For travellers who seek the finest that the world has to offer

Jordan’s unexpected delights

When Signature writer Joanna Tovia travels to Jordan, she discovers a peaceful haven that’s pure joy to explore.

When friends and family heard I was about to travel to Jordan, they reacted with concern. Isn’t that risky? Are you sure it’s safe? Isn’t Jordan right next to Syria? I was happy to discover that their fears were completely unfounded – Jordan is friendly, compassionate and, most of all, very safe.

Luxury travel is the only way to go, in my view, so I was also pleased to discover that travelling through Jordan did not have to mean compromising on comfort. The centrally located InterContinental Amman was a fine introduction to the elegance, great service and five-star facilities that lay in wait elsewhere.

Expect a politely offered cup of coffee when you arrive at many of the hotels. If you’re thinking cappuccino, think again. Arabic coffee is served in a tiny cup that’s filled only a third of the way up. It’s poured from an ornately decorated teapot of sorts and is a potent concoction infused with cardamom. The other local specialty you may be offered at restaurants from time to time is a puff on a shisha, an exotic device for smoking tobacco. Curiously, you can also hire a shisha poolside at the Aqaba Resort, on the Red Sea. The only person I spotted smoking one was the shisha attendant himself, however. The relaxing Aqaba Resort is in a prime position with private beach, well-appointed rooms and lush gardens – a true desert oasis.

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If you’re considering travelling to this wonderful country, here are my top-five tips:

  1. Visit the Lost City at Petra and spend two full days exploring this amazing archaeological site. Stay at the beautiful Mövenpick Resort Petra.
  2. Book in for a good, long stay at the Kempinski Hotel Ishtar at the Dead Sea. I’d plan to spend at least five days here if you need to unwind from the stresses of daily life. Cover yourself in Dead Sea mud each day and play in the water, have a treatment or two daily at the majestic Anantara spa, and savour the flavours of all the fabulous food. That’s my plan for the next time I visit – this hotel was a knock-out.
  3. Stay one night at Captain’s Desert Camp at Wadi Rum. Staying in a blanket-covered tent in the desert won’t be the most luxurious stay of your life but it just might be one of the most fun. A pre-dawn jeep ride will take you to a sublime spot to watch the sun rise, and riding a camel through the desert before breakfast is an exciting way to greet the new day.
  4. Explore the Amman Archaeological Museum before visiting the souk down the hill. This bustling Amman market is a fun place to wander around and mingle with the locals.
  5. Make life easy and hire a driver and guide to take you around. Jordan is a small country – the size of Austria – and driving is the best way to get from place to place. Our friendly guide’s knowledge of the area’s ancient history and culture really enriched the trip. Ask a travel agent or Jordan Tourism for a recommendation or contact my guide, Mohammad Qamhiya, direct (email


Visiting Jordan needn’t be something you put off. Next time I go, I’ll combine a trip to Jordan with a visit to Turkey, Dubai, Greece or Italy afterwards – all are just a short flight away.

Read more about Joanna Tovia’s Jordanian adventure in the next issue of Signature Luxury Travel & Lifestyle magazine, out late January, 2014.