Jordan is home to the world wonder Petra. And the Wadi Rum Desert, Dead Sea and Red Sea. But is it safe? Are the hotels comfortable? Can you holiday there with your family?
These were questions being asked by our Marketing Director Stephen Bailey before his February 2022 trip to Jordan. It was his first holiday for his six-month-old daughter. Here are his memories.
Is Jordan Safe?
Jordan borders Iraq, Syria and Israel/Palestine, so it doesn’t look very safe on the map. However, I’d never heard of any problems in Jordan. My confidence was buoyed by the number of new flight routes to the country. Prague to Amman is now a direct flight.
This is a country in the Middle East. Just like Dubai and Oman, two destinations I love. Four Seasons and W Hotels recently opened brand new properties in Jordan’s capital city Amman. I was confident, although I’ll admit I still had a few nerves.
Jordan was one of the friendliest and most welcoming countries I’ve ever experienced. It felt incredibly safe from the moment we landed.
Jordan was also far more developed than I had expected. It’s also a very liberal country, certainly not like some stereotypes people may have about an Islamic nation. One person told me: “Eid, Christmas, Easter, Yom Kippuer – we celebrate all the holidays here!”
Not only did it feel safe, it seemed like everyone was looking out for us. The welcomes and smiles were authentic, not centred around making money from us. So many people invited us for tea, wished my daughter Marsallah (god bless her) and even gave us gifts of bread and incense.
How are the Hotels in Jordan?
I tried five different hotels, all of them categorised as five-star hotels in Jordan. Jordan is definitely not the height of luxury, although the hotels are excellent value for their price.
Compared to Europe, Jordan’s best hotels are entry to mid-range five-star level. In short, very good service, solid amenities, plus spacious well-appointed rooms.
Just note that they are not glamorous, especially stylish, nor is there any over the top opulence. Comfortable? Absolutely. Especially because they provide access to so many incredible attractions.
Four Seasons Hotel Amman is a relatively new property. I only visited the restaurant and it looked and felt consistent with Four Seasons properties I know elsewhere. The lobby entrance of W Amman is built like the entrance to Petra. It’s very bold and colourful, although I didn’t see the actual rooms.
We chose The House Boutique Suites because of the location. It’s walking distance to Rainbow Street, Amman Citadel, the Roman Theatre and local markets. Clean, modern, very spacious, but overall more of a four-star property.
Everyone told me that Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea is the best hotel in Jordan. It’s actually two hotels – the 200-room main building, then the Ishtar villa area, which has all the amenities and a better location.
This is a very big resort and I recommend going for an Ishtar suite with a semi-private pool – these are villa-type accommodations and provide a lot of privacy. Stylistically the rooms feel a little dated, even if ours was spotless. The spa is amazing and we loved the natural Dead Sea rituals.
Petra’s main five-star hotel is a Movenpick – I would have rather camped with my six-month-old daughter. The other option is The Old Village Resort-Petra. This place is incredible, literally a 2000-year-old stone village converted into a hotel.
It felt like we were sleeping in history, immersed in Middle Eastern culture and atmosphere.
It’s located above the tourist town of Wadi Musa, so away from the hustle, but only a five-minute complimentary transfer to the world wonder. Sleeping here meant we could avoid the day trip crowds and spend more time exploring Petra – you need more than half a day here!
Ready to Explore Jordan?
Wadi Rum Desert
Camels, sand dunes, Lawrence of Arabia adventure? This was a little too much for our daughter Leia. We did spend two nights in a new “bubble camp”, which is basically an inflatable bubble in the desert.
The desert was beautiful and the views incredible. But the camp was disappointing and desert conditions are tough for children. If we did the trip again, we’d do Wadi Rum as a day trip from Aqaba instead.
Red Sea Aqaba
Kempinski Hotel Aqaba Red Sea was our favourite hotel in Jordan. It had the best facilities, service and style. It’s very compact compared to Kempinski Dead Sea, where you need a golf buggy to get around.
With its private white-sand beach, bubbling jacuzzi, sunset views and energetic vibe, Kempinski Hotel Aqaba Red Sea is a perfect hotel to use as a base for exploring South Jordan.
Next time I’ll stay longer and go scuba diving.
Can you Holiday in Jordan with a Family?
Yes, yes, yes! What’s great is that the distances are short and you can easily get around with a private car and driver. So you can easily combine the adventure stuff with pool time at the resort. Here’s our itinerary.
- Amman to Jerash – two-hour round-trip as a day trip
- Amman to Dead Sea – one hour by road
- Dead Sea to Petra – three hours on a beautiful road called the King’s Highway
- Petra to Wadi Rum – 1h30 by road
- Wadi Rum to Aqaba – one hour by road
We flew out of Aqaba, which avoided the four-hour journey back to Amman but meant a two-leg flight home.
The sights are truly mind-blowing here and they’re all so different from each other. It’s hard to imagine that the abandoned Roman city of Jerash is close to the Dead Sea. Where else can you explore red sand-dune desert and go snorkelling on the same day?
With its proximity to Europe and small size, Jordan felt like the perfect starter destination if you want to be more adventurous as a family.