in-season ingredients and high-quality products. Highlights include fresh sushi rolls; Salmon & Avocado Roll and Crab & Mango Roll. Besides the favourite staple dishes, guests can enjoy a selection of Mediterranean dishes with an Asian flair such as Seared Scallops with Sunchoke Puree, which originates from the South of France fused with a Japanese twist or the Local Hammour with Crispy Sesame Crust served with a fusion of bok choy and chermoula sauce. Some of the other choices on the menu include Yuzu Kosho Salsa, Seabass Sashimi and Lobster & Scallop Saganaki. For those with a sweet tooth, the Yuzu White Chocolate Cheesecaketopped with locally sourced walnuts or the Almond Filo served with saffron ice cream provides the perfect ending to a deliciously fresh culinary experience. A tender 18-hour lamb shank, crisp salads, and an eggplant moussaka that will bring back so much nostalgia from travels to Italy – are some of our faves. The lime panna cotta and chocolate fondant are excellent desserts to end your meal. The new menu is complemented by an impressive selection of creative signature mocktails and cocktails. Choose from the zesty flavours of Watermelon Berry or Chamomile Strawberry as you unwind in the stylish surrounds of Indigo. The venue strikes a perfect balance with delectable offerings and a warm intimate ambiance for a refreshing summer.
Service is exceptional whilst the quality of ingredients can really be tasted in every dish – we leave completely full and satisfied.
A library of over 1000 curated books hangs above the lobby for guests and visitors to enjoy. It’s the ideal place to meet for a cuppa as is Café Gray in the lobby! Food is taken seriously and made with love at The Merchant House – your tummy will be well taken care of during the stay!
A spa, a gym, and an emerald rooftop pool complements the hotel’s offering, as well as a small boardroom for meetings and events. Comprising of two treatment rooms, PureGray Spa provides quality treatments and packages using various techniques for the face and body. We tried out their 90-minute massage where Kitty, a lovely and professional therapist used the finest natural oils from Green Bar to help tackle our tense muscles and tight knots – especially in the upper back and shoulders. From start to finish, we were completely relaxed and had one of the best naps – a much-needed respite from the outside world and one you will truly be thankful for during your stay too. The hotel’s gym uses the latest Technogym fitness equipment and is open 24-hours a day, exclusively for hotel guests.
As the demand for more bespoke and intimate service as well as more one-of-a-kind hospitality comes to the forefront of travellers’ requirements, The Merchant House has managed to tap into this very niche but still manages to provide a warm and inviting ambience that is perfect for international visitors and local guests alike. As much as we want to keep it for ourselves, this boutique haven is worth every compliment, every instagram post and every conversation. You’ll know exactly what we mean when you book your stay and walk through its doors…