Travel tales

Luxury or bust at the Dead Sea

Movenpick hotel on the Dead Sea, Jordan

The Dead Sea is already the world’s lowest and saltiest sea, but it’s getting lower and saltier all the time. Its hot weather and lack of rain mean more water evaporates out than flows in. So the salt gets more concentrated, as do other minerals like magnesium, sodium and potassium. Bad news for anything that wants to live in there, but good news for visitors who’ve been coming here for thousands of years to treat skin diseases by soaking in the waters or help breathing problems with its high oxygen level air. You don’t want to leave it too long to visit though, as the water level has been dropping by several feet a year as rivers get diverted for use in agriculture and industry. It’s estimated if this carries on at the same rate the Dead Sea could dry up completely by 2050. So I thought I better get in there while I could.

Viewpoint across the Dead Sea in Jordan

View across the Dead Sea from the Panoramic Complex

The banks of the Dead Sea are rocky and the highway runs close to the shore, so if you want to take a dip then you’re probably best going to one of the beaches. The cheapest option is a public access beach like Amman Tourist Beach, just south of the main hotel area. For JD20 (about £19) you get day entry and can use their showers and changing rooms. It can be packed at the weekend and the facilities are fairly basic, but it’s the best way to mix with the locals and try the waters on a budget. Also not too expensive and worth a visit is the Dead Sea Panoramic Complex, high in the hills above the water. The views from there are stunning and on a clear day you can almost see from one end of the sea to the other.

The five star Movenpick Hotel and Spa Dead Sea, Jordan

The Movenpick Dead Sea Hotel and Spa

But if you want to stay overnight at the Dead Sea, then your only choices are five star. Five-star hotels are definitely not my normal accommodation choice, but after a couple of days clambering over rocks and walking miles around Petra I figured I’d earnt some luxury. The north-eastern part of the Dead Sea is a real enclave of huge luxury hotels, all with their own spas and beaches. They’re all similar in style but we chose the Mövenpick Resort & Spa, an Arabian-style village built among 6000 square metres of swimming pools and gardens with a spa and nine restaurants and bars.

Swimming pool at the five star Movenpick Hotel and Spa Dead Sea, Jordan

One of the swimming pools

Although this area gets less than 4cm of rain in the entire year, it felt like half of it fell as we were driving down the Dead Sea Highway. Going into the hotel’s entrance was more like wading through a pond, but we got whisked off to our room in a golf cart with our baggage. Rooms vary from smaller ones in the main building to sea view villas with their own pool. We were down the more reasonable end of the spectrum with a first-floor room in the ‘village’, with a balcony overlooking the gardens. All rooms had nice touches like Dead Sea toiletries in the bathroom and a minibar with complimentary soft drinks and snacks.

Swimming pool at the five star Movenpick Hotel and Spa Dead Sea, Jordan

Infinity pool and Beach Bar

The hotel has tennis courts and a fitness suite but most people are here to relax. There’s the in-house Zara Spa for massages and hydrotherapy treatments, or you can lather on some Dead Sea mud for free and wash it off in the sea. The hotel also has four freshwater pools, though the winter pool was the only one I was brave enough to go in in November. Being off-season does mean there was plenty of space on the sun loungers to laze about with a book and to grab the perfect sunset spot by the infinity pool.

Swimming pool at the five star Movenpick Hotel and Spa Dead Sea, Jordan

Relaxing by the pool

It’s not all paradise though in the five-star world. The problem with being in a luxury enclave like this is that you could be anywhere in the world. Although the design is Jordanian influenced, it does feel a bit sanitised and the other guests were all weekending expats or holidaying Europeans. There isn’t much other than hotels in the area so most people don’t tend to leave the complex – fine for two nights but I can imagine going a bit stir crazy for longer. You’re also paying a premium as the only options for eating and drinking are in the hotels – dinner in the buffet restaurant was JD26 (about £25) here, as opposed to JD16 (£15) for the same in the Movenpick hotel in Petra, or half that in a budget restaurant.

The five star Movenpick Hotel and Spa Dead Sea, Jordan

The Movenpick hotel terrace

Overall the Dead Sea was beautiful and it was a lovely relaxing place to spend a couple of nights. But if you’re watching your budget, then even if you get a good deal on the room you might find yourself having to be careful what you spend. A couple of spa treatments and £10 beers (ouch) would have cost more than our entire stay at Petra, but it’s nice to experience the luxury lifestyle occasionally!

Pin it

Luxury or bust at the Dead Sea – On the Luce travel blog

This article contains affiliate links, where I get a small commission at no extra cost to you – thanks.

Previous Post Next Post


  • Reply
    January 16, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    I didn’t realise it was sinking – are they doing anything about it by filling it up somehow?

