10 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…
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. Tel: (04) 832 9900. marriott.com
Bab al Shams
The luxury desert destination recently reopened after a refurbishment under the new management of Kerzner Group. Bab al Shams is less than an hour away from Dubai, located just off Al Qudra Road surrounded by endless dunes, nature reserves, wildlife such as oryx and gazelles, and man-made lakes. For those after a bit of adventure, there’s a host of amazing experiences on offer including fat biking, desert safari, archery, horse riding, and more.
Bab Al Shams, Al Qudra Road, Dubai, rates from Dhs1,500. Tel: (0)4 809 6100, babalshams.com/
Set over a sprawling 371,000 square metre landscape, Terra Solis Dubai can be found in a hidden oasis surrounded by endless dunes. The venue is a 30-minute drive from most locations in Dubai, making it the perfect escape from the city without a long car journey. The setting represents a true Arabian experience, as the building is reminiscent of Bedouin-style decor. Inspired by star constellations, guests can choose from three overnight experiences including 48 spacious and luxurious Polaris bell tents, 20 Perseid lodges, and six exclusive Orion pool lodges.
Tomorrowland presents Terra Solis Desert Destination, Dubai Heritage Vision. Tel: (0)4 456 1956. terrasolisdubai.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’, and the collection of swish villas each come with their own private pool.
Anantara Qasr Al Sarab, Liwa Desert, Abu Dhabi. 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. 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. 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 five dining venues including the newly opened Sonara Camp, 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. 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, try archery, kayaking or paddleboarding, take to the mountains for a hike, or pay a visit to the nearby Mangrove Center.
Mysk Kingfisher Retreat, Khor Kalba, Sharjah. myskhotels.com
Mysk Al Badayer Retreat
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Mysk Al Badayer Retreat, 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 falconry, dune bashing, quad biking, horse riding, and desert safaris.
Mysk Al Badayer Retreat, Sharjah. Tel: (06) 556 0777. myskhotels.com
Mysk Al Faya Retreat
Walk in the footsteps of the Bedouins at Mysk Al Faya Retreat, where privacy and serenity reign supreme. Nestled in the dunes of Mleiha desert, the retreat is a luxuriously converted area that was originally built in the 1960s and offers guests with the opportunity to explore the famed archaeological site and its fascinating history. Those looking for a little less adventure can embark on a journey of wellbeing at the unique, hands-free spa complete with a herbal room, salt pool and tropical shower walk; or laze away the day at the swimming pool. There’s just five guest rooms, all fitted with a skylight for stargazing at night, and all are close to the on-site fire pit, primed for recapping the day’s many desert camping adventures.
Mysk Al Faya Retreat, Mleiha desert, Sharjah. Tel: (0)6 538 7857, myskhotels.com