Kempinski Hotel Ishtar
After spending a day scuba diving in Aqaba and experiencing the spectacular Red Sea region we made the 3.5 hour drive on Highway 65 from Aqaba to the Dead Sea. We were anxious to stretch our legs and enjoy a relaxing afternoon at Jordan’s famous Kempinski Hotel Ishtar. As we approached the city our driver, Qais Bader of Jordan Select tours excitedly pointed out the sea of hotels as we drove. He let us know that staying at the Kempinski was a dream of his.
Qais made us guess which one the series of massive hotels we thought was the Kempinski. I had no idea but played along. I picked the largest compound of the lot and got a series of high fives from everyone in the car when I found out I was right! 5-star hotels aren’t normally our style when we travel, usually opting instead to spend most of our budget on experiences versus accommodation. For us, hotels are generally a place to pass out and re-charge our cameras, since we tend to be out and about most of the time.
We rarely find it justifiable to spend a lot of money for a room that we do nothing but sleep in. The Kempinski was legendary, and the Dead Sea is an experience, not just a place where you sleep, they also offered massages in the most romantic-looking spa. How could Kevin and I visit the Dead Sea and not get a couple’s massage, complete with Dead Sea mineral treatments when we were going to be in the Dead Sea itself? I had no doubts that the hotel would be worth it!
Entering the hotel required a heavy, even by Jordanian standards, security check. The underside of our van was checked and we needed to go through metal detectors and have our bags checked on our way in. This was no big deal as going through metal detector doors with a security guard has been standard fare in our travels throughout Jordan.
The grand lobby of the Kempinski hotel greeted us as we entered through the main doors. From the entrance, we could see the main attraction, the Dead Sea, off in the distance. There were several agents waiting to check us in so there was no wait time. As Kevin provided our information to the front desk, an assistant manager brought out two adorable camel stuffies and gave one to C and D. That sealed it for the kids.
This would be their favorite hotel in the entire country of Jordan. Those camels were their best friends for the rest of the trip! The check-in was seamless and a bell boy accompanied us to our room all the while telling us about the amenities of the hotel. I credit his patience, even as C and D insisted that they ride the luggage cart through the entire hotel!
The room and amenities
The Kempinski hotel has 342 rooms, suites, and villas spread over 3 buildings. The resort is designed so that all rooms have a view of the Dead Sea. We had opted for a superior room and our king-sized bed was separated from the kid’s queen bed by a half wall. The bathroom had a full-sized shower and a very large tub on the opposite side. We were on the bottom floor and when we opened the double doors to our terrace we could hear the serene sound of the sea lapping against the shore. The children quickly ran to the fridge and were instantly hungry when they saw the complimentary snacks and chocolate bars. Since we were about to head to lunch, they had to settle for the complimentary fruit with the promise of a treat for dessert if they ate all of their lunch.
The Kempinksi hotel has nine pools and C made it his mission to try and go into each and every one of them. One pool, the infinity pool, was listed as for adults only, so he had to take a pass on that one, but to his credit, all the rest of them were visited. One of the pools had a very cool bubble fountain that many of the children at the resort seemed to enjoy even more than the splash pools at the other end of the hotel. We all had so much fun splashing and exploring that Kevin and I never even made it to our massage.
The Kempinski hotel also a fitness center and tennis courts. But between the time spent in the various pools and the Dead Sea we didn’t have time to explore either option. The hotel also offers complimentary wi-fi throughout the grounds and we found that it worked exceptionally well.
Floating in the Dead Sea
Of course, the main draw of staying in the Kempinski hotel is that it is located on the rocky banks of the Dead Sea. The shoreline directly behind the hotel is strictly for hotel guests only. During high tourist season, this can make a huge difference as tourists flock to the area on day tours from Amman and public entrance points into the Sea can be quite crowded. There are also mud stations located at strategic points that are manned by hotel staff who can give you a hand getting dirty.
For the price, we expected a lot from the Kempinski Hotel. I am happy to say that we do not regret our decision as the hotel continually surpassed our expectations. In fact, we debated extending our stay at the beautiful Kempinski hotel, but Jordan’s famous Desert Castles were waiting.
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