Old Homes & Fresh Bread
If you're looking to explore some of the beautifully restored houses in Manama then try this mini walking tour. You can turn it into a full day of exploring or do it in about 90 minutes, up to you!
I like to start most of my Manama explorations here, where one can enjoy the elegantly renovated boutique hotel, sip on a drink or enjoy a bite on the rooftop, utilize their valet parking then head into the Manama Souk area.
Tip: Make sure to use the bathroom here so you aren’t trying to find somewhere in the Souk.
Stop 1: Manamat Gosaibi
Open google maps and search Manamat Gosaibi, the walk will take about ten minutes to reach this wonderfully restored former home of the Gosaibi Family. Be wowed upon entering with a wild canopy of bamboo flanking either side of a steep staircase, made even more awe inspiring with the smart use of mirrors to reflect the green shoots as well as catch the light.
On the right-hand side enter a 'cafe which is not a cafe' - which is how the staff explained it to me. You think you are seeing a cute cafe, with gorgeous interiors and a chance for a light refreshment, but it is not what it seems (this did confuse ma a little! I won't lie!). On the left of the ground floor walk through a few rooms and learn more about the family and its founder. Poetry echoes through the rooms as you get to learn about the achievements of the family's forefather, a poet, intellectual and statesmen.
Walk upstairs to learn more about this legacy, whilst also admiring the stunning rooftop calligraphy installation that leaves a beautiful shadow imprint on the floor.
Tip: It will cost BD 2 to enter and save your ticket, as this allows you to visit the next house (and more if you want) throughout the day with the single ticket.
Stop 2: Snack time
If you know Fifi, you know food! Right opposite Manamat Gosaibi is a traditional bakery (khabaz) serving up freshly made bread. Order a double cheese bread, watching as they stuff it and then bake it in the fire pit before handing it to you. Makes sure to have some change handy as your impromptu snack will cost under 500 fils and they rarely have change for big notes. Relish every bite as you head to your next stop.
Stop 3: Khalaf House
Continue for a further ten-minute walk (with trusty google maps guiding you) to another former family home, restored to contemporary glory.
Khalaf House is the former home of one of Bahrain's leading pearling merchants, Mohammad Salman Khalaf. Here you will discover a more traditional renovation style, with the courtyard in the centre and rooms to the sides on two floors.
Go through room by room to learn more in each area. One room hosts old pearling tools; including nose clips, measuring bowls and shucks; to another room with antique travelling papers and visas signed from merchant visits to Bombay and Karachi nearly a hundred years ago. While, another room holds the original bed and armoire of the house, while another shows portrait of other established Bahraini merchants.
Tip: Many of these houses are closed on a Friday, so do check for timings and try to go in the week (before or after they close for lunch)
Once you are finished at Khalaf House, either head back to Merchant House for more restorative drinks or head into the Souk for a wander around, shop and bite.
Eat: A meal at Bahraini favourite, Hajis.
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Shop: Gold City & Gold Souk for pearls and gold
If you liked this article then check out my 48 Hours in Bahrain - Ultimate Itinerary here.