Amman was originally built on seven hills; today, it sprawls across 19 knolls, densely populated by four million inhabitants and a patchwork of sandstone buildings — the inspiration for its moniker, the “White City.”
A traditional Middle Eastern metropolis, Amman’s labyrinthine-like downtown district is home to several of the city’s main sights, including a Roman amphitheater; The Jordan Museum, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls; and colorful souks that sell everything from fruit and vegetables to hardware and gold.
Amman’s most important archaeological site, the Citadel, sits atop the nearby Jabal al-Qal’a (jabal means hill or mountain in Arabic). The Citadel’s artifacts and ruins span Jordan’s history, from the Bronze and Iron Ages, through the Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad eras (the latter was an Arab Caliphate that once ruled a region stretching from Persia to Spain). Amman also makes a good home base for visits to the Roman ruins at Jerash and for day trips to the Dead Sea and Petra. Here are our top choices for where to stay while you’re there.
Best Budget Option
The Boutique Hotel is located in the heart of Amman, a 20-minute walk from both the Roman amphitheater and the Jordan Museum. A few of the seven rooms have balconies and all have air conditioning, which is essential several months out of the year. A simple Jordanian breakfast of pita, olives, cold cuts, and eggs is included. The staff is happy to help arrange car rentals, small group tours, and reasonably priced airport transfers. Light sleepers should note that the early morning call to prayer can be heard in just about any budget hotel in town. Try Hashem restaurant a block away for some of the city’s best hummus and falafel, or head to the touristic Amman Pasha restaurant near the Roman amphitheater to see if you can catch a spontaneous dabke dance. Doubles with ensuite bathrooms for $38, including tax.
Best Mid-Range Option
A short taxi ride away from downtown is La Locanda Boutique Hotel on Jabal Weibdeh. Opened in 2015, La Locanda is a design hotel focused on music and culture. Each room is named for an Arab musician, whose stylized portrait adorns the wall. The decor is sleek and modern, with unique details to reflect each artist’s story. For example, an old radio serves as an end table in the room named after the Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum — a nod to the music broadcasts she made every Thursday. The hotel shares space with Maestro Music Bar & Restaurant, which offers creative cocktails and music ranging from jazz to classical Arabic, as well as dinner in the garden. Doubles from $134, including tax.
When price is no object, head straight to the soaring marble lobby of The Four Seasons Amman. Located on the top of Jabal Amman, the hotel is at the edge of the leafy embassy district, close to the lively restaurant and cafe scene on Rainbow Street. However, there might not be reason to eat out, given what’s on offer at The Four Seasons: a generous breakfast buffet (as well as coffee, tea, and muffins in the lobby from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. for those departing early for tours or flights); complimentary afternoon tea; the Levantine restaurant, Olea; and a new restaurant launching in October 2016. Other amenities include indoor and outdoor pools, a gym, and a spa. For something extra special, book a photography tour with former palace photographer Zohrab Markarian, whose images have been published in Newsweek, Time, and People. Doubles from $365, including tax.