After our disappointing hotel experience in Petra, the Kempinski at the Dead Sea was a welcome change. I am normally not a fan of large hotels or chains, but in this region we were left with little other option. The Boyfriend’s Jordanian friend had also advised us that the Kempsinki was the best hotel in Jordan.
The Dead Sea holds two main titles. Its the lowest point on earth (400 m below sea level) and also the saltiest body of water on earth, at ten times saltier than your average sea. This means there’s no chance of running into any live fish, and buoyancy is incredibly high making floating about a particularly fun experience.
We arrived, exhausted and sweaty after another 12-hour day in the blistering heat. We were meet by a minimalist air-conditioned lobby, friendly staff and a golf cart to drive us to our room.
We were staying in the Ishtar section of the hotel, a selection of villas located between the main building and the beach. This proved to be more beneficial than first realized, as the site is massive, and from one end to the other is a ten or so minute walk. As the Italian restaurant and most of the pools are located closer to the beach it spared our worn muscles a lot of unnecessary work.
The room was again minimalist and nothing particularly exciting, although a flat screen TV, Internet in the room, and a comfy duvet felt extraordinarily luxurious over the past three days. A separate area leading to the bathroom continued a large wardrobe but as per usual very few hangers. The bathroom was particularly tasteful, lined with gorgeous stone tiles. A balcony with a couple of chairs but sea view completed the picture. In typical Kempsinki fashion there were extra touches. As it was Easter Sunday, a tray contained a couple of Easter Eggs and they had a dedicated movie night menu complete with cinema snacks and a DVD list.
Breakfast the next day served in the Obelisk restaurant was an impressive buffet selection complete with complimentary champagne. My favourite way to start the day.
After a quick breakfast the boyfriend and I headed to one of the six pools, the one located closest to the beach. An hour or so later, with the arrival of a dozen or so very excitable children we made an escape to the beach where we tried another major perk of the hotel access to the worlds largest totally free spa - the dead sea and its mud, known for having miraculous effects on the skin.
The shores of the Dead Sea are particularly unattractive. There’s no "beach" although the Kempsinki has imported sand to create a fake beach out of reach of the water, so instead there’s a rocky shore line caked with salt deposits.We floated for about 10 minutes at which point the novelty wore off and both The B and I had managed to get the salt water in orifices that are not recommended, we left to collect mud from a basin sat next to a full length mirror. We artfully applied the stuff along with several other people marveling at how strange we all looked. A couple of photos later we were back in the sea to wash the dried mud off and to inspect our new shiny skin.
After a quick lunch at one of the restaurants, we went in search of a childfree pool, and ended up at the spa pool, a tranquil garden far removed from the beach, yelling and splashing. It was heaven.
We ended the day with drinks at one of the bars, where we watched the sunset over Israel and the sea. Dinner was taken at the Italian restaurant. The food was on the whole distinctly average, and one of our choices; a rack of lamb was served completely uncooked in the middle. Service was also frustratingly slow. After an hour and fifty minutes, we managed to get the offending main course removed, but rather than wait another hour for a new plate to show up, The Boyfriend just shared my main course. Getting the bill would be another battle so we opted to just go to the till and pay. Throughout the evening this ended up being the typical course of action for those wanting service, hanging out in front of the kitchen entrance and asking for whatever they needed. To add insult to injury the bill was extortionate for what we received – two glasses of wine (one Jordanian), water, two starters and a plate of pasta came to just under 90JD, or approximately £90. Lunch had been similarly expensive, a sandwich, meze plate, a cocktail and glass of wine coming to just under 60JD although overall of much a higher quality.
We had similar problems with service the next day. A lizard had decided to make its home in our sink, a scary site first in the morning. I had no problem with the lizard itself, we were in a natural area and something’s just can’t be controlled but the hotels reaction to the event was dreadful. The Boyfriend immediately rang The Butler service to find the lizard a new home, whilst I kept watch over the lizard to make sure it didn’t decide to start playing with my makeup or toothbrush. Forty minutes, and three phone calls later someone finally bothered to show up. For a hotel that prides itself on high quality service, this felt like they were taking the piss.
Both of us felt our stay had been far too short, and that this hotel was a perfectly good alternative to our typical winter sun break Dubai, although management really needs to sort itself out.