    Like you, I’m not usually a 5* lover, but now and again it’s nice to see how the other half live (until the bar bill arrives!)

  • Reply
    January 16, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Hi Lucy, It is interesting and shocking to know that the dead sea is gradually dipping while it is a fact that all other sea levels are raising. I understand both these situation are of serious concern. Not quite sure if I will ever make it to this part of the world before it becomes invisible but I am glad you did and shared this valuable piece of information.

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      January 16, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      It’s shocking how fast it’s falling, isn’t it? Hopefully something can be done to slow the fall down but it’s tough in such a dry region where there’s so much pressure for water resources.

  • Reply
    January 16, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Thank you for sharing article and nice a pictures

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      January 16, 2013 at 10:06 pm

      Thanks. it’s nice to relive some sunny days in a very wintery England at the moment!

  • Reply
    January 16, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    I totally agree with feeling that luxury hotels and resorts make you feel you could be anywhere in the world – it’s the main reason I always stay somewhere small, self-catering and family run whenever I visit the Greek Islands. That said, I reckon you totally deserved this bit of luxury – and it does look AMAZING!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      January 16, 2013 at 10:08 pm

      It was good to experience but I’m with you on normally looking for somewhere smaller which is more individual and not part of a huge chain. Some destinations it’s easier than others though, I found some amazing (and really good value) places in Bali recently but Jordan was a bit tougher.

  • Reply
    The Travelbunny
    January 16, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    I agree totally about 5* chains – all very similar with an eye-watering extras bill at the end. I love to seek out smaller, independent hotels with lots of character or old converted buildings – think St Pancras! I do hope they find a solution to the Dead Sea before long.

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      January 17, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      Oh yes I’d definitely make an exception to my dislike of big chains for the St Pancras hotel! But generally its so much nicer to somewhere smaller and with a bit more local flavour.

  • Reply
    January 17, 2013 at 10:21 am

    I will use this to convince my family we do need to go this year or it may be gone before we get there ;).

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      January 17, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      That’s a very good idea – don’t want to wait too long and find there’s only a pond left!

  • Reply
    January 17, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Thank you for sharing. Your pictures are beautiful. The Dead Sea looks like a very interesting place to visit.

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      January 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      Thanks Gerard, it is definitely worth a visit, it’s a really unique place.

  • Reply
    January 17, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    The Dead Sea was freaky, wasn’t it? Such a strange experience to be so buoyant! and definitely not fun when I got some of the water on my lips. Man, that stung! We ended up at the Amman touristic beach, and it was okay, but also a little uncomfortable…lots of local men around blatantly staring at the tourists. I wish we’d sprung for the Movenpick! It’s looks lovely!!!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      January 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      I heard that the men on the public beach can be a bit starey so glad we went for the Movenpick! You can get day passes to the spa and facilities there but I think they were about JD40 so almost as much as staying there!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    We opted for the Marioitt next door and LOVED it. Did splurge on the Movenpick in Petra though, just for its location 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      January 25, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      It was so hard to pick one of the Dead Sea hotels as they all seemed quite similar. I really liked the Petra Movenpick, though I could only stretch to dinner and drinks there!

  • Reply
    Flora Valsi
    August 12, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    Hi Lucy,

    I’ve been living in Jordan for 2 years and your blog is very complete about the things to do in Jordan an all the tips! If I can advise something, the Wadi Mujib at the Dead Sea is a must to do!! It’s a canyon activity completely amazing and it’s one of the top 5 things to do in Jordan. It’s a bit expensive but it worth it

    Concerning the resorts at the Dead Sea I totally agree with you, there is no soul in these places but unfortunately there is no other best way to go in the Dead Sea but some of them are not that expensive, I can advise, Holiday Inn, Oh Beach or Dead Sea Spa Hotel for the small budget.

    The good thing to do as well could be the Ma’In Hot Springs. If it’s not to hot at the Dead Sea (which is very rare) you can spend the day at the hot springs and you will love it!

    • Reply
      August 14, 2018 at 10:46 am

      Thanks Flora, great tips – we wanted to go to the hot springs but didn’t have time, hopefully I can make it back to Jordan sometime soon though.

  • Reply
    November 1, 2018 at 10:07 am

    We’re drooling while we imagine ourselves in those gorgeous scenes.
    We have dreamed of doing this too. Your DIY trip seems like the way to go for sure.
    Thanks for sharing all the details that can make it a reality. Very cool.

    • Reply
      November 4, 2018 at 5:50 pm

      Thank you – soaking in the Dead Sea is such a weird experience but a real must-do!

      • Brooks W Allen
        December 10, 2018 at 11:11 pm

        Yes 2 or 3 days is plenty at Mövenpick dead sea. This is our second time in five years. You can about cover everything possible in that time frame here.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.