We asked Bashar Badarneh, Concierge Manager at Four Seasons Hotel Amman, to gather the savviest sight-seeing suggestions he could find—not just his own, but also those of other local connoisseurs, including some he works with every day at the Hotel. Amman combines a rich historical past with the enticements of the modern world. The city is a jumping-off point for exploring the nearby wonders of Jordan, including the ruins of Petra and the Dead Sea.
Amman’s traditional souks offer goods such as Turkish leather, traditional Bedouin dresses, gold-threaded kaftans and exquisite hand-embroidered linens. Enter the famous gold souk downtown in the city centre, on King Faisal Street, prepared to bargain hard; gold is priced by weight but the intricacy of the workmanship determines the price. The 50-plus jewellery shops line narrow alleys and offer souvenirs, spices, local specialties such as Dead Sea products, and olive oil soap—and handicrafts as well as gold. And of course the avid shopper will find high-end brands and street fashion at Taj Mall or Mecca Mall.
Fakhr El-Din and Sufra restaurants are two of the best places to experience authentic Jordanian cuisine. Fakhr El-Din, a stone villa located in Amman’s second circle and the former home of His Excellency Fawzi al-Mulki, Jordan’s first prime minister, serves up some of the best meze in the region. In addition to standards such as tabbouleh (parsley salad), vine leaves and hummus, there is noukha’a (poached lamb brain salad), hindbeh (chicory sautéed with onions, garlic and lemon) and Turkish dolma (stuffed zucchini and eggplant). Specialties are themed around lamb dishes—raw and grilled—and chicken. With its marble floors and soft, tasteful colours, the intimate interior—al fresco dining is an option, weather permitting—gives visitors an inside look into Jordan’s upper crust, in a warm, inviting setting.
Slice of Life
Experience Bedouin culture by boarding a four-wheel-drive and heading to a Bedouin Life Camp in Wadi Rum. Far from the noise of the city, you can hike or drive over rosy-red sand dunes to glorious rock mountains, where the gradation of colour changes with the late-afternoon light. At night, you’ll have a feast—slow-cooked lamb, buried in an underground pit—as you sit around the bonfire. Then retreat to your colourful tent for the most relaxing night’s sleep you’ve ever known. Ask the Concierge to arrange your trip.
Experiencing the Past
Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad ruins can be found in the Amman citadel, which is the place to visit if you’re pressed for time and want to get your Jordanian history fix in one afternoon. The citadel is also the home of a Byzantine church, Umayyad Palace and the Roman Temple of Hercules; try to be atop the Roman temple at sunset to catch the spectacular city view. If you can find time to step into the Jordan Archaeological Museum, you’ll find ancient coins and the Dead Sea bronze scroll on exhibit there.