8 of the most beautiful desert resorts in the UAE
Your Arabian adventure starts here…
Dinner in the dunes, alfresco spa experiences and swimming under the stars are all on the agenda at these luxe desert resorts in the UAE…
Bab Al Shams
Set among the sand dunes, this rustic-chic desert oasis is just a 45-minute drive from Dubai. A split-level, super-sized swimming pool sits at the centre of the resort, lined with red loungers, a swim-up bar and a huge rain shower. Enjoy breakfast and lunch at the all-day dining restaurant, Al Forsan, and for dinner don’t miss a dining experience at Al Hadheerah, where authentic Arabic cuisine is served with a side of belly dancing, live music, and horse and camel shows. The resort may be remote, but you won’t be bored thanks to an array of activities on offer, from falconry and horse riding to archery and desert drives.
Bab Al Shams, Al Qudra Road, Dubai, from Dhs700 per night, room only. Tel: (04) 809 6100. babalshams.com
An hour out of Dubai you’ll find Al Maha Desert Resort. This stunning desert oasis is home to individual villas complete with private pools, a main resort area where you’ll find all-day dining restaurant Al Diwaan, and a relaxing spa featuring single and couple treatment rooms. Guests can while away the day at their private pool, or head to the picturesque outdoor pool overlooking the sprawling desert dunes. Check in for a luxury staycation here, and don’t be surprised to greet your neighbours – Arabian Oryx and gazelles – as you enjoy breakfast on your alfresco terrace.
Al Maha Desert Resort, Al Ain Road, Dubai, from Dhs2,695 per night. Tel: (04) 832 9900. marriott.com
Anantara Qasr Al Sarab
Hidden among the sea of rolling, flame-orange dunes of the Empty Quarter, Anantara Qasr Al Sarab is one of the UAE’s best-loved Arabian escapes. A secluded desert oasis, there are 140 rooms, 14 suites and 52 pool villas on offer, all decorated with traditional arabesque touches with endless vistas out across the dunes. Separated from the main resort, the rooms are described as ‘secluded desert sanctuaries’, each with private pool. Bookings will reopen from December 1, 2020.
Anantara Qasr Al Sarab, Liwa Desert, Abu Dhabi, from Dhs1,742 per night. Tel: (02) 886 2088. anantara.com
Telal Resort Al Ain
This rustic-luxe resort in Al Ain overlooks a natural conservation area, with uninterrupted views of the desert planes providing postcard-worthy backdrop. Decor is Emirati-inspired and guests can look forward to traditional artwork, arabesque touches and timeless local details across the rooms, villas and suites. Accommodation ranges from deluxe rooms to a three-bedroom villa with private pool and jacuzzi. For a relaxing stay, book a treatment at the spa or kick back in the cosy library. Those with a passion for adventure can enjoy ATV drives, ziplines or a desert safari.
Telal Resort Al Ain, Al Ain, from Dhs968 per night. Tel: (03) 702 0000. telalresort.ae
Al Wathba, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa
Drawing inspiration from a historic village, this Arabian-style desert resort sprawls over 22,000 square metres of tranquil desert. Comprising 13 villas with private pools, 90 traditional guest bedrooms, and six restaurants and bars, Al Wathba promises an idyllic escape. There’s a big focus on wellness here, with a 1000-square-metre pool and luxury spa that offers treatments and facilities such as hammams, crystal salt saunas and a dedicated cryo treatment room.
Al Wathba, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Al Wathba District, Abu Dhabi, from Dhs833. Tel: (02) 204 4444. marriott.com
Ras Al Khaimah
The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert
The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert is set among the beauty of a 1,235-acre protected reserve. Experience tranquility, picturesque scenery and rich culture in the Bedouin-styled villas, which come with private pools and decks, lounge areas and breathtaking desert views. For the adventurous traveller, book a desert camel trek, a private archery lesson or bird-watching session, or just head out on a nature walk and soak in the surroundings. The desert resort boasts four dining venues including the farm-to-table Farmhouse, all-day dining at Kaheela, the open-sky Moon Bar and the relaxed Moorish lounge.
The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert, Wadi Khadija, Ras Al Khaimah, from Dhs2,212 per night, Tel: (07) 206 7777. ritzcarlton.com
Mysk Kingfisher Retreat
Located in Kalba, on the UAE’s east coast, Mysk Kingfisher Retreat overlooks the Indian Ocean and features 20 luxury tents complete with private plunge pools. Decked out in natural, calming hues for maximum relaxation, the rooms come with modern amenities while still keeping a pared-back coastal look. Chill by the fire pit at the main tent, or make your way to the spa space, where a selection of treatments are available. The neighbouring mangroves are home to a turtle breeding area, as well as many rare species of birds. For something a little more fast-paced, kayak or paddleboard, try your hand at archery at the nearby Kalba Absolute Adventure Camp, or take to the mountains for a hike.
Mysk Kingfisher Retreat, Khor Kalba, Sharjah, from Dhs1,900. myskhotels.com
Mysk Al Badayer Retreat
Al Badayer Oasis by Mysk, Sharjah’s luxury glamping resort is the perfect staycation spot if what you’re looking for is adventure, serenity, and a dose of Emirati culture. One of the most eco-minded desert resorts in the UAE, Al Badayer is located inside a traditional Arabian fort but with all the modern comforts you need. The resort also offers customised desert experiences such as dune bashing, quad biking, horse riding, and desert safaris.
Al Badayer Oasis, Sharjah, room rates start from Dhs600. Tel: (06) 556 0777. myskhotels.com